Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

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Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

wayne burdick
Administrator
Every year, especially in summer, our techs see radios come in that have been damaged by lightning, despite the radio's protective circuitry. You can take steps to reduce your own risk.

1. Many of us remember to disconnect antennas when lightning is anticipated. But in our experience, the most common source of damage, by far, is from an attached computer. Computers themselves often fail due to lightning strikes. They can also act as conduits for surges to other gear. Just to emphasize this point: Customers often say "I disconnected everything but the USB cable to the computer...," which left the interface to their radio exposed.

Note: Only in rare cases have we seen surge damage via other I/O ports (accessory jack, paddle/keyer jacks, PTT IN, KEY OUT, and DC). USB and RS232 ports are the most susceptible.

2. Some stations have an ad-hoc ground system and little or no ESD or surge protection. If you haven't already taken protective measures, we strongly recommend reading this article, which goes into some detail regarding how lightning finds its way in:

   http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/June2017/Chusid-Morgan.pdf

At the very least, be sure your PC and other gear share a short, heavy, common ground.

3. As for protecting your PC, here's a good starting point:

    https://www.wikihow.com/Protect-a-PC-in-a-Thunderstorm

73,
Wayne
N6KR




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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

w5sum
very good suggestions Wayne. I work in the Communications field and have for
40 years. I have seen massive amounts of lightning damage, regardless of
grounding , protection, etc etc. If you take a direct hit.. something is
going to fry and that’s it.

I unplug antennas, power cords AND Ethernet Cables to all computers in my
ham shack. I must confess however, I have not disconnected the USB and RS232
lines. I sort of figure if the power cord and ethernet cables to my computer
are disconnected, the path for the power surge is eliminated. BUT.. guess it
would be better to be sure. And btw, yes my computers are all grounded very
well.

thanks for the heads up

Ronnie W5SUM


-----Original Message-----
From: Wayne Burdick
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2018 10:08 PM
To: Elecraft Reflector
Cc: [hidden email]
Subject: [Elecraft] Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Every year, especially in summer, our techs see radios come in that have
been damaged by lightning, despite the radio's protective circuitry. You can
take steps to reduce your own risk.

1. Many of us remember to disconnect antennas when lightning is anticipated.
But in our experience, the most common source of damage, by far, is from an
attached computer. Computers themselves often fail due to lightning strikes.
They can also act as conduits for surges to other gear. Just to emphasize
this point: Customers often say "I disconnected everything but the USB cable
to the computer...," which left the interface to their radio exposed.

Note: Only in rare cases have we seen surge damage via other I/O ports
(accessory jack, paddle/keyer jacks, PTT IN, KEY OUT, and DC). USB and RS232
ports are the most susceptible.

2. Some stations have an ad-hoc ground system and little or no ESD or surge
protection. If you haven't already taken protective measures, we strongly
recommend reading this article, which goes into some detail regarding how
lightning finds its way in:

   http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/June2017/Chusid-Morgan.pdf

At the very least, be sure your PC and other gear share a short, heavy,
common ground.

3. As for protecting your PC, here's a good starting point:

    https://www.wikihow.com/Protect-a-PC-in-a-Thunderstorm

73,
Wayne
N6KR




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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Dave Sublette-2
For the past 30 years I have lived-in the highest point for 25 miles in any
direction.  I have three towers, 70 feet, 150 feet, and, until two years
ago, 200 feet.  I lowered the 200 foot tower to 155 feet two years ago.
For the first 15 years my equipment was struck and damaged 4 times for a
total of $15000 dollars in damage.  This inspite of the fact that
everything was grounded.  I'm sure something wasn't right with the
grounding systems, or this wouldn't have happened.  After one strike, the
drawers were welded shut on the metal desk the equipment was sitting on.

At that point, 15 years ago, I built all wooden tables to sit the equipment
on and started a policy of disconnecting everything that went to the
outside world.  I made a written checklist and followed it faithfully every
time it clouded up or I had to leave the equipment for more than a few
hours.

I reconfigured the AC to the equipment to be fed by one circuit.  I don't
run an amplifier so the power load was less than 500 watts, I am sure.  The
AC supply for the gear comes from the inverter, a pure sine wave circuit
and a 100 amp hour AGM battery. That inverter goes to the only source of
AC.  All computers are also powered from the same system.

So when I disconnect, one AC plug removes everything from AC source.  THEN
I also disconnect the phone line to the house at the outside customer
access box. AND I disconnect the station ground which goes through the
largest power pole connector available.  Now the equipment is bonded
together and isolated from ground.

All cables are disconnected and removed from the vicinity by several inches
(a weak point, I know).

Since implementing this system fifteen years ago, I have had zero lightning
damage, even though I have seen direct strikes to the towers.

I spent ten years of my EE design career designing lightning suppression
circuits.  The bottom line is, you can't prevent damage if things are
connected to the outside world.

I won't even sit in the same room with the gear when lightning is about.
During one of the strikes, I had a turned wooden lamp sitting on the top
shelf of my rig setup.  I forgot to unplug it.  Lightning got it and it
exploded, creating 15 inch long splinters out of the lamp body.  One buried
itself in the wall, leaving a one inch diameter hole, which I have left as
a reminder.  Several other splinters flew 12 feet across the room (right
through the space where I would have been sitting in my chair) and buried
themselves in the back of a small couch where my wife usually sits and
reads in the evenings.  At the time, we were out of town.  When I returned
and found the scene, my first thought was that someone had broken in and
trashed the place.

Bottom line --- disconnect power, telephone line, ground bus, and all
cables every time, no exceptions.

PS-- my Mac Mini does  not have a way to attach a ground wire unless I want
to drill and tap a hole in the aluminum case for a ground screw.

End of soapbox...

73,

Dave, K4TO

On Tue, Oct 30, 2018 at 6:36 AM <[hidden email]> wrote:

> very good suggestions Wayne. I work in the Communications field and have
> for
> 40 years. I have seen massive amounts of lightning damage, regardless of
> grounding , protection, etc etc. If you take a direct hit.. something is
> going to fry and that’s it.
>
> I unplug antennas, power cords AND Ethernet Cables to all computers in my
> ham shack. I must confess however, I have not disconnected the USB and
> RS232
> lines. I sort of figure if the power cord and ethernet cables to my
> computer
> are disconnected, the path for the power surge is eliminated. BUT.. guess
> it
> would be better to be sure. And btw, yes my computers are all grounded
> very
> well.
>
> thanks for the heads up
>
> Ronnie W5SUM
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Wayne Burdick
> Sent: Monday, October 29, 2018 10:08 PM
> To: Elecraft Reflector
> Cc: [hidden email]
> Subject: [Elecraft] Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear
>
> Every year, especially in summer, our techs see radios come in that have
> been damaged by lightning, despite the radio's protective circuitry. You
> can
> take steps to reduce your own risk.
>
> 1. Many of us remember to disconnect antennas when lightning is
> anticipated.
> But in our experience, the most common source of damage, by far, is from
> an
> attached computer. Computers themselves often fail due to lightning
> strikes.
> They can also act as conduits for surges to other gear. Just to emphasize
> this point: Customers often say "I disconnected everything but the USB
> cable
> to the computer...," which left the interface to their radio exposed.
>
> Note: Only in rare cases have we seen surge damage via other I/O ports
> (accessory jack, paddle/keyer jacks, PTT IN, KEY OUT, and DC). USB and
> RS232
> ports are the most susceptible.
>
> 2. Some stations have an ad-hoc ground system and little or no ESD or
> surge
> protection. If you haven't already taken protective measures, we strongly
> recommend reading this article, which goes into some detail regarding how
> lightning finds its way in:
>
>
> http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/June2017/Chusid-Morgan.pdf
>
> At the very least, be sure your PC and other gear share a short, heavy,
> common ground.
>
> 3. As for protecting your PC, here's a good starting point:
>
>     https://www.wikihow.com/Protect-a-PC-in-a-Thunderstorm
>
> 73,
> Wayne
> N6KR
>
>
>
>
> ______________________________________________________________
> Elecraft mailing list
> Home: http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/elecraft
> Help: http://mailman.qth.net/mmfaq.htm
> Post: mailto:[hidden email]
>
> This list hosted by: http://www.qsl.net
> Please help support this email list: http://www.qsl.net/donate.html
> Message delivered to [hidden email]
>
> ______________________________________________________________
> Elecraft mailing list
> Home: http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/elecraft
> Help: http://mailman.qth.net/mmfaq.htm
> Post: mailto:[hidden email]
>
> This list hosted by: http://www.qsl.net
> Please help support this email list: http://www.qsl.net/donate.html
> Message delivered to [hidden email]
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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Bob McGraw - K4TAX
The word we use is "mitigation".   All efforts in this regard are done
to minimize damage.   Note that I used "minimize damage". With
lightning, "elimination of damage" is not a word or phrase we use.  
Thus with lightning, "mitigation" methods should be carefully
considered, and in the finality of things, expect and plan for some damage.

73

Bob, K4TAX



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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Barry K3NDM
In reply to this post by wayne burdick
Wayne,
     Good advice! I use a combination of preventatives. First, I buffer
my power going to any sensitive electronics. I use a battery backup
system, an UPS, to buffer the power. If there is a surge, the battery
absorbs it. Second, I believe you will ultimately have a problem if you
leave your radios connected to you antenna(s). So, I disconnect all of
my station from my antennas during periods when lightning is expected. I
have learned my lesson from having lost equipment. Since I started with
this setup, I have had no problem, and it is far less expensive than a
full blown lightning protection system.

     One last comment: I suggest that an UPS be used just for the surge
protection from A/C and other motors on the line. A large motor can
throw quite a surge onto the line even with no lightning to add to the
voltage. An UPS is really cheap insurance to protect your station, less
than $100 to protect a few $1000.

73,
Barry
K3NDM

------ Original Message ------
From: "Wayne Burdick" <[hidden email]>
To: "Elecraft Reflector" <[hidden email]>
Cc: "[hidden email]" <[hidden email]>
Sent: 10/29/2018 11:08:39 PM
Subject: [Elecraft] Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

>Every year, especially in summer, our techs see radios come in that
>have been damaged by lightning, despite the radio's protective
>circuitry. You can take steps to reduce your own risk.
>
>1. Many of us remember to disconnect antennas when lightning is
>anticipated. But in our experience, the most common source of damage,
>by far, is from an attached computer. Computers themselves often fail
>due to lightning strikes. They can also act as conduits for surges to
>other gear. Just to emphasize this point: Customers often say "I
>disconnected everything but the USB cable to the computer...," which
>left the interface to their radio exposed.
>
>Note: Only in rare cases have we seen surge damage via other I/O ports
>(accessory jack, paddle/keyer jacks, PTT IN, KEY OUT, and DC). USB and
>RS232 ports are the most susceptible.
>
>2. Some stations have an ad-hoc ground system and little or no ESD or
>surge protection. If you haven't already taken protective measures, we
>strongly recommend reading this article, which goes into some detail
>regarding how lightning finds its way in:
>
>http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/June2017/Chusid-Morgan.pdf
>
>At the very least, be sure your PC and other gear share a short, heavy,
>common ground.
>
>3. As for protecting your PC, here's a good starting point:
>
>https://www.wikihow.com/Protect-a-PC-in-a-Thunderstorm
>
>73,
>Wayne
>N6KR
>
>
>
>
>______________________________________________________________
>Elecraft mailing list
>Home: http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/elecraft
>Help: http://mailman.qth.net/mmfaq.htm
>Post: mailto:[hidden email]
>
>This list hosted by: http://www.qsl.net
>Please help support this email list: http://www.qsl.net/donate.html
>Message delivered to [hidden email]

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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

John K9UWA-2
In reply to this post by Dave Sublette-2
In the fall of 1988 I installed a 160 foot tower. I already had a 120 foot tower and
an 88 foot tower In the spring of 1989 the tall tower was hit by a direct hit and it
was about 10K to repair all the damage. My homeowners insurance company was
not at all impressed. I was given Assigned Risk Homeowners insurance and they
also told me. You have 30 days to either get all those antennas and towers on the
ground or else install a "Commercial Grounding System" or else your insurance is
cancelled. At that time I am sure the mortgage company woudn't have been at all
impressed.

During the summer of 1989 I installed. 100 Ground Rods some in a radial pattern
away from the towers and some in a perimeter ground around the house. The
Radial pattern from the towers is in excess of 1/3rd the total height of the tall
tower. ground rods are all 16 feet apart. All are connected by 3/8" inside diameter
copper tubing silver soldered to the ground rods. A total of about 1200 feet of
copper tubing.  I installed many Polyphaser protection devices on coax cable lines
Rotors 5 of them on the three towers relay boxes to switch the 30 some yagi
antennas on the towers and wire low band antennas. Hundreds of wires
connecting all the relay switchboxes that select whatever antenna configuration
you might want. In addition to all of the above we have Whole House Protection
device on the main breaker box. And an additional one on a Sub Breaker box that
is in the hamshack room. All devices in the hamshack have their own grounding
strap that is connected directly to the ground strap a 2 inch wide copper strap
along the backside of the table that has the equipment on it. As a last line of
defense each Band Coax that enters the hamshack room has one of MFJ's Arc
Plug switches and I have never blown any of the arc plugs. Because I am in
Florida for 6 months of the year and the station is in Northern Indiana I operate it
remotely while in Florida.

 I am the lightning rod for the entire neighborhood. I am within a few feet of being
the highest point in the county.

The tall tower has had MANY direct hits since installing the commercial style
ground system in 1989. I had a Hit Counter on the tower for a few years until I
broke it one day while climbing on the tower. I think the counter had over 100 hits
registered. To Date ZERO DAMAGE to anything in the house or on the towers.
That is ZERO DAMAGE. A great big THANK YOU to the guys at Polyphaser for
all the advice as to what to install and where to install it.

I do have to retract one portion of the above statement. Once after a major hit the
whole house protector on the main breaker box was smoking after the hit. Wife
came into the shack and said that box on the breaker box is smoking. I told Jean
that the box wasn't old enough to smoke. She didn't see the humor in that one. I
called Polyphaser on the phone and the nice lady asked me one question. Was
anything in the house damaged other than the whole house protector? I answered
NO everything in the house and on the towers is all OK. I then asked her to
overnite me a replacement box since it was at that time over 10 years old and
finally gave its little life to allow the rest of the house ZERO DAMAGE. We were
into our normal major spring time storm season. New Whole House protector  
arrived and was installed the next day.

And to date Twenty Nine years later
ZERO DAMAGE Again a big thank you to Polyphaser Turn BLITZ into BLISS.

So YES a Tower can be protected from damage. When the TV stations and Radio
station towers get hit they don't even go off air. Neither does my Ham Station.

Copy the URL below into your favorite browser for a you tube video of my  QTH.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXvRrummVFY

The Video was made while we were installing a new low band receive antenna at
150 foot level on the tower. Drone and GoPro headband cameras. Yes that crane
would do 275 feet from it's base. Yes that is ME in the Man Cage along with Dan
one of the Fruchey Iron workers. I wearing the GoPro headband camera and my
friend Dino Raptis KR9V operating his Drone. Thanks to Dino KR9V as all the
video equipment is his and his editing to produce the You Tube Video

73
John k9uwa
John Goller, K9UWA & Jean Goller, N9PXF
Antique Radio Restorations
[hidden email]
Visit our Web Site at:
http://www.JohnJeanAntiqueRadio.com
4836 Ranch Road
Leo, IN 46765
USA
1-260-637-6426

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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Bob McGraw - K4TAX
Agreed.   And your grounding system alone certainly cost several
thousand dollars more than most ham stations.

I will also add, if your ground system, implementation and methods do
not comply with NEC, in the event of any loss, your insurance company
can simply say "it has been nice doing business with you.  Your coverage
is hear by CANCELED".

Although living  TN, my QTH is 500 ft above average terrain out to 35
miles.   I understand living on a hill, grounding and lightning.  Do it
correct to minimize damage.  Do it wrong or incomplete and expect to
encounter a loss, up to and even the house, and hopefully no loss of life.

73

Bob, K4TAX


On 10/30/2018 11:17 AM, John K9UWA wrote:

> In the fall of 1988 I installed a 160 foot tower. I already had a 120 foot tower and
> an 88 foot tower In the spring of 1989 the tall tower was hit by a direct hit and it
> was about 10K to repair all the damage. My homeowners insurance company was
> not at all impressed. I was given Assigned Risk Homeowners insurance and they
> also told me. You have 30 days to either get all those antennas and towers on the
> ground or else install a "Commercial Grounding System" or else your insurance is
> cancelled. At that time I am sure the mortgage company woudn't have been at all
> impressed.
>
> During the summer of 1989 I installed. 100 Ground Rods some in a radial pattern
> away from the towers and some in a perimeter ground around the house. The
> Radial pattern from the towers is in excess of 1/3rd the total height of the tall
> tower. ground rods are all 16 feet apart. All are connected by 3/8" inside diameter
> copper tubing silver soldered to the ground rods. A total of about 1200 feet of
> copper tubing.  I installed many Polyphaser protection devices on coax cable lines
> Rotors 5 of them on the three towers relay boxes to switch the 30 some yagi
> antennas on the towers and wire low band antennas. Hundreds of wires
> connecting all the relay switchboxes that select whatever antenna configuration
> you might want. In addition to all of the above we have Whole House Protection
> device on the main breaker box. And an additional one on a Sub Breaker box that
> is in the hamshack room. All devices in the hamshack have their own grounding
> strap that is connected directly to the ground strap a 2 inch wide copper strap
> along the backside of the table that has the equipment on it. As a last line of
> defense each Band Coax that enters the hamshack room has one of MFJ's Arc
> Plug switches and I have never blown any of the arc plugs. Because I am in
> Florida for 6 months of the year and the station is in Northern Indiana I operate it
> remotely while in Florida.
>
>   I am the lightning rod for the entire neighborhood. I am within a few feet of being
> the highest point in the county.
>
> The tall tower has had MANY direct hits since installing the commercial style
> ground system in 1989. I had a Hit Counter on the tower for a few years until I
> broke it one day while climbing on the tower. I think the counter had over 100 hits
> registered. To Date ZERO DAMAGE to anything in the house or on the towers.
> That is ZERO DAMAGE. A great big THANK YOU to the guys at Polyphaser for
> all the advice as to what to install and where to install it.
>
> I do have to retract one portion of the above statement. Once after a major hit the
> whole house protector on the main breaker box was smoking after the hit. Wife
> came into the shack and said that box on the breaker box is smoking. I told Jean
> that the box wasn't old enough to smoke. She didn't see the humor in that one. I
> called Polyphaser on the phone and the nice lady asked me one question. Was
> anything in the house damaged other than the whole house protector? I answered
> NO everything in the house and on the towers is all OK. I then asked her to
> overnite me a replacement box since it was at that time over 10 years old and
> finally gave its little life to allow the rest of the house ZERO DAMAGE. We were
> into our normal major spring time storm season. New Whole House protector
> arrived and was installed the next day.
>
> And to date Twenty Nine years later
> ZERO DAMAGE Again a big thank you to Polyphaser Turn BLITZ into BLISS.
>
> So YES a Tower can be protected from damage. When the TV stations and Radio
> station towers get hit they don't even go off air. Neither does my Ham Station.
>
> Copy the URL below into your favorite browser for a you tube video of my  QTH.
>
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXvRrummVFY
>
> The Video was made while we were installing a new low band receive antenna at
> 150 foot level on the tower. Drone and GoPro headband cameras. Yes that crane
> would do 275 feet from it's base. Yes that is ME in the Man Cage along with Dan
> one of the Fruchey Iron workers. I wearing the GoPro headband camera and my
> friend Dino Raptis KR9V operating his Drone. Thanks to Dino KR9V as all the
> video equipment is his and his editing to produce the You Tube Video
>
> 73
> John k9uwa
> John Goller, K9UWA & Jean Goller, N9PXF
> Antique Radio Restorations
> [hidden email]
> Visit our Web Site at:
> http://www.JohnJeanAntiqueRadio.com
> 4836 Ranch Road
> Leo, IN 46765
> USA
> 1-260-637-6426
>
> ______________________________________________________________
> Elecraft mailing list
> Home: http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/elecraft
> Help: http://mailman.qth.net/mmfaq.htm
> Post: mailto:[hidden email]
>
> This list hosted by: http://www.qsl.net
> Please help support this email list: http://www.qsl.net/donate.html
> Message delivered to [hidden email]
>


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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Jim Brown-10
In reply to this post by wayne burdick
On 10/29/2018 8:08 PM, Wayne Burdick wrote:
> Many of us remember to disconnect antennas when lightning is anticipated. But in our experience, the most common source of damage, by far, is from an attached computer. Computers themselves often fail due to lightning strikes. They can also act as conduits for surges to other gear. Just to emphasize this point: Customers often say "I disconnected everything but the USB cable to the computer...," which left the interface to their radio exposed.

Don't blame the computer -- it's the MOV "surge protector" that the
computer is plugged into. As hams, we're fixated on antennas as entry
points for lightning, but power lines, telephone lines, and CATV lines
are more common entry points, and the DIFFERENTIAL voltages during a
strike between interconnected equipment fries them. Several pro audio
engineering colleagues who were not hams experienced damage to their
networked computers from lightning strikes, and it was an issue with the
large audio systems we designed for worship and performance venues. The
solution is a SERIES MODE surge protector that stores the energy from a
strike in an inductor, then discharges it slowly. MOVs shove the strike
current onto the green wire back to the panel and ground rod, generating
the differential voltage that fries equipment.

Several rules. 1) Proper BONDING is FAR more important that bigger
ground conductors. 2) NEVER use MOV surge protectors -- they are far
more likely to CAUSE equipment destruction than to prevent it. 3) Follow
NEC (the National Electric Code) for grounding and bonding.

N0AX's recent ARRL book on Grounding and Bonding is excellent. I worked
with him on it, and much of it is based on my tutorial talk on the topic.

http://k9yc.com/GroundingAndAudio.pdf

73, Jim K9YC

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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Phil Kane-2
In reply to this post by John K9UWA-2
On 10/30/2018 9:17 AM, John K9UWA wrote:

> So YES a Tower can be protected from damage. When the TV stations and Radio
> station towers get hit they don't even go off air. Neither does my Ham Station.

My firm designs communication sites for the Public Safety and Homeland
Security sectors (and any others who are willing to afford us).  Our
standard tried-and-true site grounding systems require a ground ring
buried in conductive concrete in deep trenches.  Many ground rods and
the leads to protected structures are cad-welded to this ring before the
trenches are back-filled with earth.  .  Inside each equipment enclosure
there is a comparable "halo" ground ring with leads to each piece of
equipment, as well as entry protectors on every electrical service,
communication, and antenna cable coming into the enclosure(s).

This system was originally designed and refined by Tom Croda (KB6KBI -
SK), a member of our firm  who was a nationally-acknowledged expert in
power and grounding systems for communication sites.  Our clients using
this system haven't lost any structures or equipment.

On topic - both my CEO and myself are Elecraft users and we haven't lost
any of those either.

73 de K2ASP - Phil Kane
Elecraft K2/100   s/n 5402

VP - General Counsel & Engineering Manager
CSI Telecommunications, Inc. - Consulting Engineers
San Francisco, CA - Beaverton, OR
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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Joe Subich, W4TV-4
In reply to this post by John K9UWA-2

This is key.  I spent most of my professional life as Director of
Engineering in TV stations.  Our towers were hit in nearly every
thunderstorm (1000 - 1600 foot towers are targets) but never had
any lightning damage to towers, antennas or equipment because the
towers were properly grounded, all the feedlines were bonded to
the tower, ground system and building and the buildings had a
complete perimeter ground.

The same holds true for amateur installations ... install a proper
lightning ground on the tower(s), bond the feedlines to the towers
at the top, bottom and every 100 +/- feet.  Install a complete
perimeter ground for the house; bond it to the power line entrance
ground *and* bond the feedlines to the perimeter ground ring where
they cross it.  Bond all the equipment chassis together *INCLUDING*
all computers, network switches, routers, telephone equipment, etc.

If you decide you can't afford to install proper bonding and grounding,
be prepared to replace all the electronic equipment in your home and
shack when your number comes up.

73,

    ... Joe, W4TV


On 2018-10-30 12:17 PM, John K9UWA wrote:

> In the fall of 1988 I installed a 160 foot tower. I already had a 120 foot tower and
> an 88 foot tower In the spring of 1989 the tall tower was hit by a direct hit and it
> was about 10K to repair all the damage. My homeowners insurance company was
> not at all impressed. I was given Assigned Risk Homeowners insurance and they
> also told me. You have 30 days to either get all those antennas and towers on the
> ground or else install a "Commercial Grounding System" or else your insurance is
> cancelled. At that time I am sure the mortgage company woudn't have been at all
> impressed.
>
> During the summer of 1989 I installed. 100 Ground Rods some in a radial pattern
> away from the towers and some in a perimeter ground around the house. The
> Radial pattern from the towers is in excess of 1/3rd the total height of the tall
> tower. ground rods are all 16 feet apart. All are connected by 3/8" inside diameter
> copper tubing silver soldered to the ground rods. A total of about 1200 feet of
> copper tubing.  I installed many Polyphaser protection devices on coax cable lines
> Rotors 5 of them on the three towers relay boxes to switch the 30 some yagi
> antennas on the towers and wire low band antennas. Hundreds of wires
> connecting all the relay switchboxes that select whatever antenna configuration
> you might want. In addition to all of the above we have Whole House Protection
> device on the main breaker box. And an additional one on a Sub Breaker box that
> is in the hamshack room. All devices in the hamshack have their own grounding
> strap that is connected directly to the ground strap a 2 inch wide copper strap
> along the backside of the table that has the equipment on it. As a last line of
> defense each Band Coax that enters the hamshack room has one of MFJ's Arc
> Plug switches and I have never blown any of the arc plugs. Because I am in
> Florida for 6 months of the year and the station is in Northern Indiana I operate it
> remotely while in Florida.
>
>   I am the lightning rod for the entire neighborhood. I am within a few feet of being
> the highest point in the county.
>
> The tall tower has had MANY direct hits since installing the commercial style
> ground system in 1989. I had a Hit Counter on the tower for a few years until I
> broke it one day while climbing on the tower. I think the counter had over 100 hits
> registered. To Date ZERO DAMAGE to anything in the house or on the towers.
> That is ZERO DAMAGE. A great big THANK YOU to the guys at Polyphaser for
> all the advice as to what to install and where to install it.
>
> I do have to retract one portion of the above statement. Once after a major hit the
> whole house protector on the main breaker box was smoking after the hit. Wife
> came into the shack and said that box on the breaker box is smoking. I told Jean
> that the box wasn't old enough to smoke. She didn't see the humor in that one. I
> called Polyphaser on the phone and the nice lady asked me one question. Was
> anything in the house damaged other than the whole house protector? I answered
> NO everything in the house and on the towers is all OK. I then asked her to
> overnite me a replacement box since it was at that time over 10 years old and
> finally gave its little life to allow the rest of the house ZERO DAMAGE. We were
> into our normal major spring time storm season. New Whole House protector
> arrived and was installed the next day.
>
> And to date Twenty Nine years later
> ZERO DAMAGE Again a big thank you to Polyphaser Turn BLITZ into BLISS.
>
> So YES a Tower can be protected from damage. When the TV stations and Radio
> station towers get hit they don't even go off air. Neither does my Ham Station.
>
> Copy the URL below into your favorite browser for a you tube video of my  QTH.
>
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXvRrummVFY
>
> The Video was made while we were installing a new low band receive antenna at
> 150 foot level on the tower. Drone and GoPro headband cameras. Yes that crane
> would do 275 feet from it's base. Yes that is ME in the Man Cage along with Dan
> one of the Fruchey Iron workers. I wearing the GoPro headband camera and my
> friend Dino Raptis KR9V operating his Drone. Thanks to Dino KR9V as all the
> video equipment is his and his editing to produce the You Tube Video
>
> 73
> John k9uwa
> John Goller, K9UWA & Jean Goller, N9PXF
> Antique Radio Restorations
> [hidden email]
> Visit our Web Site at:
> http://www.JohnJeanAntiqueRadio.com
> 4836 Ranch Road
> Leo, IN 46765
> USA
> 1-260-637-6426
>
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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

John K9UWA-2
In reply to this post by Bob McGraw - K4TAX

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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Joe Subich, W4TV-4
In reply to this post by Barry K3NDM
On 2018-10-30 9:54 AM, Barry wrote:
 >
> One last comment: I suggest that an UPS be used just for the surge
> protection from A/C and other motors on the line. A large motor can
> throw quite a surge onto the line even with no lightning to add to
> the voltage. An UPS is really cheap insurance to protect your
> station, less than $100 to protect a few $1000.

Beware!  Most of what are sold as "UPS" are really "SPS" (standby
power supplies).  An SPS does not supply the load from battery and
inverter all the time.  Instead, the load is connected directly to
the line and only switched to the battery/inverter when the line
drops below about 70% of nominal voltage (typically 80 V on a 120V
system).

An SPS has little or no surge protection - typically a few MOV
devices that K9YC has rightly identified as causing more damage
than preventing in sensitive electronic equipment!

73,

    ... Joe, W4TV


On 2018-10-30 9:54 AM, Barry wrote:

> Wayne,
>      Good advice! I use a combination of preventatives. First, I buffer
> my power going to any sensitive electronics. I use a battery backup
> system, an UPS, to buffer the power. If there is a surge, the battery
> absorbs it. Second, I believe you will ultimately have a problem if you
> leave your radios connected to you antenna(s). So, I disconnect all of
> my station from my antennas during periods when lightning is expected. I
> have learned my lesson from having lost equipment. Since I started with
> this setup, I have had no problem, and it is far less expensive than a
> full blown lightning protection system.
>
>      One last comment: I suggest that an UPS be used just for the surge
> protection from A/C and other motors on the line. A large motor can
> throw quite a surge onto the line even with no lightning to add to the
> voltage. An UPS is really cheap insurance to protect your station, less
> than $100 to protect a few $1000.
>
> 73,
> Barry
> K3NDM
>


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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

k6dgw
In reply to this post by wayne burdick
Does my K3 have a static bleed across the antenna terminal(s)?  A number
of years ago, our CQP team in Alpine County fried the front end of an
IC-760 II in a snow storm [precip static].  Then, with an accumulated
300 or so years of amateur radio experience on the team, we replaced it
with a spare ... and fried that one too. [:-)  I have a coax Tee with a
100K resistor in a PL259 on my K3, just wondering if it's necessary.

73,

Fred ["Skip"] K6DGW
Sparks NV DM09dn
Washoe County

On 10/29/2018 8:08 PM, Wayne Burdick wrote:

> Every year, especially in summer, our techs see radios come in that have been damaged by lightning, despite the radio's protective circuitry. You can take steps to reduce your own risk.
>
> 1. Many of us remember to disconnect antennas when lightning is anticipated. But in our experience, the most common source of damage, by far, is from an attached computer. Computers themselves often fail due to lightning strikes. They can also act as conduits for surges to other gear. Just to emphasize this point: Customers often say "I disconnected everything but the USB cable to the computer...," which left the interface to their radio exposed.
>
> Note: Only in rare cases have we seen surge damage via other I/O ports (accessory jack, paddle/keyer jacks, PTT IN, KEY OUT, and DC). USB and RS232 ports are the most susceptible.
>
> 2. Some stations have an ad-hoc ground system and little or no ESD or surge protection. If you haven't already taken protective measures, we strongly recommend reading this article, which goes into some detail regarding how lightning finds its way in:
>
>     http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/June2017/Chusid-Morgan.pdf
>
> At the very least, be sure your PC and other gear share a short, heavy, common ground.
>
> 3. As for protecting your PC, here's a good starting point:
>
>      https://www.wikihow.com/Protect-a-PC-in-a-Thunderstorm
>
> 73,
> Wayne
> N6KR
>

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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Bob McGraw - K4TAX
If one used a KAT500, as I do,  it has static bleed resistors on all antenna inputs.

Bob, K4TAX


Sent from my iPhone

> On Oct 30, 2018, at 2:50 PM, Fred Jensen <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Does my K3 have a static bleed across the antenna terminal(s)?  A number of years ago, our CQP team in Alpine County fried the front end of an IC-760 II in a snow storm [precip static].  Then, with an accumulated 300 or so years of amateur radio experience on the team, we replaced it with a spare ... and fried that one too. [:-)  I have a coax Tee with a 100K resistor in a PL259 on my K3, just wondering if it's necessary.
>
> 73,
>
> Fred ["Skip"] K6DGW
> Sparks NV DM09dn
> Washoe County
>
>> On 10/29/2018 8:08 PM, Wayne Burdick wrote:
>> Every year, especially in summer, our techs see radios come in that have been damaged by lightning, despite the radio's protective circuitry. You can take steps to reduce your own risk.
>>
>> 1. Many of us remember to disconnect antennas when lightning is anticipated. But in our experience, the most common source of damage, by far, is from an attached computer. Computers themselves often fail due to lightning strikes. They can also act as conduits for surges to other gear. Just to emphasize this point: Customers often say "I disconnected everything but the USB cable to the computer...," which left the interface to their radio exposed.
>>
>> Note: Only in rare cases have we seen surge damage via other I/O ports (accessory jack, paddle/keyer jacks, PTT IN, KEY OUT, and DC). USB and RS232 ports are the most susceptible.
>>
>> 2. Some stations have an ad-hoc ground system and little or no ESD or surge protection. If you haven't already taken protective measures, we strongly recommend reading this article, which goes into some detail regarding how lightning finds its way in:
>>
>>    http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/June2017/Chusid-Morgan.pdf
>>
>> At the very least, be sure your PC and other gear share a short, heavy, common ground.
>>
>> 3. As for protecting your PC, here's a good starting point:
>>
>>     https://www.wikihow.com/Protect-a-PC-in-a-Thunderstorm
>>
>> 73,
>> Wayne
>> N6KR
>>
>
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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Elecraft mailing list
In reply to this post by k6dgw
All this is good info.  Some right on and some just there.  From decades of using wire antennas with 600 ohm ladder line to a switch yard for selection,  I use the old FORD approach.  All ladder lines have back to back old Ford spark plugs in front of all the switching.  The common point on the two plugs goes to the tower ground network. So even when the antenna is not selected the FORD's do their thing.  No failures to date except the the pole Pig on the service pole to the house, it took a direct hit and blew a hole in the side of it.  Needless to say we were then on Generator back for a while.  Forgot to say the spark plugs have 5 w 1 Meg resistor across them to ground.........
Mel, K6KBE

      From: Fred Jensen <[hidden email]>
 To: [hidden email]
 Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 12:58 PM
 Subject: Re: [Elecraft] Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear
   
Does my K3 have a static bleed across the antenna terminal(s)?  A number
of years ago, our CQP team in Alpine County fried the front end of an
IC-760 II in a snow storm [precip static].  Then, with an accumulated
300 or so years of amateur radio experience on the team, we replaced it
with a spare ... and fried that one too. [:-)  I have a coax Tee with a
100K resistor in a PL259 on my K3, just wondering if it's necessary.

73,

Fred ["Skip"] K6DGW
Sparks NV DM09dn
Washoe County

On 10/29/2018 8:08 PM, Wayne Burdick wrote:

> Every year, especially in summer, our techs see radios come in that have been damaged by lightning, despite the radio's protective circuitry. You can take steps to reduce your own risk.
>
> 1. Many of us remember to disconnect antennas when lightning is anticipated. But in our experience, the most common source of damage, by far, is from an attached computer. Computers themselves often fail due to lightning strikes. They can also act as conduits for surges to other gear. Just to emphasize this point: Customers often say "I disconnected everything but the USB cable to the computer...," which left the interface to their radio exposed.
>
> Note: Only in rare cases have we seen surge damage via other I/O ports (accessory jack, paddle/keyer jacks, PTT IN, KEY OUT, and DC). USB and RS232 ports are the most susceptible.
>
> 2. Some stations have an ad-hoc ground system and little or no ESD or surge protection. If you haven't already taken protective measures, we strongly recommend reading this article, which goes into some detail regarding how lightning finds its way in:
>
>    http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/June2017/Chusid-Morgan.pdf
>
> At the very least, be sure your PC and other gear share a short, heavy, common ground.
>
> 3. As for protecting your PC, here's a good starting point:
>
>      https://www.wikihow.com/Protect-a-PC-in-a-Thunderstorm
>
> 73,
> Wayne
> N6KR
>

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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

wayne burdick
Administrator
In reply to this post by k6dgw

> On Oct 30, 2018, at 12:50 PM, Fred Jensen <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Does my K3 have a static bleed across the antenna terminal(s)?

Yes.

Wayne
N6KR


>  A number of years ago, our CQP team in Alpine County fried the front end of an IC-760 II in a snow storm [precip static].  Then, with an accumulated 300 or so years of amateur radio experience on the team, we replaced it with a spare ... and fried that one too. [:-)  I have a coax Tee with a 100K resistor in a PL259 on my K3, just wondering if it's necessary.
>
> 73,
>
> Fred ["Skip"] K6DGW
> Sparks NV DM09dn
> Washoe County
>
> On 10/29/2018 8:08 PM, Wayne Burdick wrote:
>> Every year, especially in summer, our techs see radios come in that have been damaged by lightning, despite the radio's protective circuitry. You can take steps to reduce your own risk.
>>
>> 1. Many of us remember to disconnect antennas when lightning is anticipated. But in our experience, the most common source of damage, by far, is from an attached computer. Computers themselves often fail due to lightning strikes. They can also act as conduits for surges to other gear. Just to emphasize this point: Customers often say "I disconnected everything but the USB cable to the computer...," which left the interface to their radio exposed.
>>
>> Note: Only in rare cases have we seen surge damage via other I/O ports (accessory jack, paddle/keyer jacks, PTT IN, KEY OUT, and DC). USB and RS232 ports are the most susceptible.
>>
>> 2. Some stations have an ad-hoc ground system and little or no ESD or surge protection. If you haven't already taken protective measures, we strongly recommend reading this article, which goes into some detail regarding how lightning finds its way in:
>>
>>    http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/June2017/Chusid-Morgan.pdf
>>
>> At the very least, be sure your PC and other gear share a short, heavy, common ground.
>>
>> 3. As for protecting your PC, here's a good starting point:
>>
>>     https://www.wikihow.com/Protect-a-PC-in-a-Thunderstorm
>>
>> 73,
>> Wayne
>> N6KR
>>
>
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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Elecraft mailing list
In reply to this post by wayne burdick
Re:  "Spark plugs fire at 12,000 to 25,000 Volts. Some require as much as 45,000 V."

That is at the pressure inside the combustion chamber.  At atmospheric  pressure, they fire at much lower voltages; however, Walter's point is still valid.  Turn on voltage is far more reliable with gas discharge tubes.  Sparkplugs were probably more helpful  with tube gear than with today's solid state gear.

Mark
KE6BB


null
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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

John K9UWA-2
In reply to this post by Bob McGraw - K4TAX
Yes my grounding system is NEC compliant. And yes my insurance company is
happy. Their last inspection they asked that I replace 5 or 6 boards on the Deck.
From a 29 years ago memory I think I had around 2K total plus sweat equity
installing the commercial type ground system. That 2K is small potatoes
compared to what equipment it is protecting. The whole house is protected from
all other points of entry as well as the towers. Power Lines, CATV lines, Phone
Lines, Small Dish TV lines and anything else that comes to our homes. Then if
one adds up a simple Ham Shack with radio computer monitor TV sets
throughout the house Microwave ovens Stoves Washing machines all the other
stuff we have in today's homes. If you don't want to be replacing the stuff possibly
all of it then all of us should have home protection. Either do it properly depending
on your sytem or suffer the wrath of Mother Nature.
73
John k9uwa


> Agreed.   And your grounding system alone certainly cost several
> thousand dollars more than most ham stations.
>
> I will also add, if your ground system, implementation and methods do
> not comply with NEC, in the event of any loss, your insurance company
> can simply say "it has been nice doing business with you.  Your coverage
> is hear by CANCELED".
>
> Although living  TN, my QTH is 500 ft above average terrain out to 35
> miles.   I understand living on a hill, grounding and lightning.  Do it
> correct to minimize damage.  Do it wrong or incomplete and expect to encounter
> a loss, up to and even the house, and hopefully no loss of life.
>
> 73
>
> Bob, K4TAX
>
>
> On 10/30/2018 11:17 AM, John K9UWA wrote:
> > In the fall of 1988 I installed a 160 foot tower. I already had a 120 foot
> > tower and an 88 foot tower In the spring of 1989 the tall tower was hit by a
> > direct hit and it was about 10K to repair all the damage. My homeowners
> > insurance company was not at all impressed. I was given Assigned Risk
 
BIG SNIP

> >
> > 73
> > John k9uwa
John Goller, K9UWA & Jean Goller, N9PXF
Antique Radio Restorations
[hidden email]
Visit our Web Site at:
http://www.JohnJeanAntiqueRadio.com
4836 Ranch Road
Leo, IN 46765
USA
1-260-637-6426

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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

k6dgw
In reply to this post by wayne burdick
Open wire feedlines used to have "spark balls" for lightning protection
on high power transmitter installations. Admittedly, the transmitters
used tubes.

73,

Fred ["Skip"] K6DGW
Sparks NV DM09dn
Washoe County

On 10/30/2018 2:32 PM, rv6amark via Elecraft wrote:

> Re:  "Spark plugs fire at 12,000 to 25,000 Volts. Some require as much as 45,000 V."
>
> That is at the pressure inside the combustion chamber.  At atmospheric  pressure, they fire at much lower voltages; however, Walter's point is still valid.  Turn on voltage is far more reliable with gas discharge tubes.  Sparkplugs were probably more helpful  with tube gear than with today's solid state gear.
>
> Mark
> KE6BB
>
>
> null
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Re: Avoiding costly lightning damage to your radios gear

Victor Rosenthal 4X6GP
I have homemade adjustable spark gaps on my open wire line. It’s important to realize that voltages from normal operation on open wire lines can be quite high. My installation is atypical since I run a very high SWR on some bands, but the TLW program calculates as much as 7kv at the entrance to my shack on 40 meters! I saw some serious arcs before I got everything sized properly. I got a couple of 10 meg 10kv resistors from Mouser to use as static drains.

Victor 4X6GP

> On 31 Oct 2018, at 1:18, Fred Jensen <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Open wire feedlines used to have "spark balls" for lightning protection on high power transmitter installations. Admittedly, the transmitters used tubes.
>
> 73,
>
> Fred ["Skip"] K6DGW
> Sparks NV DM09dn
> Washoe County
>
>> On 10/30/2018 2:32 PM, rv6amark via Elecraft wrote:
>> Re:  "Spark plugs fire at 12,000 to 25,000 Volts. Some require as much as 45,000 V."
>>
>> That is at the pressure inside the combustion chamber.  At atmospheric  pressure, they fire at much lower voltages; however, Walter's point is still valid.  Turn on voltage is far more reliable with gas discharge tubes.  Sparkplugs were probably more helpful  with tube gear than with today's solid state gear.
>>
>> Mark
>> KE6BB
>>
>>
>> null
>> ______________________________________________________________
>> Elecraft mailing list
>> Home: http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/elecraft
>> Help: http://mailman.qth.net/mmfaq.htm
>> Post: mailto:[hidden email]
>>
>> This list hosted by: http://www.qsl.net
>> Please help support this email list: http://www.qsl.net/donate.html
>> Message delivered to [hidden email]
>>
>> --
>> This message has been scanned by E.F.A. Project and is believed to be clean.
>>
>>
>
> ______________________________________________________________
> Elecraft mailing list
> Home: http://mailman.qth.net/mailman/listinfo/elecraft
> Help: http://mailman.qth.net/mmfaq.htm
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