You really need long term data recording and analysis of local background radiation levels, to clearly determine what is happening in any location. Monitoring station spot peak observations and alerts are helpful, but not good enough to fully understand what is happening. Average background increases can mean you are cumulatively getting a far bigger radiation dose, than from a short term peak detection. What is needed are monitoring stations that provide day, month, and year average background level information, as well as peak detections. This a page provides free information and tools for setting up charting to do long term data analysis.
There are three charting templates available for download in Excel and OpenOffice Spreadsheet file formats. The free OpenOffice program can be downloaded from, http://www.openoffice.org/download/
You can download all three OpenOffice or Excel versions of the charting templates, as one zip file here.
If you are not very experienced at computer software charting, open and play with the “Day Average template” first, to get an idea how it all works.
If you have a Geiger counter that will provide you with the 24 hour average background radiation level, at the push of a button, or through the provided software, you don’t need to use the 24 hour template, just use the Day and Month templates.
Note: If you don’t have a computer, or the skills to use computer charting software, you can simply use a ruler and pencil, to create a chart. Using charting paper you can get from your local stationers is better. A simple join the dots chart is good enough.
Most digital Geiger counters will display the day’s average background with the press of a button. If your Geiger counter starts calculating the average from 12 am the night before, do this. At a set time every day just before bed time, the later the better, press the button to display the days average. Mark the date and amount on your chart. If you do this every day, it will give you a good idea what is happening with your local background radiation levels over time.
Note: You will need to download the logged data from your Geiger counter as a CSV (Comma Separated value) file type onto your computer, to use the 24 hour template. Open the CSV file as a spread sheet, and copy and paste the collected data under the approperate column heading. Template column headings are Time, CMP (counts per minute), and uSv/hr (Microsieverts per hour).
There is a Sheet tab and a Chart tab, at the bottom left hand corner of each template. Clicking on the Sheet tab will open the data entry page, and clicking on the chart tab will show you the chart created by that data.
1. 24 hour template,
Download the CSV file from your Geiger Counter and name it with the days date. Open this CSV file in OpenOffice Cal or Excel. Then copy the, Time, CPM and uSv/hr column data from the day before, from 12 am to 12 pm, into the first three columns of the “24 hour template“. This may mean deleting the columns you don’t need in the CVS file. Different Geiger Counters may have their data columns arranged differently, in their CSV file.
Note: This 24 hour template is set up for 1 minute logged data. If your data logging is set to a different time span interval, you will need to adjust the formulas in the chart template, to reflect the number of data entries, and number of divisions.
There are formulas at the top right of the opening data sheet, that auto calculate the day averages in CPM and uSv/hr, for the first 8hrs and 24hrs for that day. Copy and paste the 24 hour average into the cell for that day, into the “Day average template“ file.
To see the chart of the data, click the chart tab at the bottom of each spreadsheet template. Clicking it will open and show an automatically created chart of the data you imported into each template. After you have imported the data, give the template a new name. Also, go to the chart sheet and rename the chart header, to reflect the location and date that the data was entered. If a peak detection has ocurred, then screen capture this chart and post it on your web site. The blue line through the 24 hour chart is the day average.
2. Day average template,
This template is for adding the day average uSv/hr, calculated from the “24 hour template.” Once all the day averages for that month have been added to this template, it will automatically calculate the month average. You can then copy and paste this data into your Month Average Template.
3. Month Average Template.
This is where the average month data for each month of the year is added for one year. It automatically creates a monthly average chart, which you can then screen capture, if you wanted to put it on your web site.
All this charting will pay off in the end, because you will clearly see if your local background is slowly increasing over time. Peak detection is only part of the story. Without long term detailed charting, you won’t see if your community’s monthly or yearly radiation exposure, is increasing.
TIP: If you go to all this effort, it is a very important that you make regular backups of all your data, as computers can fail at any time.
If you need assistance on using these templates leave a comment.
Here are two free computer Geiger Counter programs.
Theremino from Italy, have created excellent free computer Geiger charting and metering software. You will need a Geiger Counter with a sound output, that you can connect to a computer sound input, to use this software.
You also need two programs, to get the Geiger software up and working.
Download the Theremino Audio input program, an unzip and open it up. You need to set this up correctly, to get the Geiger audio input trigger level right, for the Theremino Geiger software to work. The Theremino Audio input program is at the bottom of the Downloads/multimedia page at the site. The Theremino Geiger software is in the Downloads/uncategorized section. A Scintillator can be set up to use the Theremino Geiger software. This turns it into a very sensitive Geiger Counter.
Select English labeling under the language menu item, in both software packages. You can also send charts to the Internet via FTP. Both programs are constantly being updated with new improvements.
Gieger Count is another Geiger counter and charting program. It is a Java based program that should work in any operating system, with Java installed.
|Example of a Local Background Radiation Monitoring Site Using Charting Techniques|
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