BQScan - Measure Radioactivity using Digital Cameras

Atom BQScan is a new take on measuring radiation. Instead of a Geiger counter, this method uses the effect that radiation has on CCD chips in digital cameras. Radiation causes image artifacts and is a well-known problem for astrophotographers. This effect has been studied extensively in order to avoid these artifacts. The image processing specialists at Datinf GmbH, however, have found a new use for this effect: actively measuring it in order to determine radiation levels, instantly turning your digital SLR into a tool for measuring radiation.

The procedure is based on precisely analysing the signals the radiation produces on the light-sensitive layer of the chip. The camera is used without a lens but instead with the camera's plastic protection cap. This allows more radiation to pass to the sensor while simultaneously avoiding light exposure.

The exposure time is set to 30 seconds and an image is taken. Radiation hitting the CCD chip of the camera then produces spots for BQScan to analyse.

Accuracy

BQScan can detect beta and gamma radiation; alpha radiation is blocked by the camera's plastic protection cap.

The procedure is able to detect radiation of approximately 2 µSv/h and above. This means that the slightly elevated levels of radiation in an airplane at an altitude of 10,000 m is just barely detectable.

Supported Cameras

Currently we only support digital SLRs made by Canon. The following models are known to be sensitive enough and provide the resolution required for the analysis:

  • EOS Kiss X50 / DIGITAL REBEL T3 / EOS 1100D
  • EOS Kiss F / DIGITAL REBEL XS / 1000D
  • EOS Kiss X5 / EOS REBEL T3i / EOS 600D
  • EOS Kiss X4 / EOS REBEL T2i / EOS 550D
  • EOS Kiss X3 / EOS REBEL T1i / EOS 500D
  • EOS Kiss X2 / EOS REBEL Xsi / EOS 450D
  • EOS Kiss Digital X/EOS REBEL Xti / EOS 400D

The following cameras may only work in dark rooms due to the camera body not being fully light proof (possibly through the integrated LCD).

  • EOS 60D
  • EOS 50D
  • EOS 40D
  • EOS-1D Mark III
  • EOS-1Ds Mark III
  • EOS 5D Mark II
  • EOS 7D
  • EOS-1D Mark IV

References