Unconventional electrolysis

  • Nickel Carbonate is light green and paramagnetic, and will not retain magnetism. Stainless steels are typically 15-20% Nickel.

    Didn't Ogfusionist, ~3 years back make some considerable case for nickel carbonate in his reported observations. Or was that my own deduction based on his description? Briefly, Ogfusionist had observed that FibreFrax containing some nickel of a particular oxidation state, when raised to a particular temperature in the presence of dry hydrogen, led to a spontaneous thermal runaway that melted or otherwise fused the fibrefrax substrate.

  • Longview

    It was Al2O3-NiO: Fusionist's NiO FiberFrax experiments (see post)

    However I don't think there's nickel to any significant amount in the steel pieces I used so far: they are strongly attracted to the neodymium magnets I have. Austenitic stainless steel is generally non-magnetic or weakly magnetic. The higher the nickel percentage in the alloy, the less magnetic it is.



    Both 316 and 304 stainless steels are austenitic; when they cool, the iron remains in the form of austenite (gamma iron), a phase of iron which is nonmagnetic. The different phases of solid iron correspond to different crystal structures. In other alloys of steel, this high-temperature phase of iron transforms to a magnetic phase when the metal cools. The presence of nickel in the stainless steel alloys stabilizes austenite against this phase transition as the alloy cools to room temperature. As a result, a relative permeability of K ∼ 1.002 to 1.005 are typically reported for 304 and 316 stainless steels in their annealed state. This corresponds to a somewhat larger magnetic susceptibility than we might expect for other nonmagnetic materials, but is still well below what might be considered magnetic.

  • I might be writing about it too soon, but these are the preliminary results from reversing the polarity of the Geiger tube to the apparently correct one:

    • The signal overall more than doubled
    • The periodic daily component did not proportionally increase, and if anything got less noticeable
    • It is detecting more of something, but less of something else?
      • EDIT: possibly less positively charged particles and more negatively charged particles?
    • The behavior does not seem to indicate that there was just an overall amplification of the signal
  • Alan Smith

    I tried reversing tube polarity back and forth, and I could replicate the same behavior:

    But again, this behavior seems consistent with what this person tested with a Cs-137 source. Perhaps you could try with one, if you have it?



    [...] At +400 V I recorded 3068 CPM. At -400V I got 1381, about 45% of the + reading. When I removed the source altogether I got 9 CPM. So clearly its working as a detector, albeit less efficiently.


  • FWIW, I tried testing it just outside my home and it's measuring 50-55 CPM; about 85 CPM in the floor where I'm located and about 95-105 CPM where I did my usual tests at the moment. The former aren't long measurements so they have limited accuracy, but the counter does seem to be working, i.e. responding to environmental changes.

    EDIT: this also verified that the problem likely isn't USB power. I used battery power.

  • More tangible proof for the above comment.

    (EDIT: added) testing room, before checking out outside. I had to enhance a photo to make counts readable.

    228 counts / 155 seconds = 1.471 CPS avg, 88.25 CPM avg

    Porch on the floor below, in front of a large closed window.

    144 counts / 125 seconds = 1.152 CPS avg, 69.12 CPM avg

    Inside a car in front of my house

    107 counts / 147 seconds = 0.728 CPS avg, 43.67 CPM avg

    Front gate, about 30m away

    121 counts / 123 seconds = 0.984 CPS avg, 59.02 CPM avg

    Current average in my testing room, about 90 CPM

  • As for the possible long-term correlation of background (?) Geiger counts with solar activity, here's an appropriately updated graph. I'm not entirely sure about solar B-Flux data alignment:

    Compare with this. Below I added 24 hours to the B_FLUX timestamps, i.e., pushed them forward. The graph seems more correct this way.

  • So the 24h-periodic component of the background is clearly unchanged in amplitude following the change you made ... just as you said earlier. Could it be that the part of the background that is periodic occurs at a particular range of energies and that by changing the polarity of the tube you have made it sensitive to an additional range of energies which happen to not have a periodic component?

    Edit: I wonder if the periodic component is somehow local. Could your rig spend 24 hours somewhere else? Even outside in your car for instance?

  • Bruce__H

    I don't know if it would just be a matter of energy range, although it is certainly possible it is now picking more energies. The outer shell is part of the cathode and it's supposed to be at ground potential from what I read.

    I guess the way the tube operates would change slightly if it was at a positive potential. Therefore I was wondering if for example sensitivity to charged particles would change as well. Alan Smith in the comment above did not report significant changes in a reversal test, but perhaps this would be more apparent with beta emitters.

    This is how these tubes are constructed from this website:


    Unfortunately I don't currently have the possibility of bringing it elsewhere and also retain logging capabilities. For what it's worth, inside the car readings seemed more stable on the short term, but also noticeably lower than I'm getting here, so that could be the explanation.

  • I do wonder about the tube you have. Ours tend not to produce anything remotely sensible when reversed.

    Alan Smith in the comment above did not report significant changes in a reversal test, but perhaps this would be more apparent with beta emitters.

    I think you misunderstood me, the changes were so significant as to make the readings obviously wrong

  • Edit: I wonder if the periodic component is somehow local. Could your rig spend 24 hours somewhere else? Even outside in your car for instance?

    Unfortunately I don't currently have the possibility of bringing it elsewhere and also retain logging capabilities.

    I just moved it into a different room on the same floor, using a rather low-end laptop PC. I had to use the other script I made which is less taxing on system resources. I verified it has the identical click loss rate as the one I was using on the PC I'm using to write this comment, so there should be no change in behavior overall on that side.

    Counts both from the graph and displayed on the actual counter, are lower. It will be interesting to see about the diurnal periodic component.

    EDIT: graph updated, added photo of the "setup" (btw: it's clear where I live, I just prefer to not make it too blatant).

  • Here is a graph a few hours after I started logging counts two rooms away on the same floor . I had software timing issues (?) which caused timestamps to get inconsistently logged (causing fake CPS spikes) and the script to fail for some reason, which caused "holes" in the graph. After I opened a "true" Linux virtual terminal (Ctrl+Alt+Fn) and ran the script there instead of using a terminal window in the Linux desktop environment I was previously using (xfce), it appears to be more stable, but long term stability remains to be seen. Probably not something that will be of use to most people, but I'm reporting it for the sake of completeness.

    This photo shows that the clicks logged are within 2% of those displayed by the GM counter. I started the script and reset the counter at the same time. Photo sharpened for readability purposes.

  • Regarding the GM tube, I think you're seeing an increase in background noise (not signal) with the polarity as marked. I found similar behavior when fitting my LND pancake tube to a GMC320+. I suspect the NetIO electronic circuit has the front-end amplifier connected at the low end of the HV power supply, same as I found for the GMC320.

    Note that the cathode acts as a faraday shield for the tube, but only if the amplifier input is connected to the anode terminal. There might be a schematic included with the NetIO kit's documentation, which could confirm my hypothesis. Refer to my system schematic here for comparison and technical details.

  • magicsound

    Here's the schematic which came with the documentation.

    Interesting circuit there. The high voltage seems to be supplied by a charge pump driven by a square wave signal from PB2, which turns the FET Q1 on and off. The 1 kV diode D1 allows the switched waveform to charge up C4 and C5. This can only work because the leakage current of the GM tube is very low, allowing it to build up the high voltage needed (~400 vdc)

    The signal is read by T1 from the low side (as I suspected). The output of T1 is read by INT0 of the MCU, configured as an interrupt port for fast response. When the GM tube fires, T1 conducts, and the negative pulse at its collector causes a MCU interrupt, detecting the pulse. In the absence of GM conduction, T1 is pulled up by R8, and its input is given some RF noise immunity by R6 and C6. But it is connected to the cathode, not the anode.

    That's how it looks to me. Let me know if I mis-read the circuit!

  • magicsound

    Thanks for your commentary on the circuit; unfortunately my expertise in electronics is quite lacking, so hopefully other people will be able to tell better than I can if you're correct.

    I can only point out that before reversing the tube polarity, the signal in my testing room (at a time of the day when it was low) used to be ~40 CPM, which became ~85 CPM under the same conditions after reversing it. Since the total amplitude of the periodic part didn't appear to change significantly and in a relatively shielded place (but still possibly on an area which might have a higher background radioactivity than normal) just outside my house with the tube in this configuration I'm getting 40-45 CPM, I'm wondering how this noise would be affecting the base signal. I don't think it would be with a simple offset.

    EDIT: attached the data collected so far. Both files are in different formats. Initially ("geigerclicks") I logged the pulses as they came from the counter, but then ("remoteclicks") I opted to only log the number of pulses per "tick", with each tick being typically (but not necessarily) about 1 second apart.

  • I think the sensitivity of a GM tube to incident high-energy particles would be the same with either polarity. The particle creates a conduction path through the plasma, and the conduction would be the same no matter the polarity of the internal field. This would not be true of low-energy charged particles, which would not penetrate the tube wall anyway.

    One good test would be to expose the GMC to a known radioactive test source, maybe a smoke detector Am puck would work. If I'm correct, the count should be roughly the same with either polarity of the tube.