Nuclear Bomb Detector

Here is what I can best describe as a cold war era nuclear bomb detector. Whether or not such a device is legal to own is a matter of debate, but nonetheless I have here a few photos.

On the outside, it looks like an innocent, albeit slightly heavy suitcase. Inside though one finds no boxer briefs, but instead a tape recorder, a microphone and a large aluminum chassis. In one of the smaller boxes there appears to be a high-voltage power supply, and in the other some form of discriminator circuit built in that 1970’s style.

Inside one end of the metal chassis there appears to be an amount of high voltage feedthroughs, and on the other side, HPDE and an array of 27 1″ diameter, 1.4 foot long aluminum tubes. For those who don’t understand what that means, it implies that this device is a very, very sensitive thermal neutron detector.

It took a while to get her working again, but now that she does it’s pretty awesome how the device actually works. Counting starts as soon as record is pressed on the tape player, where the entire system is powered by the C batteries inside the recorder. Every passing second a beep is recorded on the cassette tape, along with clicks from any neutron events. Any environmental sound is recorded on the second track.

It might be a nuclear bomb detector…


In fact, that’s exactly what this gadget is; a nuclear bomb detector, one filled with 3He proportional neutron counter tubes.

As it turns out, los alamos was developing such devices in the 1970s for use by nuclear search teams.

Though this suitcase isn’t the same as their finished product, its similarity, and the extreme cost involved in producing one [New 3He tubes like these are >$$,$$$], I can safely assume that this is a los alamos prototype. How it ended up here, I don’t know, but it’ll somehow I’ll find a good use for her. ∎

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  1. Please say more

  2. Where would someone (theoretically) come across something like this? Just curious. I bought a universal potentiometer made by Leeds & Northrup in the early 60’s on e-bay for $5.00 (+ shipping); NOT the same as what you have presented, of course. Just old and out-dated.

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