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Geiger sensors needed for Japan

dcuartiellesApril 5th, 2011

I am not sure we have been echoing these news, so I am going to write a short blog post after having a chat with Shigeru Kobayashi, the maker of the Arduino FIO, Gainer board and Funnel IO. A small community of Japanese makers are building a network of sensors monitoring the radiation in the air and sending the data to Pachube.


Radiation in Japan

(c) 2011 courtesy of Pachube

Turns out they are out of the sensors they need to send their data to the internet. This is a call for help finding more of those sensors to help Shigeru and the others monitor the quality of the air. This is what he mentioned during our conversation:


At current moment, SparkFun’s is out of stock, but will be back by the end of April. A hobbyist is working on a russian tube based counters. And Seeed Studio is also working.

The group at Tokyo’s hackerspace, as we informed earlier, is using a hacked Geiger counter, as reported on March 24th:

Unfortunately, geiger counters were sold out everywhere. The fear of nuclear disaster and radiation spread internationally and there was a run on geiger counters. Luckily, Tokyo Hackerspace was able to obtain two of them from Reuseum . They had actually bent over backwards getting them to us quickly and was calling their warehouse for stock and UPS and FedEx to see who would still deliver to Japan. We received them two days ago and I brought them to Tokyo Hackerspace yesterday to show people how to use it. We’re keeping one at the space so that people can borrow it to check out their living area and reassure their families that its safe.

[…] I decided that this geiger counter would reside outside on my balcony, although inside a cardboard box. The reason for this is that most of the geiger feeds in Tokyo right now are indoors and I noticed a larger variance in geiger measurements outdoors versus indoors. I checked the measurements of this geiger inside my apartment and they follow closely with the official government numbers as well as other geiger counters around Tokyo. I figured its better to have it outdoors so that people can get an idea of what they’re being exposed to when walking around. Most of the fallout is particulate matter. As a point of reference, the normal background radiation in Shinjuku is 0.035 uSv/Hr .

This said, if you happen to be seating on top of a box of anything that can monitor radiation, please answer this blog post or send an email to team [at] arduino [dot] cc, we will put you in touch with Shigeru. I think I speak for the whole Arduino Team if I say we will correspond your generosity/help by also contributing to this project.

Links for more information: send your data feed to Pachube (in Japanese), Pachube’s blog post about radiation measurements, data feeds as made by Shigeru, and the Japan Geiger Map,


7 Responses to “Geiger sensors needed for Japan”

  1. aka47 Says:

    Even though Geiger-Muller Tubes are rare at the moment (and conversely prices will be up) there is still room to experiment with Ion Chambers. These operate with far lower voltages, can be constructed at home on the kitchen table (No shortage at all ever) and are arguably better suited to dosimetry than Geiger Counters.

  2. Ryan Says:

    I am in Fukushima now and have an arduino and would *REALLY* like info about building a geiger counter.

  3. dcuartielles Says:

    Hej Ryan,

    as Shigeru is commenting on an email, there are Geiger counters on the way. There are at least three manufacturers working against the clock to build new ones. Please stay tuned, we will be informing about it either here or on the Arduino Forum (probably on both), as soon as we know they are available. You should check Shigeru’s explanations on how to hook them up and how to send the data to the net.


  4. David Says:

    *Radiation Sensor Board for Arduino RELEASED*

    Quick Overview:
    Detect Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation integrating any Geiger Tube which works in the range 400V – 1000V and read this levels using Arduino. As well as from the terminal, the radiation levels can be shown using different actuators:

    – Piezo: it allows us to hear the typical “chirp” common in the radioactivity counters
    – Leds: 3 green and 2 red let easily to show low, medium and high levels
    – LCD: it displays the counts per minute (cpm) and the equivalent absorbed energy levels in Servants (µSV/h).

    Read the Tutorial:

  5. Arduino Blog » Blog Archive » Tokyo Hackerspace/RDTN Geiger Shield Says:

    […] different threads on the forum about geiger tube & sensors lately  1, 2, 3). As David posted some time ago, the need of an open, net-spreaded visualization of the real level of radioactivity was heavily […]

  6. Ryan Says:

    Thanks for the info, I am going to try to build one since we are getting conflciting reports on the levels over here.

  7. Ryan Says:

    Servants (µSV/h).

    Should be Sieverts.

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