[CQ-Contest] Re: [TowerTalk] spider balls

Tom Rauch w8ji at contesting.com
Thu Jul 29 09:26:58 EDT 2004

K1TTT posted several references of scholarly and
peer-reviewed papers by IEEE showing these spine balls do
not work.

The polyphaser site at:

pretty much says (in nice words) the spine devices are BS.
The exact words are:

"However, recently a few people have claimed success. They
claimed first to discharge the cloud. When that was proven
impossible, they claimed to prevent a strike from occurring.
Various branches of the U.S. government have tested several
multiple point arrays over the years without any success.
One report was completed by the Office of Naval Research,
NASA, and US Air Force in 1975."

I did read a NASA paper that said the spine balls were

But then the MANUFACTURERS of these devices claim success. I
wonder in who's interest it would be to fib. NASA, the IEEE,
the AirForce, the Navy, and Polyphaser saying no, they are a
waste of time.....or on the other hand the manufacturer
saying they are great?

  As for lightning hits, a Google search of
lightning frequency tower strikes       led me to dozens of
references that tell stories of INCREASES in hits when
towers are installed.  Somewhere (I'm not going to search
100 links) is a study based on global data of frequency of
hits taken by sensors and tower farms, and the study clearly
shows lightning hits are concentrated near tall towers.

I'm a little disappointed so many people spend so much time
promoting devices or ideas that fly in the face of
statistical data, and fly in the face of the physics
involved to the point where the same things are repeated
over and over again.

Of course the people who sell these spiky things are going
to tell stories of how well it works. The only problem is
they can't make the tall-tales fit the physics of how
charges work, so the stories (at least to me) appear to be
meaningless advertising hype that people without a
background in charge behavior might believe.

The EH and CFA antenna people do the same thing with
antennas by spinning a tall tale with just enough fact to
sound credible.

73 Tom

> -----------------I am not on either of those
> reflectors-----------------------
> However, what the person is referring to as a "spider
> ball" is a form of what is more nomally called a
> "spline ball" or "dissipation brush".  Yes, they
> definitely will work to help dissipate the charge that
> causes the "feeder" to form.
> Lightning definitely starts from the "ground up".
> Although most of the energy does come from the sky,
> the strike starts with what is called a "feeder" from
> the ground.  If this feeder doesn't get started, then
> there will not be a lightning strike.
> Now, there is nothing that will absolutely guarantee
> that you will not take a strike.  However, by
> dissipating the charge, which can result in a "corona"
> around the dissipation device, the chances of a feeder
> being formed is greatly reduced.
> You can reference those with questions to either of
> the websites the URL of which appears at the end of
> this message.
> Glen, K9STH
> Web sites
> http://home.comcast.net/~k9sth
> http://home.comcast.net/~zcomco

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