Working on new lightning detector

LightningA couple of years ago, our radio club published a design of a Lightning detector based on the AS3935 chip and an Arduino Nano processor. That worked, but not with everybody.


In those days, the chip was available from the US and was mounted on a small PCB with 8 pins for the interfacing. Nowadays, the chip is available from the well known Chinese websites like Ali Express, mounted on 11-pin PCB’s. In spite of various attempts, it was hard to get it working reliably.

The main issue is tuning the antenna. The process is to program the chip as to output the tuning frequency on the interrupt pin, measure the frequency and change the internal capacity so that the frequency is as close to 500kHz as possible. But not every amateur owns a frequency counter, oscilloscope or logic analyzer. Besides, this is a cumbersome process. We developed code to tune the antenna in-circuit, thus automating the tuning process.

Another issue is the power supply. Some (usually switching) power suppies cause the detector to go nuts or appear to be completely deaf. This is also an issue to take into account.

Currently we are testing a number of detectors to see if we covered all issues now. If so, the new design, based on the ESP32 processor, will be published in our RAZzies club magazine.