Please help me buy a geiger counter

Okay, the hubby has wanted a geiger counter for years now. Tried to get one last year, but the market at the time was all backorders and scams due to the demand following the Fukushima disaster.
Time to try again, but I am having a hell of a time picking one out. Can anybody help me? I am looking in the $200-$500 range. I need something handheld with a digital readout. He’s only going to be using it for fun and curiosity, not in any professional capacity, but I still want to get a good quality one. Any suggestions?

From what I can tell, your price range is way too low for that type of instrument. You’re probably going to end up spending $1-2k for an actual good survey meter.

Perhaps I should clarify: I don’t need a good meter, just not a piece of crap. My concern is that I will get something poorly-made that breaks. He is just going to be puttering around and scanning random objects, not lab work.

Ben Meadows has one and they have a reputation as a professional outdoor equipment supplier. I have never heard of them selling junk. You might need someone more familiar with them to come along and explain if it’s good enough for what you want.

I was going to recommend the Ludlum Measurements Model 2401-P but realized your looking for one with a digital display. I still recommend it though. It’s durable and very well built. All our Materials Inspectors use them and we have eight set aside for emergency response. If you do choose to buy this it will cost all of the $500 you have.

For ones with digital displays I will recommend the Canbera Model MCB2, Not quite as durable but cheaper. It has only two buttons: on/off and backlight so it’s simple to use. Looks like a compact hairdrier. One complaint, the “beeps” it gives off are loud and can not be shut off so you might want to tape something over the speaker to muffle the noise.

One final recommendation is the S. E. International Model Inspector, it’s like the 2401-P but the display is in digital like you requested, however the digital display is very slow to respond compared to the audio response. It should be close to the $500 price range also.

All three of these instruments use a detector called a “pancake” Geiger Muller tube. I recommend this because it is the ideal detector for your hubby as it will see all three types of radiation he will encounter: alpha, beta, and low energy gamma. I personally use a 2401-P when searching for radioactive antiquities in stores.

Best of luck!

Here Ya Go!

Its in your price range

Hmm I’m thinking of buying one too. Has your husband considered all the types of detectors and settled on GM, or just chose it because it’s famous? Different detectors eg scintillation are more suited for different types of radiation.

Scintillators are far more expensive than you average halogen quenched GM tube (aka geiger counter). Most handheld scintillators are in crystalized form such as sodium iodide (NaI) which is hygroscopic and usually last about 15 years before replacement; however, this can vary widely depending upon storage conditions and environment.

Scintillators can be used to measure alpha, beta, and gamma/x-ray but not all of them simultaneously. Your one safe bet for a reliable all in one ionizing radiation detector is the good old fashioned geiger counter.

Thank you very much for the help Methyl Ethyl Death. I really appreciate the info. I think I’m going to go with the Ludlum 2401-P. It is more fun to watch a needle zip around than the digital display, I think.

Thanks again, dopers! :slight_smile:

What happened to all the millions of geiger counters made for the “Civil Defense” Agency, in the 1950’s? Are these still around?

Yes they are ralph, but their failure rates are very high due to their age. One day they work, the next day…nothing. You can find them on ebay but beware, many sellers don’t know what they have (or are disingenuous) and will try to sell a “geiger counter” when it is in fact an ion chamber. The CD-V 700 is the geiger counter. The other models: 710, 715, 717, 720 are all ion chambers that were designed for nuclear fallout detection. Unless you are a collector like me, you don’t want these. For more information, please check out Paul Frame’s impressive Civil Defense Museum.

Where are my manners.

Mrs. FrigidLizard, you are very welcome. You’ve bought one of the best for your husband. With minimal care, that meter will provide decades of use. Just be sure to remove the 9v battery if you plan to keep it in extreme hot or cold environments like the glove box of your car (where I keep mine) :).

I’ve seen a lot of these old counters with collapsed tubes. Apparently, the thin wall of the tube weakens enough over time to crumple.

I used to have plans for one somewhere. It can’t be that hard, the Professor made one on the island.

Any predictions on when it will be a standard feature of cell phones?

beowulff, you’re correct. The cathode (tube wall) was made very thin to allow beta energy to enter. Even when they were new, one could easily crush it. Sixty years of aging certainly hasn’t helped. Mind you, the detector was housed in a thick metal casing with a rotating “window” that exposed one quarter of the detector. Nevertheless, you had enough space to jab your thumb or finger into the detector and ruin it.

TriPolar, a fellow coworker of mine has an app on his iphone that will mimic sounds from a civil defense geiger counter. He likes to wave his phone over unsuspecting coworkers to suggest they might be contaminated. Everyone knows he’s a joker, but if he did that to the general public, esp during the Fukishima incident, you might have heard about him on the news. :slight_smile: