Lightning - sferics detectors

Discussion in 'Homebrew and Kit Projects' started by N8YX, Aug 6, 2008.

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  1. K7JEM

    K7JEM Ham Member QRZ Page

    If that works, you should be able to build this thing using just a couple of 3904's and a 74C14. Run it off of a wall wart and a backup 9v battery, regulated down to 5 or 6v. The battery would last for years if it was only on during a power outage. The thing wouldn't draw much current anyway, when not detecting lightning.

  2. K2WH

    K2WH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Pardon me, while I'm sure this warning device is a nice techy thing I fail to see the advantages or necesssity of owning one of these devices as a "reminder".

    The black sky, increased wind, distant lightning flashes and accompanying long delayed thunder, are all the advance notice one needs to disconnect antennas or to warn of an approaching lightning storm unless of course one lives in a cellar?

    How about using ones own radio. Approaching lightning makes quite a racket. As a matter of fact, you could probably use the speaker output of an HF or BCB receiver as the receiving section in the detection of lightning. During my home commmute from work, if the sky looks threatening, I turn on the AM radio listening for static crashes.

    Call me a party pooper, but in 40 years of hamming, I have never been surprised by an approaching thunder storm. They are kinda obvious without the wonder box dontcha think?

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2008
  3. AB8RO

    AB8RO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, perhaps, perhaps not. I don't know the range of these things but others claim 200km or more. I don't know whether you would see activity before you could obviously see the storm, or not.

    But, that's not really the point. Some people find listening to natural RF interesting and others find building projects interesting even if they have limited practical value.

    The discussion isn't really centered around necessity of having one, only what circuitry is necessary to achieve the stated goal.
  4. N8YX

    N8YX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I fail to see the necessity of owning an SX88, but people still insist on mortgaging the house to afford the purchase. On to the meat of the subject:

    Works if you're in the shack. Doesn't work if you're not. With a sferics receiver and related interface circuitry, one can "automate" certain processes related to battening down the hatches. You as an engineer can't think of any practical applications for a device such as this? I can think of quite a few.

    Only if you're in the immediate area.

    And as Daryl stated above, many of us enjoy listening to natural radio phenomena...building something "different"...using the project as a teaching tool to interest others in radio and electronics.
  5. K2WH

    K2WH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree with your statements. Rolling your own is alot of fun and if one feels the urge to build a lightning detector more power to them. I do understand this urge to build as I have done alot of homebrewing in the past and it is fun.

    I did think of an alternate use of the device to control coax relays automatically disconnecting antennas at a certain level of lightning activity but edited the comment out since lightning traveling a few miles isnt going to be stopped by a coax switch. However, there is a possibility someone could make that work provided the coax switches are motorized or relay activated to cut down on EMP or induced voltages from nearby strikes.

    Last edited: Aug 8, 2008
  6. N8YX

    N8YX Ham Member QRZ Page


    I was originally conceptualizing the automation of one's "stand-down" procedures...for a packet BBS, APRS node, UPS interface. Anything which requires that the parent equipment be brought to an inactive (or protected) state in the event of a nearby electrical storm.

    Case in point:

    Over the years I've had t-storm-induced problems with my packet BBS, and that's equipment to which I have ready access. Many of the 'feeders' in the area are set up in remote locations and are computerized. A device such as a sferics receiver could be used to automatically 'safe' some (or all) of the equipment during a severe-weather event.

    A repeater could benefit from the device's functionality as well.

    (These suggestions are meant to get people to think about ways to utilize the project and not to serve as the sole endpoints per se.)
  7. AA5TE

    AA5TE Ham Member QRZ Page

  8. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    the "not to build" is a strong implication that this is patented.

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