Blitzortung Build

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Blitzortung Build

The idea of being part of a contributing community of enthusiasts holds a great appeal for me, and the Blitzortung project just ticks all the boxes, there is a practical element of construction of the printed circuit boards and housing in enclosures, then learning new things in the way you download and flash the controller, of course their is huge satisfaction in watching it work and accessing your stations data via either lightningmaps or  Blitzortung site.

The kit comes in different variations, depending if you want to source components locally or not (this also has an effect on the cost of postage), the whole concept is built on 'not for profit' so the kit becomes affordable, I opted for the full kit and therefore it came completed with all components required for the build, a resistor was missing from the kit, but I had one so it was no great shakes, to be honest as I feel I'm contributing to the project, their would have had to have been something significant missing for me to bother the Blitzortung team.

The kit has two printed circuit board which needed the components fitted and soldering, the total build time for the boards was probably 8 hours as I did it over a few days as I didn't want to rush it, the tools I used and needed were:

  • Tweezers
  • Optivisor as I really struggled to see some of the smaller parts
  • Multimeter for confirming the values of resistors
  • Side cutters
  • Switch Cleaner to degrease the boards prior to soldering
  • Solder
  • Soldering frame you could simply use a car washing sponge with elastic bands to hold the parts in place while you turn it over to solder them in.
  • Desoldering pump
  • 15w pencil tip soldering iron
  • 25w soldering iron for the GPS plug and terminal blocks
  • Miniature long nose pliers to bend the leads rather than strain the component
  • Bits box to contain all the parts
Components sorted and PCB in frame   Component leads through PCB ready for soldering    
GPS module is tiny   Controller - those who have built one will be smiling as the four capacitors between the rows of sockets MUST lay flat, I had to order more from eBay because I didn't reads the instructions!!    
Amplifier mounted in adaptable box, I used PVC conduit for the antenna tubes.   Outlets for antenna to controller and mini USB for programming.    
Antenna & Amplifier assembly in loft   GPS module, no need to mount it outside it's seeing all the satellites. (Green cable is to Antenna)    
Dry lining box installed in plasterboard wall   Frame fixed to wall using the dry lining screws    
PCB standoffs support controller and hide fixing screws   I always leave the power connection till last    
Controller mounted in frame   Setup in the man cave.    

Fortunately everything powered up OK, soldering the GPS module was the hardest part as once you bridge solder it can be a right pain to get rid of, the copper tape used around the antennas is from eBay and believe it or not it's self-adhesive slug tape 4M x 30mm and cost £2.49.