For an update on results from testing of our equipment set-up over the past year, visit the Camera System Performance page.

There is some specialized equipment for this project but perhaps not as much as you might think.  The first, and largest, piece of equipment is the telescope. To this we connect a video camera in place of an eyepiece.  The output of the camera is connected to a GPS timing box. The combined video and GPS data is then captured with a netbook computer. A set of wires is used to transmit data and power between these devices.

Guides for setting up the equipment below are available at

telescope Camera GPS Timer netbook

Below is a complete equipment list for replicating the RECON setup:

Item Description Price
Telescope, Mount, and Tripod Celestron CPC1100 XLT. This telescope has an 11″ (28 cm) diameter primary mirror and weighs about 65 lbs (29 kg). A 40mm eyepiece, star diagonal, and finder scope are included. $2699
Telescope Storage Case Large storage case for telescope. 7$70
Foam for storage case Foam to protect telescope in storage case. $20
 Telrad Zero-power (no magnification) finder.  This device projects a red bulls-eye pattern on the sky to let you do coarse location and centering of bright objects for the telescope. $37
Dew shield A shield that is mounted on the front of the telescope that helps prevent dew on the telescope corrector plate during moist air conditions. $62
Focus Mask A hard-plastic Bahtinov-type focusing mask used for accurate telescope focusing $25
 Camera RECON 428: MallinCAM B&W Special.  This is a special video camera that we use for collecting the data.


RECON 828:  High sensitivity version




Focal reducer MFR-5 focal reducer that increases the field of view of the camera.  This unit makes it easy to find and track our targets and improves the sensitivity of the video data.  This item also doubles as a mounting flange that lets the camera mount in place of an eyepiece. $250
 Laptop Acer Aspire V5, used for recording and uploading video data. Includes AC power connector.  Any reasonable portable computer will probably work fine. $300
 GPS timer IOTA-VTI.  VTI=video time inserter.  This device superimposes time and date or location information on the video data coming from the camera so it can be recorded. We use this information to know where and where the data were taken. $250
(H) USB Video Adapter This adapter converts the analog video signal (RCA plug) from the IOTA-VTI box into a digital signal for capture and storage on the laptop (USB plug).  (StarTech SVID2USB2) $60
Battery Pack Rechargeable battery pack.  This provides power to the telescope, camera, and video timer (Cen-Tech item#62306) $50
Hardware Storage Case Water and dust tight plastic storage box to hold everything other than the telescope (30.6 qt) $12
RCA cable Used to connect the USB Adapter to the IOTA-VTI box. $5
(E) Power Splitter 24” CCTV Power “Y” cable, female barrel to two male barrels $3
(D) Cigarette Lighter Adapter 24” 12V male lighter plug to male barrel $3
(C) CA-2219 Cable Assembly 3’ cable, straight female barrel to 90º male barrel $3
(F) 25′ CCTV video/power cable 25′ CCTV video/power cable (very long) $13
(A) Cigarette Lighter Adapter 2 Y adapter to provide power from battery pack $8