Lightning detector on a chip
The AS3935 is a programmable Lightning Sensor™ IC that detects the presence and approach of potentially hazardous lightning activity in the vicinity. It detects intra-cloud activity as well as cloud to ground flashes, often enabling risk to be evaluated for approaching storms. The US National Weather Bureau suggests the 30-30 rule when lightning is imminent (When a flash is seen and the thunder is heard less than 30 seconds later, the storm is within 10 km. Head immediately for a safe shelter. Stay in the shelter for 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder you hear).
- Franklin Lightning Sensor™ provides early warning indication of lightning storm activity within a 40km range
- Provides distance estimation to the head of the storm
- Detects both cloud-to-ground and intra-cloud (cloud-to-cloud) flashes
- Intelligent algorithm provides for false disturber rejection
- Programmable detection levels enable threshold setting for optimal configurability
- SPI and I2C interface is used for control and register reading
- Automatic Antenna Tuning
- Supply voltage range 2.4 to 5.5V
- Power-down, listening and active modes
- Temperature range: -40°C to 85°C
Austriamicrosystems has introduced a lightning sensor IC with an RF receiver that detects the electrical emissions from lightning activity.
The device could be used in portable lightning sensors which could become consumer safety products.
Using an algorithm developed by the firm in the AS3935 then converts the RF signal into an estimation of the distance to the head of the storm.
“The algorithm, which draws on extensive meteorological survey data, produces an estimated distance-to-storm calculation from 40km down to 1km, while rejecting disturbances from man-made signals such as motors and microwave ovens,” said the supplier.
Dubbed the Franklin Lightning Sensor, it has low power operation with a current consumption of 60µA and is packages in a 4mm x 4mm 16-pin MLPQ package.
A typical application for the AS3935 requires only a simple microcontroller with a SPI or I2C interface and seven other passive components allowing it to fit easily in a space about the size of an automobile keychain remote.
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