Page Created: 2005 February 21
Page Last Updated: 2011 August 12

Welcome to Starlight Cascade Observatory FM Meteor Detection Page!
Near Yarker, Ontario, Canada. (44.22.39 N 76.45.47 W    155M Elevation)

FM Meteor Detector

Meteors entering the atmosphere will produce a trail of ions that will reflect radio waves. There is only a narrow band of radio frequencies where this will happen. At low frequencies (< 50 MHz) the ionosphere reflects the radio waves without meteors trails. At high frequencies (> 150 MHz), the radio waves are scattered for too short of a time (< 1 second). The FM radio band (88 - 108 MHz) falls within this frequency range.
If we set up an FM Radio Receiver tuned to a station that under normal conditions we do not receive, we will receive it if a meteor passes between it and our location, with the radio signal reflecting off the ion trail.

Most recent strip charts:
Apr 25 08:01 skypipepic.jpg

Most recent one hour chart

Apr 25 08:01 skypipepicfv.jpg

most recent cumulative daily chart
(00:00 to present UT)

Image/data graph archive (updated daily)

Recent News

  • 2013 May 01 - radioskypipe locking up again with no new data for no reason that we can find. Restarted again this morning.
  • 2013 April 23 - Digital FM Radio fixed. 94.80 MHz now has a station on it. Change to 91.10 MHz - no station with lowest noise signal.
  • 2013 April 12 - Digital FM radio fails
  • 2013 March 17 - replaced the underpowered computer that used to log data from this system but locked up too much when SID2 came online back in August 2012. Should be operational sometime later this week.
  • 20120819 - skypipe has been locking up on us for a few days, so we've disabled the program for the time being until we can time to troubleshoot. The only recent change has been the addition of Meter View 1.0 to collect data from the SID2 system.
  • 20120310 - updated radio skypipe to v2.3.26
  • 20111215 - updated radio skypipe to v2.3.22
  • 20110812 - updated some code and archive file processing
  • 20101101 - changed the radio receiver from 98.40 MHz to 89.50 MHz and seem to be getting better results. In the past it was basically a flat line all of the time. Now we are actually getting some data. Now using v2.1.17
  • 20100131 - revamped the webpage, each upload has a different image filename, so cannot display current image on this page. Look at ftp client upload options
  • 20100106 - discovered ftp uploaded broken for a month.. will have to restart server later today. 1.6Gb of archived uploaded graph imagery now stored. upgraded to v2.1.15
  • 20081101 - Added a UPS to the workstation, and network switch. Radio still without backup power
  • 200808 - replaced workstation with new low power Intel Atom 4w processor based system to lower power bills :) more memory 1Gb DDR2, 80Gb SATA2, but some driver issues. Could not install MS WinXPPro. Was able to install NT2000 quieter (no fan on CPU, just heat sink, but noisy fan on chipset and in power supply.
  • 20071205 - upgraded to v1.5.8 (or maybe 1.5.9 as the installer showed that).
  • 20070723 - upgraded to v1.5.6 and the ftp upload of imagery is now working! Now tuned to 89.40MHz, with dipole running roughly east-west to pick up transmitters in the south...
  • 20070623 - updated page, skypipe pro edition still running very slowly on p4-1/8GHz... very unresponsive. ftp uploading of strip charts still not working either.
  • 20070123 - uploads of meteor data as images now working!.. ok Only once.
  • 20070120 - upgraded radio sky pipe to the Pro edition today and started running it. Not sure what exactly it will do but we will find out soon.

    Our setup

  • Digital FM radio for ease of specific frequency tuning with an external atenna jack that run to a dipole antenna mounted on the roof of the house. The dipole is running east-west and each arm is approx 1.5m in length. c=fw c=3x10^8m/s f=90MHz=9*10^7 w= 3.3m
  • An 1/8" plug is connected to the radio audio output and runs into a computer workstation sound card input. The computer is located approx 3m away from the radio. The Compact Fluorescent bulbs in the room were replaced with incandescent bulbs to reduce RFI (Radio Frequency Interference).
  • Software monitors and constantly samples the audio inputs. Data is stored in files every few hours and a new dataset starts. We used Radio - Skypipe v1.41 free edition running on an older P4-1.7GHz workstation with 512mb RAM and a Creative Labs PCI CT4810 sound card (now using retail version on a new Intel Atom 1.6GHz system with onboard sound).
  • At some point a human goes through the data files looking for meteors, actually isolated peaks in the signal strength.

    Links

  • http://www.skyscan.ca/ Our inspiration!
  • http://www.tikalon.net/meteor/meteor.htm
  • http://www.imo.net/radio International Meteor Organization