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[TowerTalk] An Enlightning Experience

Subject: [TowerTalk] An Enlightning Experience
From: Pete Smith <>
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 07:58:55 -0400
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I took the first real lightning strike of my 49-year ham career Friday evening about 5:30 PM. It apparently hit my 40-meter yagi at the top of the tower, about 200 feet from the house. I was in my shack at the time, and saw the flash, heard the almost instantaneous bang, and then heard a loud bang inside the room with me. Quite impressive!

Having all of the conductors from the tower disconnected appears to have limited the direct damage, particularly inside the house. I had wondered whether there might be flashovers at the entry panel where I do the disconnecting, but there is no evidence of that. Both rotators, the antenna switch, and the stackmatch relay box (all on the tower) are apparently fried, and one of the loading wires on the 40m antenna is hanging loose. Induced voltage did most of the limited damage we had inside -- one computer (an old one), a network card and the flat screen monitor in the hamshack (but the associated computer is OK, oddly enough), a hub, and a cable modem. The big culprit seems to have been our Ethernet network. Our phone system had a lot of physical evidence -- RJ-11 plugs welded into their sockets, etc. -- but we didn't lose a single phone instrument, not even the cordless ones. All of the series traps and filters in our cable TV circuit from the pole inside the house were blown, and we just got cable service restored late yesterday. However, everything connected to it -- TV's, Tivo, VCR, etc., survived intact, perhaps because I had a surge protector in the cable before the first active device.

The real reason for posting this, other than amusement, is to suggest that maybe the whole-house surge protector we had installed a couple of years ago made a difference in the level of damage we sustained. More and more utilities are offering these now, to be installed behind the meter. In our case, the power company even insures electronics against damage if you use both one of their whole-house protectors and local protectors (ones they sell, natch) at the units themselves.

73, Pete N4ZR
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