The Boltek Stormtracker
At the heart of the Cyprus Storms Live Website is its stormtracker unit which consists of a Boltek Stormtracker PCI unit (Pictured right).

The unit consists of a PCI board which is installed inside the
Cyprus Server Computer and is connected to its special antenna located in the clear on the roof of Cyprus Storms H.Q.

So how does it work ?

If you listen on a short wave or meduim wave radio when there's lightning about you will hear the lightning crashes coming over your radio's speakers. The Boltek Stormtracker unit uses the same principal and frequencies to detect the lightning and using the very sensitive directional antenna and some very clever software works out the direction and location of the lightning and plots it on a map.

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Things the viewer should know,

The Stormtracker unit is very sensitive and accurate. However there are a couple of things the viewer should be aware of...

1. When a thunderstorm first builds up the unit has to 'range in' so isolated lightning strikes such as those which occur in heavy rain storms will be detected and the direction will be accurate but they may appear further away than they actually are. When a Storm is building the stormtracker takes approx 10 minutes to range in and then the direction and distance will be accurate. In short the more strikes detected the more accurate the display wil be.

2. Interference... Because the system is so sensitive it will pick up interference from any electrical devices which have electric motors using brushes in the motor such as electric drills, hedge trimmers, electric lawn mowers etc.   The arcing between the motors rotor and motor brushes are detected by the stormtracker and the software usually registers them as 'noises' although some of them may be displayed as false lightning strikes. You can usually tell when this is the case as all the strikes will be concentrated in a very tight area on the map. If you see large spikes on the stormtracker graph please disregard them as false strikes, unfortunately poorly maintained electrical equipment in the area is to blame.

3. Because of the frequencies used in the stormtracker receiver storms detected during the hours of darkness may appear approximately half the distance away from where they actually are. This is because at night the D layer of the earths atmosphere becomes reflective to radio signals at these frequencies. So lightning strike signals can bounce (skip) of the atmosphere at roughly a 45 degree angle making them appear half as far away than the actually are. The Nexstorm software used has filters to minimise this but the viewer should bear these conditions in mind when viewing storms at night.



SOFTWARE

The Stormtracker at Cyprus Storms Live uses the excellent Nexstorm software from Astrogenics.

This software has loads of functions and in addition to plotting the storms and displaying them on a map can also track individual cells within a thunderstorm and log their separate intensities . Screenshots are saved every minute and uploaded onto the website.

The system also uploads every minute the 'Thunderstorm Ranging and Acquisition report' or TRAC report which is a text file showing every detail of the storms being tracked, this is also displayed on the main page of the site.

All the data displayed is near real time and gives a fairly accurate representation of the storms being tracked.



DISCLAIMER

Although the data shown is as accurate as the hardware and software will allow, it should not be relied on for the preservation of life or property. It is for reference and educational purposes only.


COMPATIBILITY

Unfortunately there are various operating systems out there which have various shortcomings when viewing websites.

Chromebooks do not support Java at all

Apple devices do not support Flash animations

Android devices vary depending of the version as to what plug ins the browser supports.

in addition

The various web browsers in use support (or not) different plug ins and may display the site slightly differently.

This makes life difficult for webmasters such as myself although the emergence of HTML5 looks promising to overcome some of these difficulties it will not be feasable to utilise it until it is more fully supported by the various platforms.

Browser software is being improved all the time so please make sure you have updated your browser to the latest version and if available enable java and flash in your browser. Most browsers support HTML5 although some may also require you to activate this.