Saturday, January 04, 2014

Struck by lightning

The night before last Olga and I nearly jumped out of our skins after a tremendous thunderclap which sounded as if it was just a few feet away. I wasn't concerned for the radios as I didn't think attic antennas would suffer from a lightning strike unless the house itself was struck  but in any case  both antenna switches were in the grounded position after I had heard thunder a few days earlier.

I checked both the K3 and the FUNcube Dongle which was the only other radio connected to an antenna and both seemed to be OK so I thought I had got off scot free.

That afternoon Olga noticed that the Netgear DECT Skype phones were not displaying the amount of money in the account. Later I tried to make a Skype call and was informed that Skype was offline We could still make landline calls from the phones but only if we dialled manually. Any attempt to call a number in the Contacts list  using the landline received the message "The number you have dialled  has not been recognised."

Poking the Netgear base unit's Reset button with a sharp stick didn't solve the problem. It looks as if the SPH200D base unit is broken. I'm rather sorry about that because it's an obsolete product and new ones are unobtainable - although eBay has a used one on offer for  several times what it cost when new.

Olga uses Skype a lot to talk to relatives in Ukraine so it was very useful to have Skype connected all the time and not just when she was using the computer, but it's looking as if we will have to live without that facility.

That evening we turned on the Humax Freetime box to watch some TV  and there was no picture. We checked the voltage from the power supply, which is a small 12V 4A  "brick rather than internal switched mode supply. Zero volts. We checked the fuse and that was intact. Unfortunately the Humax power supply has an unusual type of plug so I can't use one of the collection 0f wall warts that I have in a box in the garage to test if the satellite receiver itself is working or whether it's just the power supply that has failed.

There is no proof that lightning really did cause these items of equipment to fail - everything else including the broadband router are still working - but it's quite a coincidence it it isn't.. SoNow all I can do is wait until next week and order a new power supply from Humax. Oh happy days! At least we can still watch TV as I kept the old Freesat box as a backup.

Postscript. According to a neighbour a house a few streets away was damaged by the lightning bolt. Doesn't seem near enough to have blown up two items of equipment though.
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