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Author Topic: flash, crack, rumble, hmm that sounds expensive  (Read 2271 times)
jonesy
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« on: August 26, 2018, 05:00:56 PM »

Living in the south west of France, we get a good number of thunderstorms, but no where near the compulsory installation of lighting protection (MOVs)
For the last 6 years I've been building up a home monitoring and control system, which has spawned and grown in a largely orderly manner. Well, it all went south on Sunday when the church got hit. The church is about 300m away, but the rumble was not coincident with the flash.
The router failed, and below is the component count that also failed. Not sure fail is the right word. Toasted, murdered?



The 12V to 5 & 3.3V regulator is the most spectacular in terms of visible damage (middle left). The bulk of items just didnt work. 1 microcontroler was fine, but the serial port that sends data was fried.
The fuses were largely useless and the semiconductors failed to protect a bunch of them.

I particularly like this damage



This the underside of a relay. The relay switches mains with 5V, and was at the furthest point in the house. The melted blobs are the protection diode. Looks like the lightning jumped live to 0V.

This is mission control with the PCBs removed showing the splash marks



The 2 PCBs at the top didnt show any damaged but were fried. Main CPU and input/output protection (!)
The PCB middle right was not in use, but I would think it's toast as it was powered. Bottom left was in the process of being removed but was providing a reference voltage off a mains toroid. The toroid seems to have failed but all the electronics is ok.

In terms of what survived on the same RCD (which tripped) was the washing machine, HIFI & TV. The other 3 RCDs didnt trip (even ones with outside sockets which often trip during storms)
A un-powered webcam off 12V was OK. Any Dallas 1 wire device that wasn't powered eg temperature sensors was ok. Anything on a long line (> 70m) was OK. A raspberry PI which I'd only had plugged in 2 days survived, being on a floating supply, and was on a cat 5 cable to the router. The rented router sort of survived and is still working (you tried buying a VDSL modem and getting change out of 75) The router has a weeny common mode choke on the 12V input and this failed in such a way that +12 was connected to pcb 0V and incoming 0V went nowhere. No MOVs have visibly blackened, but I'll change a bunch of them anyway.

I think the damage was caused due to a spike on live arcing over to system 0V, which I hadn't realised was earthed. I avoid earth on DC supplies in my designs as it just creates problems with noise. And lightning. I'd needed a slightly odd system voltage (12.9V) so I modified a supply, but failed to check it was earthed; this happened in May and until then I'd been using a fully floating 12V supply, which might explain why I've been ok until now. The cables (~70m)  I have running out to external meters etc have parasitic earths, but seemingly have been ok in the past.

All in all it's been interesting and frustrating. Financially it's trivial, but it's been 2-3 days of work of largely SMD work, and re-programming. One annoying side effect of not having a particular spare IC was a large software re-write to provide a EEPROM function. It was on my todo list...
I just need another storm to see if it's all OK.  Grin
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todthedog
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2018, 06:53:44 PM »

Blimey.
Well done with the repairs.
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biff
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2018, 10:07:34 PM »

Wow, Jonesy,
             That must have been quite something. Again, it looks like Lightening can be very selective and not work the way we think. Some years back,we had a lightening strike here that melted the big blue plug on our generator, it was not connected at the time wackoold, I thought the lightening hit the ground next to the Turbine tower base but I am not quite sure,, I just looked out in time to see the blue flash travel up the tower from half way and then go out to the end of the tail in little blue triangles a bit like blue gas flames. I could not shut down everything in the house when the storm arrived and the giant hail stones came down in a deafening roar, We still had the big blades and depended on the electric fires to get rid of the excess lecky,, (Yes crazy stuff), So we had to stick with it and only shut down after the turbine got hit and the sound went on the telly. When the storm passed over, Our house inverter was still operating and the DC controller to the bank was fine .The turbine was fried black inside and one of the brains was damaged on the Symmetra UPS, not connected to the house but connected to the Bank and live. The 2kw Chinese inverter was tripped at the inverter itself and I think that it,s quick response would have saved out electrical equipment in the house,even with our surge protectors which I am told are quite useless.
  The odd thing is, that the 5kw generator was only about 3 months old and apart from that big blue mains plug, it was undamaged and still performs perfectly to this day. It is hard to figure it out. Things that you would expect to be damaged were OK, There were black sooty marks on the tail right out to the tail fin and some marks on the tower. The generator was not earthed and is still not earthed, I have no idea how that big blue plug could be melted inside without damaging the generator itself. It was not connected nor did it have a cable running from the plug. It was my first port of call when the Turbine got fried and I could not push the male plug into it to power the house. Luckily, I had a standby for the standby. It was an expensive nip, The brain for the symmetra cost 100.00 + delivery and I needed a new blue plug + PMG for the turbine, The sound came back on the telly a few hours later,, whistlie  on it,s own.
 I honestly did not mind the expense,,the fact that we got away so lightly was such a relief. There is this sense of helplessness as you look on ,knowing that there is nothing that you can do except remember to dive away from the windows,,after the lightening has struck wackoold.
 Incidentally , the s/h brain for the Symmetra is at least 5 times the price now with the new one costing 1500.00, there are two, so that one can take over in an event like that, It tells you exactly what is wrong and which tray to replace and runs perfectly while the replacement is on the way,,The replacement slips into place in seconds and is secured by two little thumb screws.  Good Kit. We have had some really bad electrical storms since then but touch wood,, everything went well.
                                 Biff
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jonesy
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2018, 11:04:42 PM »

I thought the lightening hit the ground next to the Turbine tower base but I am not quite sure,, I just looked out in time to see the blue flash travel up the tower from half way and then go out to the end of the tail in little blue triangles a bit like blue gas flames. I could not shut down everything in the house when the storm arrived and the giant hail stones came down in a deafening roar
I'll get my coat. You win .
I've since heard the house opposite the church lost some equipment,  so the surge got shared out a bit. In more worrying news I've read that cloud to cloud lightning can also induce spikes in power lines. Perhaps I'll go off grid again.
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RIT
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2018, 12:11:44 AM »

Perhaps I'll go off grid again.

Then when it all happens again above your house you will not be able to share the charge/load with others and so you could take the full force.

I think it was the National Grid that years ago researched how to protect the grid from a solar 'storm' event. Lots of time was spent on trying to work out how to isolate different parts of the grid to protect the most equipment. The final answer was to connect the whole grid together and let it take the whole force as a single large system. This allowed the distribution of the charge across the most equipment and stopped the risk of large potential differences building up at the points of isolation.
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biff
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2018, 09:37:34 AM »

Then ,the power of the strikes vary,
          The type of lightening can vary. Years ago, My granduncle used to tell me about Ball Lightening and how it would travel down the hillside skimming along the hedge tops. I never witnessed that kind of thing but then I met people who did, so it must be some kind of violent ball of energy that came from lightening strikes. He described it as about 3 to 5 feet in diameter,,spinning and glowing white with sparks coming from it.
  We had a slight gale here in early spring, nothing special but the rain was quite heavy. Mrs Biff said that during the night, the wind became quite rough for about ten minutes. The following day, I found dozens of branches of our ash and willow on the front lawn. These branches came from a row of trees that ran 40ft parallel to our bedroom gable window. It was a few weeks later that I noticed the broken branches in the center of the willow about 20ft up, They are still brown but gradually recovering. It seemed to be that some one had taken a giant strimmer to that row of trees for a few seconds. It could have been a ball lightening strike.
   Then some 20 years ago, i got a message to go and see my aunt. She lived alone in a modern barn conversion, She told me that she had been hit by lightening while watering the flowers, on the window cill at the top of the stairs. She was using a cup to pour the water on the plants and the lightening knocked the cup out of her hand. She had a terrible pain in her chest. Apparently the lightening struck the stainless steel flue which exited the oil boiler under the stairs and ran up, outside the wall past the upstairs window. It bounced off the flue and struck the cup, Every single bulb in the house popped. The wiring on the boiler including the timer were all fried black. A friend of mine replaced the boiler wiring and bulbs the following Monday. The CU as only slightly damaged. She herself was on painkilers for a few weeks. She was a few weeks short of her 80th birthday at the time and went on to live another 14 years. Grin. I used to annoy her by telling her that the lightening strike rejuvenated her batteries. Tongue.
   Lightening is totally unpredictable and breaks all the laws of physics, That has been my experience of it.
                                    Biff
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eabadger
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2018, 10:06:29 AM »

orange france now text us to "de branch" we had similar in the early days, now i have spd on all i can get them on, the telecom engineer who visited questioned what they were, i told him and explained they were mandatory under french norms, he said he had never seen them before!!
i also have bridged the link to the solar shed using wifi, this limits damage i hope if phone line discharges static, fingers crossed.

steve
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jonesy
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2018, 10:33:54 AM »

Perhaps I'll go off grid again.
Then when it all happens again above your house you will not be able to share the charge/load with others and so you could take the full force.
Darn. Seems I did share some charge with the church, so it could have been worse. The church bells are rung by a GPS clock, and are now quiet.

Those filters on the phone line reduce the ADSL speed. In my case it was about 20M down to 10M. A friend with 6M went to 4M (ADSL2+). I dumped the phone filter a good time ago, but out of interest I put it back a few days back.  I'd noticed that our local exchange has VDSL installed, so I badgered Orange to give me that, which surprisingly they did at no cost. My speed to the exchange went to 100M, but they throttle me back to between 50 and 30M. The filter drops my speed to the exchange to 90M, but doesn't affect my actual speed. So hopefully I'll have phone protection now. I'm also intending to move the master phone socket so the cabling runs parallel to the foundation's earth strip

I finally repaired the last item this morning which was the 12V SMPS DC supply. The output rectifiers had gone, but I didnt expect to find the output filter caps expanded. It's now earth free.

I resisted unplugging everything during last night's storm - well Orange didn't send me the usual text. facepalm
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eabadger
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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2018, 11:13:00 AM »

they seem hit and miss with the txts, we got one yesterday.
fast internet!!! we are lucky with 6mb, interestingly ours drops to 2mb every couple of months, quick call fixes it, i asked what issue is and they said they reduce speed after x amounts of reboots!! we are off grid and the network and adsl is timed to go off every night, they said dont do it!
try more expensive filters, i also have them on the LAN, no reduction in speed on either.
worst we heard was a bloke rushing to unplug his fax machine, got hit in the chest by it!

steve
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myozone
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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2018, 02:47:49 PM »



https://twitter.com/i/status/1034175933220102145   signofcross

Dave.
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jonesy
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« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2018, 05:40:55 PM »

I like the footage, but can't help feeling it's fake. For one thing, the car kept going, and also there are much tastier earths (overhead power lines) and no splash mark on the road.
Heard a random huge crack today in the house during a over cast period following rain. Didn't work out what the noise was, but it didn't involve my electronics. Probably something simple like the roof flattening out.

ours drops to 2mb every couple of months, quick call fixes it, i asked what issue is and they said they reduce speed after x amounts of reboots!! we are off grid and the network and adsl is timed to go off every night, they said dont do it!
In the UK, both MIL and my Dad have had the speed drop off as they both unplug everything at night. Both now leave it on and have no problem with speed.
When I was off grid I didnt turn off the router, but then whinged about how it was difficult to keep small loads going 24/7
try more expensive filters
It's the capacitance of the MOVs. You can chuck in a spark gap, but they are pretty capacitive too.
Cheapo filters probably don't have genuine MOVs anyway.
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myozone
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« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2018, 06:31:45 PM »


Jonesy: That's what I thought too, fake, who knows.

When we lived in France (North Dordogne) mega thunderstorms often loud cracks from within the house, behind the sink where an unconnected 3 phase cable that was (for a cooker?) would often go go crack but never any sign of black - even blow bulb a light in the downstairs bathroom. A neighbours house got struck causing a load on blacking around the CU and floor. The older neighbours used to unplug the entire house with one large plug even at the hint of a distant t-storm. A friend replaced over a dozen fax machines that would that blow up!. We always felt safer going downstairs during a storm....

Dave.
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