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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Review: The New AnaBat SD2 - Part 2 Of 2

Review: The New AnaBat SD2 - Part 2 Of 2
Here is an example of how the AnaBat SD2 creates a small Log File, to record the various processes that take place.

AnaBat SD2 - CF Bat Detector
Firmware Version: V4060g
Serial Number: SN XXXXX
------------------------
YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS
2012-08-27 18:41:14   ------------ BOOT MODE ------------
2012-08-27 18:41:14   Wakeup from Power Button
2012-08-27 18:41:14   Startup Sensitivity set from Pot to: 50
2012-08-27 18:41:14   SD2 powered by Internal AA batteries: 5.15V
2012-08-27 18:41:14   Temperature is 21 deg C (+/- 3 deg C)
2012-08-27 18:41:14   Initialising USB CDC Class
2012-08-27 18:41:14   Initialising Low-Level Disk I/O Layer
2012-08-27 18:41:14   CF Drive Mounted.
2012-08-27 18:41:14   Checking for DATA.DAT File..
2012-08-27 18:41:15   Data.dat file found
2012-08-27 18:41:15    -> Reading Header Information..
2012-08-27 18:41:15       Data.dat is ok.
2012-08-27 18:41:15    -> Scanning for First Unused Data Sector..
2012-08-27 18:41:15       Data.dat says file size is 1963776 kB and data starts on CF at sector 0x247
2012-08-27 18:41:15       First empty sector found at address 0x4600 in Data.dat
2012-08-27 18:41:15   No monitoring begin / end time parameters set on the card
2012-08-27 18:41:15   ------------ FORCED RECORD MODE ------------
2012-08-28 04:36:56   Power Button Pressed
2012-08-28 04:36:56   Record Report:
2012-08-28 04:36:56    -> Internal AA batteries: 5.04V
2012-08-28 04:36:57    -> Recording session began at 18:41:15
2012-08-28 04:36:57    -> Recording session ended at 4:36:56
2012-08-28 04:36:57    -> You recorded 113 kB (226 sectors) during this session
2012-08-28 04:36:57    -> Total size of data in data.dat = 130 kB (261 sectors)
2012-08-28 04:36:57    -> Total space left = 1963645 kB (3927291 sectors)
2012-08-28 04:36:57   ------------ LOW-POWER MODE ------------

Here is a partial screen capture, (call of an Eastern Red Bat) - I "included" the Dialog box showing the version of AnaBat software:

 To be continued...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: The New AnaBat SD2 - Part 1 Of 2

The New AnaBat SD2 is a solidly built bat detecting device. I was originally a bit concerned with what I thought would be a steep learning curve (in order to even use the unit). After all, Titley Scientific offers on-going classes, for the purpose of instructing users on how to get the most from their Anabat systems.

But, I was pleased to see that it wasn't difficult to set-up and use at all. You can become acquainted with the User Manual fairly easily. I would guess that most Folks will be able to read through, and "absorb" it all, in just about an hour or two. And, be able to operate the machine properly.
Especially if you don't intend to use a PDA with the Anabat (in which case, you can "skip" those sections of the User Manual).
This is a good thing: Since there are, of course, instances when a researcher is out in the field (for several months, for example). More than likely, in a remote area of the world.

Layout of buttons: The arrangement of the Anabat's main controls - Sensitivity Knob, Power Button, Volume Buttons, etc., are all thoughtfully placed.

Acceptable weather did not present itself for quite some time, after the arrival of the test unit. When good bat detecting weather did finally roll around: I did not want to miss the opportunity of an evening of recording...So I made a quick preliminary check (of the Division Settings, etc.), adjusted the Sensitivity Knob,  and set it up to record bat data; quite easily...
The first thing I was pleased to discover, was how resistant it was to "man-made" sounds. And, how it would never record sounds made by my opening/closing of the window, or even nearby neighbors (who may have been mucking about). Most other detectors would register triggers for a lot of these events. So, it has outstanding rejection abilities (when it comes to non-bat sounds). 
As of yet, with the sensitivity knob set to ~ 5, I've yet to even record a tree-dwelling Katydid.

Another one of the things I noticed early on, was that the AnaBat reminds me of a computer network server!
In the past, I worked as a Computer Engineer for ~15 years, and as a Network Engineer for ~3. Which is why I noticed it right away; when I took my first look at the AnaBat's Log files. It was like a "flashback" to my days working in a server room. Every event was logged.

I can further illustrate my point, by pasting a couple of paragraphs, directly from the Titely Anabat User Manual:


"Each time the SD2 is turned on it creates a file in a log

directory (1 MB) on the CF card. These log files record all

of the events which occur while the detector is switched

on, such as the buttons pressed, operating modes, time

parameters set, errors which occurred and so on. These
log files are very useful for diagnosing problems."
CF card must be formatted (Quick Format is OK). Then, initialized using the 'Cfcread' app (on the Titely CD-ROM); this takes several minutes."
 

One might say, that the process of checking the bat recordings requires a step or two more, than other high-end (recording) bat detectors. Once again, I will share a cutting from the Anabat User Manual: 
 

"7. On completion of recording session…

Press POWER button. It is now safe to remove the CF card.

8. Download and view data

Use the CFCread program to download the saved data from the CF card

onto your computer. Then use the AnalookW program to view, analyse

and identify the bat calls to species. See the section on ‘HOW TO
DOWNLOAD DATA FROM THE CF CARD’ for details."
I prefer removing a memory card from a (high-end) bat detector, and being able to access it using virtually any .wav capable program. Other top-of-the-range bat detectors do this easily.
Now, as for power consumption:
 

"TIPS FOR PASSIVE MONITORING

Power and data storage space

For short term monitoring sessions the detector can simply be powered by AA

batteries. We recommend Alkaline or Nickel Metal Hydride rechargeable

batteries with a capacity of at least 2500mAh. These add very little weight

and may last 2-3 days depending on the length of your recording sessions,

battery type and condition etc. However in practice it would be safer to use
the AA batteries for one full night only before recharging/replacing them.
45
This is because battery capacity is also affected by other factors such as
temperature, and they may not last as long as expected in the field.
"
In testing, I found that all of my rechargeable/NiMh batteries held up very well. Providing enough power for an entire night's recording +... So, the AnanBat gets high marks for battery consumption.
  
The AnaBat's CF Card occasionally develops errors. I can see this being caused by "Operator error". Such as: Not powering off the unit before ejecting the CF card; and things of that nature. 
So, it's Nice to have file recovery tools / corrupt files -
The following is from page 87, of the User Manual:
 
"REPAIR OPTIONS FOR CORRUPT DATA.DAT FILES
A number of other options are available in CFCread under ‘Repair’ the menu bar which may help you fix corrupt DATA.DAT files."

I thought I would "enjoy" checking the time remotely, via usb cable... using cf Storage ZCAIM Interface...but, I had issues: My first attempts didn't work - back to the User Manual...

The AnaLookW software, is where due diligence is needed. In using the software to view subsequent bat recordings; one can see that visual analyzing is the "preferred" method of the software. Since one must utilize a few additional steps, in order to actually listen to the recorded bat calls. More on that later.  

To be continued, in Part 2 Of 2...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BatBox Griffin: The Latest Firmware Update (V23)

I was very intrigued, when I first learned of the new firmware release for Griffin; from BatBox, Ltd.
The firmware was made available to me, from Batbox, Ltd., to review and explore, etc. It will be made available, for all Griffin owners, on their Firmware Update Page Here - In about a week.

If your system is up to date (Ver.22) then, just before the update (to Ver.23) your firmware info should read similar to this:
PIC   V140
FPGA   V09.01.2012
S/W   V14.03.2012

Upon launching the upgrade application, it will begin it's (short) process, by displaying the following:
"Doing upgrade, please wait" and the system will begin to perform the upgrade on itself...
Eventually, the final text displayed on the screen will read:
FPGA Upgrade
Program
ToGo: (The seconds count down) 98..97....42...31... Until the system powers itself off (upon completion).

When you next power the unit on, the system will go through a few more upgrade-related splash screens (automatically) and will then return to the ready state.

If one checks the firmware status, the display should read something like this:
PIC   V140
FPGA   V09.01.2012
S/W   V05.07.2012

Which indicates that the upgrade has completed successfully.
At this time, I don't have any solid specifics to report. Since this firmware upgrade is so new, the official documentation has not been made available to me yet.
Also, It is currently 4:00 AM here in the Northeastern United States, and the peak times for (best) bat activity has already passed. I hope to test it's unattended recording improvements tomorrow night.

Happy bat detecting!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Hint Of Things To Come...

Just a quick post - The next update will be The Part 1 Of 2 Review, of the new AnaBat SD2. For now, I'll just tell you that the unit performs well for unattended recording.

Also, BatBox Ltd. has completed a new firmware update, for their wonderful Griffin detector. I'm in the process of testing it, and will be posting a short review soon. The firmware package will be made available to the public, via their Website in about a week. I really like what I've learned about it so far!
Hint: Think of...a 'Black Box' on an aircraft...or a buoy out at sea... : )

Happy bat detecting!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The New AnaBat SD2: First Impressions

The new AnaBat SD2 bat detector from Titley Scientific has arrived. This loaner unit was well packaged; double-boxed, with the AnaBat unit and accessories well protected in grey foam. It's a very robust unit, with sturdy construction throughout.



As you can see, in the photos above - Aside from the CD ROM disc, which contains a the latest version of AnalookW call analysis software (along with User Manual in PDF, and other data). It is supplied with all necessary cables: Serial cable, Mini-USB to USB cable, 2GB CF Memory card, and a fused power cable (for powering the unit via a 12v DC power source). The CF Memory card Slot, features a protective cover that is secured with two (silver colored) thumbscrews.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Next Detector To Be Reviewed: The (new) AnaBat SD2

Well, that was a short Holiday ...Coming back from "Vacation" with a bang! - Yes, I will finally be testing and reviewing the new AnaBat SD2 unit From Titley Scientific. With it's reputation, and the fact that it is among the industry standard of bat detectors: In use by Professionals all over the World...It's time to get serious again...
Titley Scientific has agreed to send me a loaner unit to review. It shouldn't be too long before it arrives. Which means, there will be a First Impressions Post here in the near future.
Stay tuned...

Happy bat detecting!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Since I'll Be Reviewing A Zero Crossing Detector Now...

Since I'll be reviewing the New AnaBat SD2 - Which, among other things, is a Zero Crossing bat detector.

Now, would be a really good time, to have this great new software from BCID available. This is a great window of opportunity, since I'll have a zero crossing bat detector to review at the same time.


Here is an excerpt, from the BCID Site:

Purchase BCID East

  • Version 2.4m -- Released 5/9/12
  • Improved wav to zero crossing converter to allow more file types, including 2 channel files
  • Params files can now be selected from any folder on the users computer.
  • Updated a few states where species were missing or unable to be turned off.
  • Used by more than a dozen Professional Consulting Companies.
  • Compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7 both 32 and 64 bit systems.

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Next Review: Amazing Software From BCID

There will be a few products being reviewed, in the near future... The next product to be reviewed, will be this simply amazing bat call identification software package from BCID

I won't go into too many details now, but I urge you to take a quick look at their Software Page, and see for yourself.
This is something that American Bat Researchers can really use!

An excerpt, from their Website:

BCID East

  • Version 2.4m -- Released 5/9/12
  • Improved wav to zero crossing converter to allow more file types, including 2 channel files*
  • Params files can now be selected from any folder on the users computer.
  • Updated a few states where species were missing or unable to be turned off.
  • Used by more than a dozen Professional Consulting Companies.
  • Compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7 both 32 and 64 bit systems.
*One of my favorite features!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

'A Description Of The Acoustic Method...' Link

Another great link I recently found - Interesting reading for those interested in Bat ID -

A description of the acoustic method used to discriminate between different species of Myotis bats developed by Michel Barataud

http://www.batecho.eu/html/frame04.html 

--- And ---

The BatBox Griffin - Video On YouTube:  Griffin 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Must Have Book For UK Readers! British Bat Calls

An awesome new book will be shipping soon. It will be of particular interest to bat enthusiasts in the UK:

British Bat Calls
A Guide to Species Identification

Jon Russ
185 pages, colour illustrations, distribution maps.

...How I wish such a book existed for American bats! *sigh*
You Folks in the UK are very lucky (in more ways than one!)...

You may pre-order the book, from NHBS via the link below:

Great New Bat Blog From Germany

Fledermaus!

I'd like to share a really nice bat detector page I just "discovered" - The author of the blog, Johann Schilling, was nice enough to include a link to my blog on it : )


(It's in German, but can be easily translated with Web-based tools if need be (Babel Fish, etc.)

I strongly urge you to visit, and have a look around! - There are some incredibly informative links about bat detecting there! (many of which, are in English).

Happy bat detecting!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pettersson D240X Review In The Next WSRS Journal

For those who are interested, or who are already Members - Just FYI: 

The Spring 2012 edition of the WSRS Journal 'Wildlife Sound' 


Coming very soon for WSRS Members!

It will feature a slightly different version, of my review of The D240X.

Link to The WSRS Website

Monday, May 21, 2012

Now Available: The Batango From Dodotronic -

While recently "making my rounds" visiting a few bat detector company websites, I noticed that Dodotronic has given theirs a new look. And, I've also noticed that they are now taking online orders for The Batango.
So, this is just a quick post, to let you know. The Batango

Happy bat detecting!

Friday, May 18, 2012

For Those Who Are Also Interested In Insects, And Other Typical Backyard Fauna

I've just started updating one of my other blogs pretty regularly lately - Bronx Bugs, Birds & Bats
So I just thought I would share. I try to cover most of the small critters that I encounter, both in my backyard; and my Sister-in-law's. I plan to update it very regularly now. And I hope that many of you find it of interest.

Happy bat detecting!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The New Advertisements You May Have Noticed...

A short post, to cover the topic of the new advertisements you've probably noticed -

Basically, I never intended to have any Ads at all on any of my blogs. But - An unexpected situation (and opportunity) has presented itself - Something rather unique.
Two of my favorite online shops: Alana Ecology and NHBS, have merged. And, NHBS now offers Bloggers and owners of Websites, the option of adding Links and Ads on their pages - Which allow Bloggers to receive (a small percentage) of any orders placed via their pages.

I've started to place small link buttons in my posts, if I happen to be mentioning a book or product that NHBS has available. So, if you are considering buying something that NHBS carries - Then I would appreciate it, if you would order the item by using the links on my pages. I use the "points earned" to discount my orders with them.

This will be the beginning (and the end) of my involvement with anything "Commercial" or advertising-related. The only reason that I have opted to include Ads on my blogs, is because I am honestly very fond of NHBS, and the unique products that they offer. I believe that they are a very valuable online resource.

Well, I do hope that I've explained it all clearly enough!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Follow-Up Post Regarding Bat Call Software

Follow-Up Post regarding the subject of Bat call analysis software

I have not been contacted by any software manufacturers. Just FYI: This isn't the first time that I've had no response from them. There has been a comment, posted by Mr. Raimund Specht of Avisoft Bioacoustics
Directing our attention to a very thorough software package that he has available - http://www.avisoft.com/downloads.htm  See Comment Here
 
I don't really see myself reviewing the (free) Demo versions of these applications, but since Raimund was kind enough to direct our attention to his app, I will install it on this laptop; give it another try, and report my thoughts. I have had the opportunity to use his software in the past (while reviewing his new, compact ultrasound devices). I will say this: It is a very detailed software application!

At this point, I will advise; that if a software package interests you - Simply download & try-out their free demo version (if available) and decide for yourself.

Happy bat detecting!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Devices Used For Recording Orthoptera (Singing Insects)

In addition to detecting bats: I occasionally do enjoy detecting, and attempting to identify Orthopetra (various singing insects). I'm going to try to keep this post as brief as possible. I simply want to share the results of tests I've done; using a few different bat detectors, etc.
For those who are also interested in singing insects, there are two books that I can highly recommend:
The first is 'Guide To Night-Singing Insects Of The Northeast' by John Himmelman.
The second, is called 'The Songs Of Insects' by Lang Elliot and Wil Hershberger. They both cover the Orthoptera of the Northeastern United States.
In the US, they may be found just about anywhere books are sold.

For Readers in the UK & Europe who are interested, they may be purchased from NHBS, by clicking on the links below:



The second book, is the one I used for my testing: I used recordings from the (included) audio CD; limiting my focus to the songs of insects that happened to be in the sub-audible range. I suppose they may also be described as "near-ultrasonic". In other words, tracks that I had a bit of trouble hearing with the naked ear. I find the whole subject rather fascinating. Here are the track numbers used, along with the insect names:

#25 Short-Winged Meadow Katydid
#26 Slender Meadow Katydid
#27 Woodland Meadow Katydid
#28 Saltmarsh Meadow Katydid

So, the tests were really simple: Did the device or bat detector used "hear" the recording or not?

---------------------------Below, are the devices - Along with the results-----------------------------------

  Olympus DS-30    ZoomH2     BatBox Baton    Wildlife Acoustics' EM3       BatBox Griffin

#25         No               No                 Yes                         Yes                             Yes
#26         No               No                 Yes                         Yes                             Yes
#27         No               No                 Yes                         Yes                             Yes
#28         No               No                 Yes                         Yes                             Yes

Well, that's really about it - I'll gauge the interest in this subject/post, and if it is "popular" then I may do the same test with a couple of other bat detectors, etc.

Happy bat (and bug) detecting!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Attention: Developers Of Bat Call Analysis Software

Attention: Developers Of Bat Call Analysis Software - Just FYI: If you have ever considered having your software tested and reviewed (on this site, for instance): Then, I'd say that now would be a good time to contact me.

The weather in my area, has just recently reverted back to Winter-like temperatures and conditions. I also believe that the wind has been one of the main things keeping the bats from hunting.
These current weather conditions have delayed the natural "start" of "Bat detecting season" here in the Northeastern United States.
This would simply be the most opportune time for me to focus on software reviews. I have recently learned of a few more (brand-new) bat detectors being announced/released this year. Once the new detectors start popping up - I'll be focusing my time on the detailed and thorough reviews of each of them.

It appears that we will have at least another week of this weather...Which reminds me:
As I've stated before, I consider Winter to be a good time to go over the bat recordings/sonograms collected during the warmer months. And, to also make attempts at species ID.

Of course, lots of people enjoy bat detecting for different reasons. I even know of a popular kit provider, who enjoys the simple pleasure of detecting bats in "real-time" - Just for the aesthetic quality of their communications. Simply listening to the detector-converted sounds of local bats as they go about their nightly activities. And, who would disagree? Not I.
But, for me - I suppose that in time... (eventually) the ultimate goal, is the satisfaction of identifying the species that was recorded. This is what makes bat detecting exciting and challenging for, let's say, an intermediate-level, or even well-experienced hobbyist.

While we're on the subject...
The "distillation" and polishing, of the raw data (recordings) acquired with detecting devices - Generally requires a few steps. A typical work flow might be as follows:

First, locating the actual bat recording, amidst the (usual) copious amounts of: Background noise, false triggers, and long recordings of non-bat events, etc.
Second, editing the bat call: In my particular case, this consists of cutting/pasting into a new audio file; choosing the desired file format to convert or save the sound file in, naming the file, and utilizing relevant information whenever possible (date/time/temp/weather) in the file name.
Third, using your favorite software application to create a sonogram.
Fourth, (and finally) measuring/comparing the resulting sonograms to: Notes, known sonograms (confirmed bat species), and so forth... In an effort to determine exactly which species of bat you've recorded.

For many, (myself included) the basic steps outlined above are simply a labor of love. But, we shouldn't ignore the fact, that there are quite a few software applications out there; which can make this process a lot less tedious. This is an exciting prospect. These are valuable, time-saving software packages that have built-in bat sonogram libraries. Very neat!

Of course, having an extensive library of confirmed bat calls, at your disposal, provides a tremendous advantage. I've glanced over quite a few of the currently available programs. Each application (manufacturer) has their own method, of providing the end-user with the means to ID the sonograms they've acquired. Some software packages are a bit more automated than others.

Most of these software packages are not cheap! Especially the good ones! (of course).
Therefore, I thought it would be nice, for my Readers to have access to reviews of some of these applications - To aid in making decisions on which one to purchase.

Again, there quite a few out there. I do know for a fact, that many bat equipment (and software) manufacturers check this site from time-to time.
So, rather than contacting each software developer individually - I decided that this simple blog post should work well enough. I have, in fact, reached out to a bat software developer once. But, was did not receive a reply.

Although I've touched on this a bit, in an earlier post -For those who were wondering - I currently use Audacity (free), and BatScan from BatBox Ltd.
BatScan is very inexpensive, and very simple to use: I like it!

It's always nice to have a thorough review available; to inform and give a potential owner a clear idea of what to expect. I'll admit, that I have been curious to know which applications work best. I was just visiting some bat product Websites recently... Especially, NHBS
My renewed  interest, of the subject of bat call analysis software, was a result of coming upon the software offered Here. This package sells for ~ $100 less than the call analysis software that I originally had my eye on (last year).

So, we'll see...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just A Quick Post

Regarding the EM3, from Wildlife Acoustics - A neat feature, which I just started to use - And found to be very useful, is the ability to scroll through the current (recently recorded) sonogram; by using the Left/Right Arrow Keys.

The upcoming issue of The Journal Of The Wildlife Sound Recording Society, will feature my slightly different (polished) review of The D240X from Pettersson Elektronik.


 Happy bat detecting!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Best-Selling Book On Bats: Bats - John D Altringham

I just learned that two of my favorite retailers have merged: Alana Ecology and NHBS. This is pretty neat!

Below, is the link to a new best-selling book on Bats:

NHBS - Bats - John D Altringham

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Long Overdue Status Update...Plus "This & That""

I'm sorry that there haven't been many posts here lately - The good news, is that I expect to start posting more frequently again soon.
I'd like to thank those of you who have e-mailed me directly, to ask how I've been, etc.
I appreciate it!
I'll be replying back to each of you, directly; in the very near future... For now, here's an update:

Well, to make a long story short - The factory that manufactures the medication that helps control my chronic pain, closed down, to make improvements: Both to the medication itself, and to their production systems. The entire USA was affected by this. My Doctor(s) have been doing their best, to prescribe me with substitutes - None of which work as well as my usual medication. As a result, I've been having to cope with unusually high pain levels (24/7). Which, in turn made me unable to post to the blog as much as I would've liked to.

The factory has re-opened, but there will still be delays, in me getting my prescription filled; etc., etc. But, I'm looking forward to getting back to my previous level of day-to-day functioning. And, back to more frequent posts.

"This And That" ---

In the meantime, I've been continuing to test bat detectors whenever I can. The two units that have seen the most testing; have been the new EM3 from Wildlife Acoustics and The Griffin from BatBox Ltd. The new EM3 is the detector that is (still) officially on "The Test Bench"... I plan to post some of the resulting sonograms; from these early season bats.

My next post, will compare data from 4 bat detectors, and how they perform when attempting to detect the ultrasonic (or, more accurately: near ultrasonic) songs of Orthoptera (singing insects).


Happy bat detecting!
And, best regards,
-Al

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The (latest) New Firmware (Ver. 22) - For The BatBox Griffin -

The BatBox Griffin - Well, the (latest) new firmware (Ver. 22) installed just as smoothly as the previous firmware updates. Less than 10 minutes for the whole procedure. The unit powers itself off automatically when finished. It completes the upgrade process upon the next power up; and that's it. The unit is behaving normally. For BatBox Griffin Owners, here is the Firmware Update Web Page.

I have to say, that in general, I do enjoy BatBox's new firmware upgrades! It's great to see the changes that are implemented - Both major and minor.
The weather is fairly nice this evening - Conducive to bat flight, in other words. So, I was in a hurry to put the newly upgraded unit into commission (on my back window sill, for now).

I've printed out the documentation, and I'm (anxiously) reading it now. It is provided in Microsoft Word format; and is entitled 'Notes For Firmware Upgrade 0022' So far, I'm impressed with what I've read.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The BatBox Griffin - New Firmware, Further Improvements: On The Horizon...

A new firmware release is currently in the works, from BatBox Ltd. It has not been officially announced or published yet. But, it will be released soon... Of course, it will be for their flagship model: The Griffin.
It is firmware version 22; this will be the successor to the recently released Ver. 21 firmware.
For now, I'll just state that I happen to be very happy about the new improvements!

Something else is soon-to-be-released for the Griffin, which will be of interest to Bat Workers, Biologists, and Researchers: A new Remote Kit - See photos below:




This new kit will be made available for purchase soon; and will include the rechargeable battery pack.
Very cool!

Happy bat detecting!

The BatBox Griffin - New Firmware, New Features!

The BatBox Griffin - Well, the (last) new firmware (Ver. 21) installed just as smoothly as the previous firmware updates. Less than 10 minutes for the whole procedure. The unit powers itself off automatically when finished. A few short applications run upon the following power-up; and that's it.
Going forward, the unit behaves normally. The new features are now in effect and available. Namely:

* Time expansion recording now has the option of choosing x10 or x16.
· From BatBox: "Time expansion has two selectable modes x10 and x16. Menu access to this option is via the ‘settings’ page under ‘sample rate’."
> As for myself, I prefer a factor of 10x when using a time expansion instrument. 10x time expansion is the type that you will most commonly come across. I'll remind the Reader, that I am a Hobbyist. I will say, that many Bat Workers, and Bat Research Professionals may find the 16x useful: For more detailed studies of the recordings in general.
* iBats - The ability to automatically record in iBats format, so that one may participate in the iBats program.
· From BatBox: "A new unattended option for ‘auto record’ modes is an iBats program, which exactly mimics the recording format of the Pettersson D240x in 320ms continuous mode, as used in the international iBats car survey program."
> I have tested this new feature, although I do not currently participate in the iBats Survey Program.
* Fully adjustable Hi-Pass and Lo-Pass Filters, to be used for recording in unattended modes.
· From BatBox: "New adjustable hi-pass and lo-pass filters have been added to unattended modes, accessible via the ‘settings’ page in the menu. This will enable the selection of particular bandwidths in order to avoid background triggering and also make it easier to focus on target species. The filters affect only the triggering, the metering and frequency division but not the full spectrum recording, so that quality of triggered recordings will not be compromised."
> This is one of my favorite new features. I was very glad to see these HPF & LFP filters. When it comes to electronics, and especially bioacoustic recording devices: I have always had a fascination with filters. I plan to study and test these further (and report my findings, etc.). I believe they will prove to be very valuable when monitoring (recording) bats in areas with man-made noise, etc.
· From BatBox: "Playback of recordings has a % of file displayed on the screen in real time so that bat passes can be accurately noted for position in the recordings."

I'm happy to report, that I've had the opportunity to see each of these (welcomed) new features in action. I've had the time to field test them. And, to also use the options during unattended, nightly monitoring sessions. These new enhancements are pretty much self-explanatory, see below:
(I've added some of my thoughts on each, indicated by the '>') *Please Note* These are just a few of the new features that Version 21 incorporates - There are others...And, I urge you to check out the documentation on the BatBox Griffin Page.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: EM3 From Wildlife Acoustics Part 2 Of 2

Review: EM3 From Wildlife Acoustics Part 2 Of 2
Judging by the number of hits the blog has been getting lately - It seems to further confirm, that "Bat Detecting Season" is approaching! This is nice to know.
It's also nice, to have a brand-new bat detector available, to try out for this season: The Echo Meter 3, from Wildlife Acoustics. I've received a few questions recently, regarding this new detector - So, I'll try to address them in this (Part 2 Of 2) of the review.

The construction of the EM3 itself, feels fairly solid. There are no protruding parts on the unit, that you need to worry about breaking off or damaging.
The only time, that you will need to exercise a bit more caution, is when the (optional) Garmin GPS unit is used. Although, I will point out that the Garmin unit itself, is solid and fairly robust.

The Garmin (Model # GPS18x LVC, 5m) GPS unit: This compact & lightweight unit is sold by Wildlife Acoustics, to attach to their new EM3. I haven't been able to find the unit on the Garmin Web site.

Unfortunately, the EM3 will not fit into it's nylon (padded) case while the GPS unit is attached. In fact, even if detached from the back of the unit, both devices cannot fit inside the carry case. Some may want to use some type of small case, to protect the Garmin unit while traveling. Again, it appears that Garmin does not offer a case for it. While on the subject, Here are some macro shots of the EM3's Ethernet port / and the Garmin GPS unit's Ethernet connector:



Some of the things I like about the GPS unit:
How easy it is to pop onto (and off of) the back of the EM3 detector.
How the EM3 recognizes it (ala "plug & play") in a short amount of time.
How it synchronizes the EM3's Time Setting to the correct date and time.

I like the positions of the main control buttons on the EM3. With regular use, it's easy to become accustomed to the layout of everything on it. I suspect that a small number of users may find it "too busy" as they say. It helps, if it is your main (or only) bat detector; in which case - It's a moot point. If you (are lucky enough!) use more than one (high-end) bat detector - Then, you need to skim through the User Manual again (before heading out in the field).

I really like the way the microphone was designed! Excellent placement - The way I prefer a microphone to be: Front & center. It is recessed; and another great factor, is that it's protected by a nice felt-like material.

The EM3 has several User-selectable options. Such as, being able to choose a sample rate of either 256 or 384kHz. Choosing a sample rate of 384kHz gives you a recording rate of 192kHz, which is very cool. Those who are interested, can become familiar with this unit by reading the User Manual. This can be accessed Here. It has been made available in Adobe PDF format, in both English and French.

The EM3 packs a lot of technology and features into a fairly small unit. Once your main settings have been set, and your preferences selected, it only takes a few button presses - To begin monitoring, recording, or un-attended recording.
After an evening of recording, and inserting the unit's SD card into the PC: I was able to easily select & play large numbers of (Wav) files - Using something as simple as Windows Media Player. A couple of things I'd like to see:More increment choices for the dB thresholds - currently: Only 24, 18, and 12dB are available.
More info on the live display. Although I do like the Battery status indicator, Card Capacity, and Record indicator* (*known as the Trigger Indicator). I would like to see an indication of the number of triggered events.
The supplied charger (A/C adapter) is very convenient. The fact that this instrument writes it's recordings to SD cards is also convenient. Since, as we are all aware - Just about every device accepts an SD card.

I've noticed that the battery life is good (using the NimH batteries provided). As with many NimH batteries, they don't seem to do as well in colder temperatures. Using it in the Fall or early Spring may prove problematic.

This concludes my review of the new EM3, from Wildlife Acoustics. I may add an additional part, or addendum; at some point in the future. I plan to do a bit more testing of the review sample, before returning it to Wildlife Acoustics.

Happy bat detecting!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: EM3 From Wildlife Acoustics Part 1 Of 2

Review: The EM3 From Wildlife Acoustics (Part 1 Of 2) - Some preliminary thoughts, and first impressions -Well, it's finally here! The long-anticipated, new Echo Meter 3 from Wildlife Acoustics, Inc. is now available! I must state, first and foremost: That this new bat detector is revolutionary. It is the first hand-held, ultrasonic detector to feature a (live) sonogram display!
I envision this feature being very welcomed by experienced hobbyists and Bat Workers/Researchers.
Besides being unprecedented, technologically advanced and scientifically useful - The display looks very cool! It can also made to display "White-on-black" (for low light use) at the press of a button. This setting, is recommended for use in darkness (in the field, etc.).

In regards to my more recent reviews; I've been trying to keep a new goal in mind: I've made an effort to keep my reviews a bit shorter; whenever possible. Of course, with some new bat detectors - They simply have too many features to effectively cover on just one, long page. This new EM3 is a good example, of such an instrument. Like other high-end ultrasonic detectors: It has lots of features!
The new Echo Meter 3 arrived promptly, and was very well packaged. As you can see, from the photos: The EM3 is shipped to you with a lot of extras, as standard accessories. Last, but not least of which, is a really neat custom nylon carry case. The EM3 fits in the case like a glove. And, provides sufficient protection.

I'd like to convey the new EM3's features, in the "order in which they were discovered" by me. I presume most new owners of this unit will come across the features of this instrument in the same "order" that I have ~ So, I believe this format will be useful.
As stated on Page 1, of the User Manual: "The default factory settings allow you to begin monitoring bats in minutes."

First, I'm happy to report that the unit does fit comfortably in the hand. Even with the Garmin GPS unit attached to the back. The next feature, that I happen to like - Is the bright, bi-color LED (on the side of the unit) which serves as a battery charging status indicator. Red while the batteries are charging and Green when charging is complete. It is super-bright - Not to worry, it won't be illuminated during normal use (in the field).
I've noticed that the (included) rechargeable batteries charge-up in a very short time. Seemed to be < 30 minutes to me (although I didn't time it).

Next: Powering up - I love the splash screen. You get to see the different, subtle shades of color that make up the display. See for yourself, in the pic below:


Installing the Garmin GPS unit is very easy - Simply press it against the (modern-style) dot fasteners; and you're done. It is held in place very securely:













More to follow...

Review EM3 Part 2 Of 2

Monday, January 16, 2012

The EM3 From Wildlife Acoustics

Just a heads-up, to let you know that the next bat detector I'll be testing & reviewing will be the EM3 from Wildlife Acoustics, Inc. I urge you to check out their Web page - I know that there has been a lot of anticipation surrounding this brand-new, and unique detector...

...See the photo below - To get an idea of what you receive, when you order a new EM3 unit; from Wildlife Acoustics:


- To begin with, this is what it looks like, when your package arrives - You can see the (optional) Garmin GPS unit, in the upper left hand corner.
As you can see, lots of new accessories are included: A brand new 4GB SD card, rechargeable NimH batteries and charger. Also included, are multiple plug inserts for the power adapter; for mains outlets in several countries.
As you can see, in the photo below; each EM3 is provided with a (really nice!) nylon custom carry case. There is also a convenient belt loop on the back - Neat!



Some additional pics of the unit:





Stay tuned!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: The Batango From Dodotronic

Review Of Dodotronic's Batango

One of the newest bat detectors on the horizon, also happens to be the smallest. It is the latest offering from Dodotronic, makers of the now well-known Ultramic series of microphones. It is called The Batango. And, believe it or not - It is a fully operational, frequency division bat detector that is made to fit on your key ring!

The Batango's design is simplicity itself: A very small black plastic enclosure; with one momentary push button, and one red LED indicator. This simple ultrasonic detector, is controlled exclusively by this one button. Each of the different settings - Such as: Power On/Off, Volume Up/Down, and Frequency Division Factor settings - Are all adjusted entirely by a simple sequence of button pushes.

See Dodotronic's Batango Web page; for a complete, graphical explanation.
As you can see: The unit is small! Now, you'll never have to miss listening to/or recording some unexpected bat activity!




One side of the unit features the MEMs microphone element (not shown in photo above), along with a 3.5mm Earphone Jack - Which provides audio output.
The unit is powered by a small, "button-type" battery (CR1220 3V Lithium cell) which lasts a good long while. The battery supplied, is still going strong (after a lot of testing).

In the beginning, I've found that it's a good idea to have a print-out of the instructions handy (just until you become familiar with it's operation).

Since Winter is upon us, and my area is currently experiencing very cold temperatures - Ivano Pelicella of Dodotronic, also supplied me with a small, electronic bat sound emulator (this very small circuit was shown on Dodotronic's Web page demo). Pressing a momentary micro switch on the circuit, produces ultrasonic chirps for testing, etc. In addition, I'm also trying to sort through my CDs, .wav files, and some online resources; to locate some (raw) bat recordings, which I would like to try The Batango on as well.

Preliminary tests, using only a pair of (average/inexpensive) earphones were very good. The unit is excellent at rejecting man-made ultrasonic noises. Such as: The ever-popular, rubbing of index & middle fingers against your thumb, or clicking of fingernails, etc. I've recently been informed that this is by design - The unit was designed to reject sounds below 20kHz in frequency.
At the same time, however - It has no problem picking up the ultrasonic pulses produced by the bat chirp emulator. So, this is great news!

I did notice that The Batango does not feature the same kind of pick-up range, as a normal/full-sized detector. At the same time, I realize that this key-chain-sized detector would not be used in settings where long pick-up range is needed. In my opinion, it's great to have handy for serendipitous monitoring of bats. In other words, in those situations where/when you unexpectedly see bats flying about (while you're away from home).

Some other examples, of settings/locales: You may happen to be visiting, with your Aunt Adele (or your Uncle Dominick). And, when evening begins to roll around...you notice that your Aunt (or Uncle's) backyard has more natural bat habitat that you originally remembered.
Or, there is a small wooded lot or other "batty looking" area that you hadn't noticed before... Or, you are dining at a restaurant, and step outside for some fresh air (while waiting for the main course to arrive) and you notice what you are almost sure was the erratic flight of a bat... I'm sure you can understand my point; and you can just imagine the different possibilities!
The other nice thing about it, is that it can be used very discretely. Most onlookers, or a passerby will think you're simply listening to your MP3 player...

Again, since these types of spots are places where your first indication of bat activity is likely to be visual; the pick-up range of the Batango will be adequate.

In regards to The Batango's recording performance, and sonogram production: The unit wasn't exactly designed with those uses in mind. I will share some excerpts, of a recent e-mail, from Ivano Pe
licella of Dodotronic:
"...As I've written in my website it's not suited for audio recordings since the outcoming waveform is synthesized and the spectrogram can have a lot of harmonics due to the square waveform of the internal sound generator. For ultrasound recording the Ultramic is the best solution.

The frequency range is 20 khz ~ 140 khz...Batango has an internal filter that cuts all the signal below 20khz, this is the reason why it's so immune to normal audio..."

So, I've given it some thought - And, after careful consideration: I've decided that instead of writing a Part 2 to this review, I will leave it as-is. And, if any additional info needs to be added - I will add it to this post.
The completed, full production units will be available for purchase from Dodotronic in a few months. In the meantime, any questions may be directed, via e-mail to Ivano Pelicella at Dodotronic.
Winter is a good time to organize your notes, sound recordings and sonograms; to be ready for Spring...