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Cosmic Array

An array of individual cosmic ray detectors distributed across a landscape to display how cosmic rays arrive as showers of muons.

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The aim of this detector project is to deploy many detectors across a park or landscape. So that an observer from a distance or walking amongst them will experience how cosmic rays are all around us and arrive in showers of particles. Each detector will seem to randomly twinkle with colours and sounds that are triggered by cosmic rays. However, as cosmic rays arrive in showers of particles, some of these detectors will trigger in unison and others independently. The experience being similar to what can be witnessed in nature like the sounds of Cicadas or the flashing light of Fireflies, where both sound or light fade in and out from randomness to unison. Cosmic Rays have been present throughout the entire evolutionary history of life on our planet and so this display reinforces our connection with the universe and the importance of science and understanding of the natural world. http://cosmicray.com.au/what-is

I'm currently working on a number of different design approaches for this project as it will need to be more cost effective if I was to build a larger installation of 100 or more detectors. The detectors in the array may be enclosed in a type of bollard lamp post, sphere, something that hangs on a tree or tripod or is put in the ground like a paving block. Future prototypes and installations may include a software, pulse summing and solid-state detectors. More details about this project will be added in the project logs below. An aim is also to setup a IoT wireless network linking each detector, so for example 100 detectors spread across a hectare might be monitored live to produce a histogram of activity.

The project has no agenda other than the first of what I hope are thought-provoking art/science installations. Which will provide an interesting window into the universe and the natural world around us, leaving the observer to form their own connections and conclusions.

  • 3 × Resistor 10M Ohm 0.25W, 1/4W SMD 1206 HV
  • 3 × Capacitor 10pF ±5% 1kV Ceramic NP0 SMD 1206
  • 3 × Capacitors 1µF 450V Aluminum 2.5mm Radia
  • 3 × Resistor 47.5k Ohm ±1% 0.25W SMD 0805
  • 3 × Resistor 560k Ohm ±1% 0.125W SMD 0805

View all 29 components

  • IoT Concept Model for Slash Adelaide installation

    Robert Hart7 days ago 0 comments

    Getting ready to build and install an array of 16 detectors for Splash Adelaide in August. This is the first main prototype test PCB. I've also setup an account with Digikey and building a list of components. This is one of for other PCBs including a HV DC Supply Module, Sound Trigger Module and Wireless LAN IoT Modules.

  • Cosmic Array at Splash Adelaide 2017 Winter

    Robert Hart04/25/2017 at 05:22 0 comments

    The aim of this project is to deploy 16individual cosmic ray detectors across a park or other landscape, for the Splash Adelaide 2017 Winter Festival in collaboration with a group of artist-musicians called Sacred Resonance.

    When the public come to visit this installation, they will experience how cosmic rays are all around us and arrive in showers of particles. Each detector will seem to randomly twinkle with colours and sounds that are triggered by cosmic rays, not unlike walking through a field of colourful wind chimes.

    However, as cosmic rays arrive in showers of particles, some of these detectors will trigger in unison and others randomly. A similar experience to what can be witnessed in nature like the sounds of Cicadas or the flashing light of Fireflies, where both sound and light fade in and out from randomness into unison.

    Cosmic Rays have been present throughout the entire evolutionary history of life on our planet and so this display reinforces our connection with the universe and the importance of science and understanding the natural world.

    However, the project has no agenda other than the first of what I hope are thought-provoking art/science installations. Which will provide an interesting window into the universe and the natural world around us, leaving the observer to form their own connections and conclusions.

    Technical
    Each detector in the array will produce a bright flash of one of 4 colours (red, green, blue or white). In the same manner, one of 3 musical notes ( e.g. C, F, G) or all 3 notes together depending on the direction and angle of an ionising particle called a muon passes through two or more Geiger–Müller tubes simultaneously.

    Due to the tight deadline, this design will use 3 Geiger–Müller tubes in each and gate logic for coincidence detection as used in previous prototypes, as these have worked very reliably.

    The detectors aesthetics, however, have yet to be finalised it may either be enclosed in a type of bollard lamp post, something that hangs on a tree or pole or put directly into the ground like a paving block.

    Overview block diagram

  • SiPin Photodiode Matrix

    Robert Hart04/08/2017 at 22:51 3 comments

    To get the price of each cosmic ray detector in the array down, I am currently developing a solid state detector using a matrix of low cost BPW34F SiPin Photodiodes, without the use of a scintillation panel. I have already used these diodes in other experiments and although on there own there are many limitations in it maybe possible to overcome them in a larger matrix.
    https://hackaday.io/project/1749-solid-state-ionising-radiation-detector

    The aim of this design will be to use layers of individually amplified photodiodes in a matrix where each matrix element is strongly pulse shaped. Coincidence detection is then measured between layers to identify relative location of where a Muon has passed through to produce each a colour and musical note output. This is a similar, but not identical method to the on used in my Cosmic Ray Hodoscope detector using GM tubes, but on a much smaller scale:
    https://hackaday.io/project/1700-cosmic-ray-muon-81-9x9-pixel-hodoscope

  • Simplified detector all boxed up

    Robert Hart01/28/2017 at 23:46 0 comments


  • Prototype V6 test simplified GMT detector

    Robert Hart01/26/2017 at 01:52 0 comments

    Highly simplified GMT detector

  • Summing amplifier experiment

    Robert Hart11/13/2016 at 05:23 0 comments

    his detector design is an experiment in using a summing amplifier for measuring coincidence between multiple ionizing radiation detectors. In this example four Geiger–Müller tubes. The output would be used to drive different colours and sounds based on the voltage level of each pulse. It would also display background radiation as a specific colour/sound which would be ~1/4V pulse. Where a muon strike (cosmic ray) being either ~1/2V ~3/4V and ~1V.

    Note the pulse height clearly increasing when the tubes are oriented from vertical to horizontal. This is a result of an ionizing particle traversing through more than one GMT originating from the sky.

  • First simple proof of concept - October 2016

    Robert Hart11/13/2016 at 05:11 0 comments

    Here is the first simple proof of concept idea using Geiger–Müller Tubes (GMT) and coincidence detection using logic gates which worked first time.

    Simulation of how I imagined this circuit might work.

    Actual first strip board prototype

    First live test of prototype

View all 7 project logs

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Discussions

Andrew Bolin wrote 05/08/2017 at 23:22 point

Congratulations on being one of the winners of the concept round. 

Good to see another Aussie on here! If the project goes well, maybe you could consider bringing it up to Sydney for Vivid.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Robert Hart wrote 05/09/2017 at 07:28 point

Hi Andrew, Thank you, I'm currently building a small array of 20 detectors for the Splash Adelaide Winter festival. Btw I'm originally from Sydney, moved to Adelaide 20 years ago.

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DontStalkME wrote 04/05/2017 at 08:43 point

Could you make it cheaper by using tin-can ion detectors? Or make your own GM tubes? You could get funding by pre-selling the boxes on kickstarter. Then after you get some images you can ship them out. This assumes you are not wanting a permanent installation.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Robert Hart wrote 04/08/2017 at 22:15 point

Hi DontStalkME, An Ion detector can indeed detect Muons, in fact the very early discoverers of cosmic rays used such detectors. However, they are slow, unstable and are effected by other environmental factors like humidity.  Nevertheless I have developed a solid state detector using a matrix of low cost SiPIN photodiodes. Just haven't published this yet as it is a rat nest gamma detector and not yet in a coincidence detector configeration. 

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biemster wrote 10/23/2016 at 19:03 point

Very nice idea! I've worked for cosmic shower detectors in Holland (HiSparc) and Argentina (Auger). The shower front on earth' surface is usually multiple kilometers wide, what inter-detector spacing are you planning to use?

For HV generation you could consider PWM and a boost converter, something like I did here #ESP8266 Geiger counter. The circuit could easily be adapted to count events on the three tubes on different GPIO's of the uC. That would simplify the schematic quite a bit, and if you choose for the ESP as well you can easily network them together too.

In addition to my inter-detector spacing question, how many stations are you planning?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Robert Hart wrote 10/24/2016 at 06:31 point

Hi Biemster,  Thank you! This in the very early stages of development, mostly a proof of concept. I've built many cosmic ray detectors, Geiger counters and PMT counters, just for lolz.  I have developed a good power supply but I fear it's a little over the top for this project and if I want to build a 100 lets say it would be difficult to fund as a hobby project.  So yes I've been thinking about a boost switch-mode approach.   I'm also considering a solid-state detector as well, which I've also been working on.  For this project I might just build a few using GM tubes as demonstration pieces and then maybe go for some crowd funding.  3 ideas I have for an installation would be 1) bollard lamp post in a city parkland 2) block paving bricks 3) across a remote desert landscape below a hill.  these detectors would be placed a few metres apart and most likely 100 or more.  

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