Detecting Lightning

For a long time, I have been interested in the weather and like my father, I also enjoy watching lightning listening for the thunder. One of the internet projects that I found very enjoyable to view was the or which is part of a large community project to track where lightning hits the ground. After a period of lightning storms a few years ago I signed up to the waiting list on Blitzortung to see if I could get my hands on a kit to rung from home. Well, several years later I got an email from Egon, offering me the option to buy the kit. I pondered the idea for a few days and then replied with yes. A few weeks later a parcel arrived and due to it being a wet weekend I eagerly opened it up and started work.

Parts from Blitzortung.

I ordered the full kit for the latest board called System Blue 19.5. The kit is the board, the case, USB power supply and 3 ferrite rod antennas. As you can see most of the surface mount stuff if already done but its sold as a DIY kit so I had to get the iron out and solder the last few items on. This isn’t very hard and it is fairly obvious how the bits are attached the most confusing bit for me was the manuals, there are a few guides and manuals and they are written for the ever-developing kit. This manual is for the older Sytem Red but is rather informative but has been superseded by this manual.

I ordered 3 ferrite core antennas and the 3rd is an optional one. For now, I am running just the two and will design and build a holder for the rods at a later date. This is referred to as the H-Field antenna and the other is the E-Field Antenna and has a circuit mounted

Once powered up you can access the interface for the unit via a web browser and after a few clicks, it was setup.

The interface is ok and works, it has a few bugs but for the most part, it is ok. I think the issues are around me tinkering with it as I test out settings. I have had it running for a few weeks now and have had the odd crash, and the other evening it had a lot of noise, causing false readings but moving stuff slightly higher up fixed this.

Typical reading I have had from the detector.

I have some work to do as I do have a fair bit of noise still but I am still working only a meter or so away from my PC.

The noise level isn’t fun.

But for now I am sending data into the system and you can view my station on both these pages.


I will write a bit more about this subject as I learn more. Plenty of tinkering still to do.

Clare V142 Calibration Unit

So randomly looking at eBay one evening and I spotted a bit of test gear for Clare Flash Testers. I have the task of calibrating these at work and the chance to get a bit of kit for actually testing them was beyond tempting.

Next thing I know I had bought it, followed shortly by some other bits such as a Resistance and Capacitance box. Not sure why other than its nice to have some stable things to check my new multimeter against (more of that later).

I can’t seem to find much info on this unit as Clare has been bought out and is now owned by Seaward. Though I did find a page referring to a Seaward V242

V242 Calibration Check Unit

The V242 is intended for on-site verification of the Clare range of electrical safety testers. It is recommended that this instrument is returned to Clare Instruments for annual re-calibration.

The V242 is capable of checking the following parameters.

90, 115, 450, and 575 mΩ (Calibration limits ± 5% of value)
0 – 5000 Volts A.C. (Calibration limits ± 1.5% f.s.d.)
0 – 2500 Volts D.C. (Calibration limits ± 1.5% f.s.d.)
100 KW – 200 KW – 400 KW – 1 MW – 2 MW 5 MW – 10 MΩ – 20 MW. (Calibration limits ± 1%)
50 MW (Calibration limit ± 3%) – 100 MW (Calibration limit ± 4%)

The flash trip value of 5 mA can be checked using the Insulation Resistance value of 200 KΩ, which will give a reading of 5 mA at 1000 Volts A.C. or D.C.

No facilities provided for checking live load modules, such as ammeters and wattmeters, fitted to many Clare test stations. Such modules should be checked using a good quality AC test set.

This is from the above website.

I did some quick checks and most of the resistances are good but the Low ohm earth ones aren’t so good but that is mostly due to my meter not being designed to measure that low and the unit being designed to have 25A running though those resistances. So unless I find a 25A power supply that I can use then measure the ohms in the same way you do with a shunt.

Annoyingly someone has stuck stickers on the instruction sheet, I am looking at how I might be able to remove them. The brass/copper connectors on the front are also in rather poor condition so I thought I would open it up so I could give it a clean.

Now that I could see inside I noted it is rather basic. More importantly I can get to the nuts to remove the posts. So I removed one and had a go at cleaning it in a solution of salt and white vinegar.

I will admit I did make a mistake with cleaning some of the bits as I put them all in the same cup. The washers are zinc and that attracted the copper so ended up with the bits going black, but thankfully it only took a little light cleaning with a copper brush. The next connector I did them separately.

What will I use it for….I don’t quite know. Might take it on-site the next time I have a few of the old Clare flash testers to look at and see how it compares.