Homemade X-ray Machine

Suppose you want to become a radiologist, but it’s hard to practice on an X-ray machine. What do you do? Build your own, of course.

That’s exactly what electronics tinkerer Grenadier did. He used a Coolidge tube, a vacuum tube that produces X-rays when you give it enough voltage.  The tube is in one box, and he built a controller in another one. It uses some really cool vintage nixie tubes for the display, as well as temperature and voltage gauges. The whole thing is controlled by an Arduino board. If you want the hard-core sciencey details of how he did it, check out his own blog post on the project.

Homemade X-ray machine

Here’s a video of the device in action, emitting a scary level of radiation. It’s so high that the Geiger counter in the video doesn’t even stop, sounding like a poorly tuned radio instead.

And for pictures, he uses a “scintillation screen” to show the X-rayed images of a pen and a laptop hard drive. X-ray machines work by projecting “shadows” onto the screen, since they can’t uses lenses like a regular camera can.

Homemade X-ray machine 2

X-ray machien 3

Grenadier deserves credit for ingenuity, if not necessarily for sanity. This is another project to put in the “do not try this at home” file. Sure, we do posts on superheroes a lot on this blog, but radiation doesn’t turn you into Spider-Man or The Hulk in real life.

You might also be interested in an art project that paints X-ray murals that show demolished buildings, and 5 Dangerous Advances in X-ray Technology.