Detecting Meteors With SDR

The simplest way to look for meteors is to go outside at night and look up — but it’s not terribly effective. Fortunately, there’s a better way: radio. With a software-defined radio and a little know-how from [Tech Minds], you can easily find them, as you can see in the video below.

This uses the UK meteor beacon we’ve looked at before. The beacon pushes an RF signal out so you can read the reflections from meteors. If you are too far from the beacon, you may need a special antenna or you might have to find another beacon altogether. We know of the Graves radar in France and we have to wonder if you couldn’t use some commercial transmitter with a little experimentation.

[Tech Minds] has some practical tips to share if you want to try doing it yourself. If you want to see what a detected meteor looks like, you can visit the UK beacon’s gallery page.

We saw another presentation on the UK beacon earlier this year. Using commercial transmitters sounds like it might be easy, but apparently, it isn’t.

10 thoughts on “Detecting Meteors With SDR

    1. I remember an article in I think Radio-TV Experimenter about Hams working meteor skips during heavy meteor storms like the Orionids or Leonids. There was something about the audio sound indicating to the Ham they were on a meteor skips.

  1. IIRC one of the web sites that shows meteors uses TV stations that are over the horizon or the other side of a mountain range but seem to be shut down now as analog TV has ended in most places. Maybe FM radio stations will work as well.

  2. FM broadcasts from a moderate distance will suddenly have one burst of some distant station instead. I’ve often heard this when listening to weaker stations outside of our public radio dessert.

  3. I have stayed up all night a few times, Working SSB stations via 6M (50MHz) meteor scatter. The voice signals have a distinct sound. I have also worked stations via aurora reflections. Those voice signals have their own distinct tonal qualities. Listen on 6M & 2M during forecasted peaks of the strongest meteor showers and when auroras are forecast near your latitude.

    1. I don’t understand your point. This is a very specific case to show how to use software to control a software defined radio to look for meteors, which makes people more familiar with this method. If you can do this with an old school receiver, without a computer, then please write an article yourself, I’d love to read it.

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