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Exposure Timer And Switches

Manish Paudel
Roll No:31
• The device used to control the length of x-
ray exposure with low powered x-ray sets.
exposure time being mostly over 1 sec
.Small inaccuracies will not be a significant
proportion of these intervals,so timing
mechanism is simple one .
• But with high powered x-ray sets ,exposure
time is very short and minimum time
interval i.e . >0.01 sec or less in some cases.
• So,the timer should be with high degree of
• The basic exposure timers are :
Mechanical Timer (obsolete)
Synchronous Timer
Electronic Timer
Automatic Exposure Control(AEC)
Pulse Counting Timer
Mechanical Timer
• In older xray equipment ,small portable and
dental sets had mechanical or clockwork
timer.In such timer a spring is provided
with a motive power for a timer movement.
Synchronous Timer
• These are the type of mechanical timers
,have an electric motor called synchronous
motor which is accurate than clockwork
• This is designed to drive a shaft at precisely
Electronic Timers
• These are the most sophisticated ,most
complicated and the most accurate XR
exposure timer.
• They consist of complex circuitary based on
the time required to change a capacitor
through a variable resistance.
• These allow wide range of time intervals to
be selected and are accurate to intervals as
small as 1ms.
• Because they withstand rapid serial
exposures they are particularly suitable for
angiointerventional procedures.
• The main basis of ET is charging and
discharging of a capacitor .The length of the
xray exposure is determined by the time
required to charge or discharge a capacitor
through a selected resistance.
A charging capacitor
• The exposure button starts the exposure and
also starts charging the capacitor .
• Exposure terminates when the capacitor is
charged to a value necessary to turn on the
associated electronic circuit.
• The exp. time is determined by the length
of the time to charge the capacitor.
• This time can be varied by varying the
value of resistance in the charging circuit.
• If the resistance is low the capacitor take
shorter time to charge thus giving low
exposure time.
A discharging capacitor
• The capacitor is fully charged before the
exposure .When the exposure button starts
the charged capacitor begins to discharge
the selected resistance .When the voltage
has fallen to the specific value the exposure
stops.If resistance decreases the capacitor
discharges in shorter time.
• Called Automatic Exposure Control
• Accurate than electrical and mechanical.
• AEC was developed to correct the errors by
the radiology technologists under the
exposure factors .
• They measure the amount of radiation
required to produce correct exposure for a
radiographic exam.
• It is first necessary to select the kvp that
will produce satisfactory penetration of the
part to be examined.Once kvp is selected
either the technologist or photo timer must
select the mAs that will produce the proper
• An automatic timer overcomes the
difficulties of varying absorption in the
patient because the exposure is terminated
only when the film has that dose of
radiation necessary to give it required range
of densities after processing.
• If the timer is properly used and is
functioning correctly all radiograph should
receive standarized exposure and be
correctly exposed.
• The essential element in phototimer is a
device that can detect radiation and in
response to this produce a small electric
• There are 3 such devices which are :
2. Photomultiplier Detector
3. Ionization Chamber Detector
4. Solid State Detector
Photomultiplier Detector
• A photo multiplier tube is a vacuum tube
consisting of photocathode ,several
intermediate electrodes called dynodes and
an anode.When light strike on the
photocathode ,it emits photoelectrons in no .
proportional to the intensity of light.
• The intermediate electrons are coated with
material that emits secondary electrons
when stuck by another electron .
• The electrons are accelerated by the
positive potential from one dynode to next
with each dynode giving rise to more
• The final no of electron collected at the
anode represents the output current and is
proportional to the intensity of light that
stuck the photo cathode.
• Photomultiplier detector is the most
common type of AEC .The detector is made
up of Lucite and is covered with black
paper except for an area which is used as
detector field for X-ray.
Ionization Chamber Autotimer
• IC are almost used as entrance type
autotimer. i.e.xray reaching the film passes
through the IC.
• An IC consists of 2mm thin parallel sheets
of Al and Pb foil with gas filled in between
the plates which is ionized by radiation.
• Prior to the exposure charge is placed on
the parallel plate by applying voltage across
• When the gas is ionized by radiation the –
ve ion moves towards the +ve plate and
• When ions arrive at the plate they neutralise
the part of charge that has been placed on
the plates.
• When the voltage has been reduced to
previously determined value ,an electronic
circuit will activate that will terminate the
Solid State Autotimer
• A variety of SSA is used in the marked
today that operates on the basis of radiation
producing ionization in or near the receptor.
• This offers the advantage of small
size,almost no X-ray beam absorption and
a consistent rapid response.
Pulse Counting Timer
• In this type,timing is accomplished by
counting the pulse of a regular periodic
voltage.When it is necessary the exposure
of few ms.,a convenient way is to measure
such a time would be to count voltage
pulses of high frequency.
• The higher the frequency ,the more the
pulses that are counted for a given
exposure period.
• The higher frequency has a tendency to
reduce the error in the time period .So,this
device is used to control the time of short
exposure technique.
mAs timers
• An electronic timer
– T he technologist selects the mAs and when the
desired mAs is reached the exposure is
• It is a control device designed to interrupt
the power automatically when pressure by
the operator's hand or foot is released. The
purpose is to prevent accidental continuing
exposure of the patient to radiation.
A primitive X-ray control panel with analog switches.
Latest digital control panel with electronic timer and integrated
Switches contd..
• Based on the location on the circuit of the
transformer they are fitted they are
divided into two types.These are :
2. Primary and
3. Secondary
Primary Switching
1. Electromechanical Contractors
2. Electronic
iii. Gas filled switches or thyratrons
iv. Silicon Controlled Rectifier(SCR) or
Electromechanical Contractors
• These are spring loaded so that they close
firmly and without bounce,the spring acting
strongly to contact pieces together.These
contact to close a circuit and remove
contact to open the circuit.
• These should be heat resistant and also the
springs should be strong.
• Nowadays these are replaced by the
electronic switching.
• These are gas filled switches used in the
primary circuit of the xray generator
• These are cold cathode type and take
certain time for flow and are good at high
• Suitable for switching big current ie can be
made to switch between 250 A at 500 V so
can be used in the primary circuit of the
xray generators.Mostly used nowadays .
Secondary Switching Circuit
• These are fitted within the high tension
circuit .
• These must be wholly electronic and they
must be vacuum valve devices.These are
3. Triode Valve
4. Grided X-ray tubes
Triode Valve
• These are mainly used to Switch the circuit
and may also act to stabilize the kilovoltage.
• These triode valves are designed to act as
electronic switches operating at high
kilovoltages and they directly close at teh
start the exposure and open at the end of the
• The grid is responsible for the switching
mechanism ie the voltage in the grid.
• When grid is sufficiently negative with
respect to the cathode ,no electron can pass
throgh it causing open circuit.
• When voltage in the grid is decreased the
valve is conductive ie the switch is open.
Grided X-ray tubes
• In this case a control grid is kept in between
the anode and cathode of the x-ray tube
making the x-ray tube itself as a switch.
• At the beginning of the exposure it provides
a continuous pathway for its own flow of
electrons by becoming conductive through
change in negative bias voltage in the grid.
• At the end of the exposure it becomes non
conductive and again through the grid bias
voltage ,it instantaneously opens the high
tension circuit and the exposure stops.
• It is the method of exposure switching that
gives precise control for short exposures of
a few milliseconds only.