Author Topic: Blitzortung Build Photos  (Read 14249 times)

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Offline miraculon

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Blitzortung Build Photos
« on: April 14, 2013, 10:39:48 AM »
Although I am not completely done (waiting on the Sparkfun BOB for the GPS...) I though that I would post photos of the build and install of the project.

Here is the amplifier board completed with headphones connected. You can hear noise and static. It is helpful to identify noisy locations not suitable to mounting the antennas.



I was testing the antenna and amplifier together. The default gain was too high, so I readjusted it to a gain of 70dB. It was quite responsive to the BBQ sparker. I was a little surprised at this.



Here is the completed controller board hanging precariously at the edge of the computer desk. The red daughter board is a Sparkfun Serial USB breakout board. This photo was taken during the testing in the above picture. Note the yellow LED indicating a "BBQ Strike". :lol:



Here is the controller board installed and mounted on the wall. Note the empty GPS header. :-(



Finally, a of shot of the installed antenna/amplifier assembly. Although it isn't strictly required for TOA (Time of Arrival), it happens to be N-S and E-W orientated. The ferrite rod antennas slipped perfectly into the 1/2" PVC conduit. That is copper tape wrapped around the PVC tubes with a longitudinal gap to avoid a "shorted turn" for the ferrite coil. The black wires connect to the internal GND connection points. Preparing the ferrite rod antennas was the trickiest part since they have fairly delicate magnet wire brought out of their shrink tubing. I have soldered wire connections and several layers of shrink tubing to protect them. There is also a strain relief on the cables to protect them.

The PVC conduit ell was how I got 90-degree mounting for the antennas. Instead of using the cover, I drilled matching holes and the entire amplifier box becomes the "cover". The ell and antennas are mounted with the ell cover screws onto the amplifier cover.



Greg H





« Last Edit: January 24, 2015, 02:53:16 PM by miraculon »


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

Offline kaymann

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2013, 11:51:25 AM »
Awesome pictures - is it installed in a shed or under your house eves

Offline Bunty

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 02:44:23 PM »
But after gain adjustment down, does it respond to wall, lamp and other switches in the house?
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 01:52:14 AM by Bunty »

Also the 2nd home page using modified AltDashboard 6.81 at http://stillwaterweather.com/wx/2ndhome.php

Offline Weather Display

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2013, 03:31:52 PM »
top quality work on the build and housing there :)
Brian
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http://www.weather-display.com

Offline miraculon

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2013, 04:03:07 PM »
Awesome pictures - is it installed in a shed or under your house eves
The controller is in the basement. The antenna is in an upstairs bedroom closet (we are "empty nesters" so no kid's stuff there). It is as high up without going into the attic as I can get. I am too chicken to go on the roof of our Dutch Colonial (except the attached garage).

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: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2013, 04:04:00 PM »
top quality work on the build and housing there :)

Thanks for the compliment!

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: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2013, 04:07:48 PM »
But after gain adjustment down, does it still respond to wall, lamp and other switches in the house?

Not as much as the other detectors. I put the copper foil shield on for this purpose. There are some coincidental triggers, but are few.
You learn to sort out the behavior of real strikes and noise after a while. The pattern is much different, with ever increasing rate on the real lightning, where noises are almost always (in my case) "onesie-twosie" events.

Greg H



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

Offline sbuckler

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2013, 04:08:35 PM »
Nice work!  Do all the components come with the pcb kit or did you buy them locally?  Any concern about wire distance for USB?  Where are you going to mount the GPS receiver?

Offline miraculon

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2013, 04:21:45 PM »
Nice work!  Do all the components come with the pcb kit or did you buy them locally?  Any concern about wire distance for USB?  Where are you going to mount the GPS receiver?

The USB cable goes to an ancient HP Pavilion right below the controller, so it is a short run. The Ethernet cable is a different story. I bought a 50' STP outdoor grade cable, that I plan on routing outside the house then back into the basement. It will replace an unused coax, so it won't look any different.

Right now I have it patched through existing Ethernet wiring from the upstairs back bedroom, so it is picking up noise. The shielded STP CAT5 should help. They use two pairs for the amplified antenna signals and one pair for power (quasi-POE in a way). The GPS is going to be on a bracket just outside my basement window, but about 8' high. It is in a housing consisting of 2" PVC pipe and end-cap. The bottom is plywood varnished. I'll add a picture of the GPS once it is installed.

Depending on how you want to do it, you can get the PCB and all the components, or you can add the ferrite antennas and/or the Sparkfun USB BOB.

Sparkfun actually "retired" this board but Egon Wanke of Blitzortung had one and I ordered it from him. Apparently this is an all-volunteer effort and they sell it at cost. I think that it was well worth it.

The boxes, cables, power wall-wart, PVC, etc were from Amazon, MCM Electronics and the local Home Depot.

Greg H




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

Offline DanS

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2013, 09:30:45 AM »
Neat project! 2 questions for you if you don't mind. What determines the "longitudinal gap" width or opening dimensions on the antennas?
Do you experience any receiver sensitivity changes due to atmospheric charges and need to tweak the gain accordingly? I ask because I've been experimenting with ferrite antennas and seeing this happen throughout the day as the humidity and air charges change.
Thanks!

Dan
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 09:42:44 AM by DanS »

Offline miraculon

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 11:26:31 AM »
Neat project! 2 questions for you if you don't mind. What determines the "longitudinal gap" width or opening dimensions on the antennas?
Do you experience any receiver sensitivity changes due to atmospheric charges and need to tweak the gain accordingly? I ask because I've been experimenting with ferrite antennas and seeing this happen throughout the day as the humidity and air charges change.
Thanks!

Dan

Dan,

The gap was determined empirically using the Arbitrary Eyeball Method. I would say it is about 1mm or so. I didn't measure it, but I can when I have the chance.

I experienced a problem last night where the yellow "signal" LED was on constantly. I saw some 120Hz rep-rate pulses. It magically went away this morning, so I don't know if it was some kind of offending source or the problem went away on its own. I am planning on bringing out the "measurement points" to a stereo jack and see if I can monitor reception conditions using Audacity or Spectrum Lab (if I can figure out how it works  #-o). I suspect that I will be in for a lot of gain tweaking as I learn what to expect from the antennas. (I am not an RF expert, so I am kind of feeling my way around on this)

Greg H


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

Offline sbuckler

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2013, 12:51:16 PM »
Greg,
Thanks for the detailed explanation above.  Gave me enough information to pull the trigger and place an order.  Been looking at this set-up for a few weeks now and your fine quality work is inspirational!

What did you order for a GPS?

Stan

Offline miraculon

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2013, 02:03:46 PM »
I ordered the GPS from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002GOOVNK/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
This is what they recommended in the documentation.
I also ordered (again) the Sparkfun EM406 breakout board. I think my first one is lost in the mail. USPS can't seem to find it.
https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10402
I'll post the pics for the PVC housing I made up for that soon.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 02:05:29 PM by miraculon »


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

Offline DanS

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2013, 03:20:57 AM »
Neat project! 2 questions for you if you don't mind. What determines the "longitudinal gap" width or opening dimensions on the antennas?
Do you experience any receiver sensitivity changes due to atmospheric charges and need to tweak the gain accordingly? I ask because I've been experimenting with ferrite antennas and seeing this happen throughout the day as the humidity and air charges change.
Thanks!

Dan

Dan,

The gap was determined empirically using the Arbitrary Eyeball Method. I would say it is about 1mm or so. I didn't measure it, but I can when I have the chance.

I experienced a problem last night where the yellow "signal" LED was on constantly. I saw some 120Hz rep-rate pulses. It magically went away this morning, so I don't know if it was some kind of offending source or the problem went away on its own. I am planning on bringing out the "measurement points" to a stereo jack and see if I can monitor reception conditions using Audacity or Spectrum Lab (if I can figure out how it works  #-o). I suspect that I will be in for a lot of gain tweaking as I learn what to expect from the antennas. (I am not an RF expert, so I am kind of feeling my way around on this)

Greg H


Try to note the dew point/humidity at the times when the signal LED remains on and when it clears itself. This may be what I meant with the atmospheric charge effecting readings. In the late afternoon when our humidity is lowest, in the 20-30% range (dry season now), I can set the sens. of a rcv'r to null out the charges in the air and my "signal" light stays out. By morning, the humidity is up around 80% and the signal light stays lit/on (if I don't tweak the sens.). Not changing anything I can watch the "signal" light slowly dim and eventually go out throughout the day as the humidity drops. In the morning when humidity is highest I can tweak the sens. to null out any air-charge and the "signal" light will remain out throughout the day (with all else quiet-no BBQ lighter, lightning activity, etc.)
 Thought I'd bring this up just in case it's what you're seeing and you don't go nuts chasing it around.

Oh. another cool tester to use instead of the BBQ lighter is one of those tennis racket lookin' mosquito zappers. They work great and at even greater distances.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2013, 06:00:39 AM by DanS »

Offline miraculon

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2013, 07:44:42 AM »
I'll try to make note of humidity when I am getting false counts on any of my detectors. The EVR (Wenzel-based) detector with the outside LF antenna seems to be the most susceptible to noise. I never made note of the humidity before, but I think that I have seen some connection with dry windy days being worse for discharge detection, especially on the H-B detector. Makes sense.

No continuous noise on the Blitzortung unit last night or this morning. We have T-storms nearby and the new detector is working very well. I reduced the gain to 43 (AVG) due to the UTP temporary CAT5 run, and it is still picking up strikes better than the other detectors.

I reordered the Sparkfun GPS breakout board, this time with 3-day UPS shipping. I am hoping to get everything working and on-line this weekend.

Greg H


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

Offline sbuckler

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2013, 05:42:07 PM »
Greg,
I am awaiting the arrival of my my kit and planning the installation.  If I may, I'd like to ask a couple of questions.

What is the purpose of the copper tape on the antennas, and is it required?

what size boxes did you get for the controller board and amplifier board?

Stan

Offline miraculon

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2013, 08:15:20 PM »
Stan,

In section 2.4 Ferrite rod antennas of the Blitzortung manual (http://www.blitzortung.org/Documents/TOA_Blitzortung.pdf?t=1366243897), it shows construction details of how Egon used ribbon cable to form the electric-field shield. The antennas are really meant to respond to the magnetic signal from the strikes near 10KHz. The electrostatic shield is meant to reduce susceptibility to domestic noise sources.

I decided that it would be simpler to use copper tape with a split in it than the ribbon cable method.

There are some articles on the web about Faraday shielding loop antennas to minimize noise. Here is an example: users.tpg.com.au/users/ldbutler/Ferrite_Loop_Ant.pdf This is a paper by Lloyd Butler VK5BR. Note the shield box and the gap in it. This is all to prevent created a shorted-turn transformer.

There are others such as this posting on a Wetterboard forum: http://www.wetter-board.de/board323-spezialthemen/board287-blitzentladung-aufzeichnung/board290-blitzortung/board386-blitzortung-english/46026-noise-attenuation-on-ferrit-antennas/

And another: http://www.qsl.net/pa2ohh/07fer.htm

I found the NEMA boxes on Amazon. I used the one with the clear cover for an earlier project (Eastern Voltage Research Lightning Detector, see my other posting in the Lightning area on WxForum).

This is the antenna/amplifier box: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005T7AIZG/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This is the controller box:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005UPNE8A/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Greg

« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 08:32:27 PM by miraculon »


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: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2013, 06:16:29 AM »
GPS breakout board came yesterday (2nd order, still no joy on the first one). I have it up and running with the GPS on the ledge of my basement window. Amazing that it works, but it does!

I'll permanently install the GPS outdoors on Saturday.

I cut the gain down to 28x from 43x due to my night time interference. The interference isn't anything in my house.

Still nothing on the shielded CAT5 keystone...

(does anyone know a reliable source of shielded CAT5/6 keystone jacks? standard UTP ones are a dime-a-dozen, but shielded seems hard to find)

Greg H


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

Offline sbuckler

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2013, 07:40:05 AM »


(does anyone know a reliable source of shielded CAT5/6 keystone jacks? standard UTP ones are a dime-a-dozen, but shielded seems hard to find)

Greg H


Is this what you mean?  http://www.ebay.com/itm/12x-RJ45-PCB-JACK-CAT5-5E-6-CONNECTOR-shielded-8pin-network-ethernet-t1b-/370776960039?pt=US_Networking_Plugs_Jacks_Wall_Plates&hash=item5654076c27

Stan

Offline miraculon

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2013, 12:18:08 PM »
Sorry I wasn't clear. I am referring to the wall plate square snap-in RJ45 jacks. I have one on order, but the vendor seems kind of shaky and I haven't received it yet.

Here is what I am looking for (and ordered):http://images2.cableorganizer.com/leviton/shielded-connectors/shielded-connectors.jpg



Maybe I'll order one from this "cableorganizer" outfit.

I seem to be "batting 1.000" with internet ordered parts lately....

Greg
« Last Edit: April 19, 2013, 12:21:49 PM by miraculon »


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

Offline sbuckler

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« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 06:00:23 PM by sbuckler »

Offline miraculon

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2013, 04:10:22 PM »
That should work. If the one that I ordered doesn't come in today's mail, I try getting one from them.

Greg

UPDATE: It came today. I am all set.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2013, 07:42:01 PM by miraculon »


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

Offline sbuckler

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2013, 06:09:22 PM »
Greg,
By the way I meant to thank you for all those links and explanations.  I have a better understanding now of the antennas.  It's been about 30 years since I took an electronics course and after all that time I have had to make room for new memory!  I hope I can do a professional looking job like you did.  Thanks again.

Stan

Offline miraculon

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Re: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #23 on: April 20, 2013, 08:18:30 PM »
Stan,

No problem, glad to help. Let us know when you get everything together and are connected to blitzortung.org.

Greg


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: Blitzortung Build Photos
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2013, 08:41:05 PM »
As promised, the GPS installation pictures. I installed the GPS and permanently wired the antenna/amplifier with STP CAT5.

Close-up of the inside of the GPS housing. It is made from 2 inch PVC pipe and wood. Sorry about the bottom being cut off, but I was trying to hold the camera above the housing on top of a ladder. It is the best I could get under the circumstances. The small red vertical board is the infamous breakout board. This was my 2nd order, the original order is "lost in space".



GPS from below mounted on bracket. This is a shelf bracket from the local home center.



Here is a photo of the installed GPS. Note 2" PVC cap covering the pipe enclosure. I did not cement it so I can access it in case of trouble. The cap is plenty snug by itself.



I also put the clear cover on the controller, put some informative labels on, etc. and other minor work.

Greg H

« Last Edit: January 24, 2015, 02:45:21 PM by miraculon »


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

 

anything