Our collaboration has designed, installed, and operated a compact antineutrino detector at a nuclear power station, for the purpose of monitoring the power and plutonium content of the reactor core. This paper focuses on the basic properties and performance of the detector. We describe the site, the reactor source, and the detector, and provide data that clearly show the expected antineutrino signal. Our data and experience demonstrate that it is possible to operate a simple, relatively small, antineutrino detector near a reactor, in a non-intrusive and unattended mode for months to years at a time, from outside the reactor containment, with no disruption of day-to-day operations at the reactor site. This unique real-time cooperative monitoring capability may be of interest for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reactor safeguards program and similar regimes.