Category Archives: N5UWY

When lightning strikes

When we moved to Oklahoma our families were afraid we’d get blown away by tornadoes. Actually, the biggest danger in these Spring and Summer storms is lightning.

I was sitting doing some cross stitching the other morning, during a thunderstorm, when I heard a loud snap and the immediate crash of thunder, indicating as you might know, a VERY close lightning strike. I had unplugged my computer earlier (the one I’m using now) from it’s power supply and network connection when I heard the storm coming, but I was too late to check on Peter’s equipment.

It wasn’t until a day or so later that we noticed some anomalies with Peter’s computers. Peter couldn’t connect to the internet, and after some trouble shooting we discovered a vaporized capacitor on the ethernet card. Further investigation found burnt out components in the router box as well (right). If you look at the detail photo below, you can see the char marks on the metal of the case on the left side and the corresponding burnt out components on the right.

Unfortunately, the electrical surge didn’t stop there. The surge appears to have traveled into Peter’s second computer taking out the motherboard and traveled through the first into one of the ham radios taking out it’s computer interface (that took a couple of weeks to find). Luckily all the radio equipment is insured!

I should point out that none of the equipment was plugged in, only the ethernet was still connected. The weird thing about electrical surges is that they’re really spotty. We assumed the charge traveled along the ethernet but it did not affect the DSL modem or the wireless router. So our first house rule is as follows: when lightning approach all wires to electronics will be unplugged!



The radio room is mostly done. There is one other antenna I’d like to get up in the air, but that will wait for the next warm spell. Got the grounds all tied together Sunday (forgot to take a pic of that!) and got the 2m loop up in the air. If you’re really interested, here’s a description of the station.

Here’s the overall view of the operating position. The GMD-6D was surplus from a Local Government Agency. It could use a little work, but more than suits the purpose. Jeanette built the shelves many years ago.

And here’s the pass-through that Jeanette made for me to keep the winter out. I’ll try to get a picture of the outside of this so you can see the surge protectors. You can just make out the power bar (that I got surplus from CME) under the windowsill. It’s plugged into a new circuit to the left of the desk.

More snow?

It’s been in the upper 60s to low to mid 70s here lately. I took last Wednesday off to catch up on some stuff and we got the Davis temperature/humidity sensor up on the roof so I can say with authority that we hit 75 degrees here today at Windhaven. This is just like the weather we had a couple of weeks ago … just before the snow storm. My theory — not shared by any meteorologist I know — is that for every degree above 65 the temperature goes in the winter, you get an inch of snow. So, today was 75, next week, 10 inches!

Or not.

Anyway, the tile is all done and clean. The vanity got its last coat of varnish. The tub stuff is mostly installed (we ran into a problem with the tap that we’ll fix tomorrow). And tomorrow, we put in the toilet. Some pressure because we have about a dozen folks coming over for an open house on the Winter Solstice which is THURSDAY! Yikes! It will be done by then.

Got most of N5UWY finished, too: on the day I took off, I got the Discone and 6 meter loops up on the push-up pole. The only parts left, at least the parts I really want to get done before “winter”, are to build a new coax for the 2 meter loop and to hook up all the “surge protection devices” (the manufacturer won’t call them lightning arrestors) to the ground rod. Got the big power bar attached to the wall, too, so most of the power cables are off the floor now. Should probably take some pix.

Last Load! and other observations

The last 320 lbs went to the transfer station today. With the other measured loads, that brings us to 2815 lbs. There were two more loads months ago. not on “free dump days”, that were probably in the 500-600 lb range so the grand total is about 3315-3415 lbs or over a ton and a half. Crazy!

Afterwards, we did some other recycling and picked up some stuff at Lowe’s, had some lunch and headed back and …


Got the 80-10m trap dipole *way* up high across the crowns of two trees, a pecan in the side yard and an oak in the back. Coax comes down to the roof (or will) and will eventually go through a custom pass-through into the radio room. For now, it’s just running through the window opening with a towel to keep out the uninvited.

Had dinner and watched a DVD and didn’t hook up the radio until about 45 minutes ago. Tuned around and realized that this is the weekend of the CQ WW SSB contest. No point in competeing since it’s a 48-hour contest that started Friday night our time, but a good opportunity to test the radio.

First contact? KH7Q in Hawai’i. Second contact? ZL1ALZ in New Zealand. Yes, it’s much higher than antenna at the other place – whoo hoo!!