As an electronic newbie, it pleases me to say that my first electronic circuit project is complete and functional. You too can learn to solder!
In light of the recent catastrophe in Japan, I decided to construct my own geiger counter. These kits can be purchased from Cheney Electronics.
After one afternoon of acquainting myself with basic electronic components (thanks to Brandon, Jason, and Dave for the help) and melting metal like a madman, the results:
As you can see, at sea level cosmic radiation is relatively low. However:
At altitude, the radiation level increases significantly. Luckily, I haven’t had readings like this while scanning objects on the ground. In the event of encountering a radioactive agent, the clicks would actually be significantly higher than this.
Currently there is a project on Kickstarter whose goal is to set up a network of geiger counters to inform the Japanese populace about radioactivity in their country. Check it out!