The Cosmic Ray Detector
Cosmic Rays are high energy particles that travel near the speed of light. Cosmic rays originate from outer space, often times from outside of our solar system. Those that are produced from our sun are called cosmic rays, however those that come from outside of our solar system are referred to as galactic cosmic rays. When a cosmic ray collides with a particle in our atmosphere, it creates a cosmic ray shower, which consist of x-rays, muons, protons, alpha particles, pions, electrons, and neutrons. We detect these cosmic ray showers using our cosmic ray detector. Inside our cosmic ray detector are 4 scintillators paired with 4 photomultipliers. Every time a cosmic ray travels through a scintillator, it emits a light in the photomultiplier that lasts only nanoseconds long. These flashes are converted into a current to be recorded. Currently, I have just finished plateauing the detector and am now working on an experiment regarding the half life of a muon.

March 22nd, 2018 

Zenith Angle Experiment Poster is done!

February 20th, 2018

I am currently working on writing a poster on QuarkNet regarding the zenith angle experiment we conducted.  A poster will be following up shortly.

February 12th, 2018

The previously mentioned problem was a result of an inconsistency with our server which interrupted where the files were being placed. We have now solved it and our files are being appropriately saved.

February 5th, 2018 

We have stumbled into an issue where it seems that collecting too large of data will cause it to not save properly to the data folder in place. We are currently investigating why this is as it will make it impossible for us to take data over the course of multiple days. Tehre is certainly enough space in our HDD to store the data so we think it may just be a bug. We will take additional trials lasting 3 or 4 days to see if the loss of the data collected over the weekend was just an isolated incident.

February 1st, 2018

The parts for the cosmic watch cosmic ray detector are on the way. Meanwhile I am working on making a poster that describes our summer telescope project as well as running a muon experiment.

January 20th, 2018

We have decided to use a smaller version of the cosmic ray detector which looks like two paddles. We are planning to use one paddle that will detect cosmic rays. We are planning to compare cosmic ray rates at a high altitude to compare it to the cosmic rays at the ground. However, first we will have to find the ratio at which cosmic rays are detected on both platforms as the paddles are significantly lower in surface area.

January 12th, 2018  

After doing further research on the app and how it works we have determined that we will not be able to use it for three reasons. The app requires to apply to become a beta tester to actually use the app. There are hundred of thousands of people that have applied, thus it would be very unlikely to be admitted. Furthermore, we found that the data captured is actually streamed directly to the organization for them to analyze. Even if we were to convince them to allow us to see the data for ourselves, the data is captured using wifi or phone signal which is unavailable during the weather balloon’s flight. Changing how the app is structured is too much to ask from the company, therefore we have decided to look for other ways to capture this data for the weather balloon experiment.

January 8th, 2018 

After coming back from break, I have started doing research as to how we will incorporate a cosmic ray detecting device to the weather balloon we will be launching. We have decided to use a phone application called CRAYFIS which uses the camera of a phone device to detect cosmic rays. I am currently looking into how exactly the application uses the phone’s camera to detect the particles as I wait for confirmation from the organization.

December 1st, 2017

A page discussing the results of the experiment we conducted for ICD was created. This page will be added an official booklet which includes all the research and experiments that were done on ICD. Additionally I will receive a certificate for participating in both the international call and experiments.

November 25th, 2017

The ICD Script has been edited and finalized!

The Wildwood Institute of STEM Research and Development (WISRD) is a research institute at an independent high school in LA. The Institute promotes a context versus a content based curriculum. Members of WISRD are treated as scientists working within six areas of research: Engineering, Earth/Space, Life Science, Systems Integration, AR/VR Research, and Publications. We have a bi-annual magazine and journal that contains writing on scientific topics as well as a research journal. The institute is managed by a selected board that manages research direction, funding, and publicity/outreach. Our Earth/Space lab consists of a weather station, seismometer, 12 inch Meade Telescope, and the Quarknet cosmic ray detector sponsored by University of California at Riverside.
We have recently contributed to three research projects. We ran an experiment that tested the half-life of a muon which consisted of collected data of a CRD in a stacked position and running the data through a QuarkNet Algorithm that would measure the half-life. Recently, we contributed to the cosmic ray solar eclipse project where 2 pairs of overlapping scintillation devices were attached to a wooden plank and aimed at the sun during the recent solar eclipse. The goal of this experiment was to investigate how the sun and moon interact with cosmic rays, whether they amplified, blocked, produced them, or perhaps they didn’t have a significant impact. Many high schools and institutions participated in the event and sent the data to QuarkNet for it to be analyzed, results will be published at the national AAPT Meeting. The current project WISRD is working on is sending a cosmic ray detector and additional instruments on a helium balloon rising approximately 100,000ft to observe the expected change in cosmic ray counts. 

November 19th, 2017 

In order to publicize WISRD and incorporate it into school culture, International Cosmic day was announced to the school. Additionally I will be hosting a session on the 31st of November where I will be teaching people about cosmic rays and our project. The goal is to gather a group of people who are interested in taking over the cosmic ray research once I leave next year. Here is a flyer provided by the organizers of ICD that I edited to announce both the session and the event!

November 12th, 2017

The WISRD poster session and Lecture series was a success! There were many people interested in learning about cosmic rays as they have never heard of them before. They found a special interest knowing that the experiment had never been done before! Here is the poster I presented…

Out for October 26th – November 3rd

October 25th, 2017

A 3.5mm mono cable was created by braiding non-enamel copper wires and using an iron solder to attach them to two headers. This cable will be used to connect the cosmic ray detector’s DAQ board to the power supply unit.

October 23, 2017

A mono audio cable was missing and a BNC connection was broken. The BNC piece is being ordered but the lack mono cable provided an opportunity to learn how to use a solder gun as well as how to make a functional cable using copper wires and 3.5mm ends 

October 16th, 2017

In preparation for international data collection week, the cosmic ray detector is being rebuilt and it’s cables rerouted.

Away for college visits during the first week of October

September 29th, 2017

The computer issue has been solved, the data retrieved from the solar eclipse experiment retrieved and uploaded to QuarkNet.

September 18, 2017

The HDD is still displaying the same problem, we tried using command lines to boot the computer however that has also failed. This suggests that there may be a virus on it that is impeding the booting of the computer. I am now researching methods to look for and eliminate viruses.

September 13th, 2017

I took out the HDD from the computer and transferred it to another that I know is working. We believe that the problem may be stemming from lack of storage. I plan to free some space off the HDD using the new computer to see if this solves the problem.

September 11th, 2017

There Is a problem with the HDD of the computer where the computer does not boot properly. I have replaced the SATA cable in hopes of fixing it, however it has had no effect.

September 5th, 2017

The data has been collected and I am now retrieving it from the computer. Furthermore, I just took apart the telescope and sorted the cabling to minimize the space that the CRD takes up.

August, 29th, 2017

Detecting the Half-Life of a Muon Experiment Guide:

Configuring the Cosmic Ray Detector for a half-life experiment… 

  1. Configure the photomultipliers in a stacked position

2. Open the data collection program and use the channel COM3

3. Configure your GPS data in the “Geometry” tab changing the position setting to “stacked”

4. Click on the “Control Panel” tab

5. Make sure GPS data is functioning properly

6. Set gate width to 100ns

7. Set pipeline delay to 20ns

8. Set time interval to 5 minutes

9. Insert command “ST 3 5” into the system

10. Set each channel to 300mv

11. Set coincidence level to 3

12. Collect data for any period of time that will produce a .txt file that is under 2GB big

13. Upload to QuarkNET and use their Half-Life Algorithm

August 22nd, 2017

Over the summer break I participated in the Quarknet eclipse project. I built a cosmic ray detector that is able to isolate cosmic rays coming from a single location. This allowed for the detection of cosmic rays coming from the eclipse in order to gauge what magnitude of them come from the sun. It also tests whether the sun and the moon block, amplify, or produce cosmic rays. Although, we might find that they don’t have a significant effect on cosmic rays at all.  This experiment has never been done before which makes awaiting for the results very exciting!

August 17st, 2017

Testing to confirm that the scintillation devices are properly holstered. Practicing tilting at different angles using the tangent function and testing that our equipment works before the day of the eclipse!

August 14th, 2017

In order to prepare for the solar eclipse cosmic ray experiment, a mounting board for two scintillation devices has been created out of plywood. The cosmic ray units are being attached to the board using zip ties to keep it secure whilst not damaging the pieces of equipment. 



End of Year One:

April 23, 2017

A half-life study has been done, the results were 1.8ms with the a potential error of +-.1482 , whereas the actual lifetime of a muon is 2.2ms.

April 12, 2017

I have uploaded data to QuarkNet and it is currently being blessed by Quarknet. This data will be used to analyze the half life of a Muon.

March 24 – April 9 Spring Break 

March 23, 2017

Today was muon week. A presentation containing information about both cosmic rays and our own cosmic ray detector was presented. Muon Day Presentation

March 17, 2017

These weeks have been dedicated to editing the journal entry.

February 25, 2017

The first draft of the Journal entry has been finished.

February 17th, 2017

After receiving a bug report response from Quarknet we have reset the scalers according the time intervals set on the rate monitors. To do this I looked over the cosmic ray manual and inputted the command “ST 3 5” in the control panel. Afterwards I changed the data time interval on the control panel to match the scalers. After doing this, the software began to function as it’s intended to.

February 9th, 2017

We have sent a bug report to Marc at the help desk,

After taking data manually, we observed that the DAQ board’s LED counter
detected anywhere from 222 to 739 two-fold coincidence counts per
minute—depending on the voltage. When the rate monitor is cleared, then
prompted to start recording data, it always begins at over one million
counts during the first five minutes. It then proceeds to drop rapidly over
the course of fifteen minutes before stabilizing at over three hundred
times the actual coincidence rate. I have attached the google spreadsheet
of the manual plateau to compare to the readings that the software gives.
An issue that we have run in through stem from the results on “Count
Rates (HZ)” in the Rate Monitor. They will only be expressed by Channel 3
(Blue) and Channel 4 (Teal) regardless of what channels are activated or
powered. The physical LED counter reacts to changes in coincidence level,
voltage, and channel activation accordingly, however the behavior of the
software does not.
At first, we thought the origin of the problems was the PDU, but after
replacing that, the problems persisted. Next we thought the high amount of
counts was due to a light leak in the box, so we covered it completely with
multiple thick garbage bags—only leaving small gaps for the wires to go
through. This did not solve our issue. Now, we think that the cause of the
problems lies within the configuration of the software.

I have the google spreadsheet of the manual plateau to compare to the
readings that the software gives (Is there any way to attach them?).

Three trials are depicted in the attachments… The rate monitor of:
channel 3 & 4, channel 1 & 2, and channel 1 & 3, however all of the trials
between all channels look the same in terms of high coincidence counts and
count rates. Aside from the changes to the channels under “Trigger” in
the control panel, none of the settings are changed from trial to trial and
they are all at .8v. We have experimented with different voltages, however
they all yield similar results to the trials done with .8v.  We are
wondering if there is a problem in the control panel settings, or asking

for a suggestion of what could be the potential culprit.


January 27th, 2017

We decided to abandon the software and manually count using a stopwatch and the counter on the motherboard. We took data for 5 minutes and the cosmic ray detector has plateaued at .85v. We are still unsure of what is happening to the CDR software. We are getting inaccurate pressure and temperature readings, as well as  irregular coincidence counts.



January 20th, 2017

I was out this week and no work has been done to the cosmic ray detector

January 13th, 2017

We are getting extremely high and irregular counts, we have wrapped the cosmic ray detector in two thick plastic garbage bags because we suspected a light leak which could have potentially caused the high rate of counts that the software displayed which didn’t correspond with the physical counter.

January 6th, 2017

We began plateauing the new PDU using the software, however we noticed that we still had the same problem regarding the spike in coincidence counts when it began taking data. It took over 2 day for it to stabilize.

December 14th,

Today we decided that the old PDU is simply not functional. We have started using the the the new PDU  and so far we have received good results from it. I am now working on plateauing the new PDU. We also shipped the old PDU back to FermiLab through regular postage.

December 5th, 2016


Channel 3 –

On the old PDB, channel 3 kept recording data regardless of it being turned off. To make sure that it would not displaying any data, we changed the voltage for channel 3 to 0.299 but that did not fix the problem. We noticed that after letting the cosmic ray detector function over the course of two days, channel 3 returned to zero counts.

The “Spike” – We observed during the first 10 minutes that the CDR was turned on, it detected anywhere from 18,000 counts to 250,000 counts depending on the set voltage which ranged from .7v to 1.5v (higher voltage meant a greater amount of counts.) It always drops drastically by about 3/5ths of the original coincidence count after  2-5 minutes. After the drop, the amount of counts decreased increasing slower as time continued. We have to wait overnight for the CDR to stabilize and display tangible results.  

November 27th, 2016

The Cosmic Ray Detector steadily rose in coincidence counts and plateaued between 0.75v and 0.8v, however, as we rose the voltage by 0.05v increments. We observed that at 1.1v the cosmic ray detector started detecting 27,175 more coincidence counts . This means that the cosmic ray detector wasn’t originally plateaued at 0.75v. We noticed that when the data was being taken at higher voltages such as 1.1v the initial “spike” value increased substantially every time we added .05v more.  

November 19, 2016

We noticed during the first 10 minutes that the CDR was turned on, it detected anywhere from 18,000 counts to 250,000 counts depending on the set voltage which ranged from .7v to 1.5v (higher voltage meant a greater amount of counts.) It always drops drastically by about 3/5ths of the original coincidence count after a 2-5 minutes. After the drop, the amount of counts decreases by an average of 2 per minute until it reaches a value between 365 and 635 depending on the voltage. (an expected amount)

November 10, 2016

I have taken on the CDR project and I am being taught by Bob.

October 28, 2016

I have created the poster and an outline of it over google presentation that I will be working on along with Nathaniel. We have began incorporating our research and thinking of a way we can display it all using a poster thats easy to digest and understand.

October 22, 2016

Recently Will B. has come across a problem with the computers, he has not been able to use the USB 3.1 port which is crucial to the purpose of building the computers themselves. The problem was lackluster cable management, the USB 3.1 cable was not able to reach to the port on the motherboard due to the way it was routed I had to take the Graphics Processing Unit of all 4 computers out and reroute the cable. Upon closer inspection I also noticed that the front panel connectors were not connected properly, which will cause none of the front panel connections to work. I took a look at the motherboard manual and plugged in the front panel connections correctly before assembling the computer once again.

October 15, 2016

I did research on the filtration system of the setup and came to the conclusion that we will need a simple carbon filter to control debris and unwanted organisms that may affect our results. I have started drafting the content that will be included in our poster due on November 7th. I evaluated each of the possible experiments and chose one which will provide accurate results . We will test our hydroponic garden by comparing our growth results with an experiment that has already been done, if the results have a low percent error (0%-5%), then that’ll mean that our garden is ready to be used in more complex and original experiments.

October 7, 2016

I have joined the group working on creating a Hydroponic Garden and added to their group page. I did research on the filtration system of the setup and came to the conclusion that we will need a simple carbon filter to control debris and unwanted organisms that may affect our end results.

September 26, 2016

As the wind tunnel project begins to close, I have started to look for another group that I can join to help add to their project. Meanwhile I am helping Will B. troubleshoot with the 4 computers that he has built.

September 19, 2016

I have joined the group working on the wind tunnel. So far we have been cutting straws in order to implement laminar flow. We have been discussing a multitude of mathematical concepts that will apply to the rocket that he will build.

September 12, 2016

This last week I explored the innards of a computer. I have taken apart a floppy disk, a cd disk drive, and a hard drive to learn how they work. I have extracted the diode and I am working on using this diode to create a low powered laser. By acquiring this knowledge I can help build and maintenance the computers we have built. I have also done research and have been working on learning python to help Will B. with coding programs.

Learning Outcomes:

I hope to take risks and use the resources around me to produce something useful for the community as a whole. I also hope to volunteer for roles in leadership as it is one of my strongest skills.