|Kvarts DRSB-01 Radiation Detector Geiger Counter|
|December 29, 2005 - Today, I'm going to tell you about an incredibly good deal you can pick up through Ebay. My recently reviewed Gamma-Scout has proven less than useful for my primary intentions. I wanted to have a unit that I could use at antique stores and flea markets to find radioactive items. For a secondary use, it is nice to have a unit that provides an accurate measure of background radiation levels. The Gamma-Scout is excellent for long term background monitoring. To deal with the need for a surveying meter for use in locating items, I decided to take a chance on a low cost Russian unit. Low cost? Try cheap - - $19!!
The DRSB-01 arrived in a Russian Air Parcel envelope and was well packaged in foam. Probably due to customs, it took about three weeks to arrive. The box for the unit is printed in Russian. All of the labeling on the device is also printed in Russian. The plastic case is sturdy but doesn't fit together perfectly like the consumer electronics we're so used to buying these days. The print on the case is crooked in some places. I love it! It is a very authentic, post cold-war Russian product. Even if it doesn't work, it will make a wonderful conversation piece in the US.
The unit is quite small and would easily fit into a pocket. It measures 1" X 2.5" X 6". This, compared to my Gamma-Scout which measures 1.25" X 2.75" X 6.4". On the front are two lights - one green and one red. When the count rate exceeds normal background levels, the red light flashes with each click. During normal count rate levels, the green light flashes with each click. A power switch and speaker are also located on the front of the unit. There is no power light but while powered up, the unit emits a low volume, high pitch sound similar to a television set. This is probably from the high voltage circuit and could get annoying for extended surveying sessions.
Opening up the unit to see what is inside, we find a generously sized Geiger-Mueller (GM) tube running down the right side (as viewed from the top of the unit). The tube measures .75" diameter by 3.5" length. There is no alpha window on this tube so it will be limited to detecting Beta and Gamma radiation. Components look to be of good quality and the IC's have Russian print on them. It is powered by two AA batteries and is rated for 100 hours of operation before needing new ones.
Now that all of the boring stuff is out of the way, let's see what this unit can do. Using my 7" diameter Fiesta-Ware Uranium Orange plate as a source, I wanted to see how the Kvarts unit compared to my Gamma-Scout. Holding the Kvarts so the GM tube would be exposed with the greatest surface area towards the plate, I was able to tell a difference in the count rate at a distance of three to four feet away! Using my Gamma-Scout with audio mode on, alpha shield on, I was able to tell a difference in the count rate at about two feet. Quickly scanning both units together past the plate surface also proved the Kvarts unit to be superior in response times. The DRSB-01 erupted in a burst of counts while the Gamma-Scout often only beeped once or twice. Side by side count rates at varying distances proved the Kvarts to be far more sensitive to the Fiesta-Ware plate.
In this video, both units were positioned for optimum exposure of the GM tube to the radiactive Fiesta-ware source. The plate was positioned upright to provide plenty of surface area. Both GM tubes were lined up to be the same distance from the source. You will hear two distinct count sounds. The traditional "click" is from the $19 DRSB-01 while the "chirp" sound is the $389 Gamma-Scout. Since the DRSB-01 has a GM tube with nine times the surface area of the Gamma-Scout, you will hear a much higher click rate than chirp rate. Like I said, this is a great survey meter! It should be noted that even though the Gamma-Scout had a low count rate at the beginning of the video, the Scout's digital display indicated about twice the normal level of background radiation.
I plan to do more tests as well as take the Kvarts DRSB-01 unit with me to the antique store soon! I'll post more results soon. In the mean time, I'm completely satisfied with this device. For less than $30 to my door, I have a sensitive Geiger counter that also makes an interesting conversation piece because of its origin and appearance. You can purchase one of these units from the Annakozub Ebay Store. You can also check out another review of this item at Michael Covington's Web Notebook. For a review of a different low cost Russian Geiger counter, check out LinuxSlate.org's review of the Kvarts DRSB-88!