Using the amplifier only
#1
Hi,

I'm an electronic hobbyist, owning a small weather logger. I just came across the whole documentation of the project and I guess it too expensive for me to establish my own station.
However, I'd like to, at least be able to log the strikes, so I was wondering whether it is possible to use only the antenna and the amplifier and connect its outputs to my 1wire impulse meter via an analog comparator.
The main problem is - will it work without the main board?

I know that the op-amps are digitally or manually controlled through atmega8. What will happen if I don't connect the main board, just assemble the aplifier one. Will it able me to control the amplification manually?
#2
(2014-08-06, 16:54)piotreeek Wrote: Hi,

I'm an electronic hobbyist, owning a small weather logger. I just came across the whole documentation of the project and I guess it too expensive for me to establish my own station.
However, I'd like to, at least be able to log the strikes, so I was wondering whether it is possible to use only the antenna and the amplifier and connect its outputs to my 1wire impulse meter via an analog comparator.
The main problem is - will it work without the main board?

I know that the op-amps are digitally or manually controlled through atmega8. What will happen if I don't connect the main board, just assemble the aplifier one. Will it able me to control the amplification manually?

Amplifier gain is also settable via an on board potentiometer.
Stations: 1013
#3
And why would you prefer to not contribute to network????
There are hundreds of ways to receive lightning data... you can take your pick... but Blitzortung works when all receivers also contribute.
Mike

Stations: 689, 791, 1439
#4
(2014-08-07, 00:39)Cutty Wrote: And why would you prefer to not contribute to network????

because I can't afford to set up a fully operational station

Quote:Amplifier gain is also settable via an on board potentiometer.

Yes, I know. But, as i have written, I have a concern - will it work alone? Without the mainboard?
#5
In this forum we discuss lightning reception with Blitzortung.org's equipment and Blitzortungs way to do it., But I choose to respond anyway.

It is the sledgehammer to crack a nut - google "lightning detector alarms" and find a small circuit.
You can measure electrical noise over a given value, and maybe it's a lightning bolt in a radius of 0-2500km
In other words - the good results obtained in a network with other participants
Historically, they used an amplifier, a trigger and an electrical / mechanical counter - since they got real detectors, it was realized that they were not good
Stations: 584, 585, 2017
#6
Thank you for your reply,

I wanted to bulits this circut as it allows to control the gain and it would be possible to fine-tune it to detectr strikes in, let's say, 50km-radius. However, now you gave me second thoughts and I'll reconsider joining the network
#7
(2014-08-10, 10:20)piotreeek Wrote: Thank you for your reply,

I wanted to bulits this circut as it allows to control the gain and it would be possible to fine-tune it to detectr strikes in, let's say, 50km-radius. However, now you gave me second thoughts and I'll reconsider joining the network

Detecting lightning within a certain radius of a location, with a single receiver, is almost impossible.
Lightning strikes are of various intensities. Some are small, (relatively) low current discharges, others are massive discharges which produce very powerful radio frequency signals.

How a single point station can possibly discriminate between the two eludes me. It clealy also eludes a great many other technical minds!

The only two ways I know of require a significant number of stations operating co-operatively.
Method 1 requires each station to use two antennas and to produce a direction and time. Somewhere, these directions (and time signatures) are merged to determine where the strike was.
Method 2 requires each station to precisely time-stamp the signal, and a co-operative system that analyses the signals to work out where the source must have been to satisfy all the measured signals.

Method 2 is what Blitzortung uses - a "Time-of-Arival" (TOR) system. It is simple in concept but complex in implementation and requires a significant investment in hardware and processing power.

A simple receiver plus threshold detector may tell you that there is lightning "somewhere within the receiving area", that area may be several thousand miles, and without discrimination, will almost certainly count every electrical circuit opening or closing, every arcing contact, every breaking down insulator, withing a great distance from your (single) receiver.
Stations: 812, 848, 849, 852
#8
And how do the Bolteks work? Big Grin
Clément
Stations: 252, 680, 733, 1440
#9
Quote:Detecting lightning within a certain radius of a location, with a single receiver, is almost impossible.

Lie!
Boltek's are single receiver's, and for beeing that and taking that in act, damn accurate if they are calibrated correctly Tongue
Not accurate as BO but one can't compare apples with oranges either, BO and Boltek works in totally different way.

// Henkka
Stations: 1600
#10
(2014-08-10, 12:53)weatherc Wrote:
Quote:Detecting lightning within a certain radius of a location, with a single receiver, is almost impossible.

Lie!
Boltek's are single receiver's, and for beeing that and taking that in act, damn accurate if they are calibrated correctly Tongue
Not accurate as BO but one can't compare apples with oranges either, BO and Boltek works in totally different way.

// Henkka
Also there's quite a price difference, and I'd sure claim more friends worldwide with similar interests in Blitzortung! And BO is non-commercial, and not chasing the almighty dollar (Euro, Peso, Pound, Lira, etc)... perhaps the only negative to BO is a set of overworked, well respected developers, who are taking a well deserved vacation at the moment, from a 'spring time' of unexpected publicity and product requests... . What a year 2015 will be!Lightning

Stations: 689, 791, 1439
#11
(2014-08-10, 11:16)Ross.Wheeler Wrote: Detecting lightning within a certain radius of a location, with a single receiver, is almost impossible.
Lightning strikes are of various intensities. Some are small, (relatively) low current discharges, others are massive discharges which produce very powerful radio frequency signals.

How a single point station can possibly discriminate between the two eludes me. It clealy also eludes a great many other technical minds!

The only two ways I know of require a significant number of stations operating co-operatively.
Method 1 requires each station to use two antennas and to produce a direction and time. Somewhere, these directions (and time signatures) are merged to determine where the strike was.
Method 2 requires each station to precisely time-stamp the signal, and a co-operative system that analyses the signals to work out where the source must have been to satisfy all the measured signals.

Method 2 is what Blitzortung uses - a "Time-of-Arival" (TOR) system. It is simple in concept but complex in implementation and requires a significant investment in hardware and processing power.

A simple receiver plus threshold detector may tell you that there is lightning "somewhere within the receiving area", that area may be several thousand miles, and without discrimination, will almost certainly count every electrical circuit opening or closing, every arcing contact, every breaking down insulator, withing a great distance from your (single) receiver.

There is at least one study (Stanford?) that found lightning produces a typical signal, and the nature of the signal varies with distance due to phase velocity characteristics.

Anyway, I would not be surprised if, for BO stations that use H-field coils that are properly set up at right angles to one another, some direction finding is also possible (see the X-Y plots on lightningmaps.org). Given the variation in coil design, it's probably not as accurate for DF'ing as, say, the systems used in Lightning Radar or (ex-) Vaisala's National Lightning Detection Network, but since typical BO stations probably don't change configuration very often, it might at least be useful for elimination of some false positives.
Stations: 1013
#12
(2014-08-10, 12:53)weatherc Wrote:
Quote:Detecting lightning within a certain radius of a location, with a single receiver, is almost impossible.

Lie!
Boltek's are single receiver's, and for beeing that and taking that in act, damn accurate if they are calibrated correctly Tongue

The Boltek is still only an educated guess. Yes, you can calibrate them, but they will still be subject to a large degree of inaccuracy - from those I've spoken to about their operation anyway. Yes, they probably give you a useful guess. No, they don't give you an accurate or reliable distance.


(2014-08-10, 14:34)Jonathan.Williams Wrote: There is at least one study (Stanford?) that found lightning produces a typical signal, and the nature of the signal varies with distance due to phase velocity characteristics.

Yes, but that will require quite a lot of computational power, which the OP specifically wasn't going to be using.


(2014-08-10, 14:34)Jonathan.Williams Wrote: Anyway, I would not be surprised if, for BO stations that use H-field coils that are properly set up at right angles to one another, some direction finding is also possible (see the X-Y plots on lightningmaps.org).

Yes, and it's quite accurate. While I was commissioning my first station, I used this to determine the source of some interference, by taking my sensor and a laptop and taking a few readings from different locations.

Even so, using DF will require multiple stations. If you're lucky, just two, but there will inevitably be lightning along the axis of those two resulting in no solution, and a third would be necessary. Again, it's not just using the receiver and plonking a counter on the output!

Just to clarify - yes, I agree a single receiver can certainly tell you if there's lightning-like activity around.
I was saying that a single receiver of the kind suggested (a BO amplifier with no external computing) cannot reliably discriminate between
noise or lightning, and cannot accurately be set to only pick up lightning with a (say) 50km radius (ignoring lighting >50km).

Yes, precision analysis of the waveform might give you enough additional information to make a reasonable estimate of distance under many (even most) atmospheric conditions, but that is not the configuration requested by the OP (which I thought would be a given in the context)
Stations: 812, 848, 849, 852
#13
(2014-08-10, 22:20)Ross.Wheeler Wrote: Yes, and it's quite accurate. While I was commissioning my first station, I used this to determine the source of some interference, by taking my sensor and a laptop and taking a few readings from different locations.

Even so, using DF will require multiple stations. If you're lucky, just two, but there will inevitably be lightning along the axis of those two resulting in no solution, and a third would be necessary. Again, it's not just using the receiver and plonking a counter on the output!

Just to clarify - yes, I agree a single receiver can certainly tell you if there's lightning-like activity around.
I was saying that a single receiver of the kind suggested (a BO amplifier with no external computing) cannot reliably discriminate between
noise or lightning, and cannot accurately be set to only pick up lightning with a (say) 50km radius (ignoring lighting >50km).

Yes, precision analysis of the waveform might give you enough additional information to make a reasonable estimate of distance under many (even most) atmospheric conditions, but that is not the configuration requested by the OP (which I thought would be a given in the context)

I absolutely agree. I just thought the thread had brought up some interesting points. I don't think they'll help the OP, though. Frankly, if you're going to put the time and effort into assembling an amplifier and are interested in lightning detection, you might as well save your pennies, build the controller, join the network, and get all the frills Smile
Stations: 1013
#14
Attached is basically what comes out of 2 channels of an amplifier.
Now, what will you do with it?
.bmp   SDS00004.BMP (Size: 329.12 KB / Downloads: 151)


Attached Files
.bmp   SDS00002.BMP (Size: 329.12 KB / Downloads: 107)
.bmp   SDS00003.BMP (Size: 329.12 KB / Downloads: 111)

Stations: 689, 791, 1439
#15
use an analog comparator, set certain threshold to trigger an impulse, calculate the strike ratio and store it in database - that was my original idea.
The amplifier circut is fairly easy, worth givin it a try
#16
(2014-08-11, 01:02)piotreeek Wrote: calculate the strike ratio

But that's the point... the amplifier itself has no concept of "strikes". It's just noise. It can't tell an electric fence or loose connection in a switchboard, or flashover at an insulator, or a motorcar with crook plug leads.... from a real lightning strike.

All you're doing is measuring "how much impulse noise is there now?"

If that's enough for you, great. But "impulse noise" != "lightning activity"
Stations: 812, 848, 849, 852
#17
You'd do just as well using an AM radio off station and connecting to the earphone jack.
Smile

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