We report on the absolute calibration of a microchannel plate (MCP) detector, used in conjunction with a Thomson parabola spectrometer. The calibration delivers the relation between a registered count numbers in the CCD camera (on which the MCP phosphor screen is imaged) and the number of ions incident on MCP. The particle response of the MCP is evaluated for positive, negative, and neutral particles at energies below 1 MeV. As the response of MCP depends on the energy and the species of the ions, the calibration is fundamental for the correct interpretation of the experimental results. The calibration method and arrangement exploits the unique emission symmetry of a specific source of fast ions and atoms driven by a high power laser.