Lightning arrestor....

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stubbs

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I just bought a Uniden 996XT, and have a external antenna. The antenna is on a 30 foot mast.

I'm concerned about lightning frying my radio.

I'm connected to the antenna via UHF 50 Ohm coax.

All the lightning arrestors I can find are limited in their frequency range. The scanner can do 25 MHZ all the way to 1200 MHZ. The arrestors I find have a limited frequency range.

I plan on putting a ground rod next to the antenna, and can ground an arrestor to that. I'm looking for something with a replaceable part. I live on the top of a mesa, the wind is vicious here. I'm on the western edge of a canyon, and believe that I'm at a high risk of a lightning strike.

I just spent $550 on the radio, and want to protect it.

Can any of you recommend a lightning arrestor that won't limit my receiving ability?

And getting the grounding rod into the ground is going to be a real problem with all the rocks we have here. I'm not looking forward to that.

Thanks in advance for any advice you guys can give.

-Stubbs.
 

stubbs

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Not enough info

The links to ebay don't include enough information, and they don't include a link to buy the replaceable gas tube. I want to KNOW what I am getting, and not guess. I want freq. ranges, SWR values, and a website to buy the gas tube.

I've got almost $1,000 in this setup, I don't want to lose it.

-Stubbs
 

Kennrth

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Don’t put too much faith in lightning arrestors. There good for high voltage power distribution systems but poor for radio receiver protection. A lot of receivers will blow just by feeding in 25vdc. If lightning can jump a few miles it get jump across your lightning arrester. There is an old trick that has been used by Ham radio guys for years. This was found out by accident and observation. There were people who installed grounding rods and attached them to the mast to divert the lightning to ground which actually works very well. Accept in some installations where people bent the ground wire at a severe angle such as over the edge of a roof. Lighting rod system works very well too. Attracting lightning away from your antennas.
Lighting will not turn 90 degrees. So by putting a 90 degree angle in your transmission/receiver coax line your protected to a great degree. Making a 90 degree turn using 3 feet of transmission about 6 to 10 feet from the antenna will do the trick. When lightning comes down the coax will shoot out of the coax and continue to go into a straight line. Keep in mind how you make that turn so you know the lightning will be going in a safe direction. Adding a ground wire to the mast straight(no turns or bends) to a 6 foot grounding rod gives lots of protection.
None of this will likely protect your radio receiver input from being damaged. It was never designed to do so. But it could save your life and prevent your dwelling from burning down.
What actually blows up electronics in a lightning storm most often is power surges in the ac power line. Use a good surge protector power strip in line. This really works well.
Sometimes it is called St Elmo’s fire. During a period of electrical atmospheric activity large electrical potentials differentials build up. This causes aurora discharge near electrical boxes, cables, and plumbing. This is best seen when all the lights are out. Halos caused by static charges that can’t find a discharge path until the potential builds up enough to jump a dialectric.
So earth ground your equipment protects you too.
The best way to protect your equipment is detach power and coax from it when not in use. It’s a hassle but will pretty much guaranteed to work. It is not 100% either. First of all the open end of a coax now becomes a lightning threat. During a lightning hit could arc and start a fire so it should be disconnected outside the dwelling – more of a hassle.
BE WARNED. Touching the input of your receiver’s connection can blow it up by electro static discharge. Always touch a metal part of the radio momentarily to discharge yourself before reattaching the antenna coax. You could discharge 40 – 60 volts and you wouldn’t even feel it. At extremely low currents you could discharge hundreds of static volts and not feel it.
 

ampulman

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Not an expert, by any means, but want to bring up a point.

The OP stated that his area is subject to high winds. Might this be a problem with static build-up? Don't know if the 996 is powered by a wall wart or directly from power line. Would charges be bled via the power line?

Might be a reason to (promptly) ground that tower.

Amp
 

rcvmo

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Romulus, Mi.
Even with all the grounding and lightning arrestors on my antenna system, I still lost the receiver on my IC-735. It doesn't even need to be a direct strike. A hit a couple miles away will still destroy the front end no matter what.
 

jim202

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New Orleans region
With all the hype and hoopla about lightning protection, grounding, surge protection on
the power feed and the likes, you need to understand that no one item or thing will
protect your investment. It takes a whole grounding and surge protection system to
do the job.

Case in point, I use to work for a number of cellular companies in the designing and
building of cellular tower sites. The grounding system and surge protection system
that went into each site would be rather extensive to the average person. However,
these sites could take direct hits on the tower and keep on trucking. I have actually
seen one of the 500 foot towers I worked on take a direct strike. The steel was steaming
in the rain after the hit for a few minutes. But the equipment at the site kept on
ticking. There was a ham repeater at the site that was not grounded and it took
some major damage. I had talked with the owner of the equipment and tried
to get him to conform to the site standards, but he refused. So now that hard
stand cost him his equipment.

There is no one protect it all way of installing a single surge protector on the coax
that will save your radio. It takes grounding of the antenna system, grounding of
the equipment and the AC power surge protection to make it all happy. Don't
expect just a single ground rod to do all the work. You not only need a low
resistance ground, but it has to be a low impedance ground also. Part of the
issue with ground rods, is that the soil resistance becomes a part of the picture.
Those living in a sandy area need to go further down than what a single 8 foot
rod will supply. The soil resistance in sand is bad.

There have been cases where ground rods in sandy soil have had the sand
actually melted to them from a lightning strike. The current flowing from the rod
to the sand caused enough heat to actually melt the sand and then it into glass.
This melting of the sand and turning into the glass like sand causes the ground
to to be useless as a ground rod after the strike. This is why the cellular companies
install multiple ground rods and inter connect them to reduce the current flow in
any one ground rod. It also provides a much lower resistance ground SYSTEM
than a single ground rod.

As I always say at the end of my comments on grounding an antenna, even though
you have heard the facts, your going to do as you please and ignore the solutions
that have been created over the years by a number of companies.

Jim
 

kb2vxa

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To sum it all up the average person can't afford nor is he knowledgeable of the elaborate systems that protect broadcast and communications sites so you may consider antennas and transmission lines expendable. What you want to protect is your house so proper grounding techniques are in order, what you end up with is a lightning rod if you do it right.

For any number of reasons the "protection" afforded by surge arrestors on AC mains, telco lines and CATV lines entering the house is iffy at best so the best way to protect equipment is only connect to the outside world when operating in thunderstorm season. I really don't trust myself to always be home or aware of an approaching storm, running around like a chicken with its head off pulling plugs isn't my cup of tea either. Then it may be too late, when you hear thunder you're ALREADY in range of a strike! I've heard plenty of moaning over damaged equipment even when "protected" by ground connections and surge arrestors, the usual lament is "How did THIS happen?"

Unless you live in the desert where wind blown dust and very low humidity can and does cause static build up on antennas it's not something to be particularly concerned about. Then too only ungrounded antenna systems with large surface areas such as HF dipoles and the like are prone to it (others are "DC ground" and are self protected) so hams living in the American Southwest and the Middle East for example ground the antennas when not in use. That prevents the surprise of your life when you pick up the end of the coax to connect it and it turns out to be your last.
 
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kb0nly

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Impulse Suppresors | Arrestors

All grounding practices and such aside, get a good quality arrestor. I have seen the ICE units get blown up from a lightning strike, sound like a baby rattle with the parts inside, but the connected equipment doesn't know anything happened.
 

jim202

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New Orleans region
Warren, I have a hard time understanding why you keep telling people that surge protection is
"Iffy at best". Not knowing your background, I have to contest that position of your comment
on surge protection.

Having been there and done that with surge protection, yes you need to cover all your bases and
put the surge protection on all lines entering your house. Yes they all need to be at a common
ground point. Yes they do work. Are they cheap, no. Protection does not come at a low cost.

With that said, it would be better to invest in a good surge protection device to put on the main
power panel in your house. There are a couple of good companies that make the surge devices.
If your not paying upwards of at least $500 your not getting much for power protection. One strike
on the power cable coming into the house can easily do well over several thousand dollars of
damage.

Maybe one of these days the insurance company will give us a break on the cost of the house
insurance if there is an acceptable surge protection package in place. They are well worth the
investment.

Bottom line here is what are you willing to spend for equipment replacement from a strike? Next
question is how many times have you had damage from lightning? If the insurance company
doesn't cover the replacement costs, your out that amount from your own pocket.

There are some people that never will spend anything to protect their property. There are
some that will spend a good deal of money to protect their investment. Where you fit in is
unknown and only you can pick where your going to plant your feet.

Please don't tell people that surge protection doesn't work. I see surge protectors saving equipment
almost every storm that goes through with any major lightning in it. I see the results of the self
destruction the surge protectors take in doing their job. You might end up with a pile of charred
parts in the surge protector, but the electronics on the load side have survived.

Jim





To sum it all up the average person can't afford nor is he knowledgeable of the elaborate systems that protect broadcast and communications sites so you may consider antennas and transmission lines expendable. What you want to protect is your house so proper grounding techniques are in order, what you end up with is a lightning rod if you do it right.

For any number of reasons the "protection" afforded by surge arrestors on AC mains, telco lines and CATV lines entering the house is iffy at best
 
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stubbs

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I'm looking at the arrestors here:

Impulse Suppresors | Arrestors

I have so-239 connectors.

My problem is that my scanner is able to pick up signals from 25mhz all the way to 1.3 GHZ, and the ice units don't cover the full range. I don't want my arrestor blocking me from listening. And I was not pleased with the "New for 1998" statement, this is 2010 for crying out loud. I would like something a little more modern.

And the really sad thing is I broke the bank to buy the radio, I can go 50 or 100 dollars, but I can't blow another 500. (I know, can I afford to replace the radio, the answer is no.)

I have decided on a grounding rod at the front of the trailer, which is going to be really fun considering the rocky soil. And with the price of copper, there goes another 75 dollars. Tax refunds only happen once a year. Man, this is an expensive hobby.
 
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Check with a local electrical contractor and determine what is the minimum local requirements for your antenna installation, follow the local codes so your insurance can't wiggle out. Make sure you new scanner is covered by your homeowners policy, take the money you would spend on a inferior protenction system and increase the insurance coverage on your property.

If you suffer a direct strike a lot more will be destroyed than your $500 radio
 

stubbs

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A buddy of mine is an electrical contractor, I can ask him in the morning. I have a little tax money left, and I guess it's a good investment.

I am confused by the small grounding connector on most of the polyphaser and ice units, I thought you had to have #0 wire. The best you could get on one of these units is #12, if your lucky.

It appears to me, but I'm not sure, the frequencies listed for the protectors are for transmitting. I'm receiving only. Does the frequency restriction apply to my setup?

-stubbs
 

Flatshovel

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Location
North Carolina
While this is not a reply to the original poster I have a question about a similar situation that I have questions on as well. Maybe this idea will help the poster or someone else as well. I have a foldover mast that is about 25feet tall and currently have 3 antennas attached to it. I have a scantenna ST2 for my scanner equipment, a VHF antenna for my 2 meter rig and a HF all bander dipole antenna as well. The mast is buried directly into the ground 5feet. After doing some reading online about lightning protection it seems that I am in need of a better grounding system that needs to be implemented. I thought about building a box and make my antenna connections in the box with a series of bulkhead connectors that would be directly grounded via a 8 foot ground rod. This way I could also just disconnect the antennas in the event of a approaching storm and the equipment would be disconnect inside of my house. Now with that said, If I go with just bulkhead connectors that will be connected directly to a ground rod the strike will not be sent to ground is that right? If i was using some kind of lighting protection such as the coaxial arrester then the strike will go to ground is that right? Maybe someone could post some pictures of their setup so others will have a idea of what needs to be done or at least give them a Idea. As for protection for my radios I have it hooked to a UPS that has surge built-in in the unit. Is this a good idea for surge protection? If so I have the Cyberpower UPS 330watt 550VA unit. If this is not a good solution, what would be a better solution? What is the best way to go about setting up protection?

Thanks,
Joey
 
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kb0nly

Guest
I'm looking at the arrestors here:

Impulse Suppresors | Arrestors

I have so-239 connectors.

My problem is that my scanner is able to pick up signals from 25mhz all the way to 1.3 GHZ, and the ice units don't cover the full range. I don't want my arrestor blocking me from listening. And I was not pleased with the "New for 1998" statement, this is 2010 for crying out loud. I would like something a little more modern.

And the really sad thing is I broke the bank to buy the radio, I can go 50 or 100 dollars, but I can't blow another 500. (I know, can I afford to replace the radio, the answer is no.)

I have decided on a grounding rod at the front of the trailer, which is going to be really fun considering the rocky soil. And with the price of copper, there goes another 75 dollars. Tax refunds only happen once a year. Man, this is an expensive hobby.
As with all smaller companies their website doesn't keep up as well as their products, so don't let that scare you.. Whoopie doo its 2010, i don't care if its 2100, they still make the best arrestor out there. Has the polyphaser beat by a country mile. Not only does it provide surge arrest it also has a static drain that keeps that off the antenna as well. One repeater we put it on always had a crackling in the receiver, due to static discharge of the antenna system, after putting the arrestor on no problem. Its one of the most modern arrestors your going to find. Most are still using gas arc plugs in them and thats it, me included, wish i had the cash to change out all my arrrestors for ICE units. Also the rated range is for TRANSMIT not just for receive. You will have a slight loss beyond that range, but i have put one of the 50-500Mhz units on a scanner listening at 800Mhz with no noticeable signal loss.

Do you listen to anything above 1000 Mhz??? I know i sure don't. Do you listen to anything below 100 Mhz on your scanner? I know some still listen to lowband stuff, but again i don't need below about 150 Mhz on the scanner.

Your NOT going to find a good arrestor thats wide enough to cover the entire range of the receiver. Even the polyphaser and other popular brands are made in a half dozen bandsplits.

This shouldn't cost you over $100, if not your not trying hard enough. Say $60 shipped for the ICE arrestor that covers 100-1000Mhz, and if your using PL-259's then just get some adapters or replace a connector, its about the same cost, say another $10-$15 there, the last ground rod i bought at Lowe's cost me $12, and that still leaves at least $10 to have them cut you off whatever length you need of solid copper ground wire.

$100 and its done no problem. I do understand about the large cost of the scanner, boy do i ever.
 
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kb2vxa

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Jim, I don't know what motivates you unless it's a lack of understanding when reading my post. I illustrate the difference between a professional installation and average protection in the home and you try to make me look like a monkey's uncle, treat me like a fool as if I don't know what I'm talking about. I won't waste anyone's time describing how and why such devices fail being the way they're connected to the house wiring and how surge currents can bypass them, I'll leave you and anyone interested to do your own homework as I assure you I have done mine.

In your opening paragraph perhaps lies the answer.
"Warren, I have a hard time understanding why you keep telling people that surge protection is "Iffy at best"."
There you said it in a nut shell, you don't understand so I strongly suggest you look into the matter so you DO understand as I said above.
"Not knowing your background, I have to contest that position of your comment on surge protection."
Why must you advertise your ignorance? That's hardly a way to look superior in the eyes of others but it does seem to give you a bit of self satisfaction. Like you said you don't know my background so perhaps it is better you keep silent rather than belittling someone you know absolutely nothing of, you'll at least appear much wiser. Like they say, words are silver but silence is golden.

There is such a thing as good manners even on the internet. Protocol allows writing to fall into dispute but attacking the writer is poor etiquette, or in other words even if you hate the message please don't shoot the messenger.
 

stubbs

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I ordered the ICE unit. What size wire do I need to connect the ground rods with?
 
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kb0nly

Guest
I ordered the ICE unit. What size wire do I need to connect the ground rods with?
I would go with standard bare 6awg copper, easy to find at any home improvement place. Its not that terribly priced either.

Buy a ground terminal when you get the wire, they are cheap enough, just a copper or aluminum lug with a screw to clamp down the ground wire and a hole to bolt it to the ICE box. Makes a good and easy connection to the large ground wire.

You can skimp and go a bit smaller if necessary, but i wouldn't go smaller than 8/10 awg. I know every dollar counts, and even a bit smaller wire is better than nothing at all!
 
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Nightshade

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Feb 8, 2010
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I just bought a Uniden 996XT, and have a external antenna. The antenna is on a 30 foot mast.

I'm concerned about lightning frying my radio.

I'm connected to the antenna via UHF 50 Ohm coax.

All the lightning arrestors I can find are limited in their frequency range. The scanner can do 25 MHZ all the way to 1200 MHZ. The arrestors I find have a limited frequency range.

I plan on putting a ground rod next to the antenna, and can ground an arrestor to that. I'm looking for something with a replaceable part. I live on the top of a mesa, the wind is vicious here. I'm on the western edge of a canyon, and believe that I'm at a high risk of a lightning strike.

I just spent $550 on the radio, and want to protect it.

Can any of you recommend a lightning arrestor that won't limit my receiving ability?

And getting the grounding rod into the ground is going to be a real problem with all the rocks we have here. I'm not looking forward to that.

Thanks in advance for any advice you guys can give.

-Stubbs.
There is but one way to protect your electrical equipment from lightning.........disconnect it during a storm. Everything else will make you feel good but will not ensure that no harm will come to your gear.
Only disconnecting will do that................
 
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