Blitzdetektor 1.0

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized, What I am working on

Lightning Detector: Somehow it sounds cooler in German! With the closure of my local Makerspace, and the fact that my family and I are living with the inlaws for the summer, Electro Toy Co.’s legion of Research Lab Technicians have been on limited duty. But, the Making must continue…

Key on a kite string

Recently I acquired a cool little OLED display (0.96″) and I had a lightning detector board from Embedded Adventures, so I decided it was time to get them together. The board has a cool chip on it called the AS3935 Franklin (get it?) Lightning Sensor, which can sense lightning strikes up to 40 km (25 miles) away. EA finally released an Arduino library for their board on GitHub (an open-source repository for all kinds of computer code). So I was able to use it to have my Arduino Uno microprocessor talk to the chip, and display its readings on the computer via the Arduino serial monitor (a little window that pops up and tells you what the Uno is reading).

I was able to test it during a storm, and it seemed to work. It told me there was a strike about 14 km away, which does not seem that far away, but I did not hear or see anything. But looking at a lightning tracker website, it showed that there was a strike about that far from my location.

Next step was to allow the chip to talk to the OLED display, so we can make this thing portable. With some help from Adafruit, I was able to get the display online and things started getting cool (see pic)!

Currently everything is connected via jumpers, (no solder), so the next step is to solder things together and make it into a permanent battery-powered enclosure. Before that I am looking to create a little lightning bolt animation, so when there is a strike something cool happens, besides the alert that tells that there was a strike, and how far away it is.

I am also playing with the idea of having a few LEDs that will light up (or not) based on the distance to the storm.