Model 23 Trinitite Box
Completed January 1997

This is was first WPS product. The heart of the device is a small diorama, water colors on lead, with a reactor-shielding lead glass window, revealing a view, north and east, from the stolen McDonald Ranch, towards the Oscura Mountains, not quite north enough to encompass the Trinity Site; the soil and rock in the foreground is a recently-native form of man-made rock called trinitite. It is mildly radioactive (only four times average background radiation at sea level; quite safe within or without its little box). In the sky is the window of a Geiger-Mueller tube; with each disintegration of Cesium-137 within the trinitite a beta particle is emitted; those that reach the G-M tube cause a small spark within the tube, made audible with electronics inside the Model 23. Each same spark, processed by other electronics within, triggers one view of each of the frames on the film strip, projected badly on a tiny viewing screen visible in the viewing hood, after the red start switch is pressed. Some of the front-panel controls affect operation of the device.

The housing is a found box, once hosting a dew-point measuring instrument, which coincidentally required a tiny amount of Radium for its operation. The front panel is a quarter-inch slab of brass, reverse-etched in an eight-hour process to leave raised lettering, the varied colors due to copper and zinc dissolving in the etchant at different rates. The images are on a continuous loop film strip, a fractional-horsepower motor and a dog clutch advance the film strip one image or so at a time, triggered by trinitite disintegration. An 18-inch long optical path is folded within the machine. The knobs are half-century old bakelite, the controls themselves of the utmost quality, chosen for tactile feel. The G-M tube and it's high-voltage supply were scavenged from a Canadian military radiation survey meter; the rest of the electronics are of modern design.

Mixed media (wood, brass, lead, watercolor, electronic components), 16"h x 12"w x 9.25"d, main unit (viewing hood removed), approx. 30 lbs.

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