NearSys is experimenting with ion chambers as an affordable radiation detector for robots and near space. The designs under experiment can be found at Charles Wenzel's website, http://techlib.com/
The electronics are soldered to a perf board and shielded with a copper pipe cap. The electronics are bolted to the can of the chamber, making the ion chamber a very durable unit.
Currently, the ion chamber under study is being read by the READADC command. to my surprise, I have determined that 5.5 MeV alphas from Americiunm-241 can be detected by the chamber but not 4.5 MeV alphas from Uranium-238