Balloon Collaboration

Projects => Balloon Projects => Topic started by: DaddyB on October 17, 2009, 01:36:23 AM



Title: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on October 17, 2009, 01:36:23 AM
I had an email from Brandi today asking two questions I couldn't answer. 1. What was the temperature at 100k feet?  I gave her what I had read and that was about -50C.  I thinks Larry's Wx station will answer that next year.
Question #2 was, what was the Radiation at 100k ft?  I had no answer for that either.  However...........
I was reading in some of the literature and saw where you could purchase a Geiger Counter ($149) from Aware Electronics, Model RM-60.  It is a small device that runs off a serial port connection, (5v).  I think all we would have to do is build a counter that could record the counts per period of time, and then transmit it to the ground or store the data on eeprom, or both.  The output is a 5v pulse.

Do y'all think this is a viable experiment?  If so, I will start getting the parts together.  Maybe we could include this in some of the telemetry.   ???


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Dan on October 17, 2009, 05:25:37 PM
I think it's a great experiment...I think that would give a bigger picture of what the outside environment is like along with Larry's weather data...I'll start trolling for cheaper components..hahah 


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on October 18, 2009, 02:10:36 PM
The Geiger Counter sounds like a good idea.  Sorry for laying low lately.  I have been busy and then this whole weekend I've been sick.

Anyway, I have been reading and keeping up with what is going on. 


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on November 06, 2009, 05:56:34 AM
I have the Pic side of the Geiger Counter working now.  :P  It took me a while to work out how the Timer-Counter works and then it took some more time to learn how to put Hi-Byte and Lo-Byte into one variable.  But I think I have that working now.
I made it count over 2200 counts during 30 seconds.  Tomorrow, I will set it for 60 seconds and see just how high I can get it to count.  Right now, it is set to count for 30 seconds and then display the results.  I have an LED that blinks (50ms) each second just to let me know it is working (I have to be able to see something going on! )  So now, I think I am ready to order the Geiger Counter Module.
I can post a copy of the code but I wasn't sure just how to do that.



Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on November 06, 2009, 01:09:04 PM
Glad to hear you got it going.  About how many counts do you expect to get per minute or per 30 seconds?


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on November 07, 2009, 05:29:58 AM
Ok, I think it is about finished.  It will count Geigers  ;D and it will read the battery voltage.
the output format is:

          "GM,nnnnn,BT,nnn"    That is 15 characters.  If needed, I can cut out the 'M' and 'T' for two or remove the letters altogether.  There is one problem I can see.  Since my program doesn't know when its going to be polled, it may be in the middle of a count when polled.  It could store the info in the eprom and read it out when called.  Again, it may miss some of the cycles.  I could include a counter field that would increment by 1 each cycle.  Then we would know if it had been missed and how many.  I don't see it being that significant missing a few cycles.  We are comparing the count with altitude and I think it could be easily interpolated if need be.  In fact, I think I will add a cycle counter, if we have the room.  For a mission, it shouldn't go into more that 4 digits.
Larry, I think you said something about a 2 min window.  If we have a 2 min window, then there should be no problem.  As soon as the counter transmits, your program can move on to another read.  ( I'm just brain storming here).


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Dan on November 07, 2009, 06:27:08 PM
Just thinking and throwing out ideas...Since you're only dealing with increments by one, you could do a binary count...That way you'd only use up 2 bytes counting all the way up to 65,535...3 bytes would push you up to 16M...You could let the processor on the ground sort out the Human Interface stuff (converting FFFF to a readable 65,535)...you'd have to do some testing to see how the RS-232 interface handles digital, but some of the APRS formats are binary so it must be doable...That way you can cram a whole lot more info on the data stream and you wouldn't have to worry about the 80 character limit on the TinyPack (if you're still planning to use that)...


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on November 08, 2009, 04:29:45 AM
The GM Reader/Controller has a few more things added (up to Ver 3.0 now).
The data string has a string counter now and also a polling input(will read a 5 volt pulse).  The counter will count data pulses from the Geiger Counter for 10secs or 30secs(or whatever we need).  Then stops the counter, and waits for the polling pulse. When it sees the Poll, it dumps the string count, the radiation count, and battery voltage into RS232 and resumes counting.

I will probably delete the string counter since we can track the order by GPS time.
Next week, will start building the 'beast' and get it off of the bread board.  The bread board caused me a lot of grief today with loose connections, etc.  :-[


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on November 10, 2009, 05:22:55 PM
The Geiger Counter has been ordered.
Delivery will be 1 to 2 weeks.


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on December 08, 2009, 01:57:22 AM
Delivery was a little longer than stated but it arrived today.  Am checking it out with it hooked to the PC but soon will be wiring the cable to have it work with the PIC.  Background radiation levels here in my computer room are very low (thankfully!!) about 1 to 3 counts every 5 seconds.



Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Dan on December 08, 2009, 02:27:58 AM
Now comes the fun part!!  ;D


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on December 08, 2009, 04:02:00 AM
Right, no more excuses!!    :-\


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on December 09, 2009, 03:46:00 AM
It works!! :D  The PIC is counting!!

Sitting on the table here I get from 0 to 6 or 7 counts per 10 second period which translates to about 30 to 40 counts per minute, as a background count.
I need a small radiation source to test the equipment.

Next, get off the breadboard into a wired circuit....    :P


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on December 09, 2009, 11:17:18 PM
You could stick it in the microwave and see what happens.... ;)


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Dan on December 10, 2009, 12:51:02 AM
Silly Wabbit! You'd have to stick it in a "micro-particle" for it to show on a geiger counter..hahahah


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on December 10, 2009, 01:01:04 AM
Photons can be either a particle or wave....   ;D


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on December 10, 2009, 01:08:09 AM
I found a place on the web that sells uranium samples for $17.00 ea plus postage, that will show a count of about 6000 per minute.
I haven't decided yet whether to order it.
It would be nice to be able to show some larger numbers on the PIC counter.  Will let y'all know what I decide.    :-\


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on December 10, 2009, 02:53:15 AM
We could experiment...  Measure the radiation of the uranium...  then enrich it and compare the different reading...  There is so much more you can do with enriched uranium. ;)


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on December 10, 2009, 03:14:18 AM
I Don't even want to go there!!!


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on December 10, 2009, 04:44:35 AM
The ore is ordered.
Ordered from 'United Nuclear Scientific'


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on December 11, 2009, 02:45:37 AM
Larry, I assume you want everything, ie. zig, Geiger counter running at 4800 baud.
I had some bad thoughts about trying to get 4800 from the pic because that number is not referenced in the data sheet.  But after some reading and calculations, I have the geiger counter running at 4800 and does not seem any different from the 9600.



Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on December 11, 2009, 03:23:11 AM
Right now I am running at 4800, but that is only because the GPSII that I am using is running there.  If I tap into the GPS that Danny used, it may be at 9600.  That may be better, my code will keep up.  Keep it flexable, because I have set anything definate yet.  I haven't been messing around with it much, lately.  Will get back on it probably soon after new years.


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on December 16, 2009, 02:44:31 AM
Who Ray!  The ore sample arrived today and it has proved to be a good way to check out the system.
Here are some photos of the project, so far:
1. This (http://www.barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/GC_BreadBoard.jpg) is the bread board of the lash up with the RM-60 geiger counter in the back ground.

2. The Uranium ore sample  (http://www.Barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/GC_Ore.jpg) in its plastic bag (where it will stay for safety's sake).

3. Ore Sample's Home. (http://www.Barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/Sample_Home.jpg)

4.  18 minutes of data. (http://www.Barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/GC_Data.jpg) 1-4 = Back Ground Count,  5-16 Reading Ore Sample, 17-18 Back Ground Count.

   The BT shown in the data is Primary Battery Voltage.  130 = 13.0 volts DC



Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Dan on December 16, 2009, 04:33:07 AM
Wow! I'm impressed...this data is gonna be VERY interesting....WAY COOL!  :)


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on December 17, 2009, 05:54:06 AM

This is the Source Code  (http://www.Barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/G_Counter_project.c) for the PIC microcontroller.



Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on February 13, 2010, 05:45:16 AM
I have started to add code to enable a Real Time Clock.  Was able to copy and paste code from another project that had the RTC, ie. the zig meter.  That sure makes life easier.  I have the bread board all hooked up now but I still need to set up the clock chip.
Once the RTC is up and running, I will be ready to try to incorporate the EEPROM.  Maybe I'll be ready by June...  ;D


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Dan on February 13, 2010, 06:29:19 PM
So the EEPROM will hold the mission data until it gets back down to the ground, right?  I understand that we've scratched the 'telemetry stream' project, will we be xmitting any data realtime on the 2010 flight?


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on February 13, 2010, 10:03:14 PM
Yes, we will be recording the Radiation data on board.  I haven't decided about the zig meter, but we can do like we did last year.  That seemed pretty successful.  I am open to suggestions.
I have the RTC running now and showing via rs232 on Hyper terminal.  As it appears, now, I am showing frame number, Time (24hr mode), 30 second radiation( this can be 60 second if we need it), and battery voltage.

I plan to study Larry's software to see how to address and write to the EEprom and get started on the software soon.

BTW, were you going to send the video cam?  If so, I can begin to construct a housing to keep it from bouncing around inside or just email the deminsions and I can get started on it soon.

Also, I have checked out the tracker bag, and I don't think it will survive another flight.  So, we need to come up with another one.  I have a large styrofoam box with 3/4 inch thick sides, but I don't really want to have to sew anaother cover.  That was quite a chore!!  This might be a project for someone who likes to sew?   ???
If we use another bag like the last one, we can shorten up the link lines.  That may take some of the stress off the bag itself.

We need another science experiment to send up, but I can't think of anything.  The seed experiment was a good one and turned out very well, I thought


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on February 24, 2010, 10:33:49 PM
Finally worked out the code for using Timer0 to count the seconds from the RTC.  At first, I had programed 30 seconds for it to count the radiation, but I kept getting a 60 second count.  When I programmed in 15 seconds I would get 30 seconds.  Then I discovered that the prescailer in Timer0 is always on, (I Think  ???) and as set up, was working as a divide by 2 counter. So, I did a multiply by 2 on the count variable and now it works right!!

Next, is the hardest part, (for me).  Get the EEprom working.      :P


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: barntekadmin on March 08, 2010, 01:39:31 AM
Last night I got the EEprom to working.  My brain doesn't learn this stuff and easily as in times past.  I haven't worked out all the snags yet but at least the pic and EEprom are talking to each other.  When I get some more bugs worked out will post the 'C' code on here....     :-\


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on March 10, 2010, 01:41:44 AM
The Geiger Counter is finally recording to the eeprom!!   ;D
Today, I ran the program recording in increments of 10 seconds (instead of the normal 30).  It started at 10:10:02 and I stopped it at 17:00:12; over 6 hours of recording @ one every 10 seconds.
It recorded 2460 lines of data.  Everything looks good.
I don't expect to have that many lines of data at 30 seconds per line.

Software:  Gcounter Writer    (http://www.barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/G_Counter_project.txt)

               EEprom Reader (http://www.barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/EEprom_Reader_Gcounter.txt)



Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Dan on March 10, 2010, 03:48:43 AM
Great News! This is gonna be REALLY interesting!! Posting all this and the weather data will be fun...I should probably start working on the 2010 flight page :)


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on March 10, 2010, 04:22:33 AM
Time is really moving fast.  I was beginning to think that I would have to transmit everything by RF!  Larry helped me lots.  I was starting to be a pest, calling him so much.
I took your advice and recorded the data in Hex, so, it only takes 8 bytes per line.  After all the fretting over pointers, I found that I didn't need to use them after all..... whew!   :P


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on March 10, 2010, 11:19:20 PM
Hey, you weren't being a pest...  You were giving me a chance to show off a little...  hehe   Glad you got it.


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on March 30, 2010, 04:23:33 AM
 ;D  ;D  Larry showed me how to use the PIC eeprom for text items that gobbled up lots of variable memory, so I have changed the Utility program to utilize that.  I think this is the final (?) version.  I now have four menu items: Read Real Time Clock, Set Real Time Clock, Read the EEprom, and Erase the EEprom.  They all seem to be working very well.

I did some calculations on the number of records we could record on the low side of the EEprom memory and it came out to about 8191 records at 8 bytes per record.  That comes out to about 68 hours of recording at 30 seconds per record. (if my calculations are right.. )  ???

So, now I am thinking that I may stop recording after about 3 hours.
Does anyone disagree?

This is the Utility source code  (http://barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/Utilities_Geiger.txt)as  it stands now...


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on March 30, 2010, 12:25:11 PM
I don't see a problem with stopping after 3 hours, although it wouldn't hurt anything to allow it to keep running until the balloon is recovered.  Another option is to drop your recording interval from 30 seconds to, say, 10 seconds.  That would drop it down to 22 hours that it would record.  Another other option is to write more info to the eeprom.  Instead of limiting yourself to 8 bytes per record, expand it to 16 bytes or 32 bytes.

You have plenty of room to play with, and the PIC and the EEProm don't care what you do with it.  You just don't have to limit yourself.  I still have to do some figgering to see how I want to set mine up.

Anyway, I am glad you got it going and I am glad I could help.  Your code looks good. Too bad I can't follow it very well... ;)   If anyone is interested, here is my Source Code (http://larry.barntek.net/picprgs/Dump_2_3.txt) for my Dump 2.3 program and the eeprom .eed (http://larry.barntek.net/picprgs/Dump_2_3.eed) file to go with it.


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on April 04, 2010, 02:02:14 AM
I think I am about ready to hardwire the project.  This is getting kinda complex for these old tired eyes and hands.
So, I am thinking of designing a PC board and having it built like the board for the Simplex repeater.

I have just finished the schematic diagram but haven't completely checked it for errors.

The schematic is in jpg format and is located HERE (http://barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/GM_Counter.jpg).


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Dan on April 04, 2010, 04:40:24 PM
Wow! I'm impressed...Even I can follow THAT schematic!! :)


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on April 05, 2010, 11:42:12 PM
Hey, I added a MENU to my site called Balloon Projects.  That is where I am detailing my work on the Wx Station for the balloon.  The regular posts called Balloon Project is where I am posting kind of a day to day activity of what I am working on and how it is coming, but the Menu Item is where I am posting the finalized information.  Check it out and see what you think.

DaddyB, under the Balloon Projects/Schematics menu, I have my schematic info if you wanna do anything with it.   I think it is accurate enough.

Larry's Daily Doodles (http://larry.barntek.net)


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on April 06, 2010, 04:45:48 AM
Larry,
I looked at it and looks good.  I'll look closer when I get finished with my PCB.  I am about half way through with mine.  Your new section on 'Balloon Projects' looks very good.  Lotza info there.

Here's the link to http://www.expresspcb.com/



Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on April 06, 2010, 11:59:07 AM
Thanks... ;D


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on April 08, 2010, 03:09:32 AM
The PC Board has been ordered.  The first one I worked up looked like a spider's web, so I scrapped it and started over.  It costs extra, but I ordered the board with the silk screen overlay to make it easier to stuff.  This particular option gets you 3 boards.

I have included the .pcb file here.  You must have the "ExpressPCB" software to view the file.  
You can download their FREE software here: Express PCB  (http://www.expresspcb.com)
 
          This is the circuit. (http://barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/GM_Counter.pcb)


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on April 11, 2010, 02:43:01 AM
Ok.  I feel better now!!  I have been concerned about over writing the EEprom once it gets filled with data.  After Larry's experience last year with the weather station and it overwriting the good data it collected in flight, I wanted to make sure that didn't happen to the radation counter.  Larry has fixed his program so that when it gets to the end of the memory it will stop recording.
I went at it a little differently, kinda cheated  ;D .  Since I am recording a count of each record, I determined how many records my eeprom will hold (8191.875 ) and wrote an 'if' statement that will cause the program to stop when it reaches 8190 records.
Then to test things. I started the program last night, recording a record every 10 secs and it ran for a little over 22 hours and stopped!!

8190 records is a little overkill for an approx 90 minute flight but there it is.

Am waiting for the PC boards to arrive (sked to arrive Apr 13).  Then we can get this thing off the breadboard and on to something solid.   :D


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on April 14, 2010, 10:32:41 PM
The 'boards arrived as skeduled and have been wired and tested.  ;D
A few minor things to do, like Power Pole connectors etc...

Pictures

1. Everything hooked up (http://www.barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/IMG_0935 (Medium).JPG)
2. Circuit board (http://www.barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/IMG_0936 (Medium).JPG)


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on April 15, 2010, 10:00:12 PM
Wow!  That looks really professional.  I hope mine comes out that good.


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on April 27, 2010, 02:30:39 AM
 :P  I just completed mounting the GM counter on its Palet.  
The palet is made from corregated plastic sign material.  
The various pieces are tied down with plastic ties.  
The batteries shown will be replaced with fresh lithium batteries.

Oh, and I did test it after mounting everything, and it still works.....   ;D

          Photo here (http://www.barntek.net/Projects/DadsStuff/Geiger_Pics/GM_on_Palet.JPG)



Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Dan on April 28, 2010, 03:11:16 AM
Looks good! I dont' think NASA could make it look THAT good!  hahah


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on July 02, 2010, 11:50:20 AM
It's a little early for the next flight, but with Larry's help on a snag, the radiation counter is a little more bullet proof and ready to fly again!
 
If the power cycles now, it will come back on recording at the last used memory location in EEprom.  I am running a test now to make sure it still stops when memory is full.  It has been running all night and is up to 2123 records and memory location 22760. This is a record every 10 seconds.  By the way, that record count is not the actual number of records on the eeprom. I cycled the power a few times last night so the record count returned to zero.  The memory location is correct.

This is on the flight battery!  Battery is down to 6.2 volts.

Remember, this is NOT rocket science!   ;D


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Kneeknaw on July 03, 2010, 09:32:01 PM
Yes, I would agree that this isn't rocket science. We'll have to think balloon science. ;D   Did we get ALL of our equipment back?


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on July 03, 2010, 10:19:54 PM
We got the WHOLE thing back, even the whole balloon.  It wasn't shredded... 
We have the video and I have a DVD for you whenever we can get together...
 :-\


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on August 10, 2010, 02:21:45 AM
I guess there is always room for improvment, even if it is a year before the next flight.
I was browsing a balloon web site today and found where they were using the RM-60 Geiger counter.
There was a diagram showing the hookup using only a 5 volt source.  I tried it and it works very well.  Now we have
eliminated 2 9volt batteries!!  The module is running from the main battery supply.
So, we have eliminated some weight, and two batteries.

            ;D


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: Larry on August 10, 2010, 02:57:51 AM
Sounds good.  We need every advantage we can get.  I still haven't tried out my compass yet, but will let you know when I do.


Title: Re: Radiation Counter
Post by: DaddyB on August 28, 2010, 05:24:15 AM
At last, I have some stuff on the WIKI site.  Feel free to edit, I'm not a very good writer...   :-[