Meteor Camera Software

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    Eliot Hall

    After William Stewart’s great talk on Saturday.  I have been inspired to setup a couple of meteor camera myself.  I have using this BAA journal article, the technical notes on the Nemetode website, and the equipment guide on the UK Meteor Network site as a guide for the build.  Over the weekend I went on a bit of a eBay shopping spree buying Watec 902H cameras, Computar lens, and old PCs.

    The next things I’ll need to to sort out are the video capture cards and the software.  UFOCaptureHD2 costs £170, and UFOCaptureV2 is £125 (these are per PC).  This will make the cost for the software the biggest single item per camera.  Never being someone who would buy something new if I couldn’t buy it second hand or make it I would like to reduce this cost.

    • Which Version of UFO Capture do I need to run Watec 902H’s?
    • Can I run more than one camera from a PC?
    • Do I really need to buy a licence for each PC? Could use some other motion capture software and then reprocess the snippets in UFO Capture?
    Nick James

    You don’t need the HD version of UFO capture for SD cameras. I’m using UFO Capture V2.24 under Windows 7/64-bit. The PC has three PCI Osprey 210 video capture cards and I run three instances of UFO capture for three cameras, 2 Watec 902H2s and 1 other B&W monitor camera. The PC is an old Dell Optiplex 780 with an Intel E8400 CPU running at 3GHz and 8 GB of memory. Each instance of UFO Capture uses around 150MB of memory so they are very lightweight. Each instance will use a different CPU core if it can and even with all three cards detecting the CPU load never goes above 30%

    I certainly prefer having a PCI card for the video capture since I occasionally had dropped frames using a USB dongle. The Osprey 210 is a really nice card. They are a bit pricey but occasionally come up at a decent price on ebay. I’ve never had any problems since I started using it.

    I don’t know the details of their licensing model but the problem is solved if you use a single PC.

    William Stewart

    Further to Nick’s comments, the UFO Capture licence is site licence and hence you do not need one for each PC. Worth having a look through the Hints & Tips section here  too for suggestions on optimising the PCs.

    Eliot Hall

    Thanks for the info guys. Good to know that I only need one PC, and the licence is per site.  That makes it far more affordable.

    Steve Bosley

    One other thing to watch out for, Eliot,  is hard disk space. At Clanfield we took the decision to have a dedicated PC per camera and each PC has either a 1TB or 2TB drive. This isn’t strictly necessary if you regularly check your captures and delete false clips – spiders and storms in particular can cause hundreds of false clips per night and if you aren’t careful, you could quickly start running out of space. We also copy our data to an archive drive so that at the end of each year we can delete the oldest records (but still have access to them)

    Regards, Steve

    Bill Ward


    My tuppence worth…

    I’ve been using Compro video cards (C100 and C500) for a decade and counting, Currently I have 8 installed they’ve all worked perfectly. They’re very old fashioned but cheap (£30 new) however I don’t know if they are made anymore.

    I’ve also found the latest Climax Digital usb grabbers have proved reliable, again cheap at ~£30 BUT only buy direct from the manufactures website as there are gazzilions of clones that are truly crap. As a test I’ve been running a comparison between the venerable C500 and a usb frame grabber and I can see no difference.

    There is also an alternative to UFO capture if you really want to keep costs down. This is handyavi. It is nowhere near as good as UFO (and that’s not a critisism it just not a single purpose entity like UFO Cap) and can’t be used for all the analysis.

    I’ve used it in “emergencies” and for plain captures it’s fine when tuned properly (It’s also good for other astrostuff which is where I mostly use it).

    So there are a few ways to get up an running on a budget but it all depends on what you want to do long term. You can always invest some more as your experience and/or interests develop.



    Eric Watkins

    Hi Eliot,

    I’d be interested to hear how you get on as I’d like to have a goat setting up a system in a few months time.


    Eliot Hall

    I’m still waiting for the cameras to come from China. With economy shipping then sorting out the import duties they could be a few weeks yet.

    I found on ebay 2 Osprey 230 video capture cards for £6 from the UK.  I’m going to look into the Climax Digital usb grabbers as I have an old laptop that I can use to get a mobile test system up and running.

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