It finally happened after 35 years in the radio hobby! Was in QSO with W4EQ John in Lake Norman, NC when the Weather Alert radio alarmed with a severe thunderstorm warning for Alexander County. I immediately signed off with John and told him I was unhooking. I brought up the Firefox web browser to check the Intellicast Weather Radar and I saw a large hook echo close to 2 miles from edge to edge with a huge indention in the center. I unhooked both my coaxes and grounded them to the ground wire coming from outside the window that is attached to a 8 foot ground rod 7 1/2 feet deep in red clay soil. I have 2 short pieces of copper wire with an alligator clip soldered on each end and I clip one end of each to the ground wire and the other to the collar (shield) of the PL-259 connectors. I had everything in the shack disconnected, but the computer and it hit sounding like a large tree cracking just outside the kitchen window at the back of the house followed by a huge noise that sounded like an explosion. In that split second it destroyed my 2 cordless telephones, answering machine, Direct TV satellite receiver, my 42″ flat screen hi-def Vizio TV, DVD/VCR combo, desktop computer,Exceluis RF phone line filter, Rigblaster Plus digital interface, and proceeded from the PC sound card and Rigblaster into my Yaesu FT-1000MP Mark V and even destroyed the HC-5 full-range mic element in my Heil Proset Plus headset! I ended up with about $6,200 in damages with 2 small trees lying on the house from the 90 MPH winds! A hard lesson learned that took over a month to finally get all settled up with through the homeowner’s insurance. Thank God I had full replacement coverage on personal property! Got me another FT-1000MP Mark V for $1,700 with all the optional SSB filters, the roofing filter mod, and the DVS-2 digital voice recorder all included! Everything has been repaired or replaced now. Thanks to W4WWF Dale for loaning me a Yaesu FT-857D to run until I got another rig so I wasn’t totally off the air! From here on out I’ll be unhooking everything including telephone lines when a storm approaches! Sending my old FT-1000MP Mark V off for repair. KI4NR says I’m looking at around a $500 repair because the lightning entered the radio through the CAT port which usually damages the microprocessor and the entire CAT board has to be replaced. You can’t buy just the microprocessor. The CAT board alone from Yaesu is $315! Got the power company coming out this week to install Triple Surge Guard lightning protection on my power meter, satellite dish, and telephone line. I’ll still be unhooking! I had all these items on surge protectors which were totally useless! There is no such thing as protection from a direct lightning strike! Where I had the coaxes grounded the lightning came through the ground and burned the ground wire completely in two plus literally welded one of the alligator clips to the ground wire! Well, that’s the story of my first and I sure hope my only direct lightning strike ever! Was very scary especially with the high winds we had! I have a huge oak tree at the NW corner of my hamshack, same direction the wind was coming from, that would completely flatten my house should it ever come down. This was a fast moving storm with a forward speed of 60 MPH so it didn’t take very long to pass over. One of the trees fell across my 260 feet doublet dipole antenna and broke it right at the dog bone insulator on one end, but the antenna still tunes the same so it’s OK. I just need to raise it up another 30 feet, only 30 feet high on that end right now and still up close to 60 feet on the opposite end, an extreme sloper for the time being, but still performing very well from my elevation of 1,434 feet ASL on the NE slope of Bald Knob Mountain ( SOTA=Summits On The Air Locator: http://sota.hamradio.me/peak.php?reference=W4C/WP-005 ) . I hope I never ever have to repeat this story on a blog again!
Cliff – KU4GW