DIY: How to turn a fish tank into a particle detector in 5 steps

May 19, 2016

What can you make with a fish tank, alcohol and dry ice? A spooky punch bowl? A cryogenic chamber? A particle detector?

What can you make with a fish tank, alcohol and dry ice? A spooky punch bowl? A cryogenic chamber? A particle detector? That's right, you can build your own particle detector and study subatomic particles from the comfort of your living room. All you need is 20 minutes.

According to Popular Science: "The DIY version is an empty fish tank with a ceiling of alcohol-soaked felt and a floor of dry ice. The room-temperature alcohol at the top evaporates into the air and sinks toward the ice at the bottom. As it cools, it will condense on anything it can.

Cosmic rays are constantly crashing into Earth from space, and when they hit the atmosphere, they release a shower of particles. If one of these particles zips through the DIY cloud chamber, it will bump into molecules that make up the air and knock off some of their electrons. This leaves a trail of charged ions, and tiny droplets of airborne alcohol cling to them. The ghostly track that results marks an individual particle’s path through the chamber."

To learn more, read "How To Build Your Own Particle Detector" from Popular Science.

What's Going On in Your Garage?

Do you have instructions for a great DIY project? Share it with the Plant Services community. Just upload written instructions in a Microsoft Word document or Adobe PDF file. You can even include a link to a video of yourself demonstrating the project. If we choose your DIY project, you'll be featured in an upcoming edition of Off the Clock. Submit you DIY project

About the Author

Alexis Gajewski | Senior Content Strategist

Alexis Gajewski has over 15 years of experience in the maintenance, reliability, operations, and manufacturing space. She joined Plant Services in 2008 and works to bring readers the news, insight, and information they need to make the right decisions for their plants. Alexis also authors “The Lighter Side of Manufacturing,” a blog that highlights the fun and innovative advances in the industrial sector. 

Sponsored Recommendations

Reduce engineering time by 50%

March 28, 2024
Learn how smart value chain applications are made possible by moving from manually-intensive CAD-based drafting packages to modern CAE software.

Filter Monitoring with Rittal's Blue e Air Conditioner

March 28, 2024
Steve Sullivan, Training Supervisor for Rittal North America, provides an overview of the filter monitoring capabilities of the Blue e line of industrial air conditioners.

Limitations of MERV Ratings for Dust Collector Filters

Feb. 23, 2024
It can be complicated and confusing to select the safest and most efficient dust collector filters for your facility. For the HVAC industry, MERV ratings are king. But MERV ratings...

The Importance of Air-To-Cloth Ratio when Selecting Dust Collector Filters

Feb. 23, 2024
Selecting the right filter cartridges for your application can be complicated. There are a lot of things to evaluate and air-to-cloth ratio. When your filters ...