Copyright MADS 2023
Mad's Radioactive Oddities!
WW2 - Cold War - Civil Defense - Mining - and more!
I've always been a collector of junk. My dad taught me the art of THE FIND - digging through dusty garage sales and swap meets, scouring antique stores for the perfect treasure. And... if you can, haggling for that perfect price. As a good tumblr post once said, "God is in here, and she is only $2.00."
My collection focuses mostly on the Cold War era, specifically nuclear related items, but I do have stuff from other time periods.
1955 North Hollywood Detectron Model DG-7 with wooden box and separate detached probe
Obtained fall 2020
This was my very first (non pen) counter! My dad mailed it to me for my birthday and I knew opening the box that it had to be a geiger counter! I brought it with us to our trip to New Mexico and took pics with it outside of Los Alamos. North Hollywood produced a lot of counters in the 1950s during the uranium mining boom in the Southwest, so it makes sense my dad found this one in CA. They were also designed for civil defense decontamination monitoring and laboratory use. The DG-7 had different cosmetic variants but I think they all function the same (from what I can tell). My unit is specifically from 1955 and its handle is less ergonomic than other versions. Other features include a light indicator for nighttime use, a side clip, carrying box, and was sold for $135 in 1955. According to these ads, it was fungus resistant and waterproof. Handy for the desert...?
Just today (5/23/2023) I found another North Hollywood detector. I do see a few of them pop up on ebay but not as often as the CD counters.
Civil Defense Pen Dosimeter (without calibrator)
Obtained January 2020 for around $15
A standard CD pen counter. These are fairly common and you can get them cheap online. I got mine at the Titan Missile Museum in Tucson! These guys require a separate device to calibrate the counter and set it back to zero. These were to be distributed to emergency personnel and the public after an attack and their small size makes it easy to carry on your body (I always carry mine on my boy scout uniform).
Plastic Civil Defense Jordan Model 4 Geiger Counter 1950s
Obtained December 2022 for around $20
I got this guy from my favorite local antique store on a whim. This was also the first counter I've found by myself!! Their inventory changes somewhat frequently and this is one of those stores that are just crammed full of stuff in every glass case. I found him under a baseball card and bought him for 50% off...what a steal! Weirdly, the CD logo was scrapped off but I later found out this was purposefully done, after newer CDV models were made in 1985, obsolete units were "cannibalized"
for parts and defaced so people wouldn't use an inaccurate/defective machine. It's cool that I own one of the defaced machines, and the lettering/logo is still legible. Because the guts were taken out and used to repair better machines, my unit was pretty empty. The previous owner had tried adding their own mess of wires/ duracell batteries to get it operating again but no luck. I really enjoy the plastic feel as this material is rarely used for counters. Source.
North Hollywood Detectron "Nucliometer" Model DR 290 (1954) and Simpson (Babbel?) Geiger Counter Model 600A (late 1940s?)
Both Obtained May 2023 for $280 (ouch)
The full story of how I obtained these are on my bunker
page! I think the Simpson/Babbel counter is an early model, the faceplate panel says it was made by Simpson Electric Co. and the serial number is M145. The text under the number reads "Geiger Counter manufactured by Radiation Counter Div. Materials Engineering Co. Grand Junction Colorado." I've found several Babbel
counters online with different panels, but always with the name Uranium Engineering Co. I did find one listing with my same panel but the Uranium Engineering name, so I'm wondering if the company had a rebranding and renamed some of their stock, or if Simpson just manufactured the panels. The model number 600A matches most Babbel counters I find with the same body details so it has to be the same counter.
This guy is solid and apparently pretty dense on the inside. It has brass fittings, a comfortable leather handle, a vertical probe, and an attachment point for an external probe for measuring samples down a hole. My unit has a ton of rust damage on the bottom and I haven't tried opening it up yet... really hoping the insides aren't totally busted. A working
Babbel counter can be found in Grand Junction
Colorado's Atomic Legacy Cabin
along with a museum spotlight on the inventor, Gordon R. Babbel
After finding the Babbel counter underneath a bunch of electronic junk, I also found this North Hollywood Detectron Nucliometer
! I knew I just had to get both because they're such unique pieces of nuclear history (also... they're best friends I can't just separate them). This Nucliometer is especially unique in that it has 25 vacuum tubes and was used for more sensitive readings. It is older than the model DR 299, coming out in 1954. There isn't too much information online and most sources talk about the DR 299 not the DR 290. My guess is that the DR 299 is just an updated model with a probe, but this source
says their vacuum tubes were quite fragile. The tubes in my 290 look different so I'm wondering if these were replaced by the previous owner or just had better tubes installed in this model. I need to open it again to dust anyway so I will double check at a later date.
Another thing to note is that my Nucliometer is in excellent condition, most likely thanks to its canvas carrying case. I only saw one battery that had any kind of rust/corrosion, which is impressive for a machine that has at least 10 of them packed inside the case. They're all cat 9 volts too, so they're probably original?? This machine is like half batteries half vacuum tubes it's quite incredible. Out of all of my machines I think this would be the best candidate to restore to working condition though I have NO idea how I'm going to do that.
Titan II Missile mylar targeting punch tape
Obtained April 2023 for $15
The text on the info card reads:
"This punch tape held the targeting information that was loaded into the missile's guidance system. Three separate targets were stored on the system, this allowed changes to the missile's flight plan depending on the launch orders. Although primitive by today's standards, mylar punch tape will retain data decades longer than magnetic tape or CDs."
There were other cool 'artifacts' from the museum (circuit boards, replica keys, etc) but this was the most affordable/interesting thing they had from the actual silo. I asked and sadly they do not sell Civil Defense items anymore RIP. Source.
Obtained sometime in 2022 for like $30
A standard metal fallout sign. I got this at the same antique store I got my CD dosimeter at. Sturdy and in good condition. I think it reflects light. More info on the history and variations of fallout signs here