On taking a lightning strike and the EMP(Electro Magnetic Pulse)
Or, don’t mess with Mother Nature
About a decade ago at home, during a thunderstorm, I was using a computer with a CRT monitor. All of sudden there was a huge loud cracking sound. In an instant, my CRT monitor was a rainbow of colors.
Long ago, having experimented with a magnet and a television set, I know that placing a magnet close to a television (CRT) and turning the magnet can produce this same rainbow of colors.
Some CRTs had a degaussing feature that would remove any significant magnetism from a CRT. There used to be degaussing loops used to accomplish the same for televisions. These are also used to erase magnetic tapes.
During that crack of lightning, in addition to creating a rainbow of colors on my computer CRT monitor, I found that a VCR was fried as was my C Crane radio. The computer continued to work as normal even though it was on during the event.
After this event, not wanting to mess with Mother Nature, I purchased surge protectors, and a UPS for some of my equipment.
However, this was not enough to protect my equipment from a second attempt by Mother Nature to destroy my electronic equipment
Taking the lightning Strike
Last Thursday, late at night, I heard anther very loud crack of lightning. On Friday morning I tuned on my computer to find out that I no longer had a network connection. All my networking gear in the basement. Checking out the basement, in the corner where there is usually lots of blinking lights, there was darkness.
The strike took out the UPS. Taking the UPS out of line, my DSL modem came back, as well as my wireless router. The server in the basement which is my home network file server would boot but would not come back on-line. The light by the RJ-45 network jack was dark. Checking the computer control panel devices tab – no network card was in the computer – according to windows.
Further investigation showed that the lightning strike took out:
- The network card in my computer
- A Comcast cable set-top box
- One digital television set
- An Astron 35 amp power supply that was tuned on
- An iPod dock with an iPod Touch charging
Things that didn’t care
- A cheap clock radio
- Other digital television sets
- Everything else
Power Surge or EMP (Electro Magnet Pulse)?
It did not seem to matter that I had all this equipment on surge protectors. The Astron power supply was on a heavy-duty Isobar surge protector – supposedly a high level of protection – yet that power supply now shows 3 volts down from 12 volts. The Ultra UPS was taken out completely including the network card in the computer that was attached to it. The television that was damaged was on a surge protector.
Here is the thought. I could be wrong – but my experience a decade ago with that lightning strike that produced a rainbow of colors on my computer CRT monitor – and the computer kept running – suggests to me that these strikes produce a huge EMP that no surge protector can save you from. In fact, if these huge EMP’s are produced by lightning – so much magnetic energy that it can turn a CRT into a rainbow of colors – what protection could you possibly have?
How can you protect yourself from a EMP?
The other challenge is that many electronic devices are never “off”. A television, DVD player, Home Theater System, and other devices are always self-conscious waiting for you to push the “on” button on the remote. They are already “on” listening but not “on” as a fully capably device.
If a lightning strike can produce a huge magnetic field, any wire inside the device can have a current flowing through it. Delicate electronics can be easily damaged.
For devices, such as television sets that are hooked up to cable, a lightening strike could very easily induce a current in the cable and blow out the front end of the television. Same for a radio with an external antenna. I wonder if these devices – it would make sense – if they had some sort of physical relay between the antenna input and the receiver front end that engages only with the power is on. In this way induced EMF caused by lightning could not get into the device if it was tuned off.
So, based on my experience, I am getting the idea that a nearby lightening string that can create a magnetic field strong enough to turn a CRT into a rainbow of colors is going to be able to induce currents inside electronic devices for which there is no protection. These are not “line surges” that a surge protector can save you from but huge magnetic fields that can induce fields and currents inside devices and along wires such as network cables, satellite & TV cables, and antennas of all sorts. The fact that some of these devices are never “off” exacerbates the problem.
Life is ruled by Ramdomness
Like the residents of Pompei enjoying the beautiful view of Vesuvius or the Dinosaur watching that flaming rock come from the sky at 26,000 miles per hour, sometimes you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time and there is nothing you can do about it.