I became interested in mutagenesis after reading about the Optimara EverFloris Space Violets program and eventually finding my way to the Wikipedia:Mutation_breeding page on May 27th 2019 where I wrote "might try this" on dobbs.town.

I began by trying to acquire a chemical mutagen EMS, with plans to dispose of it with a NaOH solution, but gave up after one attempt and the order being denied. Probably for the best! I continued to scour the internet for stories of people attempting to mutate seeds or something like yeast at home. I found someone who would bring seeds to their dentist to have them x-ray seeds as well as someone considering usage of UV-C light to induce mutations.

I knew I had read a way to use old vacuum tubes hooked to high voltage power supplies to create dangerous x-rays. Using the power of the Internet, searching, deal hounding, researching and designing (still in progress) I've been able to gather enough parts to have a "Mutagen Chamber" ready in the next few days. The last thing I needed was lead shielding. I did a quick test run with one of the 2x2a rectifier tubes and a cheap HV stun gun module ordered from a company in China off eBay. The Geiger counter alarm went off signalling over 100cpm and I switched the power supply off. It was a variable power supply so I wasn't even using the full HV output, I was slowly turning it up listening to the chirps steadily increase in frequency of occurrence until the alarm started beeping.

I found a listing for 10x 2x2a tubes on ebay for $26 shipped, making it $2.60 per tube. The HV taser modules (I ordered 2 since I've heard they have a tendency to burn out) were bought for about $2 each. The control circuit is still being designed, I need to figure out better isolation between the microcontroller and the HV module, there's just too much noise, or maybe I need to figure out a more robust timing circuit because I want to run pulses where it's on for 2 seconds off for 2, something like that so the tube or HV module doesn't overheat. The lead is 33 pounds of 1/16" lead sheet roll, was able to get that shipped for a total of $50, the priciest thing so far.

I used FreeCAD to design and 3D printed a socket and "germplasm ring", as well as a cathode electrode connector so I can simply jam the HV module wires into the plastic connectors and start getting x-rays.

Hope to get more of this down and organized. I've got a first generation of 'Wisconsin Fast Plant' seed as well. I want to get a petite population going so I can grow a lot of plants dense and check for mutations. Would be AMAZING to get some viable morphological changes.



I've got my hands on some 1/16" scrap lead sheet, I had to soak it in water to get some paper off of it, the glue dissolved easily.

rolling cutting sheet prototype

The "welding" I attempted with the propane torch didn't go so well, I'm actually thinking of securing everything with duct tape... should work! I also want to design a detachable ring that I put onto the lid and lower into the chamber to make the fiddly loading/extracting of the seeds easier.


I put the lead container together using duct tape and little nails to hold everything. It ended up sitting around for a while while I considered what I was doing (or whatever) up until today, where I decided I was going forward with this. I clipped an old FM antenna for the wire to hook up the HV module to the variable power supply. I selected one of the large pins at random on the 2x2a (there are 2 sets of pins, 2 small and 2 large) basically following Dangerous Laboratiories page on DIY X-rays.


Tube Data

and hooked that one up to the end of the HV module that seemed to glow with more corona than the other (might not be correct here...), then the other HV line to the tube's anode on the top.

While exposed directly to the energized tube (about 10cm away) the counter instantly peaked (>600cpm), I found leakage of about 54cpm close to the lid where it wasn't sealed. After getting the active readings, I ended up putting my left over Wisconsin Fast Plant confetti seeds (about 25 of them) into the chamber. I 'cooked' them for about 4.5-5minutes with 3vdc going into the HV module. So I'll be planting some of my 2nd generation fast plants, unexposed first gen seeds and these x-ray exposed seeds later today.

xray1 xray2 sed

I have the seeds planted in 4 rows: A, B, C, D with columns 1-16

  • Row D 2-15 X-Ray Exposed
  • Row C 2-15 F1 Generation of purple stem WFP
  • Row B 2-15 Un-exposed Confetti Seeds
  • Row A 2-14 X-Ray Exposed

9/8/2019 7:40am



  • Row A: 2, 7, 9, 13, 12, 14
  • Row B: 2, 9, 14
  • Row C: None
  • Row D: 4, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15

Interesting that the exposed seeds are germinating so quickly compared to the rest. The F1 seeds are not the most vital since they spent half their life in low light conditions (probably).


Ok, so I did some more experiments with the x-ray stuff and I think the x-rays I was producing at 3vdc were too soft for the seeds to be so viable. They should actually be taking MORE time (because of the time required to repair the DNA). I turned up the voltage to ~4.5v and was able to get the geiger counter going wild outside the lead container.

So I exposed my collection of cat's claw seeds that I collected while running through an alleyway. After about 5 minutes at 4.5vdc into the HV module + 2x2a I spread the seeds through a little section of the garden. I've read they can take anywhere from 3weeks to 3+months to germinate, I've had a small pot going with no success yet. We'll see what we can pull from the chaos!