Mechanical details

Principal components

The Null Gamma Device is based around a 1.4 GHz 64-bit quad-core Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ single board computer. The entropy source at it’s heart (the Null source) is the cumulation of various quantum and electrical effects on photo sensors within a blacked out 8 Mbit camera operating at ISO 800. The higher the ISO setting, the higher the entropy rate. The device’s Linux (Raspian) operating system is hosted on a 120 GB SSD drive for reliability and longevity.

Entropy generation is essentially the same process as within the Photonic Instrument, other than there being no photon noise as the camera operates in complete darkness.

Basic hardware components (stock photo) of the Null Gamma Device.

Basic hardware components (stock photo).

SSD drive hosting the Raspian/Linux operating system for the Null Gamma Device.

SSD drive hosting the Raspian/Linux operating system (stock photo).

Test assembly

The image below is an initial test assembly of the principal components. You can see the Null source on the right hand side, next to the photon shield (black protective enclosure and secondary light barrier). The SSD drive is beneath the Pi, connected via a SATA to USB adapter cable.

Test assembly of the Null Gamma Device.

Test assembly of the Null Gamma Device.

Null source

The CMOS camera is the Null source. The camera is obscured simply by super-glueing a 1.6 mm thick opaque plastic square directly onto the lens mount (having removed the lens itself). It is beneath the focusing crystal. The camera has been successfully tested for light tightness. Zero light ✔

There is also a DS18B20 digital thermometer adjacent to the camera for temperature monitoring (at the 3 o’clock position below). It is bypassed with two 100 nF ceramic capacitors for good luck. This allows us to assess the relationship between the Null source’s entropy rate and it’s operating temperature.

The Null entropy source inside the Null Gamma Device. Photon shield removed.

The Null entropy source. Photon shield removed.

The Null entropy source inside the Null Gamma Device. Photon shield removed.

The Null entropy source. Photon shield removed.

The entire source is encased within a secondary photon shield for security and additional light exclusion. You will be able to notice a thin brown gasket between the top and bottom parts of the photon shield. It improves the seal, but more importantly allows for the thickness of the camera cable. LED activity indicators are mounted atop the shield that glow alternately red and green every time Null Gamma is accessed.

Null Gamma Device's Null entropy source encased inside the photon shield, and activity indicators.

The Null entropy source encased inside the photon shield, and activity indicators.

I/O PCB

All wiring connections are made via a custom I/O PCB. The PCB and screw connectors are a little more reliable than jumpers and headers. It also holds the pull down circuits for the activity indicators, thermometer peripherals, on/off indicator and supplemental capacitance for the RPi itself. The particular shape does not obstruct air from circulating over the Broadcom chip’s heat spreader.

I/O board for wire connections to the Null Gamma RPi.

I/O board for wire connections to the Null Gamma RPi.