Home » Sensors and Detectors » Thunder Lightning Detector Circuit – LED Blinking in Response to Thunder
Thunder Lightning Detector Circuit – LED Blinking in Response to Thunder

Thunder Lightning Detector Circuit – LED Blinking in Response to Thunder

This simple circuit will enable you to visualize distant thunder lightning through a correspondingly choreographed LED flashes, exactly in accordance with the lightning that may be taking place somewhere in the distant sky, the response will be simultaneous and thus much prior to the sound that may reach your ears after a few seconds.

RF from Thunder Lightening

Thunder lightnings are basically like huge electric arcs, and thus generate a proportionate amounts of huge RF signals in the ether every time these flash in the sky.

The tiny RF detector circuit which was initially developed for catching cell phone RF waves, could be as effectively used for the proposed lightning detector design as well.

Circuit Diagram

Parts List R1 = 2M2,R2 = 100K,R3 = 1K, C1 = 0.01uF, A1, A2 = IC 324

Referring to the above simple thunder lightning detector circuit, the configuration is basically a couple of opamps from the IC LM324 wired up as a high gain amplifier circuit.

Antenna Specs

The antenna could be a meter long flexible wire used here for receiving the RF disturbances from the thunder lightning arcs.

Since the circuit is a high gain amplifier, it could become easily upset and give wrong results if certain things are not taken care of.

All the interconnections must be as small as possible, and the PCB must be thoroughly cleaned with thinner in order to remove any sort of flux residue which could otherwise create malfunctioning of the circuit.

How to Test the Setup

After constructing the above design, initially do not connect any wire to the antenna terminals.

Make sure the LED stays shut off after the circuit is powered, and use a 9V PP3 battery for powering the circuit, an AC/DC adapter will not work as you will see the LED always ON if a mains adapter is used.

Next, take a gas lighter and click the device with its tip held close to the antenna point of the circuit.

You should find the LED illuminating and flashing in response to every clicking of the gas lighter.

This would confirm a correctly built detector circuit.

Video Illustration

Connecting the Antenna

Finally, you can attach the 1 meter long antenna wire to the shown position and wait for a possible thunder lightning strikes in the vicinity.

You will be surprised to see the LED dance and flash exactly in tandem with the lightning illumination sequences.

You could amplify the Led response by adding an opto coupler and a corresponding high watt lamp with the circuit, such that the whole room gets dazzled each time the lightning flashes in the sky.

Important Criteria

Please note that in order to ensure 100% working of this circuit, you will have to use a battery as the DC supply for the circuit. And connect the negative line of the circuit with some kind of earthing line. In my case I connected it with my bathroom tap.

Wait...I don't quite remember whether the earthing is required or not if a battery is used. May be I had used an adapter as the supply and therefore I had to use the external earthing for suppressing the 50Hz disturbance....please confirm this at your end!

And make sure the antenna wire is very long. In my experiment I used a 2 to 3 meter long flexible wire.

For testing you can try clicking your gas lighter near the antenna, the LED must respond with corresponding blinking.

I happened to discover this unique property of this circuit as a thunder lightning detector accidentally, while testing for mobile RF detection. Thankfully it was rainy season then, otherwise I could have never come across this outstanding feature of this circuit


About the Author

I am an electronic engineer (dipIETE ), hobbyist, inventor, schematic/PCB designer, manufacturer. I am also the founder of the website: https://www.homemade-circuits.com/, where I love sharing my innovative circuit ideas and tutorials. If you have any circuit related query, you may interact through comments, I'll be most happy to help!

28 thoughts on “Thunder Lightning Detector Circuit – LED Blinking in Response to Thunder”

    • Hi, did you use a 9V battery for the circuit? If yes you can try reducing the R1 values to 2m2 instead of 10M, this will reduce the overall sensitivity of the circuit, then you can gradually increase its value to check at what point it becomes too much sensitive?

      Please remember that the ground line of the circuit must be also connected with a perfect “earthing”…in my experiment I connected it with my bathroom water tap.

      Otherwise the circuit will fail to work as a thunder sensor

        • with 2m and a battery supply the LED should not remain lit…try reducing the 2M to 100k, if still the LED remains ON then the problem could be somewhere else….

  1. hi swag, after i connected the circuit, i tried to test the circuit with gas lighter at the end of small wire connected with the capacitor of the connected circuit but the LED did not light up, i already tried many debugging but still the same. can you give me any way for me to send a picture of it so you can have a closer look of the circuit and tell got any prblm.thank you

    • Hi khgoh, the circuit was tested by me long ago around 6 years ago while designing a mobile RF detector. During those experiments I could make it work as a thunder detector and also as a gas lighter detector….I do not remember all the details of the experiment now…I may have to conduct the experiment again to update all the required details.

      The schematic is perfect no doubt about it, so even if you send the schematic I may not be able to find the fault unless I check it practically…if possible I’ll do it again and let you know. make sure to use a 9V battery for the experiment.

  2. Hi,
    Kindly give me an example of antenna that can be used in this project, as i have difficulties to find for it, maybe a picture or sample of the antenna will be really helpful.. thank you so much sir/madam

    • Hi, use just a long flexible wire that’s all, but make sure to have an earthing also. I think I had use the earthing since the supply was from a mobile charger, and the “earthing” perfectly stabilized the system for the reception

  3. Hi,
    can i know what type of antenna is used for this circuit, and is there circuit available to track thunder sound, its a prototype project, a piezo lighter will be used for lightning strikes and the thunder sound will replace by hand tapping sound and arduino will be coded accordingly to display time interval between the two happenings.
    Kindly advice for more information needed.

    • Hi,

      In my prototype I had used a long flexible wire as the antenna, around 3 meters long, and had used my kitchen tap metal for the earthing, the power was supplied from a 9V PP3 battery.

      I do not have an Arduino distance calculator, however a 4017 IC based circuit is there with me which was published in one of the old elektor electronic magazine…I’ll try to present it if possible.

  4. Low cost habby circuit like clap switch on or off time delay timer touch switch switch dark detactor switch ic ne555 cd 4017 this type ic i hope you are must help tested circuit diagram

  5. I like this lightning detector circuit very much. When I built it on the breadboard, I got it working the first time. The thing that is a draw back is that it does not have enough sensitivity to receive distant lightning discharges. I hope a better version of this circuit could do distant lightning storms.

    • I am glad you could get the intended results so quickly, the circuit could be made more sensitive by entirely removing the 2M2 resistors or by replacing them with 10M resistors, or simply by adding two more opamps in series from the LM324 IC, however this would also mean the circuit getting so sensitive that it starts catching even minutest electrical disturbance happening in the vicinity.

  6. could this be used to trigger a camera in place of the led ? Would a metal reflector focus the antennae to a certain direction ?

    • Hi Abu-Hafss,

      it will happen only if the mobile is activated inside the particular room, if it's in some neighborhood premise it won't affect much.

      Moreover the LED illumination could be checked while a lightning may be occuring in the sky (during night) and compared, this would provide a clear proof of the happening, a later thundering sound would also complement the results perfectly:)

Leave a Comment