FlightAware Discussions

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.

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: