Lightning strike at NM9P

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Not a problem (Yet) and not exactly a question, nor a praise...just a life event...

I didn't even know it was raining. Dee opened the back door behind me in the den just as a huge rogue lightning strike happened right in my back yard. All power went out all over the neighborhood. Wow! Then I remembered that I still had the antennas connected to all my ham radio equipment. Can a preacher say "Oh crap!?" Well, this one did. I won't know if there is any damage until the power goes back on..... if it hit the tower, it could be major. Here's hoping not....
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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  • tense

Posted 2 years ago

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James Whiteway

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That's scarey. I'm on the road all week and disconnect all my gear till I get ready to use it. Hope you gear survives the lightening strike.
And it's OK to say "oh crap" (today! :-) )
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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UPDATE:  Power came back on a few minutes ago.  I have tested as much as I can with the storm still in the vicinity.  All seems to be OK for the shack computer and rig, as far as I can test it without antennas...

Whew!  Close call.  Now to test the TV's, DVD Players, etc......
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W3DCB

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Thank G-d!  I am glad for you...de W3DCB Daniel
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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Additional Update: testing this morning and afternoon shows everything working fine. I do, however, have an elevated noise floor on several bands. I don't know if this caused by my lightning arresters, or by power line lightning arresters damaged by the strike, or by general atmospherics. 15 meter noise was at about -115 when it is usually about -125. Similar rises on 20 and 6 meters.

Question: can a lightning strike cause a rig's front end to get noisier, or do I just need to sniff around for RF noise?
(Edited)
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Mike Hoing

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Sounds similar to my adventure. I don't recall getting hit but notices a rise in the noise floor. Never thought much about it as I recently moved. Also noticed that Antenna 1 and Antenna 2 sounded exactly alike

I ended up sending it in and it turned out the Antenna relays blew. It seemingly worked fine but a few subtle changes turned out to be damage. Took about a week in the shop and 2 - relays but all iof s right again. Their assessment was a near miss from lightening

Mike N9DFD
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Wayne VK4ACN

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Ken, Do you have a good earthing system for the shack?
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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'Crap". Is a shorten version of Crapper which is the Patent name of the flush toilet invented by Thomas Crapper in the UK. Any other meaning that one might allude to this brilliant man's name is pure speculation.
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Ross - K9COX

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Steve W6SDM

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And that's why we have faith.  :)

Oh, and as a Navy veteran, my vocabulary would have been much more colorful, with profane references to a variety of deities and body parts.  And that's why we have forgiveness. 
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kjave63@yahoo.com

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Hope no damage. I just built a new home with a ham shack , tower farm to die for. After extensive research I am of the opinion that other than a single ground system for RF for the shack , nothing and I repeat nothing will protect your stuff in a near hit or direct hit The best you can do is disconnect all equipment and pray!!!
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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I will go against the "disconnect" theory. My opinion is that it would make things worse. Ground everything, pray and keep your insurance up to date. We had one strike here and the only
Casualty was the icom pro3's CI-V port.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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RGR on the Insurance, Ria!
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James Whiteway

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Completely disconnected, from antenna(s) and power source, I've yet to lose a radio to lightning.
James
WD5GWY
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kjave63@yahoo.com

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Agree, but disconnect WHERE? If lightning full hit at the antenna tower follows the coax but the disconnect is IN the shack I would think trouble!?!?! Arcing of "1.21 GIGAWATTS!!!" Lol.
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James Whiteway

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Disconnect from radio and move cables far away from radio(s) etc. Lightning entering house regardless of entrance source, is going to do damage. Outside grounding will help, but won't stop a "1.21 Gigawatt" hit on or near your antenna or house wiring. Disconnect and prayer best answer!
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Ria - N2RJ, Elmer

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The problem is that I have like 10 coaxes to disconnect (low band antennae, RX antenna, vertical, etc) and I am not always home to disconnect. We get pop up thunderstorms here during the spring and summer.  I am also not of the opinion that lightning that just traveled a few miles to get to your house is suddenly going to change its mind about the last few feet.

I also stand to lose a lot of $ in hardline and other parts in between the shack and antennas, so better to tell the adjuster that I took all precautions according to R56 and the NEC rather than creating a ground loop. 

But that is just me.
(Edited)
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W7NGA

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If I were a preacher and a rogue lightning bolt struck my antenna ... I would certainly get philosophical, and probably change professions! That, or in the least look back at some of my past sermons and see what I could have possibly said to bring forth such hard measures of disagreement!

As a devout atheist .. I run low-hanging wire antennas exclusively!

<grin>
(Edited)
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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At least it is a reminder to finish my tower/station grounding project ASAP!
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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Am I tempting the Lightning gods by telling you to move to California where we never get lightning (Or rain) only earthquakes and fires.
(Edited)
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Dan -- KC4GO

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I disconnect my 6500 almost daily here in Florida. Having lived in the lighting capital for over 60 years it's not a good idea to just pray :) (doesn't say I don't do that too, went the other day we had over 1000 strikes within a 10 mile area of my home).
Sorry Ken but I did say JUST --- Glad everything looks to be OK...
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AC9S

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I religiously disconnect all my antennas, control lines, AC Power including computer.  Computer connections are wireless.  I also disconnect my ground in the shack!   All my equipment floats and has no connection to the outside world.  Over the last 50 years I have had 4 close strikes, two of which resulted in a call to the fire station - one by my neighbor who watched lightning hit the tower.  The last strike resulted in a basement fire - you ought to try fighting a fire with a handheld extinguisher in the basement for excitement.  I lost my TVs, stove, microwave, garage opener, Broadcast radio, household computer and had to replace a bunch of AC sockets and junction boxes - with associated wiring.  However - nothing happened to my shack equipment!  I use outside switch boxes to reduce the number of coax connections to disconnect and molex connectors on all control lines, basically I pigtail everything at the entrance to the shack.   I have tower grounding, coax grounded at the top of the tower and surge suppression on coax and control lines at the bottom of the tower as well as at the entrance to the shack.  With all this - it takes about 3 - 5 minutes to connect or disconnect the equipment.  Pretty small investment.

I am a believer floating my equipment.


Keith - AC9S

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Dave-N9CHM

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Glad all was fine Ken. Even with an outside single point ground system which has a Rat-Pak coax relay box mounted to it, and ICE lightning surge suppressors on each attached coax line going to the Rat-Pak, I STILL unplug the single coax line coming into the shack and ground the coax relay switch, AND unplug the master DC line powering the radio/equipment every night (it's part on my nightly power-down routine)...can't be too careful when it comes to 1.21 GigaWatts!!!!
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Mark WS7M

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Hi Ken,

Glad to hear everything ok.  I live where we do get lightening and I want to try and setup some arresters but have yet to find one that I trust.

Anyone have recommendations?

Howard... I hate to let you know this but as a So. Cal. Pilot for many years flying between SBA and San Dieo and various other places in SD.  You do in fact get lightening.  Back in the hills behind you they get quite a bit AND recently in OK they measured and confirmed a lightening bolt that measured 199 miles in length so I think your tower could still be at risk.   Of course far less than others like Ken but still you are not immune.

Mark
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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199 miles! That's a big lightning bolt!
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KY6LA - Howard, Elmer

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@Mark

Like I said, I am tempting the Lightning Gods. But then we would also have to get rain

My tower and antennas are connected 100% of the time for the past 15+ years This is especially true when I am remote like I am now.

I have only heard thunder once in 30 years in San Diego on the coast. Don't know about the mountains behind us.
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KF4HR

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After our house taking a nearby lightning strike and loosing nearly every electrical device in our house, I now always disconnect RF, control, and power lines, even though it's a pain.  But a lot worse can happen beyond equipment being smoked.  A neighbors house recently took a direct lightning strike.  Before the fire department got on scene to put the fire out, the house burnt to the ground.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Ken - elevated nf indicates that the ESD diodes are blown.  Contact me off list.
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Ken - NM9P, Elmer

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UPDATE: $250 later and my 6500 I'd headed back home. It will be just a little more than a week. Not bad at all for FRS excellent service department.

IC72 and IC-73 ($4) and two hour's labor.
It has been a long dry week without the"Big Kahuna" as the 6500 is affectionately called around here!
I am assuming that the two IC's are the ESD protection arrays.

I will be glad to be back on the air soon!

Ken - NM9P
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Gary - there is no way for the radio to inform you that the ESD diode is blown other than having an elevated noise floor that what is usually normal for your QTH.

You could put a signal of known strength into the radio and read the output and if they differ significantly, then I would send the radio in for service.
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Gary Wise

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Thanks Tim!

Gary W4EEY
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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I have an Elecraft XG2 that I use for providing a (mostly) known signal level into the radio.
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Doug

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Why  mostly  Tim?
Doug g4ovr.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Because, for the price, it was not designed to be a high precision signal generator.  You will have to use it to determine the actual signal level so you have a known quality before you use it to determine the amount of attention.