Snow static is often dismissed, but is in fact a very real phenomenon. My elmer, W2UJR, used to report it,
and I now often hear it during most snow storms here on the Maine coast.
Heard in the receiver’s speaker, it sounds much like popcorn popping, a rapid series of snaps, the frequency of which varies
with the intensity of the snow. Here on the coast, it does seem more prevalent, or at least noticeable,
on the higher bands, 160 and 75 meters. I find the noise blanker largely takes care of the problem, which makes sense,
for the audio characteristic is much like a spark plug firing.
Far from being inconsequential, it can be severe enough to damage equipment, in fact has been blamed for some
aircraft losses…back in 1937. A most interesting article on the adverse effect of snow static can be found in the
“Time” magazine archive, see –>http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,770673,00.html
As I write this, we are, right now, in the middle of a yet another very strong Nor’Easter, with snow falling at a
prodigious rate. I heard the snapping inside my Matchbox this evening, so I broke out the video camera.
I took a few moments to make short video of snow static at my location.
Couldn’t resist getting some live feed of the arcing going on on the feed line.
Nor could I resist touching it, ouch! like a spark plug wire.
Inarguably this is not going to be good going into any solid state device, unless there is a path to ground.
Needless to say, you’ll be suitably impressed with the arc and the corresponding discharge and glow in the neon bulbs.
You may well ask, why the neon bulbs. I use the neon bulbs as rough indicators of both power and balance in the antenna
feed lines, an old, but very effective technique.
Because of the size of video files, and for reason of an accelerated download, I’ve posted the video online at the webiste of YouTube,
you can find it at –>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7HSTPl6e-I.