Author Topic: A UK Blitzortung Build  (Read 2479 times)

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Offline ayde_bury

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A UK Blitzortung Build
« on: June 08, 2013, 02:47:04 PM »
Some of you will of seen my post about making the jump into a self build lightning detector to add to the Blitzortung global network, and I can announce that this afternoon the hardware build was finished :)

So here is the completed amplifier board:



and the associated processing board where the USB outputs data to the PC and GPS information is also fed in:



So my thoughts on it so far, and hints for anyone thinking of the project are as follows.

1) Sort the resistors and capacitors into labelled bags first and check everything is correct. If you're having problems reading resistor values from colours then use a multimeter to give you a hand.

2) Make sure you are following the correct version of the instructions for your revision of PCB board - this is particularly important on the processing board as there are changes between the  versions (trust me it's a bugger to remove small components when there in the wrong place).

3) Start with small components first.

4) Take your time.

5) When complete read the instructions relating to your particular GPS receiver especially with regard to jumper settings on the processor board for the correct baud rates. Without these set correctly it might look like the board isn't working because of a soldering fault.

Hope that these tips help avoid some of my pitfalls. I'll post up the pictures of the final location in the attic once I am happy with the performance and reliability.

Now if only these thunderstorms in France would head a bit further north  :grin:
Weather Spares - your one stop shop for complete stations, accessories and spare parts for Davis Instruments, Oregon Scientific, TFA, Ventus, Alecto and many more - http://www.weatherspares.co.uk/ offering global shipping of products.

Davis Vantage Pro 2 plus 24 hour FARS, Davis data logger, remote anemometer rooftop mounted.
Location 95m altitude, West of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK.


Offline sbuckler

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Re: A UK Blitzortung Build
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2013, 03:15:30 PM »
Looks good.  Nice job on the build.  Good pointers as well that should help others that undertake this project.  I t doesn't look like the storms in France should be a problem for you to pick up.  I am using the 12cm ferrite rod antennas and my furthest strike was 3500 miles away.
What are you using for the antenna?

Stan

Offline ayde_bury

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Re: A UK Blitzortung Build
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2013, 03:19:34 PM »
I have the 20cm ferrite rod antennas, but at the moment they are located virtually at ground level. I will give it a few days to bed in an then it will be moved into the attic space some 10m higher and with a less obstructed view.
Weather Spares - your one stop shop for complete stations, accessories and spare parts for Davis Instruments, Oregon Scientific, TFA, Ventus, Alecto and many more - http://www.weatherspares.co.uk/ offering global shipping of products.

Davis Vantage Pro 2 plus 24 hour FARS, Davis data logger, remote anemometer rooftop mounted.
Location 95m altitude, West of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK.


Offline miraculon

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Re: A UK Blitzortung Build
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2013, 03:22:40 PM »
Quote
When complete read the instructions relating to your particular GPS receiver especially with regard to jumper settings on the processor board for the correct baud rates. Without these set correctly it might look like the board isn't working because of a soldering fault.

I agree with this one. I think that a lot of people would have a tendency to leave the pre-populated jumpers as they came on the headers before soldering. This "default" would result in a non-functional system, especially with the input 82 Ohm terminating resistors intended for loop or E-field antennas.

Greg H





Blitzortung Stations #706 and #1682
CoCoRaHS: MI-PI-1
CWOP: CW4114 and KE8DAF-13
WU: KMIROGER7
Amateur Radio Callsign: KE8DAF

Offline miraculon

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Re: A UK Blitzortung Build
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2013, 03:27:37 PM »
I have the 20cm ferrite rod antennas, but at the moment they are located virtually at ground level. I will give it a few days to bed in an then it will be moved into the attic space some 10m higher and with a less obstructed view.

The documentation on the web site and ordering info made it sound like they ship 12cm, but I think that I got the 20cm ones as well. I know that I cut the PVC pipe to fit and they measure around the 20cm mark. I think that lower gain is called for with the 20cm than the 12cm.

I have been fighting a local interference which looks like SMPS or dimmer noise on a scope. It has a 120Hz repetition rate (due to the US 60Hz system) but the pulses have energy near 10KHz which causes false triggering. Hopefully you are in an EMF-free zone...

Greg H





Blitzortung Stations #706 and #1682
CoCoRaHS: MI-PI-1
CWOP: CW4114 and KE8DAF-13
WU: KMIROGER7
Amateur Radio Callsign: KE8DAF

Offline ayde_bury

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Re: A UK Blitzortung Build
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2013, 04:12:06 PM »
Well another read after seeing your last post, and I had missed the removal of he 6 jumpers on IA and IB - within 15 minutes I have detected a strike 936km from my station :D

Perhaps my comment should be read and read again!!!
Weather Spares - your one stop shop for complete stations, accessories and spare parts for Davis Instruments, Oregon Scientific, TFA, Ventus, Alecto and many more - http://www.weatherspares.co.uk/ offering global shipping of products.

Davis Vantage Pro 2 plus 24 hour FARS, Davis data logger, remote anemometer rooftop mounted.
Location 95m altitude, West of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK.


Offline ayde_bury

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Re: A UK Blitzortung Build
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2013, 08:52:08 AM »
I continue to be surprised by this little project. After further gain tweaking, following find a post giving more details of the full 15 gain settings for the amplifier a 9.5kA strike at a distance of 2,376km north of Moscow has appeared!!!

Here's a picture of them for others that like to fine-tune the equipment:

Weather Spares - your one stop shop for complete stations, accessories and spare parts for Davis Instruments, Oregon Scientific, TFA, Ventus, Alecto and many more - http://www.weatherspares.co.uk/ offering global shipping of products.

Davis Vantage Pro 2 plus 24 hour FARS, Davis data logger, remote anemometer rooftop mounted.
Location 95m altitude, West of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK.


Offline miraculon

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Re: A UK Blitzortung Build
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2013, 10:26:14 AM »
I found that gain chart on one of their forums too. I am running gain of 53x, until I make my window comparator mod or I finally find the source of the interference. ](*,)

Here is an Excel spreadsheet with these jumper settings that shows the gain in dB. The 1.00E+10 represents an "open" jumper. Some of the settings are only a fraction of a dB different (they show the same here because I moved the decimal in the spreadsheet to round to the closest integer). These settings are probably going to be effectively the same as far as receiving sensitivity is concerned. So when I went from 70 to 53, this is only 2dB less gain. I could see on my oscilloscope that the noise was just slightly above the window comparator threshold, so it wasn't much of a compromise in sensitivity, yet brought the noise below the threshold.



Note that in dB, the differences are smaller steps. The difference in dB isn't as dramatic as the raw Avg (voltage gain) appears.

A couple of interesting things to add are on the "miscellaneous" page of the "Services" area available only to participants.

One is the "Lightning View" program:

The Lightning Viewer Project

    Edmunds Lightning Viewer, latest version (ask Edmund for the key): Lightning Viewer X86 and Lightning Viewer X64
    Additional relief maps for ELView: http://www.blitzortung.org/ELView/Maps/
    Map generator for ELView: Map generator


The other is the "Lightning Radar".

Here is mine:




You need to contact Michael to get the key for your ID.
Please ask Michael for a key (id_user) to consider the data from your station.

Glad that you are enjoying your Blitzortung. Other than the unidentified noise that I have occur from time-to-time, I really like it too.

Greg H






Blitzortung Stations #706 and #1682
CoCoRaHS: MI-PI-1
CWOP: CW4114 and KE8DAF-13
WU: KMIROGER7
Amateur Radio Callsign: KE8DAF

Offline ayde_bury

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Re: A UK Blitzortung Build
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2013, 03:22:56 PM »
Very useful information thanks :)

This afternoon I received a USB->LAN adapter, which basically lets you put a USB port device anywhere on a network and access it remotely.

So the lightning detector made it's way into the highest point of the house (about 10m above ground level), which also means I ended up looking like I had worked in a coal mine by the time I had finished.

Even though I live in a sparsely populated area, there are some substantial walls made from cement, flint and brick in my home along with neighbouring properties, so moving it here means that only a thin layer of clay tiles has to be penetrated by the lightning signal.

I wasn't expecting greatly different results, but wow was I wrong. In the original location I was detecting <1% of strikes in a 2,500km range. In the last 2 hours this has rocketed up to 20.1%, and noise has dropped considerably too. I can run at full gain with no major interference.

There haven't been any significant storm activity within 1,000km of my location. Can't wait to see some results from local activity.
Weather Spares - your one stop shop for complete stations, accessories and spare parts for Davis Instruments, Oregon Scientific, TFA, Ventus, Alecto and many more - http://www.weatherspares.co.uk/ offering global shipping of products.

Davis Vantage Pro 2 plus 24 hour FARS, Davis data logger, remote anemometer rooftop mounted.
Location 95m altitude, West of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK.


Offline schwab

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Re: A UK Blitzortung Build
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2013, 08:19:50 AM »
There's an error in this diagram in that the depicted resistor setting for "71" is actually a value of "143"

I discovered this while trying to find a gain value between 70 and 101.

The post by Miraculon following the original diagram corrects this error.

I continue to be surprised by this little project. After further gain tweaking, following find a post giving more details of the full 15 gain settings for the amplifier a 9.5kA strike at a distance of 2,376km north of Moscow has appeared!!!

Here's a picture of them for others that like to fine-tune the equipment: