Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

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raptor
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Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by raptor » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:33 pm

Since I had some spare time recently during Hurricane Isaac to check out my emergency supplies I decided to spend the time reviewing and inventorying some items.

One item I pulled out was my radiological detection gear. I have a Victoreen CDV-715 radiation detection unit. I purchased it used but calibrated in June 1993. It has stayed packed in the box and based upon the inventory label has not been opened since 1999 when it was retested and passed the circuit test. It was stored without the battery (as it should be) in a climate controlled environment. I decided to pull it out and check it and lo and behold it failed the circuit test. A little more fiddling with it showed it functioned but likely needs calibration.

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So that got me to thinking about the radiological risks that I face and I did some research. I decided that most of my radiological risks were not from fallout and high level of radiation but rather lower levels of radiation.

The Victoreen CDV -715 is an excellent radiation survey meter. It is rugged and used in the oil patch and quite capable. However it measures in Rads/hr and the lowest setting is .1 rad/hour. However sensitivity at these low levels is great. On top of that by the time this meter registers even at this low level I can be potentially exposed to a higher dose of radiation than I chose to accept.

Thus my decision was that the Victoreen need to go the shop to be recalibrated but I also needed a lower scale and more sensitive radiation detector to cover the ground below .1 rem/hr. So a quick check of the internet found this place still in business (Radmeters4U) and I shipped the CDV715 to them for calibration. http://www.radmeters4u.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; . For the princely sum of $92 they will recalibrate and confirm the operation of any CDV-715 (repair parts are extra).

I then launched on a search for simple low range radiation detector that was accurate and easy to use. I located this meter a RADEX RD1503 for $159. It is simple, digital and easy to read in either MicorSieverts or microrem. Its limits are 9.99 microsieverts or 999 micro rem. This compliments the CDV-715 low end range nicely.

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A quick note 999 micorem equal 9.99 micorsieverts. The recommended maximum full body dosage for a year for a nuclear worker is .5 sieverts or 5 rem. So if you take this maximum dosage and divide it by 365 days then by 24 hours you get a maximum hourly dosage of 5.7 microsieverts or 570 microrem. So if the RADEX indicates a reading of anything over 570 microrem or 5.7 microsieverts it is time consider leaving AND to get out the CDV-715. The RADEX unit also has an audible alarm for various levels.


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By way of information, the average background radiation level in my house is between 10 and 12 microrem or .10 to .12 microsieverts so the radiation level rise from this level to the 500 rem level alone would be of great concern to me and a good warning notice. Something that the CDV-715 may not alert to since its main purpose is dealing with much higher levels of radiation that frankly I should not be messing around with anyway.

I left the CDV-715 alone for so long mainly because of the low radiation risk in my area. In addition when I did think about the item the places were stripped of cheap radiation detection gear and the calibration company was swamped with business. Now that the Japanese nuclear disaster has subsided demand for all thing nuclear has waned. It is good time to revisit your radiological preps.

I am by no means an expert on radiation. I would be very interested in feedback from those more knowledgeable on the subject.

BTW my radiation plan is simple. If the meter read 500+ microrem... GTFO ASAP and keep traveling until the meter readings are reduced to normal.


I also view my radiation risk as low but primarily related to an accident at one of the three nuclear power plants (all of which are well over 50 miles away) or perhaps some other nuclear incident at the Port of New Orleans. In other words a low level discharge is far more likely (IMO) than nuclear fall out.

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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by feedthedog » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:49 pm

So would you potentially just leave the digital meter running in the house 25/7? Or would that decrease the useful life of it in some way?

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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by raptor » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:28 pm

I do not see why it could not be left on. It would obviously go through batteries, but I do not think it would wear out faster. Like anything it has a finite life. Though honestly I do not have avoids what it's lifespan maybe.

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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by feedthedog » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:07 pm

I'm not sure if it makes any sense, or if the analogy is a good one, but it seems like you would want one of these along side your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.

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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by raptor » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:50 pm

If you lived in proximity to a nuclear facility it would be sensible to do just that. Though you may want a120 volt unit instead of a battery operated detector.

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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by sheddi » Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:42 pm

Good thread Raptor!

Alongside my CDV-715 I have the companion CDV-700. The 700 is an old-school Geiger counter with a maximum reading of 50mR/hr, so it covers the more usual range. It will easily detect the gamma emissions from a pack of thoriated gas lamp mantles, for example. I am happy to accept that technology has come on a long way since the first CDV-700s in 1954, and it's more a bit of Cold War memorabilia than a daily-use instrument.

The "CDV-700 Club" Yahoo group (full disclosure: I am a mostly-silent member) is a great source of information on all things radiological, not just CDV-700s.
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/CDV700CLUB/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Note that, amongst all the engineers, physicists and reactor techs, it has it's quota of tinfoil hatters, too.
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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by raptor » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:28 pm

I considered buying a CDV-700 and may still. The problem though is finding a good used one at decent price that can then be calibrated. Therr a a lot for sale but most say for novelty purposes so it is hard to tel if they have been gutted or simply are out of calibration.

I went with the RADAX because I liked the mix of old and modern technology in the CDV-715 and RADAX

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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by Feeney » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:43 pm

I ordered one of these right after Fukushima http://www.nukalert.com/. I have it hanging just inside the door we use most often, the one leading to the garage. It makes a barely audible click every couple of seconds to let you know it's still working (battery life is 10 years). It is supposed to chirp if the radiation level jumps. We have a nuke plant north of us (off-line at this time).

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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by Crow » Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:56 pm

feedthedog wrote: would want one of these along side your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.
Because smoke detectors use radioactive elements in them?

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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by Thedamned666 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:44 pm

Crow wrote:
feedthedog wrote: would want one of these along side your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.
Because smoke detectors use radioactive elements in them?
They dont anymore. But I heard about someone years ago that made a semi-functional nuclear reactor at home, he gathered something from old smoke detectors to use as his isotope or whatever.

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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by beheadtheundead » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:49 am

Thedamned666 wrote:
Crow wrote:
feedthedog wrote: would want one of these along side your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.
Because smoke detectors use radioactive elements in them?
They dont anymore. But I heard about someone years ago that made a semi-functional nuclear reactor at home, he gathered something from old smoke detectors to use as his isotope or whatever.
Here is part one of a documentary about him. Pretty interesting stuff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Yk8dmw-hkI" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by sheddi » Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:05 pm

Thedamned666 wrote:
Crow wrote:
feedthedog wrote: would want one of these along side your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.
Because smoke detectors use radioactive elements in them?
They dont anymore.
Maybe not in your AO, but the ones here mostly do.

I bought one from a major chain store earlier this year and it's marked up as containing 0.9 uCi of Am-241.

You *can* get photoelectric ones, but they're not common and generally more expensive.
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Re: Radiation Detection - Upgrades and Maintenance

Post by raptor » Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:10 pm

There are two kinds of smoke detectors ionizing and photocell. The ionizing ones are cheaper. Ionization smoke detectors are more effective at detecting flash fires, while photoelectric smoke detectors are more effective in detecting smoldering fires. Some use both. You could not make nuclear reactor with the Americium-241. It's potential risk is not even a 5th decimal place rounding error.

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