REVIEW: KI4U radiation meter calibration service

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by Tevin, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    This is a service review, not a product review.

    I picked up two CDV-715 radiation monitors at a flea market for ten bucks apiece. Wow, I thought. Even if they don't work, for ten bucks they are cool conversation pieces.

    Some internet snooping confirmed that I was not going to be able to fix them up myself. As it turns out, the decision as to where to send them for calibration was made for me: KI4U is the only civilian lab certified to service these meters.

    KI4U charges $92.00 to calibrate a meter and that includes return shipping. I sent both in a box with a check for $184.00 and hoped for the best.

    The job took a little longer than what the website says even if I factor the Labor Day holiday in the mix. For a while, I wondered what happened. I knew they received my package but the check did not clear until right before the instruments were shipped back.

    When my meters were returned, one was working great but the other was actually worse than when I sent it in! I called KI4U, and they agreed to look at it again.

    A week or so goes by and I get a voice mail from KI4U asking me to contact them regarding my return. It took a few days to get someone who knew what was going on. When I finally got through, I was told that the 715 was made by several different manufacturers, and some had a lot of chronic problems even though the same design & construction was used on all of them.

    Of my two meters, the one that had no problems was one of the "good" Victoreens and the one that I sent back was a "dud" Landers, Fray, & Clark version. The guy on the phone was very knowledgeable and said of all the makes, the Victoreen was the most desirable. If they could not fix my Landers-made meter, they would return it, refund half of the $92, and keep the rest for a diagnostic fee. Fair enough.

    Well a month went by and I was still waiting. I chase this matter down. I was a little annoyed, but hopeful for a good outcome.

    Here's where the hassle turns into a super-cool deal: The guy on the phone apologized profusely, said that my unrepairable meter was supposed to be returned with a partial refund, but for whatever the reason it was overlooked. So to make it right, he offered to send me one of the "good" Victoreen meters instead, freshly refurbished and calibrated, for no charge beyond the original $92 I paid them to begin with!

    Wow, how could I be mad about that? A few days later my meter arrived; I ended up with much more than what I started with. Now I have two good, working radiation meters.

    So if you have or are looking to get one of the old Civil Defense radiation meters, KI4U will treat you right, even if it does take a few tries. By the way, their website is not very well laid out but is a virtual encyclopedia of information. It's something every prepper should read even if a radiation meter is not part of their plan. One of the big takeaways I got was that the old Civil Defense meters are perfectly reliable & useful as long as they have been professionally serviced. All meters need periodic calibration even if they sit unused on the shelf most of the time.

    The second important lesson is that there is no way to know if your meter is properly working. You just have to trust that KI4U knows what they are doing.

    PROS: Very informative website. They are honest, keep their word (albeit slowly), and more than make good on screw-ups. Good value for the money.
    CONS: They are the only game in town. Slow service, requires a lot of customer follow up. You won't know how good your meter is until you get nuked.

    THE BOTTOM LINE: KI4U is little slow and disorganized, but they will not stiff you. Very affordable and worthwhile to keep your radiation monitor at the ready.

    SCORE: 9.5/10

  2. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Tevin likes this.
  3. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    "When my meters were returned, one was working great but the other was actually worse than when I sent it in! " and "The second important lesson is that there is no way to know if your meter is properly working." are incompatible statements, so I'll bite. How did you know it worked worse after?o_O
  4. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    In case anyone else gets lucky at a yard sale, not all meters do the same thing.
    This site lists different models and year of mfg.
    Good luck at the yard sales, I found a single lot of personal dosimeters, with charger once for 10 bucs, so even tho this stuff is a leftover from the 50's - it is still out there.
  5. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    When I bought them from the flea market, they both powered up, passed the "circuit check" test, and would properly zero out. I figured all they needed was a standard tune up.

    Upon return from KI4U, one of them (the less desirable Landers-made meter) did not pass the circuit check and would not return to zero. It was very clear that these meters, which according to the calibration stickers were serviced by the same person on the same day, were not equals.

    As far as knowing if they work or not, what I'm getting at is that radiation monitors are a lot like can have them serviced and certified, but until you actually use it in a real-world application, you don't really know what you have.

    Since a human cannot sense radiation until they are about to be killed by it, the only safeguard is to trust your equipment and make sure it is in the best possible working condition.
  6. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    Yes, you are 100% correct. There is a difference between a dosimeter, a Geiger counter, and a survey meter.

    The general opinion is that the old instruments are trustworthy and useable if they have been properly serviced.

    The KI4U website has a great tutorial section that explains all of this.
  7. stg58

    stg58 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    While searching on the old rad monitors I found this doc dated 2012 with the title page stating "The State of Columbia"?
    Still reading it for the first time but at 200 pages someone put some work into it.




    Ver. 7.0


    He had what looks to be a good stock enough that he converted them into lamps but says he is sold out.


    THE source for surplus Civil Defense radiation detection equipment
survivalmonkey SSL seal warrant canary