… and Back off the air

Well, that didn’t last long.

It seems that the thunderstorm we had a week ago did some damage to my Flex-6300. While operating I noticed a wide horizontal line across the panadapter and about 15-20 seconds later we had thunder. So, I had a lightning strike in the 3-5 mile range, and apparently got enough of an EMP to take out part of the radio.

My symptoms are/were:

  • Right after the strike, the bands went DEAD. Like I wasn’t sure if there was an apocalypse that I missed or something. There was NOTHING on the bands… right after I had been listening to several PSK QSOs
  • The WNB filter that everyone praises has zero effect on my noise floor
  • If I use the correct “Flex Smart SDR” profile in HRD, the initial serial connection will be made, but nothing more after that. I can’t control the radio and I don’t get feedback in HRD of changes made on the radio. Additionally, using this profile I have to activate the ATU in order to get back to being able to hear anything on frequency after using PTT to transmit.
  • If I connect using the incorrect “Flex Power SDR” profile, things mostly seem to work for PSK-31.. but are rather laggy. And the waterfall in HRD looks quite noisy.
  • I don’t hear much of anything on Phone modes.. its as if the bands are dead.. more than in reality based upon cluster activity I see

So, the radio will be boxed up and sent off to Flex for repair. Thankfully, they think it is relatively minor to fix. The bad news is that their average turn is 4 weeks. *sigh* just when I was getting back into the swing of it.. and setting a target to make at least one QSO per day.

Back to the cause…

I have been using an AlphaDelta TT3G50 to protect my equipment from lightning strikes. Apparently this design does provide sufficient protection against electromagnetic pulse damage. Flex recommended that I get a a-303U from Array Solutions. Apparently it has a better design which will allow more static to be dissipated to ground. I ordered two. One for the antenna end and one for the shack end. Hopefully these will prevent the issue in the future.. combined with me being much more mindful of the weather and cautious about disconnecting the leads from the gear at the first sign of bad weather.

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