Lightning, Thunder & Hail in California?

Discussion in 'Chat' started by W5HRO, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Yesterday we had a small thunderstorm here in San Jose that only lasted around 30 to 40 minutes. It's the first time I've seen lightning with some tiny hail here in about 3 years so I had to finally disconnect my antennas from the equipment while it was happening.

    Did anyones station get hit? I normally leave the antennas plugged in 365-days a year unless I see a weather forcast that says something might be coming.
     
  2. K4TQF

    K4TQF Member

    While disconnecting antennas in a thunderstorm it is usually best to have one hand on the radio and hold the antenna connector in the other :eek: I only did that once when disconnecting a ground about 40 years ago... I got lucky.

    Here's my current plan:
    Living in the "land of thunderstorms" as I do, I have been giving this some thought. With a 600 ohm ladder line terminating into official US Navy feed-thru bowls on the outside of the shack , I am mounting 2 Chance disconnects at the feed point. You know, the big assed ones used by the power companies for primary disconnects. These would be linked together with uni-strut, and connected to an actuator
    ( actually an old satellite dish positioner from long ago ) This, in turn, would be controlled by one of those "lightning alarms". They can be found on ebay for about 40 bucks and supposedly will sound an audible alarm if lightning is detected within 10 miles. If all works correctly and I still have ac power the actuator would close and short the antenna feeds to ground outside the shack. Now, I just need to find another pair to OPEN the feed from the radios ! Come to think of it the actuators may be DC. If so, I can run them off of my stand-by batteries.
     
  3. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    I think Jim, JKO mentioned doing something like that with one of those alarms a while back on the old board, but I can't remember.

    I guess if you could tap into it somehow and use it for control it might work. You might want to add a manual override switch when you are on the air though. If RF ever got into it or a nearby lightning strike was detected while transmitting and it disconnected your antenna or shorted it then... :eek:

    Maybe incorporate it into your PTT control so the alarm is automatically disconnected during transmit.
     
  4. KE5YTV

    KE5YTV Guest

    I've been trying to think of an elegant way to ground my coax outside when I disconnect from the feed through. :icon_crazy: I want to ground it but also keep the connector from getting wet. Any cool ideas?

    Mike
     
  5. K4TQF

    K4TQF Member

    There is an "always on" lightning scheme using a punched copper strap available at your local plumbing supply and an automotive spark plug(s). Screw the spark plug into the copper strap, ground the strap and have the center of the coax connected to the top of the spark plug at all times. ( I don't know how that would work with higher power rigs )
    It stays in-circuit all the time. Of course, the idea is that the strike would jump the very small gap in on the spark plug and go to ground. But, if the equipment is not disconnected, some of that energy is going to make it to the rig. This whole scheme could be mounted in a weather proof pvc electrical box.
    I guess the absolute best way would be to disconnect & ground the antenna whenever it's not being used. With coax this would be as simple as adding a "ground" position on a coax switch.
    I can remember back in high school we had an 80M dipole. We could measure 400V (static ) during wind gusts on a windy day.
    TNX, Mike
     
  6. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Just a bit of information here because what you need to worry about are upward streamers from the ground up. Contrary to popular belief most lightning that effects grounded objects usually starts at the ground and arcs upward even when leaders are coming down to them first. The ordinary lightning you see in the sky is usually just cloud to cloud arching between clouds or it's just stepped leaders. It's the upward streamers you generally need to worry about the most.

    Here is the deal though, since upward streamers start from the ground and arc upward its generally best NOT to ground your antenna. I know that's the exact opposite of what most people think but it's true. However, if you have an antenna being supported by a metal mast or pole that touches the ground then providing a better ground is usually recommended because having a poor ground is much more dangerous. Back in the 1970's during the CB craze many homes burned down due to people putting up CB antennas with poles touching the ground on the side of their houses, but without a proper ground connection such as a ground rod with a connecting braid or wire.

    Anyway, if it's a wire antenna not being supported by a pole to ground then you are much better off NOT grounding the antenna. Just grounding your station ground and disconnecting the antenna is usually best. The last thing you want to do is ground your antenna which provides a path for upward streamer archs to occur.
     
  7. K4TQF

    K4TQF Member

    Looks like I won't be working on the shack today....

    IMG_1433.JPG
     
  8. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Unabomber's shack! :surprised:
     
  9. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    I was thinking, if you do get that house up in Maine then it's going to look like that outside all winter long, but 50 times worse.

    Snow... :icon_crazy:
     
  10. KE5YTV

    KE5YTV Guest

    We had 5" of ice and snow here in Dallas last night. Beautiful sunshine this morning. Who ever heard of winter in March in Dallas? :icon_wtf:

    Mike
     
  11. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Years ago when I lived is Tulsa we had one of the worst ice and snow storms the first week of April one year. It happened in the late 1980's, but I don't remember which year. I only remember the month because it was so odd.
     
  12. K4TQF

    K4TQF Member

    You west coasters are not allowed to gripe about snow ! My brother lives up the road from you in Walnut Creek... he's always giving me shit about the weather !

    PS: Papers are signed and movers are booked ! KEEPING the u-na-bomber cabin ! (separate parcel )
     
  13. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    Hey now, you weenies in places like Arkansas don't know what snow is. I grew up in Indiana until about the age of 14 when we moved to Oklahoma. I can remember having to shovel our way out the front door in the morning to be able to walk to school because the drifts were so high and covered the whole door. And they hardly ever closed school either. The only time they did was when the buses couldn't get there then they would send the rest of us home after we were already there. Nowadays though with all of the crybabies here in the U.S. they probably do close the schools there and other similar places now.

    Anyway, been there and paid my dues so I do have the right and I am allowed to grip about it. I live in California now simply because I'm smart and don't want that kind of weather anymore :mrgreen:
     
  14. KE5YTV

    KE5YTV Guest

    Mike,

    I've been coming to Eureka Springs once a year for the last 30 years. I have a '56 Thunderbird and I come for the antique car weekend every September. You picked a cool place to live.

    73,

    Mike
     
  15. K4TQF

    K4TQF Member

    The XYL came up here on vacation with her family back in the 1950's. I traded for 10 acres down near the Buffalo river in Newton county in 1973. I always thought I would retire to that property and have a cabin in the woods. It was a beautiful piece of property in-between Jasper and Ponca, near Low Gap. If any of those places are familiar to you. It was on top of a big hill overlooking the Parthenon river valley.
    We retired and moved to Eureka in 2003. We bought the house in 2000 for $50K and I renovated it from top to bottom over a period of 3 years. (via long distance from Memphis) We're up on the historic loop across from the "stone church" now known as the Gavioli chapel. I had a chance to buy 3.5 acres behind the house in 2007. I started building my (20 X 32 ) shack out there in 2013. I was about to start finishing the interior this year, but life has thrown us another curve. Our daughter and her family live up in Portland Maine. We found a house up there last Thanksgiving while visiting. We've been stewing over it all winter... and finally made an offer on it last week. If everything goes according to plan, we will close at the end of April and I will stay up there until June,9 taking care of some odds & ends. Return to Arkansas in June and clean out my 10 X 40 storage unit and finish what I can on the cabin interior. We will load up about 1/2 of out stuff and head to Maine for the winter. Yes, that's quite counter- intuitive, but that's the plan. We'll keep the house in Eureka for a couple of years, so we'll have an "out" if we "can't stand the weather" (SRV) .

    If all works out, we would eventually put this house for sale, but I would keep the land the cabin is on. I'm listing the western most 2.1 acres for sale. If you know anybody who would like to build on 2.1 secluded acres right in the middle of Eureka Springs, let me know.
    I probably have a photo of that T'bird. I used to setup a camera on a tripod in front of the house and photograph every car in the parade during the drive by.
    MD _._
     
  16. K4TQF

    K4TQF Member

    Yeah... I went out to PG in 2007 to paint the inside of my brother's house. He lived about 2 blocks from Asilomar beach. Between Monterrey and Carmel. It is definitely nice out there. But, you'd better have a good paying job. I couldn't believe the prices of housing , etc... My cousin moved to San Jose in 1961. They bought a house in town and she still lives there. No telling how much it has appreciated over the years...
     
  17. W5HRO

    W5HRO Administrator

    You would be hard pressed right now to find anything in San Jose for under 500K. There might be some small 2 bedroom homes under 1000 sq ft in the really dumpy areas for maybe 425K, but that would be about as low as you could get one here. The prices have already gone back up. The 2008 recession never really lasted that long here because Silicon Valley has always been very resilient. My home is already back up to a solid 700K. In 3 or 4 more years it could easily reach 1M.

    Monterey is no big deal and its really not that nice anymore. It's kinda dirty to be honest and cheaper there too. Carmel is a nice little town though and fun to visit for a day like during 3-day holiday weekends, etc.