Tagged: lightning

Analyzing Lightning Discharges with an RTL-SDR and the Sage Network

Sage is a project working on creating geographically distributed sensor systems including cameras, microphones, weather and air quality stations in order to benefit the work of scientists. Recently on their GitHub they have uploaded a Jupyter Notebook showing how they have used an RTL-SDR V3 on a Linux Laptop to analyze lightning discharges. When lightning strikes, it creates a broadband RF pulse generally across the lower frequencies. This is how live lightning maps like Blitzortung work.

In their example Sage use a dipole antenna and analysis frequency of 30 MHz. The notebook doesn't offer much additional information, but provides Python Numpy and Scipy code which can be used to detect and plot the lightning pulses.

Graphing Lightning Pulses for the Sage Network

Watching Lightning Strikes on the Spectrum with an RTL-SDR

Over on YouTube user Tech Addict Attic has uploaded a video demonstrating what lightning strikes look like on the radio spectrum. To receive the pulses he uses an RTL-SDR and a simple wire antenna located on his roof. He notes that the pulses show up at HF frequencies, and continue all the way up to the broadcast FM band and above.

When lightning strikes it emits a wideband RF pulse that can be detected several miles away by radios. On a software defined radio spectrum display the pulse shows up as a quick horizontal blip. Detecting this blip is how lightning detection websites like blitzortung.org work, although they use their own radio hardware.

In the past we posted about another user who also demonstrated lightning pulses using his RTL-SDR V3.

Watching Lightning with an RTL-SDR

Viewing Lightning RF Bursts with an RTL-SDR

Lightning produces fairly wideband bursts of RF energy, especially down in the VLF to HF frequencies. Detecting these bursts with custom radio hardware is how lightning detection websites such as blitzortung.org work.

It is also possible to detect lightning using an RTL-SDR that can tune to to HF and lower, such as the RTL-SDR V3, or an RTL-SDR with an upconverter. Over on his blog Kenn Ranous (KA0SBL) has uploaded a short post showing what lightning bursts look like on an RTL-SDR waterfall. He uses an RTL-SDR V3 to tune down to the LF – MW frequency bands and looks for wideband pulses of noise which indicate lightning.

It would be interesting to see if this type of detection could be automated with DSP so that a similar service to Blitzortung.org could be created.

Lightning Pulses
Lightning Pulses