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An educational "backyard" project, constructed using easily obtained electronic parts. A frequency counter is used to measure the post-polarizing pulse proton precession frequency. The measured frequency is related, by a physical constant, to the magnitude of the local geomagnetic field.

For some background information and a description of a practical application for a proton magnetometer, see "The Amateur Scientist "column in the February 1968 issue of Scientific American. Construction of a dual coil magnetometer is described. Information in that article formed a basis for the details shown here. I constructed a fluxgate magnetometer several years ago. It was based upon Richard Noble's article in the September 1991 issue of Electronics World + Wireless World. With a chart recorder, it is possible to see the dirunal changes in the east-west component of the earth's magnetic field, after nulling out the overpowering total and north-south components. After finding the February 1968 Scientific American article, I thought that it would be an interesting project to try adding a frequency counter to the proton magnetometer.It would be an interesting "backyard science" project to use it to provide a measure of the earth's total magnetic field. The addition of a digital to analog converter can provide a output suitable for a chart recorder. However, a suburban backyard environment is a rather noisy one. Harmonics of the power line frequency extend well up into the audio frequency range. These compete with the decaying precession frequency tone. Connecting the sensor coils in differential series, sensor orientation and instantaneous sampling of the audio signal help in contending with the noise. From the physical sciences a quantity called the"Larmor frequency" defines the angular momentum of protons precessing in the presence of a magnetic field. There are currently quantum-mechanical views that explain particle precession, but a classical explanation seems a bit easier to comprehend. A proton, a charged particle, may be thought of as having definite "spin" about an "axis" and acts as a small magnet. An externally applied Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 1 of 14

but causes the particle to wobble at a slower rate about an axis of precession.58 mHz / Tesla x 52500 x 1E-9 Tesla= 2235 Hz In my northeast location the frequency readings currently average about 2271 Hz. VA monitoring station . Originally the frequency readings were around 2277 or 2278 Hz. Short period variations due to magnetic storms may reach several hundred nanoTesla. The proton reacts to the perturbing effects of an externally applied magnetic force by precessing at a rate in accordance with a precise constant called the gyromagnetic ratio. corresponding to a total field of about 53.53 x 1E6 radians per second per Tesla or 42. Diurnal variations caused by solar induced ionospheric currents are in the order of tens of nanoTesla. The fluxgate sensor was tipped upward from a horizontal position to nearly vertical to obtain the maximum reading of the earth field. 160 miles to the west. This axis tends to align with an external magnetic field. This agrees quite well with the USGS readings shown for the Fredericksburg. the long term trend of the total field is in the order of minus 90 nanoTesla per year ( steadily decreasing). The proton precession frequency detected by a suitable sensor in the geomagnetic field of the earth will be at a frequency in the audio range: Example: 42.000 nanoTesla and varies from location to location. This also seems to agree with the magnitude of the predicted long term variation shown by the USGS site. I have noticed a decrease in the frequency readings of about six or seven Hertz over the past twelve months or so since the sensors have been in place in the backyard.300 nanoTesla. Return to main page Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 2 of 14 .S.58 mHz per Tesla. the total magnetic field strength is in the order of 50. For protons this quantity is equal to approximately 267.000 to 55. any alignment tends toward randomness due to thermal effects and other molecular interactions. However in weak magnetic fields. In the northern latitudes of the U. Presently.magnetic field does not alter the spin rate. This figure also agrees with the value obtained using the fluxgate magnetometer that was calibrated using a Helmholtz coil.

A timer IC is used to provide switching contol to a relay that alternately connects the sensing coil between a polarizing current source and the input to the audio amplifier.(Click figure for larger diagram.) Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 3 of 14 .PROTON PRECESSION MAGNETOMETER This is a block diagram of a "listen only" version. The frequency counting circuitry is not used. Only the senor coil(s) .audio amplifier and dc power source are included.

A four decade BCD counter dis. Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 4 of 14 .1 Hz.plays frequency to a selectable resolution of 1 or 0. A frequency multiplier method employs a phase locked loop to provide these resolutions using counter gate intervals much less than one second.This is a block diagram of a magnetometer design that adds the capability to measure the frequency of the voltage induced in the sensor coil by the precessing protons after the application of a polarizing current several seconds in duration.

SENSOR CONSTRUCTION I found the local super market to be a good source for coils forms on which to wind the magnetometer coils and contain the proton medium.Also. the coils will be tuned by the addition of a shunt capacitor---perhaps the most important component of all. This suggests that the best results (high Q and tuned circuit selectivity) will be obtained using the largest number of turns and largest wire size that is practical.75 inches. providing higher coil Q and possibly higher polarizing current (if the power supply can provide it ). There are a number of sizes available. A higher polarizing current increases the initial amplitude of the decay signal. I found that these use thin walled plastic containers that have encircling ridges at the bottom and just below the lid. There are advantages --lower coil resistance. (CLICK FIGURE FOR DETAILS ) The above referenced page shows the particular size used. A higher Q will also aid in providing a narrower tuned circuit bandwidth--important in improving the signal to noise ratio and reducing the pickup of high order power line harmonics. and possibly most important. Check the area where the spices are located. The coil inductance should high enough to permit the use of a reasonably valued non-polarized capacitor. A somewhat larger container would conveniently allow the use of a larger wire size. The higher coil Q will sustain the ringing effect of induced by the decay signal for a longer period of time. Also found some taller ones that would provide a coil length of about 3.Note that the coil inductance increases as function of the square of the number of turns while coil resistance increases as linear function of the number of turns. Particularly look for the store brand spices. These make a form on which a multilayer coil can be easily wound. Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 5 of 14 .

2. In my backyard environment. An orientation with the coil axes in line and electrically series opposing provided a degree of cancellation of common-mode power line noise pick up. However. An approximate formula (neglects a small multilayer correction factor of about negative 5 percent) for calculating the inductance is: L=(r2n2)/(10(r+l)) where: r=one half the bottle diameter in inches n= number of turns l= coil length (inches) 3. Most likely it will take five layers. Actual turns count is not critical. as subsequent layers are added it becomes more difficult to maintain close spacing. methanol have been used. 5. These were connected in series and oriented for minimizing the level of power line harmonics. 4.It may be possible to place the 700 turns in four layers. If needed to stop leaking. After winding. try making a gasket from bicycle inner tube or similar material. Distilled water. The lids may have a paper inner liner that should be discarded. connected in series. Common isopropyl alcohol will work.25 microfarads. I found that two identical coils were useful. kerosene. continue winding to complete the final layer.Notes on Sensor Construction 1. fill the bottle with a "proton rich" fluid. Coil constructed as shown will provide an inductance of about 10 millihenries. Spice bottles are not designed to hold liquids. A coil tuning capacitor for two sensor bottles as shown. for the best signal to noise ratio. If you have 700 turns before reaching the end of the bottle. will be about 0. Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 6 of 14 .

The operational amplifier provides a two stage active bandpass filter centered at the expected frequency of the proton precession.AUDIO AMPLIFIER The audio amplifier uses four bipolar transistors and one dual operational amplifier integrated circuit. The block diagram at the left shows the stage gain distribution. Maximum available gain is in excess of 130 dB. Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 7 of 14 .

frequency is shown in the figure below.The theoretical gain vs. The circuit board is housed in a Radio Shack molded project case. Components are soldered to standoff terminals. The inside of the case is lined with adhesive backed aluminum tape. Vectorboard is difficult to use for a circuit made up entirely of discrete components. With such high gain careful construction is required to prevent oscillation The figure at the left briefly outlines physical details. A push-in type nylon or teflon terminal is used. Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 8 of 14 . The amplifier was built on double sided copper clad PCB material.

A number of different devices were randomly selected and tried at the input stage in order to find one providing the best signal to noise ratio. noise from the sensor coils and external pickup exceed the intrinsic amplifier noise contribution. The noise contribution from a 560 ohm resistor soldered across the input terminal can be detected. However.The input stage uses a 100 ohm unbypassed emitter resistor to raise the input impedance to about 12 kilohms to reduce loading on the tuned sensor coils. The tuned circuit formed by the coils and resonating capacitor present a parallel impedance of about 3000 ohms. Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 9 of 14 .

One of my objectives was economy. It is offered for informational purposes only. If power is to be obtained from batteries. It was intended as a educational project to attempt to provide a measurement of the magnitude of the local geomagnetic field. counters and multivibrator. but there are other possibilities there also. For operation from a battery source lower power dissipation equivalent CMOS logic elements can be substituted for the TTL elements shown. There are many alternate ICs that may be substituted for the NAND gates. Others may find it of interest or may adapt it to a specific practical application. Integrated circuit choice was based on economy--. substitution of equivalent CMOS logic ICs in place of TTL types will reduce dc current requirements. using parts that were on hand. Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 10 of 14 .The following page links to the schematic of a counter implemenation that measures the precession frequency. Counter Circuit Description The circuit shown requires twelve integrated circuits in addition to other discrete components.that is. The 4060 counter /oscillator and 4046 Phase Locked Loop IC are probably good choices in any event. to use parts that were on hand or easily obtained standard components.

the signal would have long decayed below amplifier noise or local power line harmonics. For simplicity. They sell for about two for a dollar at Active Electronics or a dollar each at Radio Shack. and 10 seconds to resolve frequency to 0. individual light emitting diodes are used to display the state of the Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 11 of 14 .1 Hz resolutions using counting intervals much less than one second.1 Hz. Three seconds appears to be sufficient. Polarizing current should be applied to the sensing coils for several seconds in order to maximize the amplitude of the precession signal. Measuring the VCO frequency directly ( ahead of the divide by ten counter ) allows resolution to 0. When in lock the VCO frequency is then equal to the audio amplifier output frequency multiplied by a factor equal to the total division ( 8 x 10 =80). Also counting should only be done when the signal amplitude is well above the noise level. in a backyard environment. And. In this case. in the last case.1 Hz. it would probably be useful to shorten the four second (listen) non polarizing interval to a half second. In order to obtain an accurate measurement of the frequency. The oscillator circuit is pretty much per CD4060/MC14060 application note. ones and tenths Hz. This will require the addition of at least one four input NAND gate to decode the counter state (10 count ) and reset the counter. the most significant digit (thousands) overflows the fourth stage of the counter leaving the display of hundreds. For simplicity and economy. One input to the phase detector is the output of the audio amplifier. the full count cycle of the 4 stage binary counter is used. tens .(There is another circuit shown in a separate segment that is a simpler LISTEN ONLY version. the signal is competing with ac power line harmonics. The other input to the phase detector is derived from the voltage controlled oscillator (VCO) whose frequency is divided down by two intervening digital dividers. A phase locked loop is used to permit measuring the precession frequency to 1 an 0. It eliminates the frequency counter and uses a timer to cycle the polarizing current to the sensor coils on and off. The oscillator portion produces an output frequency of 32. The output of the audio amplifier is a ringing tone at the precession frequency. After removal of the polarizing current the the relay connects the coil(s) to the input of an audio amplifier. If the intent is to use the magnetometer in a portable search mode.5 seconds. whose amplitude rapidly decreases into the background noise level. The final output of the last stage is 2 Hz or a pulse repetition rate of 0. Certainly. after one second.768 kHz that is applied to a fourteen stage counter. a divide by 10 and a divide by 8 in series. Measuring the VCO output frequency at the output of the divide by ten counter using a counting interval of one-eighth second allows resolution to 1 HZ. Measuring the audio amplifier output directly would require a 1 second counting interval to resolve to 1 Hz at the expected relaxation frequency. the counter should begin sampling immediately after the removal of polarizing current. These are the tiny cylindrical units found in some digital wrist watches.) Timing for polarizing the sensors and measuring frequency is derived from a watch crystal. This drives a 4 stage binary counter whose last stage provides a four second high / four second low logic level.

768 crystal. The schematic shows four LEDs at the most significant digit. minimizing interconnecting wiring and component count .. there is only a variation in the least significant digit when using one Hertz resolution or the last two significant digits when resolving to one-tenth Hz. ) There are many choices to implement this . Under stable conditions. etc. seven segment LCD. If the intended use is for portable searching..-composite LCD display.. Straight decoding would require several multiple input NAND gates as well as inverters ( since the counters do not provide complementary logic outputs. two or three should be sufficient since this stage will normally always read the BCD equivalent of a 2 ( two thousand or two hundred depending upon the resolution selected). This is probably easier than decoding the states of the CD4060 and 74197 counters (U1 and U2) that derive the time base from the 32. I suspect that it would be desirable to use a decimal display so that changes in the reading may be easily seen. For economy. monostable multivibrators (one shots) are used to set the decade frequency counter gating and timing intervals. (Although just listening to the audio output may be sufficient to detect magnetic anomalies.Q and inverted Q. These will require the addition of the appropriate BCD to segment decoder/drivers or the use of the expensive integrated counter/display ICs.decade counter..) Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 12 of 14 ..

Open the connection between points TC1 and TC2. Use a nominal value of 56 kohms or 62 kohms as the timing resistor for R3. The existing accurate time base waveforms and the decade counter are used to set the time delays accurately. The counter display should produce a new reading every eight seconds. R3 and R4. Open connection between points D1 and D2. Open connection between points B1 and B2.The periods of the multivibrators must be set with some degree of accuracy since the tolerance on the nominal values of the timing components is insufficient to guarantee correct time delays. The desired counter display should be equivalent to 0. Adjust the value of R12 at pin 11 of U10 to some value around 8000 ohms or so. This should adjust the free run frequency of the CD4046 VCO to value that will allow it to phase lock to the test signal. Manually reset the counter by manually grounding B1. At lock the VCO frequency should be 80 times that of the test signal or 163840 Hz. Make the following additional temporary test connections: 1. Select a value of resistor to give time delay of 190 to 210 milliseconds or a counter reading between 3112 and 3440. The oscillator frequency has been divided by a factor of 16 at this point. are varied as needed to provide the correct time delays.2 X 16384 or 3277. Set the resolution switch (S1) to 1 Hz. Observe counter reading as before and Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 13 of 14 . resulting in a frequency of 2048 Hz.2 seconds which will be displayed as 0. 3. 2. This places an enabling signal to the decade counter input gate that is equal to the time delay of multivibrator U3A. Connect A2 to the 2048 test signal at U1 pin 7. Open connection between points A1 and A2. This connects the divided (by 10) VCO frequency of 16384 to the decade counter input gate. U3B Delay: Leave previous test connections as they were. Temporary connection from point E1 to D1. The timing resistor values. Time Delay Adjustment The fourth binary stage of the CD4060 oscillator/counter output (Q4) is available at pin 7. Connect a short insulated wire to B1 such that you can manually touch it to ground to reset the decade counter zero. U3A Delay Make the following temporary connections: 1. 2.

equivalent to counter readings between 1475 and 1638. Adjust the value of R4 to provide a delay time between 90 and 100 milliseconds. RETURN TO FIRST PAGE GO TO COUNTER CIRCUIT CONSTRUCTION PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION ------.reset counter manually as needed.LATEST REVISION: 23 July 1999 Build A Proton Precession Magnetometer Page 14 of 14 . VCO Frequency: Temporarily connect point A1/A2 to ground. Remove temporary ground. Restore all connections to normal per schematic. Adjust value of R12 to produce a counter reading of 2230 to 2250. Use an initial value of 27 kohms for R4.