I live in New Hampshire. There are several things that happen regularly here.
Every winter it gets cold and we get snow. This year, the first snow storm came in October, which is unusually early. The trees still had a lot of leaves, a lot of branches fell on the power lines, and we lost power for a week. There’s no snow on the ground now. But I am quite sure we will have snow soon.
Every summer we get thunderstorms, with the accompanying lightning. With big high antennas, I worry, and at least one of my ham friends suffers equipment damage due to a direct or near-strike every year. I’ve been lucky so far…no major damage, but I frequently lose a few diodes in various antenna-switching matrices.
And every four years, as the state with the first-in-the-nation Presidential primary, we are deluged with campaign ads via TV, radio, mail, and robo-calls.
In the current U.S. Presidential campaign season, one candidate has sounded the alarm about the possibility of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse caused by nuclear explosion) event. In fact, this particular candidate wrote the foreword to a book I read last summer called “One Second After”. This book describes a possible sequence of events that follow detonations of some nuclear weapons in the upper atmosphere over several countries (including the United States), and all modern electronic devices stop working.
A recent TV show used a limited-range EMP generator as the main plot element. A whistle-blowing professor built one and used it to demonstrate the effect in a small area. Then the bad guys stole it and were going to use the machine to disable a bank’s alarm system so they could rob it (with collateral effects on nearby businesses, hospitals, etc.).
An EMP event will apparently wipe out any solid-state-based equipment. That means anything with ICs or even discrete transistors or diodes stops working (note to self: find a few old tube-type ham rigs on eBay or at Dayton next spring…just in case). RF and microwave equipment, with antennas exposed to the outside world, will likely be most susceptible (see comments above regarding lightning).
Today I did a search on the EETimes.com site to see if there were any recent articles on EMP and its possible mitigation at the design level. The most recent things I found were from 2004. Really?
I’m curious - is anyone out there designing their stuff to mitigate the effects of EMP on their products? Is what you’re doing public or classified?
DISCLAIMER: I am not expressing an opinion on the likelihood of an EMP event or its effect here. Nor am I endorsing any candidate or party. But I will vote. And you should, too.