Electronic Design

Radiation Detectors Protect First Responders

It's the ultimate nightmare—nuclear contamination. First responders need to know the level of contamination before they venture into potential catastrophes. As they investigate radiation leaks or terrorist threats, these officials can rely on two devices from Berkeley Nucleonics.

The nukeALERT II1703M Personal Radiation Detector (PRD) and the palmRAD 1621M Dosimeter discretely detect and measure gamma radiation. Targeting non-technical users, applications include emergency response, border patrol, cargo inspection, homeland security, and counterterrorism. They're impact-resistant and watertight, and they offer an intuitive interface for easy control.

Both devices offer two modes of operation. The first mode incorporates a 1 through 9 strength indicator scale for simple analysis of sources present. The second mode provides exposure rate readings and accumulated dose information. An algorithm lets users adjust the settings to minimize false alarms in environments with high background levels of radiation without compromising detection ability.

These detectors meet ANSI N42.32 specifications, which are standards for radiation and nuclear detection equipment adopted by the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Division. First response teams simply clip the detectors to their belts to monitor a wide area for radiological hot zones as they follow their normal response procedures. The devices alert their users to radiation through a vibration or audible alarm.

Also, these devices store data—including the level of alarm exceedance relative to the present threshold—for up to 1000 events in their internal nonvolatile memory. This data can be transmitted to a PC via the infrared channel for processing, analysis, and control. The nukeALERT II 1703M runs on a single AA battery for 800 hours, based on 24-7 usage. The palmRAD 1621M runs on a single AA battery for 12 months at natural conditions (see the figure).

Berkeley Nucleonics

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