What is good station quality?
#1
I have a new blue station that I put together and installed this past weekend. I'm using two 100cm loops (H-field).

I've played with the settings in the unit, and now that I figured out it needs to be in manual mode and to set 'HP off' on the H-field, it seems to be working well.

Questions:

1) How do I know my station is working well from the perspective of the network.

2) Should I be trying to achieve a high stroke ratio? location ratio?

3) What values of the ratios are generally accepted as "a good working station"?

Thank you for your time and help.
WU: KROCKF4 || CWOP: C9861 || CoCoRaHS: MI-KN-83 || Blitzotung: 1737
Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus --> Meteohub
weather.huffman.info
Stations: 1737
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#2
Congratulations about getting your new Blue on line!

You ask some good general questions but I for one don't think there is one answer.

First, you need to have your gains (as tempting as it is to have them high and see all the strokes thousands of miles away) set so that you don't send a lot of noisy signals, and while the controller seems to do some filtering, sending junk to the servers only makes them do more work filtering out stuff (I'm sure it doesn't work exactly like that, but for my simple understanding it has helped me).

When we get some nearby storms here, you'll see that if the gain is too high (and I think others can comment on whether or not the first or second value in the settings page about which is the most beneficial  such as 8 x 4 or  4 x 10 etc being the best combination) just play with it considering your local noise environment, so when you get storms closer, you won't go into interference mode as shown on the controller generated status page.

Next I like to look at the Lightningmaps.org page and go to the Station tab and scroll down (after making sure you are logged in and your station number is being reported as the data you're looking at) to the graph showing strikes overall and then i n darker blue your station's strike count.

Now I'm showing very few compared to the region total, but as storms are within a thousand miles or closer, I am happy to see my dark blue portion close to the total number reported.  I use this as a guide to how my station is hearing valid strokes.

One thiing with the system having auto mode is that it for me at least last year wasn't working quite as I thought the whole plan should, that is the servers knowing I'm getting a lot of signals and even reporting an interference mode that they would talk back to my controller and modify the values down to lower levels, hasn't worked out.  So I set my values and if I'm around home as the storms get closer, usually a 100 miles or so less, go in to the settings and decrease the values for awhile.  I've had storms go by with strikes just a few miles away and the system continued to work, while my older red with higher values might be out for 30 seconds or so with very active strikes.  So it is like riding a bike and just adjust to keep it OK.

A few years ago when I was just getting started and the RED system was being rolled out there were few stations and all had their gains set very high to try to hear the more distant strikes but also cover areas where no stations were on line.  It was hard to have the mind set of some of these station pioneers to back down, not reporting signals heard in northern US or Canada that were being generated down in mid-Mexico. 

It's still fun and amazing to me to watch the participation map to see my station dot turn purple here in Wisconsin while the storm is in the Florida panhandle, but that's part of the fun.

I'm sure there are others with vastly more indepth experience than me and more understanding of exactly how the internal code is working that I don't know about, but hope this helps you as you gain experience with your new diversion.  Yeah I spend a LOT of time watching the maps as storms move in, and when we get a close passage, I zoom in a lot watching the expanding rings to see if I hear thunder when it reaches me.  A great hobby, and better than a Lava Lamp.
Dale
Stations: 976, 1505
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#3
If there are three ferrite antennas they can be tuned in different ways?
Each separately?
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#4
Thanks you for your time and the reply. I'm slowing taking in all of this new information and deciding which parts are useful in helping me tweak my station. I'll keep reading posts in the forum here as I learn.

I agree that it's fun to see your station turn purple when it see strokes far away. I've detected strokes as far away as Oklahoma from my station in West Michigan. It's great to see that.

My station was working great for hours and hours yesterday afternoon, but all of a sudden in the evening my loops started picking up interference at around 12kHZ solid! I let it go for awhile to see if it went away and then confirmed that it wasn't anything in my wiring. I'll look for some posts on the forum to see about figuring out how to find that next. I'm also seeing it on the E-field antenna too, so I'm thinking it might be local in the area.
WU: KROCKF4 || CWOP: C9861 || CoCoRaHS: MI-KN-83 || Blitzotung: 1737
Davis Vantage Pro2 Plus --> Meteohub
weather.huffman.info
Stations: 1737
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#5
(2017-03-28, 15:06)malyan Wrote: If there are three ferrite antennas they can be tuned in different ways?
Each separately?

Yes, in manual mode you can adjust each antenna differently.
Kevin McCormick KB0UOI
Macomb, IL USA
Stations: 1539
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#6
(2017-03-28, 15:06)malyan Wrote: If there are three ferrite antennas they can be tuned in different ways?
Each separately?

The Antennas are not tuned, You can adjust gains, thresholds (trigger levels) and optimize each channel.  Please do NOT add any tuning capacitance or inductance to the antennas.  The signal delay is understood well for the types recommended, and changes to that affect accuracy.
                   TwinHollies WeatherCenter  Frankfort KY, USA
  Americas Operators at Sferics.us
        Stations: 689, 1439
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#7
(2017-03-28, 12:46)Dale.Reid Wrote: Congratulations about getting your new Blue on line!

You ask some good general questions but I for one don't think there is one answer.

Welcome, now the fun starts as Dale says there is no one answer.  A lot depends on the electro-magnetic enviroment that your station finds itself in. My station is "remote rural" so there is very little general electro-magentic noise compared to urban or industrial areas but I have 2 VLF transmiitters around 20 and 30 miles away that totally swamp the receiver without careful use of antenna polar patterns and the filters.


(2017-03-28, 12:46)Dale.Reid Wrote: First, you need to have your gains (as tempting as it is to have them high and see all the strokes thousands of miles away) set so that you don't send a lot of noisy signals,

Agreed, keep an eye on the number of strikes within say 2,000 miles and compare against how many "strikes" your station is reporting. They ought to be broadly similar, pay particular attention when real strikes are low, is your station still reporting hundreds or even thousands of "strikes".

(2017-03-28, 12:46)Dale.Reid Wrote: When we get some nearby storms here, you'll see that if the gain is too high (and I think others can comment on whether or not the first or second value in the settings page about which is the most beneficial  such as 8 x 4 or  4 x 10 etc being the best combination) just play with it considering your local noise environment, so when you get storms closer, you won't go into interference mode as shown on the controller generated status page.

Which way round to have the two gain figures has been mentioned several times in the forums but can I remember which way round it is? Nope, have a search.  B-)

I'm under the impression that the system works best with stations reliably reporting strikes at around 1,000 miles from them. It's also  distributed network, a strike that is only 10 miles from me will be 1,000 miles from quite anumber of other stations. So I don't have to worry about tweaking settings to report it, I need to leave my station listening for strikes near the stations reporting strikes near me.


(2017-03-28, 12:46)Dale.Reid Wrote: One thiing with the system having auto mode is that it for me at least last year wasn't working quite as I thought the whole plan should, that is the servers knowing I'm getting a lot of signals and even reporting an interference mode that they would talk back to my controller and modify the values down to lower levels, hasn't worked out.

See above...  B-)  My station is in auto but winter set in not long after I set it upn so I didn't have much chance to see how  the station was going to behave. How near is "near", we get about one audible thunder storm year so thats within about 20 miles, out to a hundred miles there will be more.

(2017-03-28, 12:46)Dale.Reid Wrote: It's still fun and amazing to me to watch the participation map to see my station dot turn purple here in Wisconsin while the storm is in the Florida panhandle, but that's part of the fun.

Yeah, nothing quite like the first time you see the line and dot for your station light up.  B-) 

For those who are US geographicaly challanged, how far is Wisconsin to Florida? Like wise Canada to Mexico?
Cheers
Dave.

Stations: 1627
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#8
(2017-03-28, 16:02)cbhiii Wrote: I agree that it's fun to see your station turn purple when it see strokes far away. I've detected strokes as far away as Oklahoma from my station in West Michigan. It's great to see that.

My station was working great for hours and hours yesterday afternoon, but all of a sudden in the evening my loops started picking up interference at around 12kHZ solid!

How far is Oklahoma to West Michigan?...

12 kHz is a bit low for a VLF transmiiter. Neighbours power line ethernet? Do you have a smart phone, a spectrum analyser app and feeding one of the channel amps listen points into the headeset/microphone input maye give a bit more of a clue about the signal. Is it a pure carrier or or does it have some modulation as well.

You have loops, they have a very sharp and deep null along the axis they are would (ie signal hitting the flat of the coil). By slowly rotating a loop on a vertical axis passing the windings you miight be able to get a line along which the source lies. Monitoring either the noisefloor in the web interface or on the spectrum analyiser app for *minimum* interfering signal. I do mean slowly as well, my 20 turn 30 cm loops have a null that is very deep(*) but narrow 10 degrees or so.

(*) Accurately aimed at one of the nearby VLF transmitters its deep enough to almost totaly eliminate that signal that is otheriwse so big it swamps the reciever.
Cheers
Dave.

Stations: 1627
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#9
(2017-03-29, 18:06)allsorts Wrote:
(2017-03-28, 16:02)cbhiii Wrote: I agree that it's fun to see your station turn purple when it see strokes far away. I've detected strokes as far away as Oklahoma from my station in West Michigan. It's great to see that.

My station was working great for hours and hours yesterday afternoon, but all of a sudden in the evening my loops started picking up interference at around 12kHZ solid!

How far is Oklahoma to West Michigan?...

12 kHz is a bit low for a VLF transmiiter. Neighbours power line ethernet? Do you have a smart phone, a spectrum analyser app and feeding one of the channel amps listen points into the headeset/microphone input maye give a bit more of a clue about the signal. Is it a pure carrier or or does it have some modulation as well.

You have loops, they have a very sharp and deep null along the axis they are would (ie signal hitting the flat of the coil). By slowly rotating a loop on a vertical axis passing the windings you miight be able to get a line along which the source lies. Monitoring either the noisefloor in the web interface or on the spectrum analyiser app for *minimum* interfering signal. I do mean slowly as well, my 20 turn 30 cm loops have a null that is very deep(*) but narrow 10 degrees or so.

(*) Accurately aimed at one of the nearby VLF transmitters its deep enough to almost totaly eliminate that signal that is otheriwse so big it swamps the reciever.


I found my interferers. I have 3 (so far) and they are all in my home. They turned out to be 3 different light dinners: Z-wave, normal dimmer, outdoor motion sensor switch. I'll be working on replacing those in the coming days.

West MI to OK is about 950 miles. I'm very pleased with a detector area of 1000 miles. As I make sure the noise is gone, I'll start tweaking my settings over the coming weeks to see which gives me the highest strike ratio vs. signals sent. I'll find a happy medium. Can't wait.
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