Author Topic: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down  (Read 1418 times)

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Offline nincehelser

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Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« on: October 27, 2016, 12:39:02 AM »
I couldn't resist any more and had to open it up...

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Offline Bushman

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2016, 10:56:56 AM »
What chip is used for the detector itself?

Offline nincehelser

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2016, 11:14:00 AM »
What chip is used for the detector itself?

Looks like an AS3935 Franklin Lightning Sensor IC

Datasheet here: http://www.meteorange.fr/scripts/AS3935.pdf

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Offline nincehelser

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2016, 11:19:14 AM »
Interesting bit from the data sheet:

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Offline nincehelser

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2016, 11:28:22 AM »
Marketing video from a chip distributer:


Offline Bushman

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2016, 12:22:21 PM »
Cool.  Thanks!  This is not yet supported by the Smarthub, right??

Offline Bushman

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2016, 12:23:08 PM »
BTW, I would KILL to have a sensor like this integrated into my Davis configuration!!

Offline nincehelser

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2016, 12:27:28 PM »
Cool.  Thanks!  This is not yet supported by the Smarthub, right??

Nope.  Not yet at least.

I was hoping it might at least show temp and humidity, but it doesn't register on the current version of the SmartHUB at all (224).  Not even on the internal web page.

Offline Bushman

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2016, 12:32:40 PM »
When it does I am buying one.  In fact, I'd likely buy a second smarthub just for it (other wx location with Davis, since it will be never when Davis has such a thing)

Offline miraculon

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2016, 01:28:57 PM »
What chip is used for the detector itself?

Looks like an AS3935 Franklin Lightning Sensor IC

Datasheet here: http://www.meteorange.fr/scripts/AS3935.pdf

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This is the same IC used in their stand-alone portable detector. (logically, so)

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Offline mwall

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2016, 03:46:49 PM »
folks have been playing with the AS3935 for a few years now.  since hobbyboards closed its doors and stopped offering its one-wire lightning detector, the AS3935 is positioned to take over that niche.  there is a package easily connected to the rpi or arduino:

https://www.embeddedadventures.com/as3935_lightning_sensor_module_mod-1016.html

and there is a service for weewx to read it:

https://github.com/weewx/weewx/wiki/as3935

or you can use the weewx-sdr driver to pick up the signals from the acurite lightning sensor:

https://github.com/matthewwall/weewx-sdr

rob and george have reverse engineered most of the data that the acurite lightning sensor spits out:

http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=30139.0

i've used the hobbyboards 1-wire detector in a few different locations.  one of them works flawlessly, another other will periodically detect hundreds of lightning strikes in an hour every second week or so.  a third location has many spurious detections, but i suspect that is due to proximity to some HVAC equipment.

i'm still getting to know the acurite detector.

its hard to know without a proper survey, but weewx users of the AS3935 seem to have mixed experiences.  at the very least, the rpi configuration requires a bit of parameter tuning.  newer versions of the hardware might have resolved this a bit.  search for AS3935 in the weewx-user forum topics for details.

m

Offline rct

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2017, 02:54:32 PM »
I curious for anyone who has opened the lightning detector case -- where you able to get it sealed back up again?

On my first sensor, the little piezo buzzer seems to have died - so I want to see if it's possibly just debris or not to hard to solder in a replacement.

Offline ColoradoWeather

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2017, 04:23:58 PM »
Great info. Thanks George!

Offline Old Tele man

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2017, 04:39:27 PM »
Although an old post, I wonder: in what format is the output data? Simply a distance? Or, does it also include some kind of compass directionality?
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Offline rct

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2017, 05:03:03 PM »
Sorry if I caused any confusion by reviving this old thread.  I was just looking for a tip before I try to crack mine open.

You'll find more a bit more info in this old thread about the "new acurite lightning sensor" -  http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=30139.0

There is no directionality, just a distance estimate to what it interprets as the leading edge of the storm.  The raw data from the sensor currently looks like this:

Code: [Select]
2017-08-18 17:01:55 Acurite lightning 0x976F Ch B Msg Type 0x02: 79.0 F 75 % RH Strikes 98 Distance 27 L_status 0x00 - 80* 97* 6f  4b  d1  72  e2  1b  11

Offline Bushman

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2017, 05:39:16 PM »
So there is no bearing info in the string?  Too bad - would neat to triangulate.

Offline vreihen

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2017, 06:32:57 PM »
I curious for anyone who has opened the lightning detector case -- where you able to get it sealed back up again?

No problem here after splitting the case and yanking the PCB last spring to observe the antenna orientation.  As a matter of fact, the thing is beeping like crazy as I write this because we're currently in the middle of a line of severe t-storms!

So there is no bearing info in the string?  Too bad - would neat to triangulate.

The AS3935 chip only contains an omnidirectional antenna, so no triangulation.  It also bears mentioning that the AS3935 was *not* intended to be used as a scientific instrument, but rather as a personal safety add-on in smart phones and stuff to alert the  owner to the threat of an approaching storm.  It also seems to be extremely sensitive to antenna orientation, so just using it as a personal safety device is sketchy.  Neat toy, but not a replacement for Blitzortung.....
« Last Edit: August 18, 2017, 06:35:04 PM by vreihen »
WU Gold Stars for everyone! :lol:

Offline rct

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2017, 01:38:20 PM »
[Once again resurrecting this old thread as I finally got around to cracking mine open.]

First, getting it open and closed again was easy, there wasn't any of the sealing I expected.   It also doesn't look like the circuit board is well coated so I wouldn't expect it to last outside very long in harsh environments.

There were a few things I didn't notice in George's pictures, though now that I know they are there I can see them.

First, for anyone who is interested in some electronics hacking: there are pads with nice open holes for the SPI bus next to the AS3935 lightning sensor chip.  Maybe this winter I'll hook it up to a logic analyzer and/or see if I can setup an RPi as a recorder to get a better handle on how this whole thing is working.  I also noticed a nice "reset" pad near the covered blob that is likely the Acurite MCU.  So I'm guessing it is possible to use that to temporarily or semi-permanently disabled the Acurite MCU if you were interested in experimenting with the AS3935.

Second, antennas an orientation. On the backside of the PCB, towards the back of the case there is a small white-ish "PCB" antenna attached for the lightning sensor. I believe someone noted in one of the threads the best orientation for this sensor is with it's back towards what ever direct storms most typically approach from.   Since this is behind the main PCB, this make some sense.  The antenna is somewhat near the holes in the front of the case near the red panel.

(There is also an inductor that can been seen in George's photo of the chip numbers.  It looks like a little tiny am bar antenna.  It's labeled L1, but is on the front side of the PCB.  This might just be for loading and might not be used as part of the sensor's antenna.)


Offline rct

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Re: Acurite Lightning Detector Sensor Tear-Down
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2017, 01:49:03 PM »
One more pic from the front side of the PCB.  You can also see the SPI bus pads near the lightning sensor chip.