Author Topic: Home made Lightning Detectors  (Read 14547 times)

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Online W3DRM

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Home made Lightning Detectors
« on: September 09, 2006, 06:55:44 PM »
Not sure whether this has/was discussed in the old forum or not.

This is a three-part question:
1) Has anyone built their own lightning detector? I have found a couple links via a Google search but they are all in Europe.

2) If so, where did you get the information on building it?

3) Since they can be built (Europe is doing it quite successfully from what I have read), can any of the outputs be used with the existing lightning collection sites?

Sorry for all the questions but I thought others may be interested in some way to get into the lightning detection game without having to shell out hundreds of $$$.
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Offline carterlake

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Online SLOweather

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Home made Lightning Detectors
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2006, 10:46:20 PM »
Most, if not all homemade detectors are omnidirectional. They are an antenna and a detector of some sort. They can give you an idea of the strength of the strike, and therfore a rough estimate of the distance away.

You can make one for free by tuning an AM radio between stations at the bottom of the band and listening to the static crashes. Those are lightning. (But you're a ham, you knew that. :))

The lightning network sites that I am aware of, like StrikeStar and the "homemade" European site at http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2006/08/homemade_networ.html, use Boltek Storm trackers and either Nexstorm, or Lightning 2000 software.

Bolteks seem to have 2 or possibly 3 active orthogonal antennas in the housing, which via relative signal strength and polarity of the detected pulse indicate its azimuth and type. (The antenna cable is CAT5 which is 4 pair. That would be one pair for power (the antenna runs warm) and one pair each for a N/S, E/W, and horizontal loop. I'm not sure if the horizontal antenna would be useful or not.)

There are a lot of interface and conditioning electronics on the Boltek PCI card, which the software can interface with. I haven't really studied the card to decipher what chips and stuff are installed on it. They make a serial detector for laptops and other computers without a PCI slot, but it does on-board processing, and does not send as much data to the software on the PC.

Boltek seems to be the standard for anything more than a simple signal strength detector. I'm not sure there is anything else comparable, especially at the "hobbiest" price level.

All of this isn't to say that someone couldn't build or hasn't built their own direction and strength estimating detector. It would be an interesting challenge. I suppose one way to start would be with 2 1-wire detectors and 2 directional loop antennas at right angles, and write a little program to calibrate them and then estimate azimuth from the relative signal strengths. But that wouldn't tell you which direction along the line the strike was.

Hmm, maybe the Boltek  does have 3 antennas, and that's how it calcs direction.

Offline grahamsbeachweather

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Home made Lightning Detectors
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2006, 10:51:59 PM »
the lightning radar with sound card input that they have developed in europe is a very interesting project
http://members.home.nl/fkooiman/lightning/index.htm#1

Online SLOweather

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Home made Lightning Detectors
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2006, 11:54:47 AM »
Quote from: "grahamsbeachweather"
the lightning radar with sound card input that they have developed in europe is a very interesting project
http://members.home.nl/fkooiman/lightning/index.htm#1


That's pretty cool, and close to what I postulated. You can see on the map there that a 2 loop antenna can't easily differentiate where along an axis the strike is, so it plots them on one side or the other of the center. I suppose that strike polarity might determine on which side of center a given strike gets plotted.

Offline xmas1313

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Re: Home made Lightning Detectors
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2008, 06:22:33 PM »
Lightning buffs...

Has anyone ever made an atmospheric current meter similar to what is described in "A Field Guide to the Atmosphere" (or in "Electronic Sensors for the Evil Genius")?  I've used this in the past (without the radioactive source) and measured fluctuations on the order of +/- 10 microamps or so (similar to what a field mill would measure...a build-up of current until released by lightning strike).  I wonder if this would be a good substitute for the cost-prohibitive field mill from Boltek.   I think if they would lower their cost closer to $500 I would consider purchasing it. 

Anyway, my thought would be to hook up the ground and air wires to either an analog microammeter with a +/- readout or possibly a digital ammeter.  However, it would be best to have something that could hook up to the PC via USB or serial for logging.  Any thoughts?

Scott
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Offline weather1967

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Re: Home made Lightning Detectors
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2008, 05:14:37 AM »
I working with it and it is great ,i receiver strikes about 8000 km away,and with very low cost you have very good results .
There are 3 or 4 stations in USA  ,where work lightning radar .

the lightning radar with sound card input that they have developed in europe is a very interesting project
http://members.home.nl/fkooiman/lightning/index.htm#1
Best regards from Greece
Dimitris
http://users.otenet.gr/~meteo/index.html

Offline weather1967

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Re: Home made Lightning Detectors
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2008, 05:20:23 AM »
Hello  Scott
There are a amateur team in Germany where they fix it a E-field ,with low cost about 120-150 euro only !!!!!!!
Here you see all informations about it

http://members.inode.at/576265/

And here is the manual of PDF

http://members.inode.at/576265/fieldmill.pdf





Lightning buffs...

Has anyone ever made an atmospheric current meter similar to what is described in "A Field Guide to the Atmosphere" (or in "Electronic Sensors for the Evil Genius")?  I've used this in the past (without the radioactive source) and measured fluctuations on the order of +/- 10 microamps or so (similar to what a field mill would measure...a build-up of current until released by lightning strike).  I wonder if this would be a good substitute for the cost-prohibitive field mill from Boltek.   I think if they would lower their cost closer to $500 I would consider purchasing it. 

Anyway, my thought would be to hook up the ground and air wires to either an analog microammeter with a +/- readout or possibly a digital ammeter.  However, it would be best to have something that could hook up to the PC via USB or serial for logging.  Any thoughts?

Scott
arlingtonweather.net
Best regards from Greece
Dimitris
http://users.otenet.gr/~meteo/index.html

 

anything