Lightning round

Last night, May 28, some strong to severe thunderstorms rolled through the Kansas City area. There were some heavy lighting strikes with it as well. A strike that occurred close to my apartment sent a surge across our cable line, overloading our cable modem and causing fuses and capacitors inside it to burst – sounding almost like a gunshot – killing it instantly. Rest in peace, SB6141.

The surge did not end at the modem. It continued through the modem and traveled along the Ethernet port and into the router, killing all of the Ethernet jacks on the router, making it wireless only. But it didn’t stop there.

The surge continued along the Ethernet cables plugged into the router to two gigabit switches. One switch is fried. It hisses when plugged in and gets so hot to burn skin. The other one, thankfully, only lost the jack into which the cable connecting it to the router was plugged. The switch was able to register the gigabit signal on another jack, so while one switch is a complete fatality, thankfully the other one still works.

So in all, last night’s lightning strike cost me a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, the router, and one gigabit switch.

Thankfully when I upgraded all of my networking and Internet equipment last fall, I never got rid of the equipment I was replacing. So today I’m at least up and running, albeit with a downgraded Internet connection – the temporary cable modem is a DOCSIS 2.0 modem – thanks to not getting rid of that equipment. Although the phone call took a bit longer than I thought, Time Warner had me going in about a half an hour – they get a lot of flak, but I’ve never had any issues with their customer service.

And now I’m on the hunt for good surge protection.

The surge protector into which I had everything plugged created interference with the DOCSIS 3.0 modem on its coax line protection. As such, we had the modem plugged directly into the wall instead of going through a surge suppressor, but we initially intended that to be only temporary, until we could find a better suppressor that wouldn’t create the line interference we were experiencing.

So first order of business is finding a good surge protector that does not interfere with DOCSIS 3.0 signals. I know that APC is typically the standard for home and home office protection, so I will likely be looking at their offerings first before shopping around. After I have the better suppression in place is when I will plug up a new DOCSIS 3.0 modem – perhaps I should order two this time around just in case.

Now one thing everyone needs to know is that no surge suppression can protect against a close or direct lightning strike. About 15 years ago, I lived in a house that took a direct lightning strike to its utility box, frying all of the phone jacks on one side of the house – and I do mean frying, as the jacks and cables had scorching on them. But if I’d had my cable modem plugged into some kind of suppression instead of directly into the wall, I might have lost only the modem instead of everything else that went with it.

Lesson learned.

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