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Sunday, July 7, 2024

Tim Kuhlbusch’s BetaBoard Is a Pocket-Sized, Raspberry Pi RP2040-Powered Particles Physics Lab

Physicist, electrical engineer, and radio ham Tim “DJ8TK” Kuhlbusch desires to place a particle physics lab in your pocket with the BetaBoard, a low-cost particle detector within the footprint of a enterprise card — and which might be produced in small portions for lower than $10 every.

“This venture is an inexpensive semiconductor particle detector for instructional functions,” Kuhlbusch explains of the BetaBoard. “I used to be impressed by the CERN DIY particle detector, however wished to make it extra accessible and easier to make use of. Aside from the tutorial functions, I’ve observed that is fairly a pleasant enterprise card for me: it represents my physics background, electrical engineering expertise, and in addition my curiosity in sharing information. All whereas matching the form-factor of a enterprise card.”

The BetaBoard builds atop a home-made particle detector designed by Oliver Keller whereas at CERN, and serves the identical function: to detect and distinguish particles and electrons and measure their energies between 33keV and 8MeV. Kuhlbusch’s tackle the venture, although, goals for a decrease value whereas additionally lowering noise ranges, and makes the transfer to the favored and low-cost Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller as its driving machine.

The newest revision of the BetaBoard design makes use of a stack of 4 PCBs, with the electronics housed within the lowest of the 4. The subsequent two layers act as a protect for the analog electronics, which embody amplified PIN diodes appearing as alpha and beta particle detectors, with a high layer for cover internet hosting a schematic showcasing the machine’s working precept. By protecting the home windows over the particle sensors with electrical tape, gentle is excluded — and the diodes can react to the goal particles as an alternative.

“For instance for the experiments potential with this small detector I’ve measured the speed of a 15g package deal of potassium carbonate,” Kuhlbusch writes of the BetaBoard’s testing. “As a result of low exercise we solely get a number of recorded pulses per minute. Due to this fact every knowledge level within the determine [pictured] took 23 minutes. It’s clearly seen that the speed drops with growing distance.”

The venture is documented in full on Hackaday.io, with {hardware} design recordsdata and supply code revealed to GitHub beneath the permissive BSD 2-Clause license.

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