Teenager Builds Portable X-Ray Machine
Remember when you could impress a college admissions board with a well-written essay and a carefully selected group of clubs and activities? Apparently, it’s a lot more difficult now, as kids have to compete with folks like Adam Munich. Instead of just spending his free time playing video games, 18-year-old Munich spent 2 years and $700 building himself a fully functional, portable x-ray machine.
Munich started planning the device and gathering the parts he would need from China, the US, eBay, and the Ukraine when he was only 15. The portable x-ray is housed in two art suitcases – a control box for the electronics and a housing for the x-ray tube and its “high-voltage components” – connected by a cable. Instead of the $65,000 flat-panel radiation detectors most x-ray machines use to produce their images, Munich uses a “plastic sheet that turns fluorescent green when it’s hit with ionizing radiation” called a scintillation screen. He built his own Geiger counter, which helped him determine that the x-rays emitted were at the proper level and that the backscatter produced by the machine was very low. Munich also made a slightly unusual choice in insulating material for the two cases: chainsaw oil.
Eventually, Munich hopes to bring the cost of his portable x-ray under $200 and make it sturdy enough for real-world implementation. If he succeeds, his little device could be a boon in areas where the cost of x-ray machines or unreliable electricity are a problem. You can read more about Munich’s machine and how it works over at Popular Science.