Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Cameljockey

Lightning Strike!

Recommended Posts

Mother Nature saw fit to deprive me of my pretty black and green XFX 780i on Saturday. Amazingly that's all that quit. Everything else (including my GTX280) works just fine, but the mobo is, sadly, deader than a hammer. (hear a bugler playing taps in the distance) Not to be deterred, I rummaged through the closet and found my old IN9 32X MAX WiFi 680i and started putting it all together. When I got to the part where I install the graphics card it wouldn't go. On the IN9 there's one capacitor, one lone capacitor, no other ones in the vicinity except the one. That and the casing on my GTX 280 prevented it from plugging into the board. I was extremely miffed by this time. Back to the closet to rummage some more. Came back with my old 8800 GTX and it fit right in. So I'm up and running again and looking at getting a new mobo so I can utilize the newer graphics card. Anyone have any recommendations on a single PCIe 2.0 slot motherboard in LGA 775? No need for SLI because I can't afford another 280 anyway, especially since I have to purchase a new board.

 

Still killin' 'em in SC!

 

CJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shocking... sorry I know bad pun... At least you kept your old kit and it keeps you occupied whilst battling the dreaded Kraut or Entente pilot...

 

Must admit here in Vienna the weather over Saturday night was lights without the lights... had an amazing storm... The laptop that I am using stayed well and truly switched off and hidden away from power and even went so far as to remove the battery... Paranoid you bet I was...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Damn, CJ, that sucks! What type of surge protector did you have? How close was the bolt?

 

I've had pretty good luck with my el-cheapo surge protectors. They've always protected my computers, but the phone jack parts have never worked. Back in my dial-up days, I used to lose a modem every year or so to lightning, but it never got beyond that into the mobo.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The bits, bytes and pixel world - as fragile as a Sopwith craft.

But head up, Cameljockey, it could have gone far worse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, it doesn't really matter how good a surge protector you have if the bolt comes in on the phone line. My brother had that happen....amazing money spent on surge protection with the power supply....bolt came in through the phone....fried it all. Unplug it in electric storms folks....thats all.

 

ZZ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was strange though. Nothing was damaged except the board. I've got all of the other hardware still in the box except for the graphics card, only because it wouldn't fit on the older board. It couldn't have come through the phone line because my machine is on a wireless router which, I might add, still works fine. The power supply is fine and like I said, so is everything else. I checked out the graphics card on an older computer and it works fine. I'm stumped. Does lightning generate an EMP? That wouldn't make sense either because the boob toob was on and it wasn't affected. Maybe I'll give it some time and hook it back up. If it works I'll use it again. If it don't, I'll deep six it.

Edited by Cameljockey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the days when I was using a laptop at a table in our hallway, a storm came fast giving no warning 'till CRASH the hallway turned blue and my hair stuck up (and there was a lot of it then). The laptop made a frizzleing sound, the printer went pop and the hall light - which wasn't on - exploded:yikes:.

It turned out to be a direct hit on the chimney stack. I was in shock for a while and just sat there.

 

Bad luck CJ but at least you're up and running.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Try clearing/resetting the BIOS, it's worked for me a couple times on machines that got whacked. Also, I admit I scanned quickly through this, but it doesn't appear you gave symptoms - is it dead as in no indication of power at all; or maybe LEDs with power turned on but no boot...?

 

Never underestimate what lightning can do. I've worked around sensitive electronics frequently located outdoors, in some very lightning-prone areas most of my life, and have seen incredible ways lightning damaged things - or didn't, when we were sure it would.

 

Short of an absolute direct strike, don't be too surprised if one thing gets whacked while other components go unscathed. Lightning wants pretty much one thing: to find a path to ground. Usually, one path to ground is better than any nearby alternatives, and (like they say in electronics school) "current takes the path of least resistance" (not entirely true either - but that's another discussion). This is the 'lightning rod' theory...you can't really tell ligthning not to go somewhere, it pretty much goes where it wants. But you give it a better ground somewhere *other* than where you don't want it to go - and it's pretty effective if it's done right.

 

Anyway, once it finds a path and dissipates, nothing else is really in much danger, assuming the path doesn't melt and the surroundings can stand the heat. So one part gets fried and everything else is fine. The part that got fried is the one that provided a path (sacrificially, as it were).

 

Free advice: Don't mess with cheap surge suppressors. Unless there's absolutely no other alternative, get a UPS - my personal belief is it should be illegal to run a PC without a UPS. Especially with the higher-quality UPS, the isolation is much better than the few metal-oxide varistors and avalanche diodes you get in a surge suppressor. I used to be a dealer for Best Power (before they got bought out by SOLA and got all cheap)...I had one of their original FR model UPS - the kind with the *huge* iron-core transformer in it. I could sit in my office and compute with impunity whilst mother nature blew pine trees outta the ground in my back yard.

 

You can get decent protection for phones, modems, ethernet etc...you just can't rely on cheap crap. Many of the cheap products have nothing more than a fuse to open when current exceeds their rating, and by the time that happens, lightning's already done the deed. Good transient protection needs to handle lots of power, sure - but it also must be fast. I mean, really sub-split-blink-of-an-eye fast.

 

And don't forge the cable you use for TV and/or Internet.

 

Don't think it's worth it to pay for good power protection? Consider the investment in your electronics, is all I can say. I have 9 PC's here at home, which is quite a few - but that number is still less than the number of UPS that I own. Everything electrical and of any real value - the home theater stuff, PCs, even the refrigerators - is protected by some means at my house. Never lost anything to lightning, in spite of living in Florida and Georgia most of my life.

 

Best of luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right after it happened, I tried to restart it and it was stone dead, no LEDs, nada. I had an HP one time and while we were gone from the house a storm came through. I tried to start the computer and it was stone dead. I put it in the closet (I'm a packrat, not a hoarder) and about 6 months later I was cleaning the closet and decided to hook it up and lo and behold it worked, and still works to this day. Lightning is freaky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 6 months you refer to could be explained because the on-board battery (which provides 3V to hold up the CMOS when the machine has no power) got drained enough that it loaded the default BIOS settings, and therefore could run again.

 

The lithium CMOS batteries have quite a long life, but aren't really intended to hold up memory forever. Especially after about 5 years, a machine can lose BIOS settings when it sits without power long enough (when it's plugged in, the board uses what's called 5volts "standby" (5VSB) to keep the memory up, so the battery doesn't get drained, even if the machine isn't running). In these cases, you notice the machine resets to default every time it's unplugged. If it's running on default settings anyway, you might not even notice at all. Many machines do so, because the BIOS nowadays loads hard disk type, etc automatically. Used to be a problem where the hard disk suddenly wouldn't recognize - because the BIOS settings that were specific to the drive had gotten reset when the battery croaked.

 

One thing I can assure you of: If an electronic device was actually damaged by lightning, it doesn't "get better" by itself. There's an explanation as to why something started working, and like I said, I've seen the BIOS thing a couple times myself.

 

Try clearing the BIOS using the jumper on the board and/or removing the battery for a while. Might just work. But sometimes, well....lightning gets what it wants, unfortunately.

Edited by Tamper

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry for your trouble CJ. Just had a heck of a storm here 2 days ago. The power was out for 5 hours. Before it hit I unplugged the laptop, other than the house it is the only thing I can't afford to replace, so everything else remained plugged. I had no problems but you never know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does lightning generate an EMP?

 

Yup, it does. Here's an example I had 3 years ago:

 

The attached pic shows where lightning hit a water oak tree. I happened to be looking out the window and saw it happen--pretty big bolt. The roof in the middle distance is the top of my brewhouse. The tree is about 5m behind the brewhouse, and the brewhouse is about 15m away from my house. In the foreground, you can see the weatherhead of my electric meter. The meter is mounted on a billboard-like structure along with the main breakers for my house and all the surrounding outbuildings (brewhouse, carport, garden shed, water well, barn, etc.). This is about 3m in front of the brewhouse. The wire for the water well runs underground about 35m to the wellhouse, which is about 3m from the main house at the opposite end of it from the brewhouse.

 

The lightning itself went down the tree and into the ground without touching anything else. There were streaks of blown-off bark all down the tree and no scars on anything else. However, the EMP wreaked havoc with wiring and telephone lines. The brewhouse has a telephone and EMP got into that, inducing enough current not only to fry its jack, but to send current up the underground phone line to the junction box on the main house 15m away. There, it burned out not only the brewhouse connection but also the adjacent connection, thus knocking out one of the phones in the main house.

 

EMP also got into the water well breaker box and sent beaucoup current the 35m up its underground power line. When this reached the wellhouse, it took out the fuzebox inside there. The fuzes were those old massive things made of brass tubing with replaceable links inside. This not only burned away the links, it burned the outer brass tubes completely in half just below their upper connections. And enough EMP was released through the air from this fuze box to get into the nearest room of the main house and trip all the breakers for that room's light fixtures and wall sockets. Despite all this, it did NOT trip the main water well breaker out by the meter, apparently because it got into that circuit downstream of the breaker. The water well breaker is mounted highest of that whole assembly except for the meter's weatherhead.

 

Interestingly, apart from the lights going out in the one room, the others didn't even flicker. And the only damage done was brewhouse phone jack, the main phone junction box, and the wellhouse fuzes. No electronics in the house were damaged, nor even the telephone itself in the brewhouse. The tree, however, was not only debarked at the point of impact, but the trunk was cracked badly, which is pretty rare and indicates how strong the bolt was. A year later, Hurricane Gustav broke the top off the tree right there, but fortunately it fell away from the brewhouse.

post-45917-035484700 1279765082.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..