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Thread: Lightning Safety, best practice

  1. #1
    travis.farmer's Avatar
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    Default Lightning Safety, best practice

    ok, i am a bit paranoid about lightning safety, as i should be. my feeling, during a storm, i would want to completely disconnect, 100%, from the antenna. but how much of it is paranoia?

    hypothetical situation: if i had some sort of tower for my antenna, i would want at the very least a lightning arrestor (do these things actually work?), and i would want a switch of sorts to disconnect the antenna, and ground it. how safe is the feed-line from the Ham Shack, to the disconnect at the base of the antenna? i would disconnect it from my radio whenever i am not using it (and during a storm), but is it safe to have the cable entering the Ham Shack? I know lightning looks for the quickest path to ground, but with that much current, would it not also travel in the cable to the Ham Shack? my thinking is to disconnect the inside cable, and get it outside, where lightning belongs.

    sorry for my paranoia, i have been holding it in for a while.

    ~Travis
    PASSED Tech exam on 09-09-2017 (awaiting callsign)
    Equipment:
    Kenwood TS-430s, Bucket-base 20 foot vertical antenna
    Kenwood TH-K20a, stock antenna

  2. #2

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    The truth is that anything you do will only help in the instances of low energy indirect strikes and induced currents. A direct strike is like a bull elephant. It goes anhwhere it wants to.

    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

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    travis.farmer's Avatar
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    so in basically, my paranoia is justified. i will just have to make sure my antennas are disconnected and grounded when not in use, and when a storm pops up, and hope the lightening doesn't decide to come inside for a visit.

    not sure how to ground an antenna when not in use, and still have it convenient to connect when i want to use it. I have seen several antenna switch kits on eBay, using standard relays to switch an antenna input to either the transmitter, or ground. not sure how well a relay will protect from lightning, but i suppose using the remote switch to change antennas, and having only one wire in the Ham shack do disconnect manually would be enough. i mean, if my antenna gets hit, my Ham shack won't be far away. perhaps i could just put much higher grounded metal towers on the neighbors houses to attract the lightning away from my antennas (not really, just joking )

    ~Travis
    PASSED Tech exam on 09-09-2017 (awaiting callsign)
    Equipment:
    Kenwood TS-430s, Bucket-base 20 foot vertical antenna
    Kenwood TH-K20a, stock antenna

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    The ARRL has a new book out that covers grounding. It covers everything you can think of and is very worthwhile. Until I read it I didnt realize how much I didnt know.

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    K7KBN's Avatar
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    For Aug. 17, my desk calendar reads

    Lightning Survival Tip:
    Don't get struck by lightning.
    from a newspaper story

    There's a lot more to proper, per-code installation of a grounding SYSTEM than can be covered in an Internet forum. Grab a copy of the book the previous poster (KD6FXP) mentioned and become very familiar with what's involved.
    73
    Pat K7KBN
    Semper ubi sub ubi.

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    GTGallop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donmelton1956 View Post
    The truth is that anything you do will only help in the instances of low energy indirect strikes and induced currents. A direct strike is like a bull elephant. It goes anhwhere it wants to.

    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk
    Pre-Ham days, I've been hit a few times.

    Twice in my neighbors garage. We saw the lightning hit the telephone pole across the street and I was leaning up against the garage door rail and the other time sitting on a metal stool - both times the lightning hit the same freakin pole (months apart) and I got whelps on my arm or butt.

    Then one time it hit the road near me or the truck I was in and turned the truck off. I restarted it and drove on.

    Another time it hit when I was in the attic sitting on a decked in floor and the nails in the wooden floor burned me.

    Last time I parked in a parking lot under a light pole in a storm. As I was getting out of the truck, lightning hit the pole and threw me across the front seat. I came to upside down with my head in the passenger floor board. My back hurt like hell and I had blurred vision and headaches for a week.

    In all cases the radios in the car and the garage or in the attic were fine (normal AM/FM radios) and the laptop I was carrying when I got tossed was fine. The cars all worked fine and in the instances where a house was close to being hit - we all kept our appliances and televisions.

    Even if you unplug it, that line will transmit a LOT of energy into the house. Best bet is good grounding and make sure your antenna isn't the tallest thing around.
    N5MKH - The only thing that separates man from animal is our affinity for toilet paper. Once we as a society lose that affinity we begin to descend back into the animal kingdom, and after three or more days you will find the food chain beginning to invert on itself. Up is down and down is us and man is no longer an alpha predator.

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    travis.farmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KD6FXP View Post
    The ARRL has a new book out that covers grounding. It covers everything you can think of and is very worthwhile. Until I read it I didnt realize how much I didnt know.
    I have added it to my wish-list, thank you.

    ~Travis
    PASSED Tech exam on 09-09-2017 (awaiting callsign)
    Equipment:
    Kenwood TS-430s, Bucket-base 20 foot vertical antenna
    Kenwood TH-K20a, stock antenna

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTGallop View Post
    Pre-Ham days, I've been hit a few times.

    Twice in my neighbors garage. We saw the lightning hit the telephone pole across the street and I was leaning up against the garage door rail and the other time sitting on a metal stool - both times the lightning hit the same freakin pole (months apart) and I got whelps on my arm or butt.

    Then one time it hit the road near me or the truck I was in and turned the truck off. I restarted it and drove on.

    Another time it hit when I was in the attic sitting on a decked in floor and the nails in the wooden floor burned me.

    Last time I parked in a parking lot under a light pole in a storm. As I was getting out of the truck, lightning hit the pole and threw me across the front seat. I came to upside down with my head in the passenger floor board. My back hurt like hell and I had blurred vision and headaches for a week.

    In all cases the radios in the car and the garage or in the attic were fine (normal AM/FM radios) and the laptop I was carrying when I got tossed was fine. The cars all worked fine and in the instances where a house was close to being hit - we all kept our appliances and televisions.

    Even if you unplug it, that line will transmit a LOT of energy into the house. Best bet is good grounding and make sure your antenna isn't the tallest thing around.
    You sound like that Park Ranger who got on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show years ago. He had been struck by lightning 7 times while out doing his rounds in the US Smoky Mountains. He said no one would ride with him anymore.
    --
    73, Jim/N4AAB got my Extra class license on Aug 10, 2017. Vanity call in Oct, 2014.
    My Ham radio site has no popups, no music, no banners.
    'Through the thorns to the stars' from Ghost-in-the-Shell anime.

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    Super Moderator 5B4AJB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTGallop View Post
    Even if you unplug it, that line will transmit a LOT of energy into the house. Best bet is good grounding and make sure your antenna isn't the tallest thing around.
    Solid advice, can't improve on that...

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    GTGallop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by N4AAB View Post
    You sound like that Park Ranger who got on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show years ago. He had been struck by lightning 7 times while out doing his rounds in the US Smoky Mountains. He said no one would ride with him anymore.
    Yeah - I carry a lightning detector now when I hike and living in AZ means a significantly reduced chance of being struck than when we were in Houston or Dallas Texas
    N5MKH - The only thing that separates man from animal is our affinity for toilet paper. Once we as a society lose that affinity we begin to descend back into the animal kingdom, and after three or more days you will find the food chain beginning to invert on itself. Up is down and down is us and man is no longer an alpha predator.

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    Visit and bookmark http://en.blitzortung.org/ So, if you hear thunder, you can see which way the storm is heading. If the storm is some way off, you can point a VHF/UHF band beam at it and when the background noise starts to climb up the S-meter, call CQ. You can sometimes work some pretty decent DX bouncing off of ionised clouds. And yes, I am serious and not just making a jokey post.

  12. #12

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    Alpha Delta makes a grounding switch. Itbis available from DX Engineering and several other ham suppliers. It has a "lightening arrestor" cartridge built in. I have two of them. The problem is that by the time the voltage rises enough to jump the spark gap any semiconductors in the radio are just a memory.

    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by donmelton1956 View Post
    Alpha Delta makes a grounding switch. Itbis available from DX Engineering and several other ham suppliers. It has a "lightening arrestor" cartridge built in. I have two of them. The problem is that by the time the voltage rises enough to jump the spark gap any semiconductors in the radio are just a memory.

    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk
    Here is the part I struggle to understand about those. And I'm not criticizing. I truly don't understand...
    If lightning can jump all the way from the sky to your house, how is a little gap in a circuit breaker or lightning arrester going to help? Especially since the cable is wet on the outside it will just hit the whole house won't it?
    N5MKH - The only thing that separates man from animal is our affinity for toilet paper. Once we as a society lose that affinity we begin to descend back into the animal kingdom, and after three or more days you will find the food chain beginning to invert on itself. Up is down and down is us and man is no longer an alpha predator.

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    travis.farmer's Avatar
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    hypothetical idea, when i get a tower of some sort, if i was to get a weather tight box of some sort, and mount it at the base of the tower, i could connect my feed from the ham shack, as needed, and disconnect during a storm, and simply coil up the feed, and store out of the weather, while connecting the antenna to a prearranged ground, this would be the best scenario. correct? (same for any antenna rotor wires)

    providing a freak sudden storm doesn't zap my antenna, and that my tower isn't attached to my ham shack.

    ~Travis
    PASSED Tech exam on 09-09-2017 (awaiting callsign)
    Equipment:
    Kenwood TS-430s, Bucket-base 20 foot vertical antenna
    Kenwood TH-K20a, stock antenna

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    Travis.Farmer,

    You have good questions. Realistically it is difficult to answer all phases of grounding in a response. I suggest to you that you go to :

    http://www.arrl.org/shop/Grounding-a...mateur/?page=1

    and purchase this book on grounding from the ARRL. It will answer your questions. Good Luck

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