Yet another Pi killed by lightning

Last year my Raspberry Pi 3B located at the attic stopped working suddenly during a brief thunderstorm. Upon inspection I found that the Pi was still fully functional with the exception of a dead eth0 port so I got a 3B+ instead and considered this a once in a lifetime failure. Today the lan port of the 3B+ got fried as well after yet another atmospherical electrical discharge. As I’m using a cavity filter, there’s no galvanic connection between the signal side of my antenna and the orange ProStick so I’m wondering if I should start grounding the shielding as well in case of an earth loop between the Pi and the Netgear switch, any idea’s how to prevent buying a new Pi every year?

I have remote security cameras mounted around buildings and have always used shielded cat6 cable (STP as opposed to UTP). The connectors are supposed to be metal clad to “ground” to what ever device it is connected to. The router or switch it connects to should be properly grounded as well, including a power inserter if you are using POE. Think the antenna feedline shield connects to the dongle which should bond to the RPI chassis connecting to the ethernet shield.
One issue, if you are not using POE but a wall wart, it might happen to be on the opposite line from the switch or router could cause voltage potential especially if there are any electrical surges through the mains or a bad service ground.

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Did anything else get damaged like the switch port? The reason I asked if I was wondering if this was nearby lighting strikes or a direct hit. My tower has been personally hit twice and while there is not much you can do but to make sure you have a good ground near the PI and have a shielded and grounded Ethernet cable.

One idea would be to just use WiFi for the data connection and just POE power if that is what you are using to power the device. It does not “need” the low latency network connection.

Thank you for the advice VE4GLS & Simtra. The switch I use is an 8 PoE-port (and 2 SFP ports) Netgear GS110TP. Each time it happens the Netgear crashes with all led’s off but a power cycle will revive it. Both the Pi, the switch and my Mikrotik router are on an APC UPS. Last weekend, in an attempt to find a remedy, I have connected my Pi through the surge protected RJ45 ports on the UPS to a standard port on the Mikrotik instead of a PoE-port on the Netgear. If this doesn’t help there’s always a last resort solution to protect the Pi’s Lan-port: a media converter, 2 SFP modules and a long fiber patch cable between the Pi and the switch will indubitably be the best protection against lightning surges.

I had this same problem a couple days ago due to a lightning storm.

Pi still works fine, so I just enabled WiFi. Saved me a little cash for now until I replace it.
I have a POE line going to one of those converters, so I’m just using the power part of it for now.
It’s interesting that it didn’t pop the usb port or the airspy. but i’ll take a dead nic over those others.

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Unfortunately, the WiFi signal is already quite weak at my attic and since the Pi is still cheaper than adding another WAP I have chosen to use a network cable. At first, I hoped that only the RJ45 magjack was blown but a test with a signal generator and an oscilloscope revealed that the LAN ports of either the LAN7514 (Pi 3B) or LAN7515 (Pi 3B+) chip were blown.

Long Ethernet cables like to zap Ethernet cards.

But you could get an USB ethernet dongle, they shouldn’t be too expensive for 100 Mbit?

If the Ethernet cable has a conductive shield you could try grounding it somehow.
Not sure how you would accomplish that, just an idea.

As long as the UPS is grounded (third prong in outlet should be ok if it’s wired to code), and the last “device” before the raspberry pi is also grounded. All you can do is your best… Nature is the boss. If you know of bad weather coming it’s always a good idea to disconnect everything but if you’re not home… Some also say once you disconnect everything you should hide it under the bed. Can’t hurt I suppose. :slight_smile:

Well, here we go again with the next Pi (my third) with a blown LAN port!
This time it’s a 4B and it happened when I was on vacation in southern France so it terminated my longest streak at 1557 days. My feeder was still running when I came back (checked with graphs1090) but the LAN port was dead with no flashing leds. I popped the sd card in my backup Pi4 and my feeder is already up and running.
Here’s a nice article I found describing why this happens and what can be done to solve it:


What can be done?

  1. Install only the LNA filter at the antenna, not the whole Pi.
  2. Ground the metallic part of the antenna, with a wire that goes in a straight line to ground rod (doesn’t make turns).
  3. Install a gas lightning protector at the antenna side. Connect to the ground wire at this location.

Alternately, keep doing what you are doing until the house catches fire. For a lightning arrestor to work at the switch port it means that the surge has to travel to that surge arrester - that is located inside the house!

Thank you, interesting reading.

Hello guys sorry if this is slightly off topic.
I had earthing problems with my antenna array before also.
My solution was to smash a 4FT copper stake into the ground and connect it to the outer shield and bracket of the antenna.
I have used this method for many years with Radio antennas and so far not had any problems with lightning.

IMO it is a small loss to mount your masthead/lna only at the antenna. Leave the receiver/decoder equipment inside away from the lightning/static first point of contact.
Most of the strikes I’ve read of seem to be stations using POE and those who have RPi/Receivers located directly beneath the antenna .

Hopefully you have no more bad luck and have things sorted now


Thank you for the advice.
Well, grounding my antenna mast directly will be quite difficult because it’s a long pvc pole!
Since the 3 Pi’s I’ve lost always had a blown-up LAN port and nothing else was damaged I’ve decided to order an RJ45 surge protector (Ubiquiti ETH-SP-G2).
This surge protector needs a good earth connection so I could use the ground connector of my 230V socket in the attic but I’m planning to pull a new 16mm2 earth cable from the ground rod in the cellar to the attic. Maybe I could extent this earth cable a wee bit and connect it to the shield of my coax as well but I still need to figure out how to have a good galvanic connection between a 16mm² cable and an N connector.

You don’t happen to have your internet service via ADSL?
I have, and I’ve replaced a bunch of equipment over the years due to lightning that travels into the house via the phone-lines, through the ADSL-modem, over to the wired networks, blows a bunch of ethernet ports and exits via ground in the electrical system.

Since the phone-line and electrical network have different grounds it’s very common that lightning travels from one to the other. Here in Sweden many power companies applies over-voltage protection in the distribution networks to minimize damage done by lightning, my phone company do nothing of the sorts since they have plans on discontinue all services based on copper wire…


How to Protect Your House and Its Contents from Lightning. IEEE Guide for Surge Protection of Equipment Connected to AC Power and Communication Circuits



Did you ever consider an UPS ? They have build-in surge protectors that will protect your equipment as well. I have all my flightfeeders connected to several of them, it keeps them runnning in event of a power outage up to 5 hours and the equipment is protected as well.
Using the UPS setup the last 7 years and not once I had equipment broken. Quite happy with that. I use APC equipment only, they are connected to my monitoring system so they can alert me when something happens when I’m not home.

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No ADSL, just a cable modem, my router, a wireless Access Point and a few switches, some of them PoE,
When something happens, it’s always the lan-port of the Pi, never the LNA or or the Airspy mini.
The first item after my antenna is a cavity filter and this forms a massive short circuit for DC.

I don’t need to consider a UPS because I’m already using one capable of powering my feeder for a couple of hours and there’s a second one powering my cable modem and switches.

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Please see this post:

… and see this post also: