Increase in CPM during downpour

6 years 10 months ago - 6 years 10 months ago #3410 by
I agree entirely :)

It had long been an ambition of mine to figure out a method of automating scintillation monitoring that can run remotely. But, that was little more than an ambition, we neither had the skill-set available among our group some 30 years back, nor did we have any money to spare. But we did attend many annual "Health Effects of Low Level Radiation" conferences from their second year onward, even ran a number of workshops over those years about our monitoring. Now that conference has gone international, it has sadly put it way out of our league to attend.

At a time, when the dial-up modems available to us ran at just 300 bits/second, we were trying to set up and interconnect more than one remote gamma monitor whilst hindered by the only computers available being so expensive. We decided to design our own and remarkably that design lasted for over 13 years, until 1999 when we struggled with a millennium bug as we were using a Motorola BCD real-time clock. It was easy to be put off trying to build a network of monitors at all, but despite the project nearly collapsing to extinction for a number of reasons, I still manage to just about keep the plates spinning. We never had crowdfunding, or even the web until we latched on to it in the early '90s, but were still not in a position to use it constructively until 2000, when PCs got cheap and the internet was gathering speed.

There was nothing back in 1986 in the way of accessible radiation monitoring, even the NRPB had to put out a request for AC filters from local councils to find out more. As I mentioned before, none of us were physicists or meteorologists, so we followed the best information available form the National Physical Laboratory in Twickenham in order to decide on a good G-M tube, for what was economically practical and to determine its best deployment. From scratch, it took a year to get the first two stations on-line as a minimal gamma monitoring network and since then we have always tried to provide a freely open bulletin-board and later a website to keep the readings in the public domain. We opted for the larger G-M tube for our probes of the type as used with Mini-680s. We have got this far having stuck with the one probe design and sensitivity. First we built our own with on-board electronics within the probe, but getting lazy and tired of soldering chips into PCBs, we eventually adopted a pre-built MC74 that, as with our design, also included power and line driving electronics. They have certainly not been cheap, costing in the recent years around £1000 each. It turned out we were using the same tube as the systems built later by Siemens at the end of the '80s for the UK government's less accessible RimNET.

Apart from privately owned systems, Argus stations have been bought by environmental health officers in local government. We steered well clear of the other interested party, i.e. Emergency Planners, as they wanted their data to remain private. Their systems were mostly provided by an outfit that I believe has since moved into different pastures. Damn, I forget their name!

We have only ever had funds from the initial purchase of stations, together with a nominal annual support fee, only charged to coulcils, to keep the plates of gamma stations spinning. Over time, stations came and went at the whim of different EHOs and their yearly budgets. The one thing we have ensured, however, has been to honour the dedication of the many voluntary contributors who freely committed much of there skilled time and who continued to help with the Argus project for many, many years. What we have now is the system that is in place from it's beginning with the sensors to it's end with the on-line website, as you see evidenced at

The objects set out in the Argus trust deed, formulated in 1989, has always been to provide an automated network monitoring system for more than just radiation, but for any measurable environmental parameters, that can provide a very simple means for detailed study and analysis of its data archive by way of time synchronous graphs, irrespective of the frequency of readings received or collected and irrespective of their source or sensor types. It's been put out there to be exploited by all who may see virtue in using it. And, I am pleased to say the servers it operates from are both provided and maintained as an indefinite, generous gift to the Argus Trust by organisations whose businesses depend entirely on robust and highly reliable on-line services. Fortunately for the trust, this results in a net annual cost to maintain of just £30 annually which I can readily afford on my state pension :) I guess we started with nothing and, within reason, reached pretty much reached our goal with nothing left over. All I have to do these days is keep the few Argus stations, that are out there and still and running, in service for their owners. It doesn't help that they each have their own database and on-board private website to manage them.

For Argus now the rest is up to others. I reckon I've done my time and I firmly plant it into the public domain to be used by those who can see virtue in so doing. And, I know there is more to be done to improve it. Maybe one day, if others chose to use it, I can hand over it's Management Console access to someone far younger and more capable than I.

Any thoughts very welcome ?

Last edit: 6 years 10 months ago by Reason: To polish the phraseology.

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