Readers' Versions of the Lightning Detector (Page 2)

also see Page 1

 Martyn Fuller has outdone himself! This one is simply amazing:

Chris from the Netherlands built this version:


His version has two meters, one with the slow response as shown on the detector page and another fast response that jumps with each strike. He also uses two LEDs; one has the standard quick flash but the other fades away slowly so one can see that a strike occurred a few seconds earlier. He also uses a piezo beeper with a variable resistor in series to control the loudness.

Notice the "island" construction technique and the custom hand tools for making them:

Bob Myers added a relay to the "pulse" output to trigger his camera:

Here are some of his first spectacular shots:

Ronny has made a slideshow of his detectors: A couple of shots are shown below.


That UFO idea is excellent.  I want a few of those hanging from the ceiling! That idea might make for interesting spot lighting

This detector was built by Jennifer Hamilton of Kittery, Maine:

She says:

After I completed the unit, I decided that I wanted a 3-digit 7-segment display as a counter for each lightning strike. The addition of the 555 circuit solved a noise problem and gave me a nice, clean logic high and low. Without the 555, performance was erratic and the counts were all over the place. The detector can run on AC or DC as I have a 1/8" power jack with a built-in switch for the internal 9 volt battery. When the AC adapter plug is pulled, the battery takes over, a nice feature. As you see on the Counter Schematic, I added a momentary SPDT switch to reset the counter. When I first switch on the unit, the counter sets to 889 and pressing the switch resets it to 000. My antenna is over 3 feet long. The pot on the right is 20k connected to the - input of the LM339. It's nice to have that as a control so I can adjust the sensitivity of the buzzer alarm. I also installed a switch to turn of the alarm as it does get loud!

The program I used to create my schematics is a free download from ExpressPCB. There are actually two programs, one for schematics and one for circuit board design. Here are the files: (ExpressPCB format)

Here's an impressive detector from Brad:

See Elliott's video! Also see the thread on Elliott's new detector in an old radar detector chassis.

Here is Elliott Maines mobile receiver! He writes:
This is a PVC antenna/detector with remote alert/meter. It has a 1/8" two conductor jack for the output, speaker yet to be determined. It uses shielded four conductor intercom cable for power, pulses, and Q1 collector for audio, and terminated at a 5 position wire terminal. The other two post terminal is for a 12 volt source, such as a lighter cord. It flashes a bright white LED, and drives a meter taken from a CB.
Elliott Maines, KD8FOV

László from Hungary built a detector into an old phone! He writes:

I was built one :) It works gooood . I build it into an old phone. Only with LED circuit and with some output, and BNC antenna connector. Sometimes I connected to an optoconnector or what( I dunno how say in english) and to a simple calculator so it can count the strikes, otherwise usually i connected a voltmeter to the pulse and to the gnd. . Thanks the plan!


Egert from Estonia has a web page with pictures of his detector. Nice circuit board!

This artistic version is by Marian in Slovakia. I like the idea of attaching the case to an attractive piece of plastic like that. The color choices are striking. Lightning detector construction is turning into quite an art form!

Marian has developed a computer program that allows the lightning detector pulses to be read via the serial port and displays the lightning activity: . [Please understand that this is an executable file that I know little about so use your own judgment.] The interface to the lightning detector is fairly simple: a Maxim IC, the MAX232, is connected to a power source and a few capacitors as recommended in the application notes at the Maxim website but the inputs and outputs are not connected in the standard way.  Only the "pulses" output of the lightning detector is connected to the MAX232 pin 11 and the MAX232 pin 14 connects to the RTS of the serial port. That's it for the data lines! Also connect the grounds of the lightning detector, MAX232 pin 15, and the computer (pin 5 on a 9-pin serial port). The power for the MAX232 (pin 16) may be a separate 5 volt power supply, 5 volts from a USB port, or from the CTS pin of the serial port which is set high by the program. Make sure to add a capacitor from the power to ground right at the IC, perhaps a 1 uF. Add a 5 volt zener from pin 16 to ground when using the CTS pin for power since many serial ports output a current-limited 15 volts.

Here is a version from Nikolay in the Russian Federation built into a card or floppy storage box. I like the easy "pop the hood" access! He increased the values of the inductors and capacitors to operate at 10 kHz instead of 300 kHz.

Glenn has made several Outhouse Lightning Detectors! I'm still trying to figure out the connection... : ) But these are pretty cute:

Here is an amazing version built by Martyn Fuller in England.  He writes:

I love lightning storms and so a couple of years ago built your lightning detector to experiment with. It eventually evolved into a more decorative form and I have attached some pictures. The early electrical pioneers always built their instruments with a certain elegance and this is an attempt to recreate it. My goal was to build the detector to look like something from Faraday’s lab- hence the name.  

It uses your first circuit although this will soon be updated to a later one (is it possible to use your 5 volt circuit on 3 volts by only changing the voltage of the bulb)? The main construction is 6mm plywood plates of around 100mm square varnished in a mahogany colour. The plywood is spaced apart by 12mm brass tubes with 6mm studding in the middle. I used a 100mm domestic light bulb with the internal structure removed for the globe, and a glass tube from a candle holder for the column. The switch is handmade from 13mm brass strip. I thought there might be some instability problems with the aerial being alongside the output bulb wiring but this has not been the case. In fact it appears to have made the detector more sensitive. The construction owes more to aesthetic appeal rather than good electrical sense- hence the copper inductor below the aerial and the wiring being all curly ( I just thought it would look nice). I’m a real fan of natural colours and so lacquered all the brass and copper after polishing to keep it nice and bright.

I am "so going to" steal Martyn's construction technique!

Here's a professional job by Pityu from Transilvania:

He writes:

It's been a really long time ago, I sent you some pics of one of my lightning detectors, mounted on a roof. 6 years passed by since, and that one is still working!

Here I send a couple of photos, of my new instrument. As you can see, this one is made out of two modules too. The sensor and the counter-meter, which also incorporates the power supply. Few changes are made, the sensor uses the same radio receiver, but there are two switches (monostables) connected to it of different sensitivity. So I have two channels, a low and a high sensitivity. Each channel's pulse is formed by two schmidt trigger gates, to obtain a precise level (3V) pulse.

The main module contains two scmidt gates also, and here the length of the pulse is set to 100ms. Two audio generators are built in, each channel makes a particular sound, so when a closer strike is detected, you can distinguish it by the sound from the farther ones. A digital pulse counter is built in, it counts only the closer strikes. The meter can be switched from high to low, to be displayed. High level senses strikes up to 500km, it could do better, but I think that would be useless. The low level senses up to 70km. But this depends on the magnitude of the lightning bolt. I also built in an alarm comparator which triggers a relay via a thyristor. So, once if the alarm goes off, it puts my antennas to the ground until I break the circuit.

here you can find my video:

I like that his new antenna unit is less vulnerable to lightning:


Pityu's earlier version:

My name is Pityu. I live in Transilvania, in Sfintu Gheorghe (Saint George City:))  I am an electronics fanatic, and I LOVE storms !! :)) I have been looking for lightning detector schematics for a long time. This time I had more luck.   Well... I built this type of detector, and I must say, I am more than satisfied !!

It contains two parts. One is situated on my flat's roof:


It is the receiver module, equipped with a tweeter (this sounds when a strike is detected, and alerts me if I am up there). The receiver is mounted inside a plastic box, which is placed on an 2,5m long aluminum rod. This rod is in fact the antenna and it is insulated with sturdy high voltage polyethylene insulator. This receiver module is connected with the other part using 30 m of shielded alarm cable with 4 wires inside. The other part is inside my room. It houses the power supply, the meter circuit, a led that indicates the strikes and also a tweeter:

  I came to the conclusion that this detector can detect lightning for a 200 km.  range !! Well, a big antenna  that is situated at about 20 m from the ground... :)  

Thanks for the schematics !! Before I didn't know from where could I find some reliable schematics for a good gadget... It works just FINE !!! I wish you all the best !! 


Here is an imaginative version built by Karen using a paper clip container!

"The bulb is behind a picture of a tree being struck - I've cut out the path of the strike so that it lights up when a real strike is detected!"

Here is a version build by reader, Joe Hubka:

"The two pictures below are of the more recent "executive console" design that looks good on a desk. I built it about a year after the jar model. The "bubble" is the clear cap off of a pancake syrup bottle! An ultra-bright blue LED flashes and the piezo element "beeps" with each lightning flash. Since the LED and piezo don't draw that much current (and due to space limitations) I opted for a dual "AA" battery set-up. This also uses a telescopic antenna."

Here is a photo of a pocket-sized unit made by Rob L. Dey, KA2BEO ( featuring surface-mount components:

Coen van de Wijngaert from the Netherlands built this PCB version:

Tommi Kärkkäinen from Finland (I think) sent these photos of his lightning detector:

Here are a couple of pictures of reader Gabriel's detector:

His uses either batteries or AC power.