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Thunder Lightning Detector - See LED Blink 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.

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..

Need Help? Please leave a comment, I'll get back soon with a reply!


  1. Hi Swagatam

    Wouldn't the operation of the circuit be interfered by the mobiles' RF signals?

  2. 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:)

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

  4. yes the LED trigger can be used for initiating a camera.

    I could understand the metal reflector concept??

  5. I was thinking about how to make the antennae directional so it was only sensitive in the direction the camera was pointing.

  6. sorry this is circuit is a simple RF sensor... such sophisticated integration won't be possible here

  7. It will work but it should be a battery, AC/DC adapter will not work

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Can get any idea about smart office
    Plzzz it is for my project
    If u hv any idea plzzzz send me okey
    Or send circuit to my e-mail

  11. Hi I am raja dora i have electronic trande but how to built habby circuit can you help me kindly

  12. You can ask any related question I will try to explain...

  13. 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

  14. I have all these circuit in this website, you can try them, all are tested....

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. Hi,

    is telescoping antenna or omni directional antenna suitable with this circuit design and if so what modification is necessary?

  19. 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

  20. any long wire should do, no need of specialized antenna...

  21. Hi sway,
    Only the A1 pin 11 connected to ground right, no need for the A2 right?

  22. That's right, because the opamps are from a single IC LM324

  23. 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

  24. 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.


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