It was a heck of a way to get your heart going from about 60 beats per
minute to full throttle in about 1 microsecond. About 2:00 AM a couple
of days ago, we were treated to an incredibly loud blast, just outside
our home. I'm not certain if the lightning bolt hit the tower, or hit
just really close by.....there was no delay between the flash and the
blast. Here are the results of what seemed to have happened.
Early the next morning, I fired up the ham gear (Icom 756 Pro, Alpha
87a, SteppIR 4L with the 40/30M add-on), and everything worked! That's
great news! I was concerned about all the gear, naturally, and
especially curious about the SteppIR - but it came through without
incident, stepper motors and the controller as well.
I had to restart my computer, since it had gone off line and powered
down. Turns out that it wouldn't work...sorta. After playing around
with it for some time, I realized the 7 internal USB ports on the Dell
9100 had all been fried. I have an old V1.0 USB 3-port PCI card that I
installed, and I was able to connect the keyboard to it and check it
out. Every time I now start the computer, it proudly tells me it can't
find the keyboard....then it goes right ahead and starts up and all is
well....except the 7 fried USB ports. I also have a data backup
external USB hard drive that runs every night, and all the data was
there. Good - no data loss.
The next thing I noticed is that my less than 10 month old multifunction
printer/scanner/FAX was dead. That led me to check the telephone on my
desk - it too was dead.....and that gave me the idea that the lightning
had found it's way into the shack through the phone line. Our telephone
service company says there is a surge arrestor in the junction box
outside the home, which is right outside my shack, just a foot or two
away from the gear.
The phone company is coming over to check their surge arrestor, and
replace it at my request. I'm also purchasing an uninterruptible power
supply (UPS) with network, phone and DSL surge suppression
features....and hope that will take care of the ancillary equipment,
should old Thor decide to take another shot.....an event we oh so
devoutly hope doesn't recur.
I spent lots of time, effort and money to install a lightning protection
system, and it had worked - for the ham gear. What I forgot was the
telephone/DSL line that needed protection. I removed the DSL filter
from the phone line and found that on the filter, the line leading to
the telephone had been turned into toast. That explained why the phone
and the multifunction printer/scanner/FAX were no longer working - the
path from the telephone line went right to the printer.
Why the fried USB ports? I can only assume that the telephone line's
passing within inches of the USB cables induced a voltage in them that
caused the sensitive parts of the USB chips in the Dell terminally to
release their smoke in a fit of protest toward my failure to protect them.
The bottom line is that if there's a way inside, lightning will find
it. Don't forget the phone/DSL line, or for those with cable TV, that
line as well. My web site <http://home.centurytel.net/WD0M/home.html>
has a description of my attempts to prevent any "extra" electricity from
finding its way into the shack, for those interested (or, see the link
below the signature below).
Due adulation and high praise is to be given to the ARRL, ICE, and
Polyphaser, whose advice I followed, and ICE, whose protectors I
use.....but don't forget the phone line, as I did....and have the phone
company verify that their suppressor is in place and functional.
Some reference material:
Thor's Hammer <http://www.arraysolutions.com/Products/thorshammer.htm>
Polyphaser - Protecting an Amateur Radio Station
ARRL Lightning Protection - Part 1
ARRL Lightning Protection - Part 2
ARRL Lightning Protection - Part 3
ARRL Lab Notes - Lightning - Part 1
ARRL Lab Notes - Lightning - Part 2
Stay safe out there....
Joe Hannigan - WDØM
Pagosa Springs, CO
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