My Geiger counter project has been on holiday for a while. When I originally ordered all of the parts, I ordered fuse clips (to hold the tube) with solder lugs too big to fit in the holes and a trim pot (VR1) too small for the SMT pads. I moved on to other things for a while and just now got around to ordering the correct parts and soldering them in. I've verified that everything works except the tube. Apparently, the specific tube I bought (SI-3BG) is not very sensitive.
Other than not knowing if it will actually detect radiation, everything seems to work just five with Mighty Ohm's original Atmel code. The only difference from his instructions is that the RS232 is 1200 baud instead of 9600. I'm not entirely sure why that is. The source code specifies 9600 and I have an 8MHz resonator just like his kit. I'll worry about that later. At least it works.
It will beep if I touch my fingers to each lug of the geiger tube, but I haven't been able to detect any naturally occurring particles. There are a couple of possibilities.
- I had to choose a different transistor for Q1 and different diode for D1 because I couldn't find those specific parts in SMT. Maybe the gain or some other performance spec is too far off.
- The type of tube I bought is not sensitive enough so I just need to find a stronger radiation source.
- I don't have VR1 set right to give a high enough voltage to trigger the tube.
I'm going to try a 100:1 voltage divider to a unity gain current amp to measure the voltage and go on the hunt for a hotter (but still safe - I hope) radiation source. I might go back to eBay and buy a different tube too. Lastly, I'm going to get out some data sheets and look at my subs again. Maybe try to find something even closer to the original. Once I've verified that it all works, I'll make the design files available as open source.
If the Alpha is the tough guy, why can it be stopped by a single sheet of paper?