Anybody living in Kansas knows that with all the May flowers comes an increased chance for severe weather. Large hail, damaging winds, and an occasional tornado can be pretty common.
As I’m writing this, tornado warnings are being posted across western Kansas as thunderstorms fire up in the afternoon. All this weather is headed in my direction and likely to arrive sometime this evening into the early morning hours.
Besides the emergency preparedness things I’ve been working on lately to power my radio’s and other equipment in case of a power outage, there are a few things I need to do to protect my ham radio and electronics.
Many long-time hams can tell horror stories of the damage a lightning strike can do. Some may focus on grounding their antennas and station, but if they experience a direct strike, all those precautions will have little affect on protecting them.
My approach is to disconnect my antennas and radio power supply from the grid to prevent lightning from getting into my shack.
I’ve got my power supply connected to a power strip that is then connected to a uninterruptible power supply (UPS). My radios are then connected to the DC power supply. It’s quite easy to simply unplug from the power strip and my radio gear is protected. In case of unexpected power surge, both the power strip and UPS have some protection. When severe weather is in my area… I unplug.
It’s a pretty simple task to next connect my 12-volt battery into the ElectroResales-Rig-Runner-Outrigger-4-A-12-Volt-DC-Fused-Power-Pole-Panel which can then safely power both my HF and 2-meter radios. I will generally not be powering the HF rig and instead focus on getting up to date weather information from the 2M Skywarn repeater system.
Disconnecting the antenna is also important because lightning can get into the shack that way. What I’ve done is build a window passthru for both my HF and VHF antennas. When severe weather threatens, I disconnect the coax at this point.
I have several indoor antenna options that I can fall back on to keep my 2 meter radio connected, including the home built delta loop antenna hanging in my front window.
With these actions completed, I can feel pretty safe from lightning strikes damaging my equipment and am able to switch to alternative power supply to keep me on the air in case of severe weather. Also, if my neighborhood is hit by damaging weather, I will be in a pretty good position to render help and radio for emergency services.