How to build meteor detection camera

You can start your very own meteor video detection camera. It's easier with our detailed guide.

Video meter observation, unlike visual observation, does not require the observer to watch the sky continually. Instead, detecting and recording meteors is an automated process. It sounds like it might be complicated, but in fact building a video meter station is quite easy.

We have put together some guidance to help you with equipment choices and setting up the various components. The table below will give you some idea of how much it will cost. We will continue to maintain our equipment pages to include any new equipment that our members are using successfully as well as any hints and tips they may have.

The equipment needed build a UKMON compatible video meteor station are listed in the following table:


CCTV camera

Here opinion is divided. Some prefer the more expensive Watec an it is true that its higher resolution gives visually more spectacular images and videos, but we have proven that cameras costing far less can deliver data that is just as good.

Further read: Choosing a Camera, Configure the Watec 902 H2 Ultimate or KDM-6101G OSD settings

Cost: £70 to £300


Auto-iris lens

The specification of the lens is important; it affects image quality, determines the field of view and the amount of light reaching the camera's detector. An-auto iris lens is needed so that the detector can be protected from direct sunlight in daylight hours.

Read: Choosing a Lens

Cost: £50


Computer

A computer is needed to run the data acquisition software and store the recoded meteor clips. The requirements are quite modest (even an old windows PC can be used) but you need to be aware of a few things.

Read: Guidance on suitable computers and computer configuration

Cost: £100 to £150


Video decoder

The job of the video decoder is to take the PAL signal from your CCTV camera and turn it into a digital data stream that your computer will understand.

Read: Guidance on choosing a video decoder

Cost: £60

Power supply

Your camera will need its own low voltage power supply, so will any dew heater installed in the camera housing. The Camera power supply will also control the auto-iris lens and so this needs to be on some sort of timer or light sensitive switch so that the lens iris is closed in daylight hours.

Read: Guidance and options for power supplies

Cost: £20 to £30


Cabling

Unfortunately, UKMON is not wireless! Cables need to be run between the camera housing to bring power to the camera and deliver the camera PAL signal to the video decoder / computer.

Read: Tips on cabling is available here

Price: £20



Weatherproof camera housing

Your camera and lens needs to be mounted securely and protected from the elements.

Read: Guidance on choosing and installing a camera housing

Cost: £40


Video Capture Software

There's a few different software solutions, each doing much the same job, but producing different outputs. To be fully compatible with UKMON you will need to use SonotaCo UFO Capture. Subject to exchange rates.

Read: UFO Capture and operating settings

Cost: £125


Notes:

The cost of setting up a meteor monitoring station will depend on your equipment choices but the likely cost will be somewhere between £475 to £800. If you happen to have a spare PC laying around then the setup cost will be lower and some items can be sourced from eBay for less.

Although not an insignificant sum it compares favourably with the cost of an astronomical telescope, but unlike a telescope this is an installation that can run 7 days a week and 365 days a year AND you will be generating and sharing valuable scientific data. We think this is good value for money.

Would you like to start meteor detection camera?

Buy KDM-6101G Camera