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What can I do to prevent lightning damage with this device? Answered

             I'm planning on building the device specified here:  http://www.eham.net/articles/9272

I want to place it about thirty-forty feet above the ground, between two large trees.  This would be above the power lines in my area, and also above most everything else besides the trees themselves.  This seems to pose a significant risk of having lightning strike it.  I don't want to have to put it up and take it down every time there is a storm (nor am I always here when there is one).  Is there any way to make this safe from a lightning strike? 

P.S.  I know this works--one of my friends works for Honeywell and, when asked whether or not this was true, he explained that they have had conferences, lectures, etc. about the problem of static buildup on power lines.  My line length would be around 200-300 feet long, which is certainly not anywhere near the miles that many HV hydroelectric lines in my area run for, but it is still quite long.


I would guess that as a charged cloud passes near your "charge collector" that there will be a increase of current flowing through your collectors. This for one will reduce the voltage of the lightning, like a lightning rod, but may not totally reduce the chance of a strike, since your antenna will be very high. I would say put some kind of sensor on the antenna/ Battery which diverts the antenna to ground if too much current builds or the voltage gets to high too quickly, thus turning the antenna into a lightning rod, protecting the rest of your equipment. I would put it on a manual reset so that it doesn't get put back on while the storm is still present. I think as long as you don't build it next to power lines, you won't be stealing power from the power company in response to some of the other comments. The idea I believe is to first suck off charge from the upper atmosphere, as well as the potential for capturing cosmic rays. This would probably work best in an arid climate.

You can suck energy from transmitters, but it is probably illegal. And unless you're close to a high-power transmitter you'll not get much out of it.


    I'm not trying to steal power from transmitters--the power comes from atmospheric static electricity--the potential between the air and the ground.  Basically lightning on a very, very small scale.  I just don't want that to become large-scale in a thunderstorm :)

I said that it was possible, because that's a way of pulling "free" energy out of the air that can work.

The static business I'd expect to be based on some design that is proven, given how long people have known about these phenomena. Can you point to something that does collect a worthwhile amount of charge?


There are actually a few good instructables on it--just search "Tesla's radiant Energy collector" or something similar.

I'm dubious of anything that someone has attached "Tesla" to, did you find something worthwhile?


In the Uk its classed as stealing electricity. My dad remembers a case of a guy who lived under the many kW Droitwich transmitter who tried to steal LW energy with a rectifier system - he was nailed, because he created a radio shadow around him.

That's it, you suck a load of power out of the system: someone will notice, and locate you.
I'm not too far off Emley Moor, but with the inverse-square law, I'd be pleased to light a LED...


              First off, my friend from Honeywell called it a "static buildup", but he also explained that there was definitely enough of it to be a problem.

Secondly, I was thinking of possibly some kind of lightning detector (perhaps similar to that of Benjamin Franklin) which would trigger a solenoid to physically move the end of the wire that would normally be charging the battery to a ground rod.  Anyone have any ideas on how to make a good lightning detector?

You're mistaking voltage for energy I think. Its a problem, if you discharge it through your high speed electronics, its a problem if you zap yourself off a nylon carpet, but there isn't a lot of ENERGY to capture. You're discharging the capacitance of the line, which is typically <<<<<10nF

EVEN if you could realistically capture the megavolts and megaamps of a lightning discharge, which is the limiting case of this static idea, the actual amount of ENERGY is not that high. I've seen figures of around 1/2 kWhr from a single strike. - 100W for 5 hours.



8 years ago

I'm no electronics expert so I'll pose a dumb response. Why wouldn't a simple lightning rod like the ones used on radio towers work?

.  Radio towers don't use simple lightning protection. It is rather complicated and quite expensive. Few towers depend on just one method of protection. Way beyond DIY.

.  There's not a lot you can do to protect against a direct lightning hit. You can limit damage, but something's gonna get fried in a direct hit.
.  Any amateur radio (ham) site will have lots of info on how to protect (as best as one can) antennas and the equipment attached to them. The ARRL is an excellent ham site.
.  Most lightning protection that is designed for close hits relies on a spark gap or similar arrangement that is dependent on high voltage to jump a gap. Your static harvesting project will already be producing a high voltage on your antenna before any lightning hit occurs. That may be a problem.
.  Provide an easier target. Electricity is lazy and will take the path of least resistance.

about the problem of static buildup on power lines.

There's the clue. You ain't going to extract significant real power from a static discharge.


The best thing is to disconnect it from your charging unit and toss the wire out the window so it is in contact with the ground.  It may still get struck but it'll go directly to the ground and not into your house.  There are "lightning arrestors" that you could install but they are not as reliable as what I just told you to do.  Even if they work a lot of the lightning charge will still hit the house.