Cost of a SETI station.

Assuming that you would like to assemble a SETI station from available equipment, most of this would have to be ordered from the US. The cost of this is obviously the exchange rate and usually some import duty with VAT.

The equipment for a typical SETI station is shown in the diagram below. This equipment will allow the operator to monitor a 22KHz bandwidth of 1420MHz and display the result on a screen.


Parabolic Dish

The most difficult part of the station will probably be the parabolic dish. I have obtained 3m and 4m dishes for about 150 to 200. You may get the dish support with this depending on the source, or you may have to build your own. The main SETI League Website mentions that suitable dishes are faily easily available in the USA. Unfortunately this is not the case here in the UK. It seems that the early 'C' Band systems seemed to go into Pubs and betting shops only, not many people had them for domestic use. Even so, these dishes have probably been superseeded with the 10GHz 'BSB' systems and the larger dishes are probably laying there unused. Have a look around your local area and try chatting to the barman !

NOTE : if you see mention of BUGs in any SETI literature, it is probably an acronym for Big Ugly Dish.

Dish Feed

There are two dish feeds that I know of that are available commercially. The helical dish feed from the Olde Antenna Lab of Denver, and the waveguide transition feed with choke ring from Down East Microwave. It is possible to build a suitable dish feed using suitable material from your local hardware shop.

Low noise amplifier

There are two 1420MHz LNAs available from Down East Microwave. Both are suitable for SETI work, the higher cost one being more sensitive.

1420MHz to 144MHz down converter

Down East Microwave supply a suitable frequency converter for SETI.

144MHz receiver

The R2 receiver, modified for SETI use to give 22KHz bandwidth, is recommended. Available from Hands Electronics

Computer with soundcard

A computer capable of a real time 22KHz FFT probably has a minimum specification of a 486DX33 or similar.

The soundcard needs to be an SB16 compatible. Many cheap clone cards claim to be, but the software won't recognise them. The only way to guarantee compatibly is to buy a real Creative Labs SB16 or better ( AWE32 ). You might want to avoid any Plug-and-Play cards unless you enjoy challenges J



Cost ( as of 18/12/98 )

I'll use an exchange rate of 1.7 USD/UKP, and convert approximatel.

Item Supplier Cost ( $ ) Cost ( )
Parabolic Dish Harrison Electronics  -  200
Dish Feed Radio Astronomy Supplies  $160  95
LNA SETI-LNAN Down East Microwave Inc.  $105  62
Converter 1420-144CK Down East Microwave Inc.  $195  115
Receiver - R2 KK7B kits  $109  65
Cables, concrete etc     50
Computer Your local supplier  -  400
Total      987


Supplier details

Radio Astronomy Supplies

Jeffrey M. Lichtman>

190 Jade Cove Drive, Roswell, GA 30075 (770) 992-4959

Hands Electronics

Tegryn Llanfyrnach Pembs SA35 0BL U.K


Tel. 01239 698427 Fax. 01239 831652