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Lightning, how to protect installations

From the Time-Nuts mailing list:

From: Jim Lux Subject: Re: [time-nuts] Thunderbolt cabling questions

albertson.chris@gmail.com said:
Is there a good book or URL on lightning vs antennas? Again, I'm
interested in both the technical issues as well as the local zoning/legal issues.


Martin Uman and his collaborator Rakov have probably forgotten more about lightning than everyone on this list collectively knows about it.

This one is a bit pricey still, but is the definitive tome.

A Dover Press version of Uman's “The Lightning Discharge” is <$20, and well worth the investment if you're interested in lightning.

Ronald Standler's book “Protection of Electronic Circuits from Overvoltages” is a great source on overvoltage protection in general. $20 in paperback. Lots of useful information on how to design/purchase transient suppression for all kinds of signals. And surprising information on how certain kinds of techniques can actually make things worse.

One wants to be careful about texts published by manufacturers of protection equipment. Yes, they typically have valid information, but it *is* coming from a source which wants you to “buy more stuff”, so they tend to be a bit more conservative (more protection = better, even if the physics doesn't support it). That said, much of the high quality peer reviewed research on things like lightning rods (aka “air terminals”) does come from companies making such things.

Also, there are several pubs out there widely distributed aimed at applications like FAA Control Towers or high reliability 24/7 land mobile radio. The recommendations in those books may prove to be somewhat of overkill for a couple reasons: most amateurs don't need that level of protection; the suggestions aren't always supported by the physics, but are there because “they don't hurt”, triggering the “nobody got fired for buying IBM mainframes” phenomenon… if it's small differential cost, why not do it, because if we don't do it, and something goes wrong, we'll be blamed.

Legality wise

Nat Elec Code (aka NFPA70) has bonding and grounding requirements. Art 250 on grounding, Arts in the 800s on antennas. Expensive ($80-100) if you buy it, but since it forms the basis for California's Title 24 (State Electrical Code), a scanned version is online at https://public.resource.org/. The antenna grounding stuff doesn't change very much, so an older code found at a used book store might also work.

NFPA780 is the lightning protection code.

IEEE 1100 - The Emerald Book - is very useful on grounding, transient protection, etc. issues in general. Pretty expensive.. find it in a library. http://standards.ieee.org/findstds/standard/1100-2005.html

ham_radio/lightning.txt · Last modified: 2013/01/08 19:00 (external edit)
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