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Author Topic: Disconnecting stations when not in use?  (Read 17764 times)
VA2FSQ
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Posts: 511




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« on: March 20, 2011, 07:51:47 AM »

HI,
I have read that it is good practice to disconnect your antennas from your stations as well as unplugging yuour stations when they are not in use to prevent any lightning or static damage.  What is a practical way to do this?  Just disconnect them? Ground them?  how could this be done?
My station will have two antennas coming in: one to a transceiver and a receiver and another just to a receiver. Both will be grounded via a ground bar connected to an outside ground about 6 feet away.

Thanks for your suggestions.
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VA2FSQ
KJ1D
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Posts: 86




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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2011, 10:16:26 AM »

I unplug my radio equipment when there is the possibility of storms in the area. My antenna connections run through an MFJ window feedthru panel. I just unhook the coax from the outside of the panel. I don't ground the outside coax. There are probably better ways to isolate your equipment but this is what I do.

73
Richard
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K2OWK
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Posts: 1065




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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2011, 10:08:53 PM »

Hello, I have my station on an UPS supply. This unit provides for lightning protection from just about everything, but a direct hit. I have my station plugged into a power strip with an on off switch. This allows me to disconnect all of my equipment at once by either turning off the switch or unplugging the entire strip from the UPS supply. I feel safer doing this then just turning off the switch when a lightning storm is eminent. I have three antennas connected thru an antenna switch with an off position. I turn the switch off and then disconnect the line from my transmitter to the switch. A bit of overkill, but I rather be safe then sorry. I have used my equipment for a few years now with no surge or lightning damage, and I live in a very lightning prone location. Hope this helps.

Regards,
73s
Barry K2OWK

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NN4RH
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Posts: 328




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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2011, 03:53:50 AM »

Hello, I have my station on an UPS supply. This unit provides for lightning protection from just about everything, but a direct hit. I have my station plugged into a power strip with an on off switch. This allows me to disconnect all of my equipment at once by either turning off the switch or unplugging the entire strip from the UPS supply. I feel safer doing this then just turning off the switch when a lightning storm is eminent. I have three antennas connected thru an antenna switch with an off position. I turn the switch off and then disconnect the line from my transmitter to the switch. A bit of overkill, but I rather be safe then sorry. I have used my equipment for a few years now with no surge or lightning damage, and I live in a very lightning prone location. Hope this helps.


You're fooling yourself. What you describe provides NO lightning protection at all. You've just been lucky.
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K9IUQ
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Posts: 1957




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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2011, 08:15:42 AM »

What is a practical way to do this?  Just disconnect them? Ground them?  how could this be done?

What I do, is disconnect all radio electronics, put them back in original boxes and set them up on a shelf in another room away from all antennas. This is the only fool proof way I have found to protect my radios. Anyone that tells you different has been lucky and not hit by lightning -yet.....

I thought I was safe once by disconnecting the antennas. I live on a hill and 5 or 6 years ago had a Cedar tree in my yard get hit by lightning. Went into the ground and zapped my underground telephone line. I had DSL that was connected to Ethernet and my computer and radios.

Now you know why I use the shelf when storms are in the area....

Stan K9IUQ
« Last Edit: March 21, 2011, 08:28:19 AM by K9IUQ » Logged
WB2WIK
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2011, 09:04:55 AM »

What is a practical way to do this?  Just disconnect them? Ground them?  how could this be done?

What I do, is disconnect all radio electronics, put them back in original boxes and set them up on a shelf in another room away from all antennas. This is the only fool proof way I have found to protect my radios.


Even that might not work.

When I lived in NJ, back in about 1980 or 81 we had a violent local T-storm that was so close it sounded like fireworks in the living room.  I had an Astron RS-35M power supply sitting on the bench, not connected to anything.  Not plugged into the AC line, and nothing connected to its output terminals.  It wasn't being used because it was brand new and not placed into service yet, although when I unboxed it I did turn it on just to measure the output voltage (it was factory set to about 13.6V so I left it that way).  Then I unplugged it and left it there.

The morning after the storm, the power supply wouldn't produce any output.  The 723 regulator had blown, with the power supply just sitting on the bench. 

Maybe I should have put it back in the carton and on a shelf, that might have saved it. Tongue

I should note that many things in the house blew up that night, including the timer/control on my washing machine (which was plugged in)!  Insurance covered it all.
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K2OWK
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2011, 02:14:29 PM »

I have to reply to NN4RH. The system I use to protect my equipment is just about the best you can do during a lightning storm. The stories about equipment being unpluged and repacked and put in another room is to make the equipment owner feel good. If a strike that produces ground lightning running into your house as I have has happen, unplugging your equipment and antennas will give you the best protection. If your equipment is damaged by lightning after being unplugged and sitting on a table then consider yourself lucky that you are still alive. A discharge this strong is lethal and more then your equipment will be damaged. There is one other device that can be used in your power panel that might help a power line strike and that is a Tight Wadd lightning protection unit. I used one of these in Florida where I lived in lightning ally, and never had any equipment failure. Another excellent piece of equipment is made by a company called PolyPhaser. It makes lightening protection equipment for the military, but pricey. The best thing to do and recommended by manufactures and engineers is to just disconnect your equipment from the power, and disconnect your antennas. this is true for all equipment in your home, if you really want to protect it from a lightning strike.

Just note. I have been a ham operator for 50+ years and have never had any of my equipment damaged by lightning.

73s
Barry K2OWK









73s
Barry K2OWK
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K9KJM
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Posts: 2415




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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2011, 11:40:38 PM »

IF you decide to "disconnect" any coax, (A very dangerous practice in itself with an approaching storm) It MUST be somehow properly grounded, OR totally removed from the building to be safe. To simply "disconnect" a coax and leave it lay on the bench or floor is very foolhardy. Lightning that just jumped several MILES through the sky will have no problem burning your house down if that coax is just left laying about.
The simple, Easy way to ground any unused antenna is to use a quality coax switch that puts all unused antennas to ground that is mounted right on your single point ground panel (Which is properly bonded to your outdoor ground system with a nice low inductance conductor, Like a wide copper strap)
Proper grounding of coax shields, And bonding of your ground systems (Mast to electric, Telco, CATV, etc) is of the most importance. Any lightning arrestor used is  much less important than the installation of good bonding and grounding.  I.C.E. (Industrial Communications Engineers) Makes a good quality arrestor at a fair price.  The installation of a "Whole house" surge suppressor in your electrical entrance panel is also very important. (Most damage to ham equipment comes in via the AC power line, Not from the antenna)
While the only 100% things in this world are death and taxes, Good bonding and grounding will prevent any lightning damage well into the 4 or more 9's.....   (99.99%) 
My own towers take direct lightning strikes most every storm, As evidenced with Polyphaser LSC-12 lightning strike counters. So do many other hams with tall towers, And commercial radio, TV stations, Repeater towers, Police, Fire, Ambulance towers, Cellular towers, etc etc. With no damage to equipment.  You will notice NONE of them scurry about and "disconnect" anything as a storm  approaches.
For tips on how to do a good job on a low budget:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/14868226/lightning-protectiontaming-thors-thunderon-a-budget

Give that site plenty of time to load.
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VA2FSQ
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Posts: 511




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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2011, 04:01:39 PM »

Hi I thought I'd get a bunch of opinions (arguments?  Cheesy) before I responded!

So, what seems to be the best is as follows:
my outdoor antenna connects to an outdoor lightning arrester (polyphaser or equivalent) which is connected to the ground rod system.  The antenna then enters the shack and connects to a coax switch located on my indoor ground bar.  This indoor ground bar is connected directly to the ground rod system.  The switch allows me to ground the antenna when not in use to the indoor ground bar.  The indoor ground bar also has several ground wires going to each piece of equiment which in my case will be a receiver, a HF transceiver, a low pass filter, an antenna tuner and power supply.
Next question:  Will it be necessary to remove the ground cable from the equipment when not in use?
Also, is it better to keep the lightning arresters outside?

Thanks!

« Last Edit: March 22, 2011, 04:11:16 PM by TOMB18 » Logged

VA2FSQ
K2OWK
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Posts: 1065




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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2011, 08:31:12 PM »

Lightning arrester should be kept outside.

K2OWK Barry
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VA2FSQ
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Posts: 511




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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2011, 08:49:07 PM »

That's what I thought but in the above article it is inside.
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VA2FSQ
KC8WUC
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Posts: 54




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« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2011, 05:49:01 AM »

I have my equipment grounded at all times, starting with the single point ground outside my house.  My electric service is grounded outside the house (actually the garage) with a single ground rod connected to a flat 4" wide copper ribbon and a field of ground rods.  I use ICE lightning arrestors connected to the coax feeding my antennas (I have a stealth set up, so I don't have towers).  I recently upgraded my electric service and added whole house surge protection (Surgebreaker┬« Plus Whole House Surge Protective Device as my first line of defense, a Zero Surge protected power supply, which all of my equipment draws power from.  I do not routinely operate during storms at home, although have in the past when I was active with Skywarn.  My cable television service (which provides my Internet service) and telephone service is also protected at the SPD. 

I have not had any problems at my current QTH, although did receive a significant lightning surge at another house I lived at, having received an indirect hit from lightning that struck my neighbor's service entrance (an electrical "Christmas tree") and was deflected through our service 20' away.  I was also the recipient of lightning spikes that came in through the television, even when they were disconnected from the cable and unplugged (my brother lost two televisions this way).

73,

Michael
KC8WUC/WDE9344
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2011, 10:41:11 AM »

I never disconnect anything.....there's too much to do that.

I Do have a properly designed and installed grounding system (all of the 5 key elements as I call them) and never have had any issues.
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NG0K
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Posts: 334




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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2011, 07:15:30 AM »

I have all my coax properly grounded outside and I have coax switches with the center-position-grounds that will short the conductor to the shields when my station isn't being used.
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73, Doug - NG0K
KD8MJR
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Posts: 2512




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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2011, 03:45:40 PM »

After asking extensive questions on this subject on this and other forums I gave up looking for an answer!  Everyone has an opinion, and not an answer; including me!  I guess this is because Lightning is an untamed beast, you never know how it  will behave, even with the best protected systems such as Big AM Radio Stations, Aircraft etc. you hear stories of it causing problems from time to time.

I gathered two things after weeks of research.

1) Use as many multi connected 10ft ground rods as possible going around the perimeter of your house, three or more is best and connect that chain of grounds to your panel box ground. Your tower or Mast should of course also be grounded to the Rod nearest to it, and if it's a tower you need 4 Rods or more in the corners of the tower. Then connect every piece of gear to that ground system, including the Coax and rotator surge protectors.   You should have at least one coax protector near the Antenna and at least one more just before it enters the house. If your soil conductivity is too high all of this may be a mute point so it's best to have that tested.

2) If you get a direct strike you will find that all the steps in number one might or might not save your equipment.  So you have only bought yourself real protection against an indirect strike.
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