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Radiation Detection

Victoreen Mystery Meter Movement

Changes Into An Electroscope
Vaughn Aubuchon

Here is the story of my "Mystery Meter" movement, which somehow, automatically became an electroscope. The meter looks very similar to the one shown below, but instead came out of a CD V-717 Ion Chamber nuclear radiation detector, not a CD V-715.


1. Nuclear Radiation Detection Summary
    - for general information

Geiger Counters Summary
    - for descriptions and pricing

Geiger Counter Data Compared
    - for sensitivity comparisons

4. Ludlum Radiation Product Summary
    - detection devices and probes

5. Victoreen CDV-700 6B Detector Summary
    - True Geiger Counter

Victoreen CDV-715 1A Detector Summary
    - Ion chamber detector

7. Victoreen CD V-750 5B Dosimeter Charger
    - Charges CD dosimeters

8. Uranium Ore Summary
    - common types of radioactive ore

9. Victoreen Mystery Meter
    - became an electroscope


Victoreen CDV-715 Radiation Detector

Victoreen Mystery Meter

The Mystery Meter - Sitting on my chair
Slowly discharging, connected to nothing

When I first received the CD V-717 Survey Meter, the meter movement behaved normally. However, after a few hours of playing with it, the needle suddenly became stuck at 2. My first thought was that the bearings were loose, allowing the needle to rub on the inside of the meter face. Or maybe there was a "sticky spot" on the bearing.

After putzing with it for some time, I determined that something weird was going on. I could rub my finger across the top of the meter dial, and move the needle back and forth. WHOA! This demanded further investigation.

So, I removed the meter movement from the CD V-717 case, and started playing with it.


Here is what I found -

1. Although the meter was still operating when removed, it does NOT matter if the meter terminals are open, touched, or shorted, the "electroscope effect" remains unaffected.

2. To initiate the effect, I rub my fingers rapidly across the lexan plastic face on top of the meter.

3. After this "charging", if my finger touches the plastic, it repels the needle from either side. I can push the needle up and down, by rubbing the lexan faceplate. If I push it down from the right just a little, the needle rises to its "current" stable position, as I withdraw my finger to the right. If I push it up from the left just a little, the needle drops to this same "current" stable position, as I remove my finger to the left.

4. Over time (about an hour), the needle slowly falls to zero. This proves that there is no "stickiness" in the mechanical action.

5. The physical orientation of the meter does NOT matter - upside down, rotated 180 degrees, lying on its face - it doesn't matter - the needle remains at its "current" stable position.

6. Rubbing a piece of rubber over the face of the lexan dial generates the most needle action. I am guessing that more electrons come off the rubber than off of my finger.

7. Slapping the meter repeatedly simply causes the needle to wiggle a few divisions back-and-forth around the "current" stable point. The needle is held FIRMLY in its "current" position by an unseen force, which I believe to be electrostatic - in fact, an analog, unpowered, functioning electrostatic electroscope.

8. Waving plastic over the top has no effect, but PAPER has a dramatic effect!!? Wha?

Undisturbed Leak-Down Rate on the Scale of 5.0
4.0 to 3.5 - 5 minutes
3.5 to 3.0 - 4 minutes
3.0 to 2.5 - 4 minutes
2.5 to 2.0 - 4 minutes
2.0 to 1.5 - 8 minutes
1.5 to 1.0 - 8 minutes
1.0 to 0.5 - 12 minutes
0.5 to 0.0 - 15 minutes

My Explanation
The classic electroscope uses two very thin sheets of gold.
My hypothesis suggests that an electroscope might be formed with ONLY ONE metal electrode, if that electrode is extremely well-balanced, and a nearby electrostatic field can be manipulated.
I feel that one "sheet" of this unconventional electroscope is the top face of the clear lexan plastic face plate, which accumulates electrons. The other "sheet" is the inside surface of the lexan faceplate, which is very closely coupled to the metal needle. ESPECIALLY, in this case, because the needle is not parallel to the lexan, but instead tilts upward, so that the tip of the needle is VERY CLOSE to the lexan.

The Next Step

To see if I can replicate the effect on any other meter? Nah.
To disassemble the meter? On the back, it says, "SEALED-DO NOT OPEN RUGGEDIZED"
Will my curiosity destroy the meter?
Will I be able to determine the miraculous miracle mystery mode?

A Question For An Experienced Victoreen Expert
Have you ever seen this phenomenon before? Do you have an explanation?

Removed from a CD V-717 - Serial Number 65402
BACK - Manufactured March 1964 - Serial Number 880802 - Stamped W205 (in a circle)
I wonder if anyone has patented this electroscope effect, and implementation. Maybe someone will let me know.

Wanna Buy It?
1. Are you an academic or researcher? You get the nod.
2. Personal physical exchange only - I do NOT want to be told later that it does not work!
3. US $100 firm, unless I soon find that such anomalies are a common occurrence.

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This Vaughns Victoreen "Mystery Meter" Information
was last updated on 2019-03-11.