Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Friday, August 20, 2021
The Song Meter Micro is an unattended recording unit. It's so small and light, that I frequently put it in my pants pocket, before climbing up some steep terrain to deploy it. And, there have been several times (lately) when I've been very thankful for this ability.
In general, it's easy to set-up and deploy. Whenever possible, I try to anchor it to a tree (using a small/short screw) -or- fasten/tether it to a branch, tree trunk, etc. I do this, to prevent the (unlikely) event of an animal walking off with it. Just in case some animal decides it would make a good chew toy?
The Song Meter Micro would be a great choice for Ecologists needing a programmable, unattended wildlife recording solution. The Micro is capable of recording vocalizations from a wide range of species. As mentioned in Part 1 of this review, the sample rate may be changed, to better suit the target species. Admittedly, I've failed to do this myself in the past. For no other reason than being hasty and too anxious to get it set-up before nightfall. Also, from years of using portable digital recorders for wildlife recording: I got into a habit, of always setting the Kbps to whatever the highest setting available was...
Last weekend, right after moving into my new (rental) home, I found myself without a recording bat detector handy. I tend to always keep a Batseeker 4 around; but having a non-recording (FD) detector available just wasn't cutting it. I had a simple digital recorder, but couldn't locate an audio cable (everything was still in boxes).
And while utilizing the latest version of Kaleidoscope Pro software, I was able to get some decent results (when compared to having a dedicated [designed for] bat detector).
But, I digress...
As seen from the screenshot above, the data provided are the most essential factors. The 2 which I typically look at, are: (number of) Recordings, and Battery Level. I'm also happy to report that I've typically been able to communicate with The Micro from distances well on the plus side of 10 meters.
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Part 1 Of 2 The Song Meter Micro Recorder from Wildlife Acoustics
The Song Meter Micro, is the latest offering in the line of Wildlife Audio Recorders from Wildlife Acoustics, in Massachusetts USA.
This (very small!) wildlife sound recorder, was developed for those needing to record various (non-bat) animal species.
This compact, cute, and robust sound recorder was designed from "the ground up" to work as an unattended recording solution. The main points one realizes straight away are:
It's not very expensive.
It's robust & capable.
Packaging - Upon arrival, you'll notice that the box is small. When you open the (outer) box, you'll notice that the inner box is small...
The unit is 4"/101mm High x 2.9"/74mm Wide x 1.1"/28mm Deep. It is 0.43lbs/195g with batteries installed.
The Song Meter Micro currently sells for $249 (US dollars) directly from the Wildlife Acoustics Site. It is also available from many Dealers in the UK and Europe. Including Wildlife & Countryside Services' new page specifically for Non-Bat Recorders.
For those in The UK, NHBS has them in stock. The Song Meter Micro is designed for unattended recording of wildlife sounds in the field. It is constructed of a dark green poly-carbonate, which blends into the natural environment very well. It comes with a built-in, omnidirectional microphone. The Song Meter Micro records 16-bit PCM .wav files - to a single, Micro SD card (up to 2 terabytes in size).
The sample rates available, range from 8kHz to 96kHz. 8, 12, 16, 22.5, 24, 32, 44.1, 48, and 96kHz are the selections available. Run time on 3 AA-sized alkaline batteries, is 150 hours. Wildlife Acoustics provides a thorough, 15-step Quick Set-Up Guide.
For a whittled-down version, just to give you an idea of what's involved:
Download/install the free App onto your mobile device.
Get The Song Meter Micro up & running, by installing batteries, Micro SD card, and powering on.
Choose from one of the pre-set schedules provided; save.
Load schedule to The Micro via Bluetooth, replace cover, and deploy unit.
The Song Meter Micro deployed near my local lake. One small screw was all that was needed, to attach it to a tree at the water's edge. My target species here, were small terrestrial mammals (especially Shrews). More specifically, I was hoping to record Northern Short-Tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda); which I know to are in the area. No luck yet...at the time of this writing.
Once you read through The Quick Start's 15-Step process, and deploy the unit a few times, it becomes very easy. Read the User Manual, and you'll understand a lot more about how it may be customized: Gain settings, etc.
This unit fills a need for many Researchers working with (non-bat) animals that vocalize.
The unit records sounds very well; about as good as a handheld digital recorder in the same price range. So far, I've recorded various songbirds, ducks, singing insects, and Fowler's Toads.
Part 2 of this review will feature sound recordings (via YouTube video links), as well as spectrograms (using Kaleidoscope, of course!).
When deploying Song Meter Micro's, I would follow this excellent tip, directly from The Wildlife Acoustics's web page: "requires adding desiccant for each deployment to prevent condensation."
- Relatively inexpensive for what you get (good value).
- Made by a trusted name in wildlife recording equipment.
- Professional Tech support available.
- Mobile device is necessary to control/set-up, and check status.
Once again, The Song Meter Micro may be ordered directly from Wildlife Acoustics, if you're in The U.S.
Links to excellent Song Meter Micro Vimeo videos (created by Wildlife Acoustics):
Song Meter Micro Configuration Library
Stay tuned - More to follow in Part 2 of 2, of this review.
...Unless, you're the "impatient type" and want to know more about The Song Meter Micro right now - In which case, I'd recommend signing up to The BatAbility Club: Where there's a full webinar (video review) & discussion about it - By yours truly! Along with comments and questions from Director, Neil Middleton.
bat animal detecting!
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
I've tried making some DIY-type ultrasonic Mics, to plug into The Walkabout's 2.5mm microphone jack... However, there are a few reasons why I wasn't successful. Without going into a bunch of (unnecessary) technical details, suffice it to say that The Walkabout's Mic jack is a bit too advanced to "suffer the foolishness" of my amateur attempts!
The Walkabout's jack provides approx. 6.4 v DC - Not suitable for most DIY Mic capsules, etc. This equated to more tinkering.
Here is just one (of several!) examples, of a (home-built) ultrasonic microphone; which I wired to a (male) 2.5mm plug, for testing with The Walkabout.
The photos below, show a quick wiring-up, for testing. A DIY Mic utilizing the Panasonic WM-61A Mic capsule.
Here is another Mic, which I initially thought would be perfect for The Walkabout. It is an adorable little circuit board (complete with Mic capsule already attached).
|Prior to attaching Arduino-type pins|
|AA battery shown for scale|
These are available from FEL Communications Ltd. (in UK).
In order to get the output voltage of The Walkabout's (2.5mm) jack, to a safe and usable level for the Micbooster Mic board:
I found that a 180K Ohm resistor (on the [+] voltage wire) reduced the voltage from 6.4v to 4.6v - Which is acceptable for the Micbooster ultrasonic board (voltage must be kept below 5v when working with this board).
However, I still had no success in recording any bats through it (attached to The Walkabout). All of my early attempts/tests, with DIY microphones, were unsuccessful.
It was fun trying though. And I was thankful that The Walkabout gives one the opportunity to experiment with such external microphones.
Experiments involving The AnaBat Walkabout have ceased. There is a limit to how much (careful) experimenting I'm wiling to do on a high-end bat detector. Especially one generously loaned to me for testing and review.
I eventually came to the conclusion, that it would be best for someone to just purchase the official Titley microphone adapter and Mic, if there is a need.
In my case, while spending a lot of time trying to build a working Mic:
It only served to bolster my appreciation of the quality recordings captured with The Walkabout's built-in (Knowles) microphone.
But, experiments with this cute little (Micbooster) Mic board continue...
Recent tests, involving the ultrasonic mic board and regular digital recorders seem promising.
Happy bat detecting!
Saturday, July 17, 2021
Of course, as a result, I've become very keen on non-bat sound recording! Amphibians, and singing insects (esp singing insects) had always been a seasonal interest/hobby of mine. And I'd become so accustomed to recording our Spring Peepers each year, that it was all but an automatic reflex.
But as we all know, way-leads-to-way when you're a naturalist: So now, I've become fascinated with rodents and small mammals in their woodland environments:
Voles (some happen to be pretty cute), Moles (very secretive), and especially Shrews! one of my (confirmed) local species of Shrew, is the Northern Short-Tailed Shrew (Blarina brevicauda). Hard to deny that it is one fascinating creature!
I'm fortunate enough, to have a good chance of picking up vocalizations of: Fox, Coyote, and others.
Well, there's more interesting tidbits of information, which I'll be adding to this post soon... Including some fascinating projects which Neil Middleton (of The BatAbility Club) and others, are going to be working on: Terrestrial Mammals!
bat mammal detecting! ;)
Thursday, July 1, 2021
This is just a short follow-up post to a recent interview I had with Neil Middleton of The BatAbility Club. Anyone interested in bats should definitely have a look at the website. If you are a Bat Worker, Researcher, Ecologist, or work with bats in any capacity: then you simply must visit! The sheer volume and variety of resources is astounding - you’ll be glad you did!
I thought that I’d take this opportunity to elaborate further, on some of the topics mentioned:
While the microscopy image was up (abdomen of an earwig); I mentioned the insect’s nerve structure. Unbeknownst to me at that time, Neil was in fact moving his mouse pointer over the exact area where some nerves were visible.
As for the number of visitors my Bat Detector Reviews blog receives: As I said, it is typically between 2,000 and 3,000 per month. And it is sometimes double that, during bat detecting season.
Another example would be my life-long interest in the local fauna; which compels me to be a naturalist, in general. I’ve been interested in animals from a young age.
Back in those days, Bronx New York wasn't nearly as developed as it is now. A kid could have success finding amphibians, such as the red backed salamander - as well as the occasional garter snake. These days one would be hard-pressed to find any sizable area not covered in concrete.
From a very early age, I enjoyed spending time in the back garden. I spent countless days observing the myriad of insects and arachnids which lived among the landscaping (hedges) and flower pots.
I found it fascinating and completely engrossing; I never got bored. Couple this, with a serendipitous visit to a local pet shop; and my fate was sealed. I convinced my Mom to go in… My first time ever in a pet shop.
It was pleasingly cool and (almost) dark. Walls were covered with rows of individual fish tanks. Each beautifully illuminated with slightly-so-bluish fluorescent lights. The ethereal beauty of the tropical fish contained within. The sheer number of glass tanks...the reptiles and amphibians… I could’ve stayed there all day! The name of the shop: ‘The Water’s Edge’
Psychologists have said that it is usually sometime before the age of 8, when a child comes across something which leaves a lasting impression on them. Many times, it is this chance encounter with something (whatever it may be) which ends-up influencing the child’s career choices as an adult, etc.
As is the case with too many people, I did not end up making my avocation my vocation (or linking them, as Robert Frost wrote). Rather, I chose a path which was expedient and lucrative.
More recently, I’ve become fascinated by the lives of famous Naturalists, Biologists, and other Scientists whose lives proved this “theory”.
Below is a short list of some of my favorites, in the off chance that some of my readers may be familiar with the biographical accounts of those mentioned. Each of them became fascinated early on, with the subjects they would later work in...and master. Each of them made astounding contributions in their fields - and I find it remarkable.
Brian Grieg Fry
So, back to the interview - Neil asked me an excellent question about which bat detector I have in my hand when I go out to my back garden, to detect bats.
At the time, it was very convenient to choose detectors, from those shown in the collages, which happened to be up on the screen. And I stand by those recommendations. However, I'd like to take this opportunity to mention a bat detector which (sadly) I hadn't thought of at that moment. It is The AnaBat Walkabout from Titley. Not only does it offer world-class performance, as far as sound recordings and spectrograms go…it also boasts more features than several other bat detectors combined. See my detailed review, for more information & specifics.
The name of the bat detector developed by dodotronic (which was discussed) was called the Dodoultra.
As for The Batango: See this active page (on the Dodotronic Site) which provides all the details, for anyone who is interested. As of now, it is an open source project.
There are also some excellent advantage's as a result of my unique role as a reviewer of bat detectors: firstly, I get to find out about new bat detectors months before the General Public. Sometimes, many months. I also occasionally get to test and evaluate samples while they are top secret.
Bat detectors which only a few people even know exist. These people, of course, are the designers and creators. In fact I have a prototype of one bat detector here which is still top secret. And I am one of only a handful of people who are even aware of its existence. I consider that to be a really cool perk! Many bat detector manufacturers have the utmost confidence in my discretion, and professionalism. I am very fortunate and grateful.
It is my sincere hope, that this short post has helped to clear up anything which may not have seemed clear during the interview.
Happy bat detecting!
Friday, June 18, 2021
Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege, of being interviewed by Neil Middleton!
This was for the 'Talking Bat' series which he produces exclusively for his BatAbility Club audience. To find out more about Neil Middleton, and BatAbility - see the links below:
The BatAbility Club Offers a unique combination of learning opportunities, including training, resources, information, and programs. These are especially suited for anyone who is interested in working with bats!
I couldn't help but make a quick unpacking video.
Let me remind the reader, that this device was designed to record wildlife other than bats. Wildlife Acoustics has it listed as a bird and wildlife recorder (as can be seen from the above link).
This micro-sized unattended recording solution, is already being used successfully in the field - To record singing insects, amphibians, mammals, and birds. It has many customizable features (especially for such a small device).
I simply couldn't resist some preliminary tests with The SM Micro. I've also taken the time to review many of the recordings, made here in the suburbs...And straight away, I can tell this unit has a lot of potential!
I've just recently started to hear singing insects in the evenings. The local population of mammals are pretty much always present. And my local toad and frog population should be making their debut any night now!
Happy bat detecting!
And happy wildlife sound recording! - Visit The Wildlife Sound Recording Society
- High-pass and low-pass filters
- Full spectrum High Pass filters
- Frequency division high pass filters
As indicated in the user manual when the full spectrum high pass filter is turned on, certain audible sounds will not be recorded, such as those produced at frequencies below 15 kilohertz. Things like conversations, walking on dry grass and / or leaves, and other undesirable sounds.
Use of this filter is recommended during recording attempts in strong winds, or when one is in fact walking on dry leaves, dry grass, etc.
With the full spectrum high pass filter enabled, the lower-frequency limit of recorded signals will be approximately 150 Hertz, which enables things like verbal comments, other voices, and other normally audible sounds.
During my Summer of testing, I rarely came across a situation in which I needed to enable it. When using even the default settings, there weren't many instances where sounds other than bats triggered the LunaBat. I would just hit 'OK' to record, and walk...
If you have dry leaves underfoot during your survey, bat-walk, etc., then in addition to the filter, you can adjust the trigger level. Regardless of the mode I used, no background hiss was heard from this detector.
All of this is covered in more detail in part 3.9 (page 15) of the user manual.
Saturday, April 10, 2021
Review of The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro Bat Detector From Animal Sound Labs
Part 1 of 2 - Hardware, User Manual, and other considerations.
The LunaBat DFR-1, with Non-Illuminated Keys, is priced at 849 Euros.
The DFR-1 Pro bat detector is feature-rich. It has all of the useful features one would find helpful (especially while doing field surveys). And none which might be considered useless, or gimmicky.
- High dynamic range, full-spectrum recording onto standard SD cards.
- Built-in sensors for temperature and humidity.
- Optional built-in GNSS (GPS) with convenient blue LED indicator.
- FD detection for listening through speaker or headphones.
- The (Pro Version) of the detector may also be powered via MicroUSB socket, via an external 5V source, such as a power bank.
- Information displayed on the LCD when the unit is powered up.
- Automatic recording triggered by signal level (performance of this feature is constantly evolving with firmware updates).
Some features I find unique and particularly fascinating are:
- The built-in high voltage generator, which uses 200V to polarize the membrane of optional electrostatic microphones (Model #'s MC-1, MC-2).
- The volume setting is remembered when the unit is powered back on.
- The FD processed signal may be recorded, if one chooses to.
The DFR-1 Pro is very easy to use, straight out of the box. It also has plenty of features to keep you busy customizing it 'till your heart's content. As always, I advise readers to download and peruse the User Manual, available in PDF format (direct link above). It will give a complete account of all features, great and small.
While it boasts Professional-level performance, it also has the appearance of what I've come to refer to as - the quintessential bat detector.
During my extensive testing (Summer 2020) I found The DFR-1 Pro to be a very accurate instrument. Listening to bat calls (live/FD mode) in the field was always a pleasure.
- Robust design, including microphone and (optional) GNSS module. 3 modules to choose from.
- Excellent sensitivity, and pick-up range.
- Outstanding (384kHz) full spectrum recording quality.
- Frequency division sounds great, and is customizable.
- DFR-1 Pro FS recordings produce excellent spectrograms...
- No live sonograms.
- No proprietary software (as with The Batlogger(s) from Elekon, et al).
The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro may be ordered directly from The Animal Sound Labs website.
For those who like the look and feel of The DFR-1 Pro, I'd like to mention the entry level (affordable) version of The LunaBat: The DFD-1