The "Discotek" R&D Prototype Survey Meter (early 1980s)

The Discotek is an experimental civil defense survey meter developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory sometime in the early 1980s. By that time the disco craze was pretty much over, but when it comes to pop culture, technical folks are always a year or two behind the curve. Like the Edison survey meter, the Discotek employs a single non-linear scale. The latter, numbered by hand in pencil, ranges from 0 to 400+ R/h.

The Discotek has two controls: an on/off switch and an unmarked potentiometer that probably serves as a sensitivity adjustment.

 The "Discotek"
 The "Discotek"

What is most unique about this instrument is its detector, a cadmium tungstate gamma scintillator (CdWO4). The latter, produced by Harshaw Nuclear Systems, is identified as Model DC100 Serial Number 0001. None of the CDV meters that went into production used a scintillation detector. They were either GM detectors (e.g., CD V-700), ionization chambers (e.g., CD V-715) or electroscopes (e.g., CD V-742).

 The "Discotek"

Range: 0-400 R/h, single non-linear scale

Size: 4.25” x 8” x 3.5”

Batteries: Sixteen 1.5 volt “AA” cells

Donated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency courtesy of Carl Siebentritt.


Carl Siebentritt, personal communication.