Friday, February 19, 2010

Meteor Hunting PC

To accompany my new Astrovid Fireball Camera I needed a reliable PC system to drive the meteor detection software. The meteor detection software comes from a company in Japan called Sonotaco ( and I’ll elaborate more on the software in later posts.

The new meteor detection PC needed to be fairly powerful to cope with the video processing and storage. Video manipulation is one of those areas that still pushes PC requirements way beyond that of say, Microsoft Word or playing Solitaire.

Video files can take up a lot of space, particularly considering that the system will be detecting meteors every night. I had just upgraded my main PC system and had a few spare parts lying around that could go towards building a PC that would fit my needs.

Additional to the parts that I already had, I decided to replace the following:
Power Supply – I wanted a new one for clean reliable power
Hard Disk – Ample space on a new 1TB Hard Disk
Case – I really needed a better air cooled case to cope with those hot 30 degree nights in Melbourne! The massive 200mm fan on top of the Antec Nine Hundred case should help :)
Monitor – I finally had an excuse to ditch the 20KG 19” CRT monitor for a much brighter, lighter and larger LCD. It’s amazing how cheap LCD’s are these days compared to what large CRT’s used to cost.
I installed Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate for what would hopefully be increased stability. Rarely a day goes by where I don’t crash Windows XP or Vista. Actually I also crashed Windows 7 a few times with a blue screen of death, it’s quite hard to do and requires a special talent, but that’s another story.

The final PC specs follow:

Computer Name - Meteor
Operating System - Windows 7 Ultimate
CPU Type - Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU 6600 @ 2.40GHz
Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 (rev 2.0)
System Memory - 2,048 MB DDR2
Power Supply - Antec 550w Basiq ATX Power Supply
Case - Antec Nine Hundred, Black, ATX, Top Mounted 200mm Fan
Video Adapter - NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
Monitor - Acer H243H (DPMS)
Disk Drive - SATAII Device 931 GB
Optical Drive - HP DVD Writer 1270r ATA Device

Not only are the PC specs quite adequate, but the PC itself turned out to look pretty cool with bright blue LED’s in all fans, including the massive 200mm fan on top.

My Meteor Hunting PC. The silver box on top
 is a Canopus ADVC-55 DV Converter.

The PC was ready to hunt meteors.

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