Lightning Detection System...

Feb 18, 2004
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hello all...

Well X-Mas is coming very fast and I'm looking for a new toy for the next storm season... I was thinking of a lightning detection system....

Budget is a big issue here and I was wondering if any of you guys is using this system?

You can also see the specs following this link:

So do you think it's worth buying such a unit? If not, any recommandation for a lightning detection system for bellow 300$ ???

Thanks for hearing me out!
Hi Gaetan!

This is just my opinion, but it sure seems like a lot of money for something that is only going to beep at you when it senses a "strike". AM Radio will serve just as well with all the hisses pops and crackles.

This unit only gives a 25 mile range? Boltek has a better system albeit way more expensive. There are a few others out there as well, but I don't know how much I would really trust any of them. Some will give you a distance as well. Again, how trust worthy is it?

Nope, I'd spend the bucks on something else.

I'm pretty sure that listening to AM is ultimately the main technology behind all consumer lightning detection devices (I'm not talking about the ones that detect electrical fields and warn of imminent strikes nearby). If I'm wrong, I welcome a correction on that.

I've got a Boltek setup, and I pretty much consider it a failed experiment. Consumer-level hardware for lightning detection is hit and miss, because you do not have the benefit of a spread-out network of sensors. So you don't really have anything to gauge accuracy against unless you're lucky enough to see the strikes that are generating the beeps. Most of the time, you won't, which leaves you to wonder if it was an actual strike, or if Bob down the block decided to turn on the A/C (electrical noise and interference is a big problem in heavily populated areas). The idea of accurately ranging strikes with a single sensor doesn't make a whole lot of sense either, given that strike intensity is probably not a constant. There's people who can probably prove me wrong with some slick math trickery, but the fact of the matter is that due to so many variables outside the user's control, a single lightning detector can only tell you one thing reliably:

There 'might' be lightning happening near you.

After spending the cash and playing around with it for a long time, I've decided that my eyes and ears are the best at detecting and ranging the lightning that's relevant to my position.
I'm not sure which issue it was in, but in a QST magazine (ARRL's monthly publication) a couple of years ago, there was an article on how to make a simple detector. My cousin made one and it seemed to work very well. Not really sure of all the details, but I know it detected lightning long before you seen any strikes of heard any thunder! Also, it did not have many parts and did not cost very much to make.
Well... many many thanks guys!

I think it will be very wise for me to not spend such an amount of cash and spend it on my soon to be (less than 24 hours) new born daughter! I think technology is not just yet all that great for lightning detection yet, unless we are full of cash and can afford an array of sensors hehe

Will look at some plans on making one just for fun... if I can find any.

All this aside, try this link. We use this equipment with the computer software. Never missed a hail report,Severe storm, or tornado in 4 years. That is within it's range.