Thursday, September 18, 2014

The New SMZC From Wildlife Acoustics

The new Songmeter SMZC from Wildlife Acoustics has just arrived.
I'd just like to share just a few of the pictures, that I took while unpacking the new SMZC:

The new Songmeter SMZC, being un-packed.

This is one of the first SMZC's - Full-production units will feature a handle to aid in opening the unit.
Nice back-lit LCD display.

Under the hood...
Coming Up Next: The "Re-visit" Review of The AR125 from Binary Acoustic Technology.
I'll be sharing my findings, resulting from this second (closer) look - At The AR125.
Link to my original Review Here (and Part 2 Here). These two Links will be updated soon, with new information.

A major field trip is scheduled for this week.
We'll be visiting an area, where the bats (and moths) are very plentiful!
Several new detectors will be tested...Chief among them will be The New Songmeter SMZC from Wildlife Acoustics. In an area with large numbers (and species) of bats - A Zero-Crossing bat recorder will be just what the Doctor ordered!

Until then, 
Happy bat detecting!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Update Post - The Latest News: Upcoming Bat Detector Reviews

Just a short update, on the latest happenings...This will (probably) be a temporary Post -

Well, just when I thought my testing of bat detectors was beginning to slow down...

The AR125 Ultrasonic Receiver from Binary Acoustic Technology has arrived.
It is currently under test...I did perform a full test and review of one, a little over a year ago. But, in light of the performance of The MiniMIC: I thought it would be good to "revisit" it; and write a more detailed review of it. I will be performing some more side-by-side comparisons, with a couple of other systems. 

When I perform "shoot-outs" (comparisons between two detectors/recorders) I strive to choose two which are evenly matched. In other words, similar...
Such as: In the same price category, same general type, size, technology, etc. The more similar they are, the better matched they are in a comparison ("Shoot-out"). It only makes sense.
The side-by-side comparison currently in progress, is between The B.A.T. AR125 and The Pettersson M500. If you consider these closely, you cannot deny that they are evenly matched for a comparison (relatively speaking).

The brand-new, top-secret bat detector is still here...I've made lots of wonderful recordings with it. With the help of a digital recorder (The Tascam DR-08, in this case). Which is a nice little recorder for someone on a budget (like me). 
In any case, this new bat detector is scheduled to be announced sometime this month. Nothing "written in stone" of course. It may be later than expected. However, I find it very exciting! - I believe a lot of Folks will like it, because it is not your typical bat detector. I like it very much!

The arrival of Wildlife Acoustics's brand-new, unattended bat recording solution - The SMZC. As you may have discerned, from what you can see (so far) it is in fact poised to compete with Titley's AnaBat Express. I have not had the opportunity to test or review The AnaBat Express; but the brand-new machine from Wildlife Acoustics' will be here shortly!
Was delayed due to the recent major Bat Conference in The UK. Which, I understand, was a great success, by the way!

The wonderful little M500 from Pettersson is still here; it's just awaiting the release of some exciting new software - Before I can go ahead and perform a full test and review of it. It will be worth the wait!

In addition, at least one more brand-new, bat detector should be arriving before this bat detecting season is over...(this one should be very interesting as well). And, I suspect it will be a top performer.

And finally, Part 3 Of 3 of The B.A.T. MiniMIC Review has been completed, and posted.

Happy bat detecting!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Review: The MiniMIC From Binary Acoustic Technology Part 3 Of 3

Review: The MiniMIC From Binary Acoustic Technology Part 3 Of 3

What we have established (in Parts 1 & 2 of this review), is that The MiniMIC is not only a very capable ultrasound recording solution, but it may interest you to know, that it is even more capable than most. 

To answer a question which a few Bat Workers/Professionals have had: Yes, it must be plugged-in to a PC of some kind. Whether it be laptop, sub-notebook, or hand-top computer.
Again, installation is Plug-and-Play.

The MiniMIC can be used as one would use a "standard" bat detector/recorder. The key, to using it comfortably, is to use one of the latest PalmTop/Handtop PC's. Many of them are very neat, compact and easy to handle. 
In fact, Binary Acoustic Technology recommends using one, right on their Site (The MiniMIC page).  
When using a PC which is small & light enough: The MiniMIC is great for active recording, with it's live sonogram display. Sometimes, double-sided foam tape can be a good friend.
And, of course, it's excellent for unattended recording.

During the (Approx. 1 Month+) test period, with The BAT MiniMIC - It just so happened, that the laptop where my Kaleidoscope software resides, experienced a hard drive crash... So, I was (sort-of) "forced" to use more and more features of The SPECT'R III & SCAN'R software, from B.A.T.

In the following review, I refer to the pages/sections of the SPECT'R and SCAN'R User Manuals. The Reader should not take this as an indication that the User Manuals are complex! In fact, the very opposite is true: Both User Manuals are short, simple, and a pleasure to read. All necessary information is succinctly laid-out. The same is true of the Hardware Manuals - Well done, B.A.T.

---Thoughts regarding SPECT'R III ---

Many will be very pleased to learn that while using SPECT'R's Audio Monitoring: Listening through your PC's speakers (while either simply monitoring, or recording) - SPECT'R is functioning as a heterodyne detector (4.0.5 in Manual).
The audio output sounds great - Very strong, even on my little sub-notebook (mini-laptop) with it's tiny speakers.

I found the overall design and look of the software's main interface/dialog box simple and easy to use.

Of course, this application is excellent for acquiring the recordings from Binary Acoustic Technology's various microphones (hardware).
It's very simple to go from launching the application -to- recording bats.
I like the accuracy of the different features:  
  • The Spectral Trace Window
  • The moveable (Green) Tuning Indicator (P. 3.5 in User Manual)
I also like:
  • Automatic Snapshot Mode (P. 3.6.1)
  • Being able to select, between Natural -and- Digitally Compensated response.
  • The ability to select frequency range (where Snapshots are triggered).
  • The Pop Filter (reduces false triggers from a variety of unwanted sources).
  • The ability to easily select UTC or Local time (for call logging)
SPECT'R III also generates a Log File, automatically. As many of you are aware, several bat recorders (from other manufacturers) do this In a similar fashion. And, I'll say it again: It reminds me of the Log File of a computer server (from my days as a Network Engineer).
Logging all the events which the system has experienced.

  • It features an Operation Timer (P. 3.7.1) - Allowing recording to start & stop at times which you designate.
  • Remote File Transfer - Allows you to set-up a remote collection (Web-enabled) PC, to receive Snapshot recordings from the main machine. (P. 3.8)
  • May be used with (an optional) GPS unit (The Garmin GPS18x USB) P. 3.10

Cons -
  •  Unable to be used as a stand alone recorder.

Some key sections of the SPECT'R III (Ver.3.3) User Manual:

3.4.1 Main Screen Control Section
3.4.2 SonoSCOPE Control Window
3.4.3 Spectral Trace Window
3.6    Recording
3.6.4 Snapshot specific controls
3.8    Remote File Transfer
4.0    Basic Operation 
4.0.7 Snapshot Recording
4.0.8 Running SonoSCOPE

SPECT'R III may be ordered Here.

--- Thoughts regarding SCAN'R ---

SCAN'R (Snapshot Characterization and Analysis) is the application developed by Binary Acoustic Technology, to allow one to analyze and process ultrasonic recordings.
The software itself, features a fairly simple design and easy to use interface.

This product is the ideal companion to the aforementioned SPECT'R software. 
SCAN'R basically allows you to determine which recordings contain bat calls, and which do not. Or, in some cases - Recordings which picked-up noise, etc.
It refers to bat calls and non-bat calls as "passed" or "failed", respectively. This makes it very easy for you to delete the "failed" recordings, which didn't record bat calls. I've found it to be very accurate in this capacity. 

As per Chapter 2, of The SCAN'R User Manual: "It supports two different base parameter sets...(conforming) to both Analook and SonoBat protocols"

Pros -
  • Includes Signal Pressure Level (SPL) and curvature, a spectral shape measurement.
  • Ability to process many files (recordings) at one time. 
  • Settings are saved for the next session of use.

Cons - 
  • Only has base parameter sets for Analook and SonoBat. 

Some key sections of the SCAN'R (Ver.1.7.3) User Manual:

3.4.2 Input File Selector
3.5    SCAN'R Menu Operation
3.6    SCAN'R Setup and Operation Windows
3.6.2 Scan Setup Window
3.7    Trace Window
3.8    SCAN'R Output File

SCAN'R software may be ordered Here

Happy bat detecting!