What is so special about the NukAlert-ER?

What is so special about the NukAlert-ER?
The NukAlert-ER is a unique radiation detection and measurement instrument. It is a
Geiger counter in the truest sense, but it is able to measure radiation levels far higher
than traditional Geiger based devices. Traditional Geiger counters sized for sensitivity
adequate to measure background radiation levels are inherently incapable of measuring
the life threatening levels possible from a power plant catastrophe or nuclear attack.
Unlike the NukAlert-ER, the "dead time" of traditional Geiger counter circuits causes a
sensitive counter to become inoperative above about 100mR/hr (a level which may be a
long term health risk, but is far below immediately life threatening). The NukAlert-ER
uses sophisticated high-voltage control circuitry and statistical analysis of the pulses
from the Geiger tube to enable radiation measurement over an intensity range from 1
uR/hr to 600R/hr. This technique is referred to as "Time to First Count" in radiation
detection textbooks. The NukAlert-ER is the first inexpensive portable instrument to
employ the TTFC method. The result is a single device that can be used as a sensitive
Geiger counter, survey meter and dosimeter. Its wide dynamic range facilitates the
location of shelter, aids decontamination of people, allows preliminary evaluation of food,
and measures windblown fallout from distant sources.
What is the difference between the original Nukalert and the NukalertER?
The original NukAlert Keychain Radiation Detector is essentially a "Foxhole Finder". Its
purpose is to guide its user to shelter from a high level radiation event. Its readings are
approximate and its measurement range is limited (100mR/hr to 50R/hr - a 1:500 range).
It is not sensitive to low level radiation and has no ability to measure accumulated
radiation dose. The main advantages of the legacy NukAlert are its low price, zero
maintenance, ruggedness, and portability. It was designed to address the total absence
of survey meters in America. The NukAlert-ER is a precise measurement instrument
that quickly responds to radiation levels 10,000 times lower and 20 times higher than
the legacy NukAlert. It also has accumulated dose measurement functions, settable
alarm levels and data communication capability. The NukAlert-ER with its wide
measurement range is useful not only for finding shelter, but also for analyzing lingering
low level radiation in the recovery phase after a nuclear event. Both the Legacy
NukAlert and the NukAlert-ER are valuable tools for responding to a nuclear incident.
My AA batteries only seem to last a few days in the Nukalert-ER. Is that
The Nukalert-ER specification, based on careful measurement, is:
Battery Life (2600mAhr Alkaline):
Up to 65hr at background count rate
~32hrs between 1mR/hr and 10mR/hr
~24hrs Geiger above 100mR/hr
Up to 1 year in periodic monitor mode
Up to 3 years sleep (hibernate) mode
Significant battery consumption is the price that must be paid for the computing power
and precise high voltage control that allows the instrument's enormous measurement
range. At our fabrication and calibration facilities we use NiMH rechargeable batteries.
We have found that the very best charger is the Powerex MAHA MH-C9000. There is
great variation in the capacities of AA batteries (wikipedia.org/wiki/AA_battery). NiMH
batteries typically yield about 60% of their rated cpacity when new, and their capacity
gradually increases as they are repeatedly charged and discharged. Their capacity
begins to taper off after about a hundred charge/discharge cycles, yielding 50%
capacity after a few hundred cycles. If long term monitoring is desired, either power the
NukAlert-ER from a USB power source (PC or Universal cell phone charger), or use the
Periodic Wake mode.
The present battery voltage is displayed in the NukAlert-ER main menu as an estimated
percentage of battery capacity remaining. The percentage is based on NiMH
rechargeable batteries. If alkaline batteries are used, a percentage above 100% will be
seen with fresh batteries. If a USB connection is delivering power, a (USB power)
message will be displayed beside the measured battery voltage, and the batteries will
not be drained.
What is a Geiger counter?
It is an extremely sensitive radiation measurement instrument that can detect individual particles
of radiation. It does this by detecting an electric spark initiated by each particle in a tube filled
with a special gas mixture called a Geiger tube.
Does radiation cause cancer?
Our bodies continuously repair most radiation damage. This process takes place over a period of
weeks or months. At high radiation dose rates the healing process is overwhelmed by the
accumulation of radiation damage to cells. A dose of more than 100R absorbed over a short time
period (days) is likely to cause a person to develop symptoms of acute radiation sickness, while
lower doses rarely cause acute illness. The average American has a 24% chance of lifetime fatal
cancer. A 100R dose increases that cancer risk to about 32%, while a 10R dose increases lifetime
fatal cancer risk less than 1%.