RCL Model 2801 Alpha "Poppy" (ca. 1953)

The Model 2801, manufactured by Radiation Counter Laboratories Inc., of Skokie, Illinois, was a semi-portable alpha monitor. Although it typically employed an air proportional counter, an alpha scintillator was sometimes preferred because it was less susceptible to microphonics and it was not affected by humidity. Its common name, the “Poppy,” was derived from the distinctive popping sound of its audio output, and since it operated from a 120-volt AC current, it was often referred to as an “AC poppy.” To facilitate contamination surveys, it could be mounted on a cart. Alternatively, it could be maintained at a fixed position to frisk personnel. The example shown here was used at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and was of early manufacture (Serial Number 7). 

RCL Alpha "Poppy"

The Raytheon Manufacturing Company manufactured an almost identical unit (the Model RX-2279A) from the late 1940s into the early 1950s. 

Detector: Air proportional (standard), 0.75” wide x 8.75” long, 2,400 volt operating voltage  or alpha scintillator

Range: 0-200 cpm, 0-2,000 cpm, and 0-20,000 cpm

Audio: Panel-mounted speaker

Size: 19” x 8.75” x 15”

Weight: 63 pounds

Donated by Paul Frame.


  • Nucleonics May 1953 p 78.
  • Davis, D.M., Gupton, E.D., Hart, J.C., Applied Health Physics Radiation Survey Instrumentation, ORNL-332 (1st rev.) Jan. 1, 1954.
  • Atomic Energy Commission Radiation Instrument Catalog, page SPC-3D, July 1, 1950.