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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The NEW Batscanner from Elekon Part 3 Of 3

The new Batscanner from Elekon, is a scanning heterodyne type bat detector. Thankfully, the local weather has been cooperating; so I was finally able to do some good testing of the detector. What follows, is the conclusion, of my 3 Part post.
So, the Batscanner has been picking up bats, and works as it should - When a bat flies within range, the echolocation is heard from the front speaker. And, if the user wishes to listen with headphones: Any standard headphones (with 3.5mm plug) work fine. I tested the unit with several name-brand earphones, and didn't encounter any problems. As expected, when headphones/ear-buds are plugged in, the front mounted speaker is disabled.
I have also tried some extensive testing, with the detector hooked up to various recorders. I did not end up getting any good results. As per the manufacturer, this detector was never designed to be used for un-attended recording. It was made for listening.

I agree that the Batscanner is, in fact very easy to handle & listen with. In my case, I just like to experiment with recording from different bat detectors. And, of course, it's always fine with frequency division detectors. But, as we know: Recordings from heterodyne detectors are practically useless anyway -

When using the various NiMh rechargeable batteries (as mentioned in Post 2) I noticed that I got mixed results; and short battery life. Then it occurred to me: The fact is, the Batscanner was designed to use 3 1.5v AAA-type batteries. The rechargeable batteries are rated at 1.2v (although, most times, they do provide higher amperage). Not a problem. Going forward, I'll be using high quality alkaline disposable batteries; and I've already noticed an improvement in performance and length of battery life. So, that's good.

An interesting discovery:
Upon testing frequency response/frequency read-out by producing known frequency tones: The display did not seem accurate. In fact, the only way I can get the display to read anything at all, is if I produce a 20 kHz tone... Nothing else was picked up or registered (10, 30, 40, 50, 60kHz..etc.). The program I used is called Usonic. It's a free, DOS-based program that uses your computer's "beep" speaker - Sometimes, it will use one of your main speakers, on a laptop, for instance. If interested, you can download it HERE (from the Durham Bats Group Website). In any case, I contacted Elekon about it, and found out that this is by design. A very clever design, I might add! Here is an excerpt, from Elekon's reply: 

 "...but you underestimated us. If you go outside and "listen" to the bats you should have no other animals or noise you hear. The point is that we are triggering bats with a complex hard- and software - combination. If you have a linear signal we know, that it is not a bat and don't display it."

Wow! Is that amazing, or what?!? What this also means, is that the unit will not focus on any unwanted sounds that you may encounter in the field. Very cool!

All-in-all, I like this detector! It's sensitive, perfect for Bat Walks, and displays the peak frequency of the last bat that flew by. Helping the user get closer to making an identification of the species. 
All this, for only $265 US (+VAT and/or shipping). I'll probably be writing a simple one-page, review of this unit in the near future. And, I'll provide a link to where it will be. 

Happy bat detecting! 

4 comments:

  1. Is it useable for orthoptera ?

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  2. Maybe I have to explain my question.
    I read in the review that the detection of the batdetector is made such a way that other sounds then from bats are as much as possible worn out.
    You yourself noticed that clear sounds of a certain frequency were not recognized.
    i wonder if you even not could hear ém through the speaker or that it is oly so that a optimal frequency is not displayed.
    For orthoptera it is impotrant to me that all the sounds are fully transformed and made hearable through the speaker.

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  3. Thank you for your question/comment. To answer your question: No, The Batscanner from Elekon does not perform very well with Orthoptera. I have tested it on several occasions, and insects did not register very well. On the few nights that it did pick up some (Katydids)- Only some faint audio was heard. And, I have never seen the display change to indicate the frequency of Orthoptera.

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  4. You mention using the program usonic from the Durham Bats Group website to generate a test signal. The page linked to no longer exists. Do you think it's the same program referred to here:
    http://bertrik.sikken.nl/bat/calibrat.htm

    If so, I'm having trouble getting it to do anything, and I'm wondering if it's written for older hardware than I have.

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