Sanity check for lightning detector

For the most part, my lightning detector is working well. I get the sporadic false alarm from the furnace kicking on or a florescent light fixture turning on or off. These false alarms are taken care of because they do not happen that often. The algorithm needs to see a few strike events before it pulls the power on my computers. But one day I was vacuuming and my detector went nuts and shut down the computer.Some investigation lead me to realize that the moment the detector went nuts was when the vacuum cleaner was directly over the detector antenna in the basement. Well, that problem will likely go away when I put the antenna in the attic for a commanding view of the surrounding area. Its not that often that I vacuum the roof, so I should be OK. But what if I would have another sensor(s) to help remove false alarms completely?

A few weeks ago, I saw the ambient light sensor from Sparkfun. Very cool sensor in that it responds to light the way we see it. That is in an exponential way. Each doubling of the amount of light only produces a linear increase in sensor output. So I ordered one.

Last night we had a few good storms come by. I wired the sensor to 2 AA batteries and connected the sensor lead to my scope. Stuck the whole thing in the window and set the scope for AC coupling and single trigger mode. On each lighting stroke, I could hear the RF detector buzzing in the basement, and the scope would trigger. All this without any lensing on the sensor. In fact, my optically inclined son convinced me that unless I want to pay lots of money on a huge wide angle lens, that I am better off without a lens.

I figure I could put an array of these to look 360 around the compass rose and put them on a pole over the roof. Sudden flashes could then be correlated with the RF detector to make sure it just not me vacumming.

PS: I think I am close to publishing the schematic for my RF based lightning detector.


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