Weather Station Hardware => Boltek/NexStorm Lightning Detectors => Topic started by: Skywatch on January 11, 2018, 09:48:31 PM

Title: Boltek ld-250 installation questions.
Post by: Skywatch on January 11, 2018, 09:48:31 PM
I am hopefully about to pull the trigger on a Boltek LD-250 from Scaled Instruments soon. While I've obtained most of my information from the folks of Astrogenic as well as Ryan, I'm facing a delima regarding installation.

Here's the problem. According to the LD-250 manual the outdoor unit should be placed away from or above metal objects which in my case is the steel weather station mast. But due to my station's height above the roof and distance from where the main unit will be the 50' of cable won't reach.

If I mounted the outdoor unit on the side of the mast, how close can the antenna unit be to the mast without there being any issues from the mast itself?

Title: Re: Boltek ld-250 installation questions.
Post by: miraculon on January 12, 2018, 09:17:45 AM
It might be worth a call to Boltek to be sure. I have a UHF/VHF dual band antenna (I am a Ham) mounted on 3 foot standoffs (actual distance is a bit lower due to brackets) and I can transmit and receive VHF OK, but lightning is much lower in frequency. There may be a bit of a blind spot in the direction of the mast from the sensor, possibly.

I would have the mast direction WRT the Boltek in a direction that you typically do not get storms from.

Here is a pic of my antenna and mounting. My apologies, but this is the best closeup I have and it was when the solar panels on my Davis anemometer transmitters were covered by snow.

I got the aluminum tubing from DX Engineering. You might want to get fiberglass for this though.

Greg H.

Title: Re: Boltek ld-250 installation questions.
Post by: Skywatch on January 12, 2018, 10:08:37 AM
Awesome. Thanks!
Title: Re: Boltek ld-250 installation questions.
Post by: Skywatch on January 23, 2018, 09:48:41 PM
The Big Brown UPS truck came by yesterday bringing 2 boxes. Spent last night and today setting everything up. Due to accessibility issues and the cable being a bit too short plus the issues with the station mast itself I chose to rig it up at the other end of the apex of the roof away from the main weather station.

I tested everything using a Victor electic rat zapper and made some artificial lightning. Sure enough they registered on the detector. Made some financial adjustments and orientation using a compass. Everything works perfectly! There's a chance of storms this weekend so hopefully I'll really get to see some action.
Title: Re: Boltek ld-250 installation questions.
Post by: mihec on February 07, 2021, 05:50:44 AM
I am about to get the LD-250 and have a question about installation. Id like to install the antenna just below my Davis anemometer. Will the inox mast cause any problems to lightning detection? See attached picture.
Title: Re: Boltek ld-250 installation questions.
Post by: DaleReid on February 07, 2021, 12:17:28 PM

I think that it would be reasonable IF you can use some PVC to make a side mount out a bit from the metallic mast.

I speak not from engineering degree, so please note.

I know from past experience trying to get Boltek to work before the Time Of Arrival stuff came along that metal nearby can and does act as a shield, a reflector and a re-radiator.

I put up a square 10' 'mast' made out of plastic downspout, with a little cap on top of it.  All plastic, shielded the antenna (be sure to put a wee dab of dielectric grease on the RJ-45 connector when you put the plug into the antenna to help avoid the dreaded green crud that builds up with the amount of current flowing through the cable (the antenna can get warm so that tells you something)), and keep away from as much metal as you can.

That being said, a mounted antenna on a metal mast is better than no install whatsoever, so try it to see. It looks like your antenna position will not be easy to get to for tweaking and checking.

I had a metal gutter on the edge of the house about 6' away and that was a concern, but nothing I could do about it.  Also on a slightly higher garage roof I had panels of solar collectors (the old hot-air type) which were sort of like big metal shields and did have some effect, but less so and it was in a direction where storms receded towards rather from which they approached. 

Have fun, but I gave up with severe ghosting problems and support issues.  Lightning 2000 author is deceased and while a nice program, got so complex in calibration that I wasted one whole summer trying to get that to work.  Astrogenics has announced (if I'm not mistaken) that their reporting network (? StrikeStar) is shutting down.  I think their Boltek local software is still available. 

I know there are some loyal Boltek enthusiasts and it is an interesting concept before current technology eclipsed the method.  There were some lightning detection gizmos made by 3M, I think, that high end private aircraft would install to give an idea of where the lighting was in relation to the plane, and it was basically a very expensive Boltek system with a very low resolution display.  You can find them on eBay every now and then but again this has been discontinued.

If I had more time I'd probably futz with my system when storms came by but after giving it the old college try for four or 5 years, I have mine sitting in the corner until spring when I might turn on the  old computer to see if it will run one more time.
Let us know how you do, I'm always interested in reports and installation pictures of anything.  I hope you get it up (as I said a less than optimal install is  better than none) so you can begin to play with it.
Title: Re: Boltek ld-250 installation questions.
Post by: mihec on February 09, 2021, 06:03:04 AM
Thanks for your advice. I'll think about best location, perhaps it would be better to place it on a wooden "mast" above the grass. The anemometer's location is not accessible easily, especially not now. However, my understanding was that once the antenna is put in place to correct N-S orientation, it's not necessary to maintain it.
My next question would, of course, be which software to use. My main weather software is Weather Display and I see it supports both, NextStorm and Lightning2000. My goal is to show a lightning map and have a log of strokes in some file(s). I might need to fight against false strikes, but have none experience with the Boltek so far. My AS3935 happily triggers on water heater ON/OFF now. I guess Boltek will do it as well. I will ask for further advice for sure.
Title: Re: Boltek ld-250 installation questions.
Post by: DaleReid on February 09, 2021, 08:44:23 AM
Oh, yes, my comments were a summary of my experience, and while not as stellar as some, I know a fellow over in Zumbro Falls, MN who has (in the past at least) been very happy and set up a lot of images, with some enviable results from storms passing by this area.  This just goes to show that location and installation is important.  If I come across his name and web site again, I'll post the link.

Once up, I touched my antenna only a few times over the years, so yes you are right in the fact that it is relatively low maintenance.  Getting the install right is the trick and since I've never been lucky enough to have anything work perfect from the first time I apply power, I like access to all the components until it is running well.

There are others who have more experience with recent and the latest releases of the software.  There IS something neat about watching the output of even the provided software from Boltek plot the incoming storms.  I think you can fiddle around a bit to create a background map yourself, or they were available for purchase in the past.

Send a few pix of your final setup, or even as you play.  That is what this is all about for the fun and sharing with show and tell is helpful in ways you might not appreciate right away.
Title: Re: Boltek ld-250 installation questions.
Post by: mihec on March 16, 2021, 05:48:04 PM
I'm happy to report that I've purchased a LD-250 from a forum member here. The receiver is placed next to my Davis console and my laptop. The antenna is placed in the attick under the roof. I fixed the antenna into an empty Weatherflow Sky and glued its base fit onto a wooden rod. No metal around or above.
My micro location is all but perfect. Despite all, the system nicely catches (real) sporadic strikes as far as 600-700 km South from me! There are also false positives, but anyway. I don't have a feeling what noise numbers are considered low/high and also don't know how to adjust the processing yet.
All in all, I'm hardly waiting for this year's storm season.
Title: Re: Boltek ld-250 installation questions.
Post by: mihec on April 15, 2021, 11:01:43 AM
A follow up on the setup; I've moved the antenna up on the pole just above the (retired) anemometer.