Struck by lightning

The night before last Olga and I nearly jumped out of our skins after a tremendous thunderclap which sounded as if it was just a few feet away. I wasn’t concerned for the radios as I didn’t think attic antennas would suffer from a lightning strike unless the house itself was struck  but in any case  both antenna switches were in the grounded position after I had heard thunder a few days earlier.

I checked both the K3 and the FUNcube Dongle which was the only other radio connected to an antenna and both seemed to be OK so I thought I had got off scot free.

That afternoon Olga noticed that the Netgear DECT Skype phones were not displaying the amount of money in the account. Later I tried to make a Skype call and was informed that Skype was offline We could still make landline calls from the phones but only if we dialled manually. Any attempt to call a number in the Contacts list  using the landline received the message “The number you have dialled  has not been recognised.”

Poking the Netgear base unit’s Reset button with a sharp stick didn’t solve the problem. It looks as if the SPH200D base unit is broken. I’m rather sorry about that because it’s an obsolete product and new ones are unobtainable – although eBay has a used one on offer for  several times what it cost when new.

Olga uses Skype a lot to talk to relatives in Ukraine so it was very useful to have Skype connected all the time and not just when she was using the computer, but it’s looking as if we will have to live without that facility.

That evening we turned on the Humax Freetime box to watch some TV  and there was no picture. We checked the voltage from the power supply, which is a small 12V 4A  “brick rather than internal switched mode supply. Zero volts. We checked the fuse and that was intact. Unfortunately the Humax power supply has an unusual type of plug so I can’t use one of the collection 0f wall warts that I have in a box in the garage to test if the satellite receiver itself is working or whether it’s just the power supply that has failed.

There is no proof that lightning really did cause these items of equipment to fail – everything else including the broadband router are still working – but it’s quite a coincidence it it isn’t.. SoNow all I can do is wait until next week and order a new power supply from Humax. Oh happy days! At least we can still watch TV as I kept the old Freesat box as a backup.

Postscript. According to a neighbour a house a few streets away was damaged by the lightning bolt. Doesn’t seem near enough to have blown up two items of equipment though.

Julian Moss, G4ILO, is a regular contributor to and writes from Cumbria, England. Contact him at [email protected].

7 Responses to “Struck by lightning”

  • Bill - WA8MEA:

    But the three most important things in life were spared!

    1) Your life
    2) Your home
    3) You ham radio gear!

    73 and Happy New Year!


    BTW, with a new Winter Storm Warning being issued for a good chunk of the U.S. this weekend, DO NOT forget about THUNDERSNOW! It is one of the strangest things you might ever experience. The lightning illuminates the snowfall like neon speckles and the thunder sounds hollow… because it is muffled by the snow. If the snowfall gets too intense, it might be wise to disconnect your antennae…

  • Richard KWØU:

    Probably was lightning-related. We had a nearby strike and it wiped out the water heater, just one of 4 phones, one of the alarm system relays, and a couple of other odd things. I live on a hill and after that attempted to get my neighbors to set up a better grounding system for our development; they didn’t know what I was talking about. So I had an electrician check my house’s grounding (very good) and put in a surge protector just past the drop into the building. It will not stop a direct hit, but reduces the chance of another near-miss frying things at random.

  • Joe - W7RKN:

    @ years ago, lightning struck the AT&T distribution box, 4 blocks from my house, during a rather intense lightning display. I was gone for the day, 75 miles away, but came home to an inoperative garage door.

    After we got it open and the car parked, we went into the house and found everything dead…refer, freezer, telephone system, all computers on the network, A/C, TV, Internet and…radios.

    What happened, is that energy surged through the telco lines and anything in the house that was even remotely tied to the network/telephone systems, was fried.

    Of course, AT&T denied any responsibility, but my insurance company picked up about 60% of the damages. I wanted full compensation, so I took AT&T to small claims court, as what was owed me (IMHO) was less than the 15 grand limit set by our ‘people’s court’. I presented all my papers, from the insurance adjuster and the itemized statement of re-imbursement from the insurance company and presented them to the court. I was asked for my own version of what happened. The telco’s attorney spent 30 minutes and presented umpteen papers showing it could never happen as I said. OOPS!!
    Unbeknownst to me, the judge lives around the corner from me and had his home disrupted by the same surge. Guess who lost and was ordered to pay all my losses withing 20 days or face contempt charges.

    Oh yeah…then the insurance company wanted me to pay them back…right…I only asked for what they didn’t pay me on my supposed ‘replacement cost’ policy. Told ’em to go take a hike. I dropped them and went to SafeCo, who are great, BTW.

    Back to yur issue…2 houses away? I was 4 blocks and a 1/2 mile and I was still nailed…you are lucky your windows didn’t melt! <>

  • Ken Sprouse / WA3FKG:

    I have seen lightning do VERY strange things in the past. Including a nearby strike at a friends home that welded cables to his desktop in the shack. I have never experienced “thunder snow” but the thought of it scares me because I leave the ham rig powered on all the time and the antenna connected. I lost one Icom 735 to a summer storm so I’m somewhat paranoid now.

    I have however seen selective “strikes” such as when a cherry tree next to my house was split down the middle while lots of aluminum that was right next to it but at least twenty five feet higher wasn’t touched. Like I said, strange.

  • Cliff KU4GW:

    I got a direct strike here May 22, 2011.

    Check out my horror story at:

  • N2GZG:

    I once had a nearby strike take out a fair amount of gear, even though the antennas were disconnected. I’m guessing the telephone line acted as an antenna and fried pretty much with any sort of connection to it. That included the cordless phone and answering machine. But I also had a phone modem (remember those days?) and that fried, the computer it was connected to fried, the TNC that was also connected to the computer fried, as well as the radio connected to the TNC. It couldnt have been a direct hit anywhere, because the phone line itself remained undamaged, and once I replaced the telephone I had service without having to replace any wiring.

  • Frank KA9FZR:

    Use to work at an airport. The power of lighting is amazing we had a 12 ft hole blown out of a runway one time. Also a near by hit on a church steeple took out some of our equipment a couple miles around it. One thought is don’t settle with the insurance company to soon. Some of the effects of the lighting may show up later even though it works now.

Leave a Comment

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter
News, Opinion, Giveaways & More!

Join over 7,000 subscribers!
We never share your e-mail address.

Also available via RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: