I have been an avid weather watcher since I was a young child, running to the window anytime I thought I heard thunder. I was excited to stumble upon a volunteer based lightning detection system a few years ago and quickly signed up on a waitlist for the opportunity to own my own detector.
It took a few years of waiting, but I finally was able to purchase my own system and join the worldwide network.
The data below is all LIVE data from my detector and the Blitzortung lightning network.
The detector arrives as a kit that must be assembled, including soldering of some components.
After the unit is assembled, it must be calibrated for antenna type and nearby interference. Thankfully there is a lot of help found online.
There are several antenna designs that can be used with a lightning detector and they all have pros and cons.
I chose to construct dual 100cm Coax Loop antennas along with a single Electric Field Probe antenna. The loops are mounted in my attic with the E-Field on the roofline.
The yellow lines on the live map below indicate which detectors were used to calculate strike location.
This graph shows one of the latest signals received from my detector by the server.
I have 3 antennas connected to my detector:
- Vertical E-W Magnetic Loop ( Channel 0)
- Vertical N-S Magnetic Loop (Channel 1)
- Electric Field Probe Antenna (Channel 3)
With the three antenna channels available, you may see one or all three displayed on the graph depending which antenna(s) registered the signal.
If you see the word "valid" next to a channel number, it means that particular channel had the best quality signal of the 3 possible and was sent for further server processing.
This graph shows the signal quality over the past 7 days and how many of the detected signals were actually used in lightning position calculations by the server.
Areas of RED background indicate the detector was receiving interference and was unable to detect lightning. This can be a common occurrence for most detectors from nearby electrical equipment. I found that all of my interior light dimmers send the unit into interference mode. So if you see red, we most likely had a bathroom light on at the time. Haha!
Lightning strike not shown?
Not every lightning discharge will be registered by the network. There are various natural influences than can affect signal detection as shown in diagrams below. In addition, the network is configured to only detect cloud-ground lightning.