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Global radiation monitoring network

The uRADMonitor is a plug-and-play, low power, self contained radiation monitoring device, connected to a centralised server component.

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This project was created on 06/29/2014 and last updated 14 days ago.

The uRADMonitor is a completely assembled and functional radiation dosimeter unit. In the current models, the radiation detector is a Geiger Muller tube. The electronics provided are self sufficient: there is a fast microcontroller, a precision regulated high voltage supply, a digital counter and a network interface (Ethernet). The detector works by itself, while consuming very little power, measurements show only 0.8Watts of power! It could almost run on a single AA cell for hours, or it could easily be powered by a solar power source.

While the hardware is globally distributed , the second component of the project - the server is a centralised NODE, receiving the data reports. The uRADMonitor sends small packets of data every minute, so we have an excellent resolution to the measurements.

What started as a hobby project with just a simple Geiger Clicker, has now gone digital to global level, and the first units are already running: . Done as DIY.

In the beginning there was the passion for technology. I decided to start a blog and write about the things I've built. I was more into high voltage, physics and various experiments, cool, but with little or zero use to those around me. Then I decided it was time to build something useful, to put my time and energy into something that would eventually come to do good. I already had the high voltage inverters and a few Geiger tubes in my toolbox. In just a few minutes my first Geiger counter was clicking indicating radiation detection. It was early 2011.

As a software engineer, I found microcontrollers exciting, and easy to use. I didn't learn electronics in school, it was something I acquired during my spare time activities. But an effort done with passion overcomes obstacles easier. With my new advances in electronics, I decided to build a radiation monitoring station, with an Ethernet interface to have it function in an automated fashion by pushing data online for anyone to view. Slowly, the idea I was looking for, was shaping into reality.

The station, named uRADMonitor (from micro radiation monitor), quickly caught local press attention. It was featured in online and local publications, and I even had the chance to talk about it on TV.

Pushing things forward I got to learn about PCB design, tiny SMD electronics and hardware bugs (worse than any bugs known to a software developer). It was a long road of finding mistakes and perfecting the design. Some of that is documented in multiple posts on my blog and progress can be tracked there. But finally, in October 2013, precisely one year after my original uRADMonitor station, the first prototype for the new distributed network of radiation detectorswas seeing the daylight and passing the first tests with good results.

This is how uRADMonitor began, in an effort of building a distributed global network of detectors, calibrated to the same reference to offer consistent radiation measurements regardless of location, to function autonomously and use very little power while pushing the data online to the centralised webportal and to be as plug-and-playable as possible requiring the user to only plug in the power cable (5V DC) and the Ethernet cable (for Internet access). All the rest is done automatically: registering to the network for an IP via DHCP, accurately measuring time and radiation pulses and finally sending everything out to the server.

August 19, Stage 2 Updates:

The system design document:

Here is a presentation video:

A previous code revision is available as open source on Google code. Use it as an initial reference. The final code will be released when this project reaches a stable state.

Probably this is one of the best examples of Connected technology, combining the software with the hardware like poetry, going from microcontrollers to Geiger tube and high voltage inverters, coding in embedded C up to PHP and SQL. Hardware dosimeters to do the hard work, and webpages or Android phones to show the data, as the radiation measurements will also be available soon, via an Android app on the Google play. Technology interconnected at its best, to serve a useful purpose and help us all (global) stay safer.

September 12, Stage 3 Updates and video:

The uRADMonitor is a digital radiation dosimeter, enclosed in a rugged aluminium case. Designed to function as nodes, in a distributed network of radiation monitors,the uRADMonitor units are working together to achieve environmental radiation surveillance on a global scale.

Connectivity is a key element of the uRADMonitor design. All units are reporting the readings to a centralized server, where anyone interested can evaluate radiation levels all across the globe.

The devices can be employed in local, personal use, when one needs to constantly monitor a particular location. But the true advantage of this technology comes on a larger scale, where multiple units are working together, to help us understand variations in radiation levels, as affected...

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  • 1 × enc28j60 mini module Great for opening the internet to microcontroller projects
  • 1 × atmega328p Microprocessors, Microcontrollers, DSPs / ARM, RISC-Based Microcontrollers
  • 1 × Geiger Tube SBM-20 or SI-29BG Russian Geiger tubes made for the military - robust and very accurate
  • 1 × Aluminium Enclosure Rugged enclosure to make the detector indestructible.

Project logs
  • Firmware upgrade guide

    14 days ago • 0 comments


    As a project targeting global coverage, uRADMonitor was designed with all the important features right from the start: the units are plug and play, the network settings are automated via DHCP, the location is estimated automatically based on IP and so turning the unit on is enough to have a new node on the map, measuring radiation automatically while the data is displayed on the server as charts.

    But like with everything else, continuous effort is being made to make uRADMonitor even better. Some of these improvements are on the server side and are applied transparently, and others are targeting the electronics and the embedded code running on the units themselves. We call this code firmware, a term coined in embedded engineering.

    To update the firmware, the new code must be downloaded to the uRADMonitor unit. Currently this is possible only by wires – connecting the uRADMonitor to a computer (via a programmer and a cable) . Future versions might provide OTA (Over the air) firmware upgrades, to compensate for the inconvenience of un-mounting the detector, opening its case and having all the programming toolchain in place. But as said, the units are functioning perfectly with the stock firmware, and upgrading the firmware is optional for those willing to undertake the extra effort.

    Preparing the upgrade

    You will need the following:

  • usbAsp or compatible AVR programmer configured for 3.3V. These are available on many online stores, including Ebay or Amazon. If you still can't find it, do a search for usbAsp or Avr Programmer. Using usbAsp with Windows requires an additional driver, available here. MacOS and Linux will recognise the device out of the box.
  • the new firmware compiled for your own uRADMonitor unit. It comes as a small .hex file. Send us a mail to get it, and don't forget to include your uRADMonitor Device ID.
  • the toolchain, used to read the firmware .hex file and send it over the programmer to download it into your unit. The toolchain of choice is the avrdude, available here. There are several website offering compiled versions that you can use. Here is one for Windows, one for Unix and one for MacOS. Follow the instructions to install the software tools for your platform
  • Upgrading the firmware

    Having the usbAsp AVR Programmer connected to your computer (on Windows you'll also need the driver) and the avrdude software installed, you are ready to go. Connect the programmer to the uRADMonitor PCB as shown in the pictures below. Make sure to match the header pins correctly, using the diagram attached.
    When the connection is successful, a red LED will light up. Open a terminal and type the following command:

    avrdude -p atmega328p -c usbasp -U flash:w:uradmonitor.hex:i

    If everything is properly configured, you will see a text-mode animation showing a progress indicator. Wait for the download to finish, it shouldn't take more than a few seconds.
    The download shows a confirmation message when done.
    When complete, your unit will go online with the new firmware.

    Why upgrade?

    As said, constant progress is being made. All units produced starting with Jan 2015 have firmware version 108 or newer. This firmware allows users to connect to the uRADMonitor units directly, by opening their LAN IPs in the web browsers. Besides sending data to the central server, these new uRADMonitor units also open the HTTP port 80 to the LAN, and using a small embedded webserver, they are able to serve measurements and data directly. This features is useful for those interested in home automation, offering a convenient, direct way of accessing the data, but it also guarantees functionality beyond the server dependancy (should anything wrong happen to the server or the communication to it, the uRADMonitor units are still accessible via LAN).
    This new functionality is provided simply by changing the firmware (no hardware modifications are required). So those of you interested in the upgrade, contact us directly, or over the forum.

  • A year to remember

    a month ago • 0 comments


    2014's last day is slowly passing by. For what uRADMonitor is concerned, the passing year was one to remember. It was 2014 where this entire project practically started: it moved from an idea to a prototype and then into production, for now to see it expand quickly all over the world. The solution is already proving its reliability. Streams of data are flowing as we speak, part of this entire global radiation surveillance system, serving us all.
    We grew from one unit to 100 in less than a year, and this achievement is paving the way for more to come. People's awareness in protecting the individual's health and interests has increased, even if the motivation often came from regretful incidents. Now we are all more preoccupied with knowing exactly what is happening around us, and identifying any possible threats, including the invisible ones like the ionising radiation. Our health is precious, and we need to protect it. uRADMonitor promises to help us do that.
    New units have been deployed in many corners of the world: Portugal, Brasil, Canada, USA, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Finland or Netherlands, in no particular order.
    In a world of big players, starting from ground level can be challenging. But thinking big costs nothing. And so we did, knowing that innovation was the only way to go. Our efforts have been recognised, and uRADMonitor went into semifinals in the 2014 competition. We didn't conquer the space, but we did a good job at ground level, spreading the network across several continents.
    Then EEVBlog did a nice presentation on the project, and suddenly the world learned about uRADMonitor.
    Looking back, it seems we did good. In front of us, a new challenge begins. In 2015 we aim to provide improved hardware, including the Model B and Model C. Besides radiation, we want to focus more on other environmental parameters such as air quality. The infrastructure we've built so far will easily allow adding more sensors. We want to improve the radiation detectors, do research in solid state, handle radon detection and go for redundant topologies to allow coincidence and anti-coincidence monitoring.
    The software remains an important component of the project. Spreading from the restricted world of microcontrollers to the complexity of big data solutions, the bytes have been forced to dance on the uRADMonitor tunes. And improvement is constant here as well.
    As we speak a new firmware already allows direct LAN access to the uRADMonitor units. In case something breaks the communication to the centralised server, the unit can still be accessed locally as simply as opening the ip address in the Internet Browser.
    We have researched ways to protect the data from outside attacks including denial of service or injecting of forged data. We found ways of dropping the hardcoded device IDs in favour of automatic assignment. We'll see all this and more, in 2015! But until then, have a great New Year's Eve Party and:

    Radu Motisan
    the one guy handling the soldering, the software, and the server

    ps: 2015 will see this change to a startup company. An indieGogo campaign will follow, allowing us to fund the continuous development. Thank you all for the support!

  • Two new uRADMonitor units in Poland

    a month ago • 0 comments


    With some of the new units still in transit, or waiting to get installed, a few others are already up an running. From the list of firsts, it is the time of Poland to come forward with two brand new uRADMonitor radiation monitoring stations in two of the country's biggest cities: Warsaw and Łódź
    The units are measuring normal radiation levels, with unit 11000048 having only slightly higher readings.

View all 46 project logs


the Exosmith wrote 2 months ago null point
The military might like this..

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parijat99 wrote 2 months ago null point
I live in India and want to get my hand on one of these could you tell me were to get them.

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radu.motisan wrote 3 months ago null point
More units will get online the following next days, as they are approaching various destinations all across the globe.

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Spockopolis wrote 4 months ago null point
The metal housing will block alpha and most beta radiation. Ever thought of incorporating a window over the tube to allow measurement of these as well?

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radu.motisan wrote 4 months ago null point
Yes, but that would complicate the design. In this early phase all effort has been focused on making the first units possible. This goes on with private funding, so I'm doing my best. As the project will develop further, we'll see additional features in place.

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Victor Bolshakov wrote 5 months ago null point
Why not use PoE (simplest passive variant)? And why metal case? It will shield same radiation...

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radu.motisan wrote 5 months ago null point
I wasn't able to use POE in Model A because of the enc28j60 ready-made module that I was using for the Ethernet interface. But it is possible to use an external POE adapter. For the future models I might be able to add this feature too.

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Philip Gladstone wrote 5 months ago null point
Interesting -- what type of radiation are you detecting? I would guess that it is mostly Beta. How thick is the aluminum shielding of the case? I would think that that would stop most of the beta radiation...

Have you done any testing / calibration?

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radu.motisan wrote 5 months ago null point
The uRADMonitor is an automated GM detector in a rugged aluminium housing which responds predominantly although not exclusively to gamma radiation.

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Nakul Rao wrote 5 months ago null point
Awesome Project!! I am unable to access the website Is it down?

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radu.motisan wrote 5 months ago null point
I see it is working, can you try again?

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Jasmine wrote 6 months ago null point
Hello radu.motisan, now is the time to add a few more details to your project to give it the best chance of going through to the next round of The Hackaday Prize.

By August 20th you must have the following information on Hackaday Projects:
- A video. It should be less than 2 minutes long describing your project. Put it on YouTube (or Youku), and add a link to it on your project page. This is done by editing your project (edit link is at the top of your project page) and adding it as an "External Link"
- At least 4 Project Logs (you've got this covered)
- A system design document
- Links to code repositories, and remember to mention any licenses or permissions needed for your project. For example, if you are using software libraries you need to document that information.

You should also try to highlight how your project is 'Connected' and 'Open' in the details and video.

There are a couple of tutorial video's with more info here:

Good luck!

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radu.motisan wrote 6 months ago null point
Thanks Jasmin, I'll do my best to meet the requirements before the deadline.


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radu.motisan wrote 6 months ago null point
I believe this entry now has everything in place. Thank you for the reminders, both here and on email.

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davedarko wrote 6 months ago null point
I'm just here to drop my kudos! Awesome project, pleasing pictures!

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Dreistein wrote 6 months ago null point
Have you thought about powering the whole thing over ethernet? Saves the AC/DC adapter

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radu.motisan wrote 6 months ago null point
yes, that would be a good improvement.

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Marius Popescu wrote 6 months ago null point
Awesome project!
I'm curious, do you happen to know a source for buying these russian-made geiger tubes in larger quantities?

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radu.motisan wrote 6 months ago null point
yes, Ukraine :)

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Adam Fabio wrote 7 months ago null point
Great project Radu! Thank you for entering The Hackaday Prize! We need a global network to monitor radiation - ASAP! If you haven't already, you should check out freaklabs talk at the 2012 OH summit, and his work with Tokyo hackerspace. Great starts there!
Keep the updates coming in - How do you test those Russian tubes to be sure they're still good?

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Christoph wrote 7 months ago null point
Nice. Seems like you evaluated the whole thing. Maybe I am blind, but I did nit find an answer to this: Does your current design include a discriminator for evaluating impulses? If yes, I'm curious how it works. I've once used a commercial devie which magically transfers impulses in some gaussian shaped pulse allowing you to cound and evaluate energy. Regards.

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radu.motisan wrote 7 months ago null point
There is a pulse counter and it has a discriminator (part of the digital circuit), but it doesn't extract any information on radiation energy.
This functionality is usually implemented with different detectors such as scintillation probes or proportional counters, not geiger tubes (almost ignoring the radiation energy in their geiger plateau: )
If things go well, we might see an uradmonitor also capable of measuring radiation energy somewhere in the future (perhaps using an array of PIN photodiodes). We could then have a hint on the type of radionuclide involved.

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ghzatomic wrote 7 months ago null point
Very nice man ... great project ... i hope to help the world with my projects as well as you

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radu.motisan wrote 7 months ago null point
Thank you, let's hope for the best!

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paolo wrote 7 months ago null point
you can add more sensors:
pollution sensor
co2 sensor
radon sensor
uv sensor

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radu.motisan wrote 7 months ago null point
I did for the first station built, see: . But for these distributed detectors, I need to keep a balance between costs and reaching the target. What I presented here is the Model A, there will also be a model B, featuring temperature and barometric pressure sensor (needed to estimate altitude).

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Victor Cazacu wrote 7 months ago null point
Awesome work Radu! ;)

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radu.motisan wrote 7 months ago null point
Thank you!

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Mads Barnkob wrote 7 months ago null point
Great to see this project! Most of the other distributed radiation networks is only concentrated in the US with a few measurements from Europe.

I am really looking forward to a greater number of monitors spread around the globe and the possibilities to visualize the data with the google maps API.

Keep up the good work!

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radu.motisan wrote 7 months ago null point
Thanks Mads!

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Łukasz Przeniosło wrote 7 months ago null point
Hey there, great project :). One thing i noticed regarding projects containing ethernet connection is that ppl still tend to use the enc28j60 chip with an 8 bit mcu instead of a 32 bit mcu with ethernet pheripheral on board.
This isnt an attack on your project of any sort! It was just an outloud thought. I wonder either this trend is going to change anysoon.

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radu.motisan wrote 7 months ago 1 point
Most likely yes, as things evolve, despite there being a rather large inertia on change. Personally I opted for this combination based on previous experience, and for this project there so many obstacles - I had to choose things I knew they would work straight ahead, where possible.

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