Development of a low cost, GPS-based upgrade to a standard handheld gamma detector for mapping environmental radioactive contamination

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A low cost extension to a standard handheld radiation monitor was developed, allowing one to perform outdoor georeferenced gamma measurements. It consists of a commercial wireless Bluetooth GPS receiver, a commercial RS-232 to Bluetooth converter combined with a standard Bluetooth enabled pocket personal computer (PPC). The system is intended for use in difficult to access areas, typically for foot campaigns. As the operator walks, a straightforward homemade visual basic program alternately reads GPS position and gamma dose rate into the PPC, creating a data log. This allows a single operator on foot to map between 50 and 200 ha of environmental radiation per day in very rugged areas, depending on the accessiblity of the terrain and the detail required. On a test field with known contamination, a spatial precision of about 5–10m was obtainable. The device was also used to reveal complex contamination patterns in the flooding zones of a radioactively contaminated small river.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-271
JournalApplied Radiation and Isotopes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


  • GPS, Gamma measurements, Mapping, Environmental radioactivity

ID: 227964