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We are developing an installing a new sensor for lightning detection as part of the Blitzortung Project, a network of amateur meteorologist stations using affordable equipment across Europe and beyond.

The Project uses a Pre-amplifier board, using 4 Op-App IC's and a Processor board based on the popular ATMEGA chip set. This hardware connects serially to the host machine which processes the output of the processor and sends to the central computer where the triangulation and reporting occurs.

We are installing a Dual-Loop antenna, however the project also supports Ferrite Rod antennas which are much smaller and can be used where space is limited. Our Loops will be configured as required by the project to be N-S and E-W, both connected into the Pre-Amplifier.

We have used the 1-Wire Lightning detector in the past, which has been very good and created a very impressive graph when Ottery was hit by the storm in Oct 2008. The drawback with this sensor is that it can only detect strikes, with no distance or direction components. By using the project, and teaming with other data sources across europe, triangulation is possible and therefore location of strikes can be achieved.

We could have decided to purchase Boltek Equipment, and it is still a possibility, however due to the cost (£400 - £500) and the current potential for electrical noise we decided upon a cheaper and more hand's on approach. The building and configuring side of this project will help us understand the system and to place some controls to combat noise along the way.

 

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Housed Circuits

Crossed Loop Antenna - 2 x 0.71m loops, with 8 turns of 1.5mm2 stranded wire.


 

16th Mar 2011

Purchased parts for the directional antenna, based on 20mm PVC conduit and connectors. Supplied by City Electrical Factors, Exeter.

17th Mar 2011

Circuits and parts ordered from Blitzortung, Germany. These include PCB's, Components, and GPS Module. We will be ordering the parts for the antenna separately as this will be a home-made design and build part.

25th Mar 2011

Parts arrived, now to solder the boards, test and build into waterproof enclosure.


29th April 2011

PCB's built and tested. Excellent PCB design and production, which made a very easy build possible. Antenna design now completed, awaiting wire and 20mm conduit to be collected from suppliers.


1st May 2011

Connected to the Blitzortung Lightning network, unfortunately there was a thunderstorm on the 30th April, which we could have used as a calibration. Using indoor E component antenna, whilst making the Crossed Loop Antenna and external enclosures.