Author Topic: Next project: Blitzortung  (Read 22561 times)

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Offline miraculon

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Next project: Blitzortung
« on: April 02, 2013, 08:27:11 PM »
Well, I just sent my money for the kits and antennas to build up a Blitzortung receiver. I'll try to cover how the project goes when it arrives.

The network is pretty sparse in the US, but there are many stations in Europe. It looks like fun and a good addition to my excessive collection of lightning detectors.  :-)

Here is info about the project. (there has been some mention on WxForum in the past)

The USA side of the project: http://www.lrsatx.com/toa_info.htm

The home site: http://www.blitzortung.org/Webpages/index.php?lang=en&region=3&subpage_0=30 (should land on the US map) The tabs cover the various aspects.

I hope that I can fill in a gap in the system with a Michigan station.

Greg H


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

Offline Iceage

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2013, 04:18:41 PM »
Greg  :grin:

You'll never look back ! I am a blitzortung member and wish you a warm welcome to the network

Cheers

Andy

Offline miraculon

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2013, 08:09:46 PM »
Thanks, Andy.

I got my login for blitzortung.org today and downloaded the software.

Egon said that he sent out the kit today. I ordered the ferrite antennas, but I am pondering on whether to build up the loop antenna.

What are you running? Loop or Ferrite?

Greg H

« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 09:19:16 PM by miraculon »


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

Offline Bunty

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2013, 01:50:18 AM »
Greg  :grin:

You'll never look back ! I am a blitzortung member and wish you a warm welcome to the network

Cheers

Andy

Is it prone to giving false responses from wall, lamp and other switches in the house? 

Also the 2nd home page using modified AltDashboard 6.95 at http://stillwaterweather.com/2ndhome.php

Offline Iceage

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2013, 03:15:51 PM »
Hi Greg, Things are moving nicely for you then bet you can't wait :)

Quote
What are you running? Loop or Ferrite?

I have 12cm shielded ferrites as part of the kit and have confirmed detections at a range of 2,640 miles  8-) I am thinking about building a frame antenna as they are low cost and seem to detect more strikes where used but the ferrites are definitely a good start whilst you tune up your detector.

Bunty

Quote
Is it prone to giving false responses from wall, lamp and other switches in the house?

The beauty of the time of arrival system that Blitzortung use is that unless at least 6 stations transmit the detection with the exact GPS timings then the interference is ignored, so should be good for the odd bit of local interference. I find that the received signals 541 with 18 confirmed strikes in the last hour is acceptable. In addition, I live on the west coast in the UK so there are detections out over the Atlantic that may be missed by the network but picked up as a signal too. I am looking at moving the receiver higher to reduce any false detections and improve on my stats the detector is on the kitchen windowsill. We could also do with  station or two in Iceland.....Help with the triangulation a tad.

They are currently working on extra fine tuning on the server software to increase accuracy also.

Please feel free to post any further questions.

Cheers

Andy

Offline miraculon

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2013, 08:26:36 PM »
Andy,

Quote
I have 12cm shielded ferrites as part of the kit and have confirmed detections at a range of 2,640 miles

Did you use the "ribbon cable" method outlined in the documentation to shield the ferrite rods? I was thinking of using aluminum foil and copper tape instead. Did you try it without the shield? It seems that the e-field shielding helps with local noise sources from what I have read.

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: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2013, 09:55:11 PM »
Here is an interesting YouTube video showing the detector in operation. It shows actual lightning detection, GPS and uploading data to blitzortung.org.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ly8CWGxNu6E by Joost Breed.

Greg H



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

Offline Bunty

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2013, 12:38:51 AM »
Hi Greg, Things are moving nicely for you then bet you can't wait :)

Quote
What are you running? Loop or Ferrite?

I have 12cm shielded ferrites as part of the kit and have confirmed detections at a range of 2,640 miles  8-) I am thinking about building a frame antenna as they are low cost and seem to detect more strikes where used but the ferrites are definitely a good start whilst you tune up your detector.


Where do you have your currently used antenna installed?  Indoors?  Outdoors?

Also the 2nd home page using modified AltDashboard 6.95 at http://stillwaterweather.com/2ndhome.php

Offline Iceage

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2013, 03:17:28 PM »
Quote
Did you use the "ribbon cable" method outlined in the documentation to shield the ferrite rods? I was thinking of using aluminum foil and copper tape instead. Did you try it without the shield? It seems that the e-field shielding helps with local noise sources from what I have read.

Greg

I did use foil at the start around plastic plumbing pipe but wanted a tidier look so I have ordered my final version which will be using self adhesive copper plate from Ebay and using this. I have also an IP65 box for the receiver and a separate one for the GPS module so I can then choose where to place everything and have the flexibility and hopefully become more accurate in the process! The shield is off because it didn't seem (in my case) to make much of a difference and ended up making the ferrites a little awkward to arrange on the windowsill.

Quote
Where do you have your currently used antenna installed?  Indoors?  Outdoors?

Bunty

Currently at ground floor level inside on the kitchen windowsill whilst I gather everything together to case it up and move it.


Offline miraculon

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2013, 08:45:11 PM »
In contemplating this a bit more, it might be necessary to put a split or break in the foil longitudinally along the PVC. The copper could form a "shorted turn" transformer effect with the coil. It wasn't explicitly stated that this was the reason for the "ribbon cable shield", but it would avoid the shorted secondary effect.

For the large wire loop antennas, the shielded loop instructions make a point of not having the top/bottom of the copper tube tied together for this reason.

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: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2013, 07:45:59 PM »
UPDATE (4/22): Finally got the breakout board for the GPS and shielded CAT5 jack. With the gain set to 28x, fully shielded wiring the nocturnal interference is under control. I am able to pick up strikes as far as eastern Nebraska and just off-shore of Virginia. It is working well and I am very impressed. I also installed "Lightning View" from Edmund Korffmann which is a good way to view the blitzortung data without a browser. (he also wrote the "tracker" program that handles GPS/strike uploads to the server.)

-----------------------------------------------------

UPDATE (4/13): The kit has been built up and is partially installed. I have the antenna/amplifier assembly mounted in an upstairs closet. I am still waiting on a shielded CAT5 Leviton block and the Sparkfun GPS breakout board. Without the GPS, I can't get it on line yet. The Yellow LED is highly responsive to my BBQ sparker. I had to tone down the gain since it was continuously triggering. It might be due to my regular temporary UTP CAT5 routing picking up noise.

----------------------------------------------------

The kit came today from Germany. They are very nice circuit boards and all the parts look first-rate. The ferrite rod antennas slide perfectly into 1/2 inch PVC pipe. I hope to start building up this weekend, but I am going to take my time and do it right.

I also received today outdoor grade shielded CAT5 for the antenna cable. I am going to mount the antennas/amp in an upstairs closet and route the CAT5 antenna cable down the side of the house outdoors, then into the basement. I am going to install the controller near my other weather stuff in the computer/weather room in the basement. The controller will go in the same style NEMA box as the Eastern Voltage Research detector and look similar.

I received the GPS module and made up a 2" PVC housing for it with an end cap and short section of pipe. I'll try to document the bits as I put it together. The cable for the GPS will go directly outside with the GPS mounted on a bracket. The GPS breakout board is taking it's sweet time arriving though...

Greg H

« Last Edit: April 22, 2013, 07:43:22 AM by miraculon »


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

Offline Maumelle Weather

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2013, 07:11:11 PM »
Hi Greg,

I am getting very interested in this project.  Would love to have a lightning detector again. A couple of questions, if you don't mind. Did you order all of the parts from Germany and, if so, what did it cost you approximately?

Next question is what kind of interference do you get?  I ask this because my next door neighbor has a 40' X 100' steel building about 50 feet from my house. It stands not quite 20' tall.

John
GR2AE, GR3, Cumulus

Offline miraculon

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2013, 08:12:46 PM »
John,

Here is the pricing that I got from Egon:

Quote
Dear potential TOA Lightning detection participants from the USA,

welcome to Blitzortung.org.

If you are interested in assembling and setting up your own station, you can get a complete kit (amplifier and controller).  However I recommend you get as many parts as possible in the USA. This is especially true of the heavy material.  The price for shipping depends on the weight. I suggest you order a complete kit without the power supply (The plug does not fit your socket.), CAT-5 connection cable, USB-connection cable, USB breakout board, GPS module, and antennas.

Then the price for a so-called basic kit is:

65.60 Euro plus shipping and Paypal fee

Additionally you need

- 12 Volt power supply
- CAT5 connection cable
- sparkfun USB breakout board
- mini USB connection cable
- EM406A GPS module
- loop or ferrite rod antennas

I can include

1.) a sparkfun USB breakout module for additional 12 Euro (because it's lite in weight) and,
2.) a pair of 12cm ferrite rod antennas for an additional 43 Euro (These hand made antennas work fine but are difficult to manufacture).

The price for shipping is 10 Euro. I recommend you pay by PayPal to

blitzortung@gmx.org

The additional PayPal fee is 0.35 Euro plus 3.9%.

++++++++++++++++

The final prices for the different sets including shipping to the US and PayPal fees are

basic kit:
(65.60+10.00+0.35)/0.961 = 79.03 Euro

basic kit plus USB breakout modul:
(65.60+12.00+10.00+0.35)/0.961 = 91.52 Euro

basic kit plus 12cm ferrite rod antennas:
(65.60+43.00+10.00+0.35)/0.961 = 123.78 Euro

basic kit plus USB breakout modul plus 12cm ferrite rod antennas:
(65.60+12.00+43.00+10.00+0.35)/0.961 = 136.26 Euro

++++++++++++++++

Please read carefully the documents "how to participate in blitzortung.org"

http://www.blitzortung.org/Documents/TOA_Blitzortung.pd  and

http://www.blitzortung.org/Documents/TOA_Blitzortung_b.pdf.

The installation of a TOA lightning detector is not plug-and-play!

Please also visit Gerrys TOA forum:

http://www.usatoa.com/

If you are still interested, please send me your postal address and the information about the set you want to order before you pay by PayPal.

Sometimes, I do not have everything in stock.

Regards and have fun,
Egon Wanke


################################################################################

I paid via PayPal, but you have to remember to treat the purchase as an individual person, not a business at the end of the process so Egon doesn't get hit with extra charges. Here was the PayPal amount:   136.26 EUR $176.21 today (was $183.09 back in March)

I got the full kit with ferrites, USB board. FYI, Sparkfun "retired" the USB breakout board so get it from Egon.

The GPS was about $33, $35 for 50' of CAT5 STP, bud boxes $44, power supply $15 or so. Plus miscellaneous stuff from Home Depot, etc. See my pictures in the station photo area for some more details. http://www.wxforum.net/index.php?topic=18743.0


After running shielded CAT5, and a couple of mods including special low-frequency ferrite clamp-on filters and extra bypass capacitors I am able to run gain of 70x. I have a bad interference that comes and goes every few days that I think is outside the house. I am looking at some of the health-related EMF sites on advice, but the main culprit is combined neutral return wiring that splits the AC current and results in dissimilar cancellation fields in the wiring. I have spot checked a few circuits and have not pinned down a problem yet.

My capacitor mod was the biggest improvement. I can share that with you if you want. Your neighbor's steel building could distort the fields, but unless they are throwing off a lot of noise with motors, fluorescent lights, etc. I wouldn't think that the building per se is a problem, don't know for sure.

Greg H



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

Offline Maumelle Weather

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2013, 08:24:14 PM »
Thanks for the quick response, Greg. The building has both flourescent and the sodium type lights in it. My neighbors rebuilds transfer cases, so there are motors running some of the time.
GR2AE, GR3, Cumulus

Offline DanITman

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2013, 08:47:03 AM »

I hope that I can fill in a gap in the system with a Michigan station.


Greg, great to see you're in Michigan.  I'm in Kalamazoo and have considered doing this same project.  Nice job.

-Dan

Offline Weather Spares

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2013, 05:19:35 PM »
Well I'm just over 4 days into the use of my built project, and its still able to impress me. There is no lightning in the Western or Central Europe today (shame), but I still picked up a 10kA strike in the far East of the Mediterranean at a distance of 2447km.

Considering I'm using the 20cm unshielded ferrite antennas and  they are on the ground floor (I hope to raise them into a 2nd floor attic) I'm surprised how well they do. Interference is minimal mainly as I live in a rural local, with occasional bursts in pulses some evenings - I suspect one of my few neighbours has a noisy appliance.

Have you also found all the stats and graphs on the sister site www.lightningmaps.org ? It used your existing Blitzortung ID and password to access interesting stats specifically about your station.
Weather Spares - your one stop shop for complete stations, accessories and spare parts for Davis Instruments, Ecowitt, Oregon Scientific, TFA, Ventus, GARNI and many more - https://www.weatherspares.co.uk/ offering global shipping of products.

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


Offline miraculon

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2013, 05:59:31 PM »
Quote
Have you also found all the stats and graphs on the sister site www.lightningmaps.org ?
Yes I have. I like the waveform analysis for the strikes. I also like the strike current estimate.

Greg H


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

Offline Maumelle Weather

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2013, 03:51:20 PM »
Hi Folks,

Just sent my money to Egon for a System Red kit. Now to buy the rest of the parts.
GR2AE, GR3, Cumulus

Offline Weather Spares

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2013, 01:46:18 PM »
Excellent, welcome to the lightning project.

I believe you will be one of the first people to have the new RED system, will be interesting to see how you get on with it.
Weather Spares - your one stop shop for complete stations, accessories and spare parts for Davis Instruments, Ecowitt, Oregon Scientific, TFA, Ventus, GARNI and many more - https://www.weatherspares.co.uk/ offering global shipping of products.

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


Offline Cutty Sark Sailor

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2013, 05:52:35 PM »
Sent basic inquiry to Egon, et.al.  waiting response...  I need to get in on this!  Retirement is boring.
These old electronic tech's eyes may barely be able to decode a resistor, but I figure when I get this kit,
and remember which end of the iron to hold, don't delaminate any foil, and make it work, by golly
that will be a big boost to anybody else unsure of themselves.
Now... lemme see if I can find that old textbook with antenna theory ... :-P
... and where IS my soldering pencil????
 


Offline miraculon

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #20 on: July 15, 2013, 08:22:23 PM »
I am planning on building a System Red for a 2nd system. I want to try loop antennas this time instead of the ferrite rods.

I am trying to see if I can make a successful loop antenna before I order the kit. I am struggling with getting eight turns of wire into a loop of non-metallic flexible conduit. I keep getting the wire jammed inside the conduit after about three turns. ](*,)

Greg H


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

Offline Weather Spares

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2013, 04:07:46 PM »
Have you tried attaching the wire to some cheap kids hula-hoops to make the loops of wire?
Weather Spares - your one stop shop for complete stations, accessories and spare parts for Davis Instruments, Ecowitt, Oregon Scientific, TFA, Ventus, GARNI and many more - https://www.weatherspares.co.uk/ offering global shipping of products.

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


Offline Cutty Sark Sailor

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2013, 07:36:20 AM »
Just ended "negotiations" with Egon, and standing by for shipment of Red Kit to Central KY... =P~
 


Offline dfroula

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2013, 12:56:46 PM »
Hi!

Egon shipped my "Red" kit 8 days ago, so I'm expecting it today or tomorrow.

I spent the week building and installing my antennas and getting the other odd bits together.

I purchased the STM32F4Discovery processor board from Mouser the day I ordered the Red kit from Egon. It arrived 3 days later, even with economy shipping! I have flashed the 2.0 firmware into the board, so it is ready to go.

I also needed to order a few GPS antennas with the SMA connector. I had one connected to my GPS Nixie clock, but found the cat had chewed through the cable! I'm glad I checked...... $5.00 ea from Ebay.

I opted to build the flat panel shielded loop antennas, described on the USTOA site at:  http://www.lrsatx.com/flat_panel_TOA_Antenna.htm

Pictures of my build are at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/20280791@N0...655162504/

I really like these antennas! They took only about 2 hours each to assemble. I have them mounted at right angles on an upper floor behind and at the side of a book case in the most electrically quiet place in the house. The panels are almost perfectly oriented N-S and E-W. The shielding works very well at rejecting 60 Hz hum and motor noise from the house and neighborhood.

I connected the panels to the microphone input of my laptop, cranked the gain to max, and monitored the panels using the "Natural Radio" setting of the free "Spectrum Lab" spectrum analyzer program. The program applies power line and bandpass filtering optimized for lightning detection. The program has an amplitude and spectrum screen open simultaneously. I am picking up high amplitude lightning strikes from Gulf of Mexico storms here in the Chicago area. The stronger strikes are clipping the ADC! I suspect I may need to back the gain of the amp down considerably. The lightning activity is continuous, with many strikes/second, peaking in the afternoons. I even heard a few tweaks and whistlers during the early morning hours.

I have the workbench prepped for the build when the kit arrives. I am slightly concerned about soldering the surface mount op-amps and GPS receiver. However, I bought a container of flux paste from Radio Shack, which should help. I've soldered many ham radio kits over the years, so shouldn't have much trouble.

It appears my station should be a good complement to the Michigan and Minnesota stations, especially for storms tracking through tornado alley.

I look forward to comparing notes with other US "Red" owners.

Regards,

Don

Offline dfroula

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Re: Next project: Blitzortung
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2013, 01:01:36 PM »
Corrected link for pics of my flat panel antenna...:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/20280791@N08/sets/72157634655162504/

Don

 

anything