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Author Topic: Solar Flare  (Read 2408 times)
rupy
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July 15, 2012, 11:26:03 PM
#1

Ok, I know this is tinfoil hat ON, but how could one protect their FPGAs from toasting if theres a big solar flare? I mean some of our rigs are really expensive!

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July 15, 2012, 11:29:20 PM
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This is right up there with "how do I protect my FPGAs from a nuclear EMP blast". Lightning strikes are orders of magnitude larger in effect to the power system, so maybe worry about that first.

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July 15, 2012, 11:35:53 PM
#3

I'm not good enough at physics to know if there is a real threat to the circuits them selves. I'm not concerned with power issues, fuses and breakers will handle that. But if anything could fry the chips that have no metal around them that is grounded, many of us have a problem, cause we all have our FPGAs out in the open, ungrounded.

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July 15, 2012, 11:37:19 PM
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Ok, I know this is tinfoil hat ON, but how could one protect their FPGAs from toasting if theres a big solar flare? I mean some of our rigs are really expensive!


"Solar storms would primarily affect the power grid, and are not likely to harm things like computers. "
 - http://www.futurescience.com/emp/emp-protection.html

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July 15, 2012, 11:38:42 PM
#5

faraday cage is what you need.

I've noticed that my GPS signal has be degraded the last few days and I've seen some other people report the same. damn solar flares

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July 15, 2012, 11:41:03 PM
#6

faraday cage is what you need.

I've noticed that my GPS signal has be degraded the last few days and I've seen some other people report the same. damn solar flares
Probably China testing something.

/tinfoil

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July 15, 2012, 11:42:19 PM
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Solar flares should be the least of our concerns. We're shielded pretty well by the Earth's magnetic field. From what I've read solar flares only cause issues with systems that operate outside of the magnetic field(satellites) and very large circuits(power distribution lines). Wikipedia has a decent article on the phenomena -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_storm#Disrupted_systems. Digging through their cited articles is also an interesting read, if you are in to such things.

tl;dr - go out and watch the auroras as the Sun smacks Earth around a bit.

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July 15, 2012, 11:53:43 PM
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GPS, Satellite tv, Satellite Phones and Power Grids go boom.


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July 15, 2012, 11:58:08 PM
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What about protection from asteroids?  Those things leave a big dent!
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July 16, 2012, 12:19:36 AM
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Ok, I know this is tinfoil hat ON, but how could one protect their FPGAs from toasting if theres a big solar flare? I mean some of our rigs are really expensive!
That sensitivity to the cosmic radiation that you keep reading about FPGA is about SEU (Single Event Upsets). Those are cured by the power cycle.

It is extremely unlikely that SEU would damage an FPGA. It would be something like SEU that causes input pin to reconfigure itself as output pin and then fry in the confrontation with the external driver for that pin.

Your FPGAs are much more likely to die from electromigration due to high temperatures than from aftereffects of a SEU.

http://www.altera.com/literature/wp/wp-01012.pdf

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July 16, 2012, 12:57:24 AM
#11

To everyone saying there is nothing to worry about:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859
http://greekgeek.hubpages.com/hub/massive-solar-flare-1859

Quote
More seriously, the solar storm battered the world's infant communication network. Telegraph wires burst into flames, touching off fires (while in other cases fire crews were called to fires that did not exist, due to the fiery lights in the sky). Telegraph machines scorched paper printouts, stunned operators with electric shocks, transmitted gibberish, and continued working for hours even after being unplugged from the batteries that powered them.

Now add in millions of more miles of wires, not to mention adding such wiring to every home.  Sure, we're unlikely to experience another flare of that magnitude soon, and we will have some warning time.  However, it still won't be pleasant the next time it happens.  Also, there is the threat of geomagnetic reversal if the magnetic field is disturbed too much.  It has happened many times before and it will happen again.

I wouldn't live in fear of such events, but to discount them completely is IMHO folly.  Just make sure you have a few fire extinguishers and if a huge flare is detected don't ignore the instructions.  At the very least I'd switch off your main circuit breaker when it is going to hit.  The recent flare was the largest in 5 years, but it wasn't really that big.  We're still a year away from the peak of this cycle though so expect more and larger flares.  For more information, see spaceweather.com.

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July 16, 2012, 03:41:41 AM
#12

Ok, I know this is tinfoil hat ON, but how could one protect their FPGAs from toasting if theres a big solar flare? I mean some of our rigs are really expensive!

 If we're hit by a big enough solar flare to affect your FPGA, your FPGA getting toasted will be the least of your concern.
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July 16, 2012, 03:56:50 AM
#13

Ok, I know this is tinfoil hat ON, but how could one protect their FPGAs from toasting if theres a big solar flare? I mean some of our rigs are really expensive!

 If we're hit by a big enough solar flare to affect your FPGA, your FPGA getting toasted will be the least of your concern.

Yep.

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deepceleron
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July 16, 2012, 05:08:29 AM
#14

To everyone saying there is nothing to worry about:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859
http://greekgeek.hubpages.com/hub/massive-solar-flare-1859

Quote
More seriously, the solar storm battered the world's infant communication network. Telegraph wires burst into flames, touching off fires (while in other cases fire crews were called to fires that did not exist, due to the fiery lights in the sky). Telegraph machines scorched paper printouts, stunned operators with electric shocks, transmitted gibberish, and continued working for hours even after being unplugged from the batteries that powered them.

Now add in millions of more miles of wires, not to mention adding such wiring to every home.  Sure, we're unlikely to experience another flare of that magnitude soon, and we will have some warning time.  However, it still won't be pleasant the next time it happens.  Also, there is the threat of geomagnetic reversal if the magnetic field is disturbed too much.  It has happened many times before and it will happen again.

I wouldn't live in fear of such events, but to discount them completely is IMHO folly.  Just make sure you have a few fire extinguishers and if a huge flare is detected don't ignore the instructions.  At the very least I'd switch off your main circuit breaker when it is going to hit.  The recent flare was the largest in 5 years, but it wasn't really that big.  We're still a year away from the peak of this cycle though so expect more and larger flares.  For more information, see spaceweather.com.
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dave3
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July 16, 2012, 06:11:51 AM
#15

It's my understanding that a large solar flare/Carrington Event could cause problems in areas with long transmission lines.  The large transformers at the end of those long transmission lines could be destroyed.

So from a practical point of view, I think the best thing you can do is install a good whole-house surge protector and make sure everything is grounded properly.  Midnite Solar makes a good whole-house surge protector for < $100.  You need to research them, because some of the brands out there are of really poor quality and won't provide much protection.

That being said, if something like that were to happen in your area, you may be without power for weeks/months/years depending on how wide spread the damage is, since there are limited quantities of the large transformers available to replace damaged ones.

But at least then you've got a chance to protect your equipment, so it can work again if you've got power back.  Or if you've got your own generator/fuel supply or solar power.
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July 16, 2012, 02:46:53 PM
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It's my understanding that a large solar flare/Carrington Event could cause problems in areas with long transmission lines.  The large transformers at the end of those long transmission lines could be destroyed.

So from a practical point of view, I think the best thing you can do is install a good whole-house surge protector and make sure everything is grounded properly.  Midnite Solar makes a good whole-house surge protector for < $100.  You need to research them, because some of the brands out there are of really poor quality and won't provide much protection.

That being said, if something like that were to happen in your area, you may be without power for weeks/months/years depending on how wide spread the damage is, since there are limited quantities of the large transformers available to replace damaged ones.

But at least then you've got a chance to protect your equipment, so it can work again if you've got power back.  Or if you've got your own generator/fuel supply or solar power.


Yep, out here in the hills we take stored food and generators as a given, hence I didn't mention them.

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flower1024
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July 16, 2012, 02:52:49 PM
#17

I'm not good enough at physics to know if there is a real threat to the circuits them selves. I'm not concerned with power issues, fuses and breakers will handle that. But if anything could fry the chips that have no metal around them that is grounded, many of us have a problem, cause we all have our FPGAs out in the open, ungrounded.

why dont just ground it then?

luckily i live in germany: nearly every house (except very old ones) are grounded.
i've even grounded one myself - its really easy.
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July 16, 2012, 03:01:00 PM
#18

I'm not good enough at physics to know if there is a real threat to the circuits them selves. I'm not concerned with power issues, fuses and breakers will handle that. But if anything could fry the chips that have no metal around them that is grounded, many of us have a problem, cause we all have our FPGAs out in the open, ungrounded.

why dont just ground it then?

luckily i live in germany: nearly every house (except very old ones) are grounded.
i've even grounded one myself - its really easy.

Because then you encourage current to flow through it into the ground.  When you get the warning the best way to protect electronics is to isolate them from any circuit and ideally put them in a faraday cage.

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July 16, 2012, 07:38:24 PM
#19

I'm concerned about dinosaurs breaking through the roof of the house and eating my computer.... except on certain holidays.
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July 16, 2012, 07:42:08 PM
#20

I'm concerned about dinosaurs breaking through the roof of the house and eating my computer.... except on certain holidays.


Dinoaur attacks are impossible on Christmas and Easter.  They are afraid of Jesus ever since he drove them into hiding.

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