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Thursday, February 5, 2009

St. Elmo's Fire and Lightning Brushes

I guess I am and AMer at heart. As a kid I used to listen to the AM QSOs on 75 meters in the Northeast. I still occasionally take a look at the AM Window website and follow the chatter from afar. This is another corner of the hobby where guys still melt solder and study schematics.

One of the many interesting things found via the AM Window is an on-line archive of the AM Press/Exchange newsletter. There are some very good articles in there. Issue #114 has a good one by George, W2WLR. It's about lightning and ways to prevent strikes. What I like about the article is the very practical, hands-on approach. George describes how one intrepid enthusiast put an amp meter between a radio tower and ground and watched the currents generated by a nearby storm (don't try this at home!). The article discusses how brushes on the ends of lightning rods help bleed off charge. You can see some charge bleeding off the masts of the ship depicted above.

After reading his article, I went to work. In an idle moment, I looked out the window across Rome's Via Veneto and saw on one of the hotels some lightning rods tipped not quite with brushes, but with multiple spikes. Go St. Elmo!

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