Saturday, June 7, 2014

Detecting lightning discharges

And now for something completely different...

Last month I read a German news article about the project. It's about detecting the location of lightning discharges using a network of low budget receiver stations. The clocks of all receiver stations are keep in sync using GPS. This allows to combine the electromagnetic measurements of multiple receivers to calculate the location of a lightning discharge.

I decided to participate in this project and build my own receiver station. So I ordered the basics kits offered by the project founders for the different components of a receiver station. Here's an image showing the red PCBs for the Controller 10.4, the Amplifier 12.3 (H-field) and the Amplifier 13.1 (E-field) with the small Pre-Amplifier 14.1. Each PCB comes with a set of parts that are not easily available from online shops such as Reichelt or Conrad. The green PCB is an STM32F4 evaluation board that sits on top of the Controller 10.4 PCB and runs the firmware for the complete receiver station.

All the rest of the necessary parts can be ordered from Reichelt. There is even an order list with the Reichelt part numbers. Here's an image showing all the parts in a pile.

The next step is to solder all the components to the PCBs. This should not be that hard as most of them are through-hole, but some are SMD such as the GPS module and the amplifier ICs in SOIC-8 packages.

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