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Monday, September 23, 2019

Just Ordered A New Bat Detector! - The AudioMoth by Open Acoustic Devices

Just finished placing my order for an AudioMoth - Rather excited to see how it performs!

I suppose it was just a matter of time, before I would actually go ahead and order one. See Links below for more information -

GroupGets Page for AudioMoth.

Open Acoustics Devices' page.

A selection of Great Links regarding Open Acoustic Devices' AudioMoth (Press).
Hopefully, my (upcoming) full review of it, will be among them soon!

Here's something very exciting, which I just came across:

Pettersson Elektronik has announced a brand new detector! It's a USB Ultrasound Microphone; and it comes in two versions (256kHz or 384kHz sample rate). You can have a look at them here. They are accepting pre-orders now.

There's a YouTube video as well:

 

Hopefully, I'll get an opportunity to review one here soon?

BCID Software review is in progress... Updates, and etc., will be posted here on or before October 7th. 

I'm happy to report, that I will (finally!) be able to attend some seminars, conferences, and training courses! I look forward to any upcoming opportunities to attend, and report about the experience(s) here on the blog!

Happy bat detecting!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Topics Which Will Be Covered Here Next...

Just a quick update, about some of the products and things which I'll be covering next here.

I'm planning on a post, which will cover the qualities (and appearance) of The AnaBat Walkabout's built-in GPS system/Maps. I'm very keen on it!

Followed by a full review of an outstanding Auto bat call ID software: BCID
(Bat Call Identification).

I recently tried reaching out to a couple of manufacturers, of simple (DIY) electronic bat detector kits. Requesting samples for review; but never heard back.

That's pretty much it, for now!

If you are in the Northern hemisphere, get all of your last-minute bat detecting in - Over the next couple of months. 
After that, we'll all be focusing on data analysis, and data manipulation; from all of this past season's recordings, etc.  

Happy bat detecting!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Review: The AnaBat Walkabout Bat Detector Part 2 Of 2

Review Of The AnaBat Walkabout Bat Detector - Part 2 Of 2

The AnaBat Walkabout bat detector from Titley Scientific, is a high-quality bat detecting/recording device, with an abundance of features.

One of the reasons for this, is The Walkabout is built upon an Android tablet. Not an off-the-shelf / consumer tablet, but one specifically designed (from scratch) to be The AnaBat Walkabout. Being built upon such a versatile foundation has it's advantages.

One of the things which I admire about The AnaBat Walkabout, is how robust it is. It is very reliable. Not prone to crashing, or freezing-up, the way a low-cost tablet might (I should say, the way my low-cost tablet might).


A great guide to the features, buttons, and ports of The AnaBat Walkabout (Thanks to NHBS)
    

During the testing of The AnaBat WalkAbout, I left the microphone's sensitivity at the default setting (as from the factory).



A (partial) screenshot, of a bat recorded with The Walkabout. As viewed with AnaBat Insight software.


As a continuation from Part 1 of this review, here are some additional specific features which I particularly like:


  • All of the methods for bat detection (listening to the audio of bat calls) which are available - FD, Het, FS, TE.
  • The recording methods available: Zero-Cross, Full Spectrum, and a combination of both (simultaneously).
  • Being able to select a frequency range as low as 5kHz - Enables me to target and record many species of singing insects.
  • Additional (2.5mm) jack for use with external (Ultrasonic) Mics.

If you enjoy tinkering with electronics - especially, DIY Ultrasound Mics (as I do), then you may find the last bullet point above particularly interesting. 
I will inform you, that all of my early attempts/tests, with DIY microphones, were unsuccessful.
I eventually came to the conclusion, that it would be best to stick to purchasing the official Titley microphone adapter and Mic, if there is a need.

In my case, having wasted so much time trying to build a working Mic, only bolstered my appreciation of the quality recordings captured with The Walkabout's built-in (Knowles) microphone. As is, The Walkabout is able to pick up bats at respectable distances; and produce excellent spectrograms while doing so.

Here is the optional Microphone Adapter, made for The AnaBat Walkabout from Titley:



Link to Titley's page on it Here.


The Walkabout's battery life is stated as being 8-12 hours (in The User Manual). This matches my experience while testing as well. 
I plugged The Walkabout into the mains, with a completely flat battery, at 7 PM - And it was fully charged at 12 AM. This was early-on in the testing phase (first week of use). Actual discharge/charge times may vary (most likely, improve) with regular use (since it is a rechargeable, Lithium ion battery).

Zooming-in on the (combo) FS/ZC displayed in Insight software

What's it like, getting and using The AnaBat Walkabout? 
Allow me to make (another) analogy - Back when I was into the keeping of Mini-Reef aquariums. Something which was a lot of fun, was buying a piece of Live Rock... After situating it in the tank, and as the days went by: I would discover several fascinating & colourful creatures inhabiting the nooks & crannies of the piece of rock. And it was like little unexpected bonuses!
Well, it's a bit similar to using The Anabat Walkabout, as you:
Read the manual, and start using it - You begin to discover all these neat little features; which you didn't realize were there. 

A great example of this, is when I discovered 'Basic Mode' (shown below). It is a completely different looking interface (listening in heterodyne mode) while recording. With several neat features: Live Temperature, Lux, and Humidity sensor readouts, as well as an electronic compass! 


In summary, I'd place The AnaBat Walkabout in the same class as other "Alpha" bat detectors; such as: 


If you were considering one of these, you would be remiss not to include The AnaBat Walkabout on your list of potential prospects. 
In fact, depending on which specific abilities, and features you need or want - You'll probably find that you prefer The AnaBat Walkabout to the others.
There's no denying that The AnaBat Walkabout has many more features than those listed above. 
 
The Walkabout is very easy to use:
  • Press Power on button, for 2.5" - AnaBat insignia comes up as a splash screen.
  • Check your Audio and Recording method preferences. 
  • Tap the Microphone icon, to turn on the Mic (icons turn yellow to indicate "On" status.)
  • Select Auto or Manual recording...
  • And you are detecting/recording bats!

I have found The AnaBat Walkabout to consistently produce accurate, and detailed recordings of bat calls. Which in turn, facilitates production of excellent spectrograms.

Note that you may use/analyze bat recordings made with Tiley detectors on bat call identification software (such as BCID or Kaleidoscope). I've had no issues doing so. But, you cannot view bat recordings made with other manufacturer's  detectors in the free version of AnaBat Insight - You may view recordings from any detector when using the paid (full) version of the software.

Here are some links to the additional (optional) accessories, offered by Titley for The AnaBat Walkabout:

Screen Protector

Silicone Case

USB Power Bank
  
Microphone Adapter

The next bat detector to be tested and reviewed will be The (brand-new!) AnaBat Scout from Titley Scientific. It's always exciting to test and review a brand-new bat detector; and I'm really looking forward to it!

Until then...

Happy bat detecting!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: The AnaBat Walkabout Bat Detector Part 1 Of 2

Review Of The AnaBat Walkabout Bat Detector - Part 1 Of 2

The AnaBat Walkabout is a feature-rich bat detector from Titley Scientific
The Walkabout has been designed and built from the ground up by Titley, to be a very versatile bat detecting device. It just so happens, that it also functions as a complete Android tablet as well.


The AnaBat Walkabout configuration screen


The AnaBat Walkabout arrives in a well packaged box, with a good amount of protection:



Some accessories included as standard

The AnaBat Walkabout in it's plastic holder












This bat detector/recorder, is intended for active bat detecting. But, during my test period, I've used it many times as a passive bat recorder, where it's performed admirably. A suitable windowsill is the only prerequisite, one with a screen installed is preferred!



For a quick overview of The AnaBat Walkabout, have a look at this video made by Titley Scientific. 
And you can get an excellent overview of this bat detector's features, by visiting Titley Scientific's page on it Here.

As for The AnaBat Walkabout's User Manual, for quick, illustrated, looks at button functions and screen features, see pages: 8, 13, 14, 29, 37.

Here are some other areas which I found particularly interesting; and helpful in understanding what it can do:
  • Features Of The AnaBat Walkabout   Page 7
  • AnaBat Walkabout Basic Operation   Page 11
  • Scroll Wheel And Quick Menu Settings   Page 15
  • Audio Settings   Page 20
  • Audio Feedback Reduction, Dynamic Range Compression   Page 25
  • Sleep And Screen Off Mode   Page 27
There is much more to see and read, of course.

Essentially, The AnaBat Walkabout itself, is a very versatile bat detector. You can listen to, record, and view bat calls in a myriad of different ways (and in many combinations). It's like The Swiss Army knife of bat detectors.

By now, most have seen an advertisement or two featuring Titley's Walkabout. At first glance, most would (naturally) make a few assumptions: 
  • It has a large (5") colourful display with live spectrograms.
  • It appears to be comfortable to use in the field (one-handed operation). 
  • It's made by Titley Scientific, so being a good quality instrument is a foregone conclusion.



 
However, after testing it nightly since it's arrival, this device seems to be quite a bit more than that. So much so, that I'd feel more comfortable referring to it as a system (rather than just a bat detector).
It's more like a portable, easy-to-use, bat recording lab. With the added advantage of being a fully-functioning Android tablet as well! 
The built-in GPS tracking works wonderfully, and gives the used two screens to choose from:
  • A half sonogram / half GPS display.
  • A full GPS/Map display.
It's very accurate and excellent for both walking and driving transects. I plan to add some photos of the displays soon.


AnaBat Walkabout in Android Tablet Mode


Here are some of the specific features which I particularly like:

  • Heterodyne, and Auto-Heterodyne audio output. There are several other monitoring choices to choose from (but I find these two most pleasing).
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Wi-Fi.
  • Selectable frequency range of 5-200kHz. 
  • 16 bit resolution, and a 500kHz sample rate.
  • Temperature, Lux, and humidity sensors.

In regards to this last bullet point, the ability to record temperature, humidity, and Lux (ambient light levels) is important to professionals (and even some amateurs/hobbyists). 
Obviously, when recording bats (and documenting their behaviour, etc.) this data is very useful. It helps us to learn more about the habits and behavior of bats. And how these external conditions influence or affect their activities.
Even as a hobbyist first starting out, I made a habit of recording temperature, documenting other weather conditions, and wind speed. 


AnaBat Walkabout in 'Basic Mode' - (GPS coordinates blocked for privacy).
 

For those considering The AnaBat Walkabout, I'd like to point out something which became obvious to me during the test period. The recordings made by The Walkabout, are: High-quality, high resolution (up to 500kHz sample rate) recordings, which any Professional (Ecologists, Bat Workers, et al) would be pleased to work with. Due in large part, to the detailed spectrograms produced. 

The unit itself weighs 14.6 ounces (415 grams), and measures 7.1 x 3.9 x 1.1 inches (180 x 100 x 28mm). 
Generally speaking, it is among the heavier bat detectors I've reviewed. However, the included hand strap does make it much more comfortable, and easy to hold for extended periods. I've only found it to be slightly uncomfortable after using it in the field for several consecutive hours.  
In summary: During longer bat detecting sessions (4-5 hours), you may find it just a little tiring. There will obviously be some variation from individual to individual.

AnaBat Walkabout's Full-Spectrum mode is another favorite of mine

I feel that any added heft, serves as a reminder that what you're holding isn't a toy. It's a high-end bat recorder, and should be treated as such (with care!). Even though The Walkabout is well-built, robust, and not easily damaged - being very careful is a habit of mine.

Most places, including Titley, have The AnaBat Walkabout on sale for $1,595 - Or £1,599.00 if you were to order from NHBS or Wildlife & Countryside Services

The AnaBat Walkabout is designed in a very sturdy plastic housing (in what one might call "Signature Titley yellow"), with a removable dark gray Directional Cone. When attached, it provides directional characteristics to the front-facing, built in (Knowles) microphone. 
The gray Directional Cone also provides an excellent level of protection to the Mic element. This is achieved simply by having the Mic element effectively recessed. I'm very pleased to see this! I feel that some (high-end) bat detectors have their Mics too exposed/unprotected, sometimes simply protruding.

The nice thing about The Walkabout, is that it can be used with it's default settings (out-of-the-box) in situations where:
  • You would like to get started quickly.
  • You are using it for some general bat detecting. 
  • You are a hobbyist or don't have a lot of experience.
And can also be used in situations where all of the advanced features can be brought to bear:
  • During transects, surveys, and other professional endeavors.
  • You would like to make full-spectrum, high resolution (500kHz) recordings.
  • You would like to get close (zoomed-in) looks at the live spectrograms in the field (to help with immediate ID (if one is sufficiently skilled).
  • You would like to view spectrograms in zero-cross, and/or full-spectrum mode.
To summarize, you can use this detector in a quick & easy manner, utilizing the default settings -Or- You can familiarize yourself with it's myriad of features, and fully customize the way it records, as well as the information displayed as it does so.


AnaBat Walkabout in Zero Crossing mode


The AnaBat Walkabout would be well-suited for both amateur and professional users. Amateurs and hobbyists will enjoy things like: It's ease of use, impressive appearance, and included standard accessories. As well as optional accessories.

Professionals will appreciate things like: Performance, sensitivity, and the myriad of customization available (in both the recording & display choices/features). There are several, which I plan to cover more in Part 2 of this review.
It would be well-suited for professionals / researchers who have already decided on Anabat Insight as their software platform of choice for analyzing bat calls.

I found The Walkabout to be very sensitive, and accurate in what it detects. The ability to trim it's frequency response will be a very welcomed feature; especially for professionals.

Pros:
  • Many types of audio settings to choose from (Heterodyne, Auto-Heterodyne, Frequency Division, Full Spectrum, Time Expansion).
  • Live spectrograms: Several types and combinations of displays to choose from (Heterodyne; Zero-Crossing and/or Full Spectrum).
  • Built upon a fully-functioning, Android tablet (WiFi, etc.)
  • Built-in, rechargeable, 7000mAh Lithium Ion battery.
  • AnaBat Insight bat call analysis software is free.
  • Operating system (and more importantly), the Walkabout system itself, may gain additional features, etc., through dynamic software/firmware updates.

Cons:
  •  May be considered expensive.

Much more to follow, in Part 2 Of 2 of this AnaBat Walkabout bat detector review. 

Until then, 
Happy bat detecting! 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Review Of The Anabat Swift Bat Detector from Titley Scientific - Part 2 Of 3...

Review Of The Anabat Swift Bat Detector from Titley Scientific - Part 2 Of 3
 


Very nice protective case included with AnaBat Swift


When it comes to any technology kit, I've always been an advocate for reading the User Manual. As a summary, I'll point out some areas which will help provide an overview of The AnaBat Swift.

While first "Jumping around" inside The User Manual, some of the pages I was drawn to were:

Page 4 - Features of the Anabat Swift

Page 5 - Getting Started

Page 9 - AnaBat Swift basic operation



Colour touchscreen displays the system's status at a glance.


The AnaBat Swift's System > Status screen


In practice, using the headphone output jack, to listen-in while recording bats, is about what one might expect: The sounds heard via the headphones, sounds like a typical frequency division bat detector. Nothing fancy here.
However, the addition of an inexpensive external speaker, can add another dimension to this passive bat detector.

In my case, a quick rummaging around in my electronics box turned-up a simple amplified speaker (from RadioShack). This turned-out to be a perfect fit for my intended purpose:
Which was to have The AnaBat Swift function as an active monitor, for live bat calls as well (while simultaneously recording). This is ideal for "deploying" the (opened) unit on a windowsill. Setting-up bat detectors on windowsills, is a practice which I've been quite fond of over the years.
I haven't had a chance to try an ordinary speaker; and I'm not yet sure if the headphone output jack (3.5mm) would be able to drive one. But a small amplified speaker is probably best suited for the purpose anyway.


Small amplified speaker, connected to the Headphone jack (via 3.5mm audio patch cable).

I should remind the reader, that using the Headphone output in this manner is just an idea I had; just something to try. Not something mentioned by Titley. If you decide to try it, your results may vary (depending on the amplified speaker used). You may find (as I did) that the audio produced in a typical pair of (inexpensive/generic) headphones is a lot more pleasing.

Fortunately for me, this is the view out of my (current) windowsill:


Where I point my bat detectors, for quick, nightly tests.


The AnaBat Swift, with Omnidirectional Mic, routinely creates good quality recordings at respectable distances. The water's edge, of the lake pictured above, is a favorite flyway of Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus Fuscus). And it lies approximately 40 meters distant.

AnaBat Insight
  •  Opening recordings:
File > Open > Open Directory 
The directory is then loaded, and appears on the left hand side of the screen. 

  • Playing back the files, my take:
Pitch Shift - Sounds pleasing, very basic.
Heterodyne - Sounds pleasing, strong and clear (probably my favorite).
Comb Filter - Sounds pleasing, subdued/lower.
Frequency Division - Sounds great when using ZC recorded files. Not for listening to full spectrum recorded files.
A couple of spectrograms below, recorded with The AnaBat Swift.
 

Big Brown Bat pass (Eptesicus fuscus) - Viewed with AnaBat Insight's default settings with FS (Spectrogram) and Zero Crossing selected.


Another Big Brown Bat pass (Eptesicus fuscus) - Viewed with AnaBat Insight (there are a myriad of customization's and colors available).



I like the Metrics, and the Metadata display areas, on the right-hand side of the AnaBat Insight screen. 
For Frequency Division, the multiplying factors available are: 4, 8, 16, 32. I would like to see '10' as an option, so that results from low-cost bat detectors can be accurately played. Obviously, this is just a minor point.

I like the touch colour screen on this unit. I found that I had to re-calibrate the touch screen a few times, to get it to my liking. In general, I like the way the screen menus are laid-out. There is also a Force Screen On option, useful for using the unit as an active monitor. As in using a connected headphone or speaker, as mentioned previously. It ensures that the screen doesn't go into sleep mode (battery power consumption is increased).
I like the way the AnaBat Insight software informs you when an update is available.
It gives you a complete overview of what is about to take place - See screen shot below:


Thorough update information.


Other sections of the AnaBat Insight Manual, which I found useful were:
  • Frequency Scale (Page 14) - Info on how to change and customize (your own) frequency scale.
  • Time Scale (Page 15)
  • Trigger Settings (Page 16)
  • Graph Colours (page 17)
  • Spectrogram De-Noise (Page 19) - Caused the application to crash, on more than one occasion.
  • View Power Graph (Page 20)
  • Audio Modes (Page 25) - Brief explanations of each audio mode.

 
A ZC recording of a bat pass, in Dark Mode. Mouse pointer held over one of the pulses, provides temporary pop-up of Metrics.


As is the custom with unattended bat recorders, The AnaBat Swift automatically produces a Log File. And, as I've mentioned in the past, it reminds me of log files which computer servers create. For those who are interested, here is a typical example of such a log file, from The AnaBat Swift:

,INFO,Power Button Wakeup
,RTCBATT,3.24
16:58:09,POWER,on
16:58:09,INFO,GUI start
16:58:09,INFO,night mode start 20:01 end 5:57
16:58:09,INFO,Status: Insert an SD card
16:58:10,TEMP,53.7        -------- I really like this feature.
16:58:10,BATT,5.20
16:58:10,BATT,5.17
16:58:10,INFO,CPU usage 78%
16:58:10,INFO,sd card 1 inserted
16:58:10,INFO,Status: Please wait
16:58:11,INFO,CPU usage 72%
16:58:13,BATT,5.08
16:58:13,INFO,card 1 in use 30.5G free
16:58:14,DATE,2019-07-03
16:58:14,TIME,16:58:14 -4:00
16:58:14,INFO,Anabat Swift
16:58:14,INFO,Hardware Rev 2.0
16:58:14,INFO,Device ID Private
16:58:14,INFO,Software 1.4 (master/d035424)
16:58:14,INFO,Bootloader 1.0 (jro-4723/1db4759)
16:58:14,INFO,Recording div 8 ZC files
16:58:14,INFO,Transect Off
16:58:14,INFO,Max file length 12s
16:58:14,INFO,Analog HP filter On        -------- (High Pass) I like this feature.
16:58:14,INFO,Sensitivity is 10
16:58:14,INFO,Trigger Freq 15kHz to 155kHz  -------- Allows you to tighten the recording window.
16:58:14,INFO,Min event 2ms
16:58:14,INFO,Trigger window 2s
16:58:14,INFO,Recording mode is Night
16:58:14,INFO,Status: Next recording at 20:01
16:59:09,INFO,User inactive for 60 seconds
16:59:14,INFO,GUI stop


Further to my comments on the Log File above, the usefulness of a temperature sensor is obvious. A High Pass filter is also a welcomed feature, useful for recording in diverse environments (where other wildlife are present, etc.). The ability to limit the frequency range of the unit's trigger, is very useful for narrowing-in on the species of bat you're after. In other words, you can change the range of frequencies which the Swift responds to.
For example, if you were recording bats in the Northeastern United States, you might try changing the settings to 15kHz to 90kHz.

Part 3 of 3 of this AnaBat Swift review, will cover the differences seen and heard when using the various microphones, which should be available for purchase soon. 
Of course, the Directional Mic is currently available / stocked by most Dealers, etc.

On to The AnaBat Walkabout review! ...In progress...

Happy bat detecting!