Tuesday, November 29, 2022

General Thoughts About Active (handheld) Bat Detectors Part 2 of 2

General thoughts & Considerations About Bat Detectors Part 2 of 2


"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,

Or what's a heaven for?"

-Robert Browning


What happened was: Once I had The SSF BAT3, and The TeensyBat 4.1 both up and operational:

From left to right: 
SSF BAT3, TeensyBat 4.1, EM Touch 2 Pro (on Kindle tablet).


It occurred to me, that there's one detector which would "fit right in" - The EM Touch 2 Pro.
However, having reviewed The Pro 2 here once before, meant I'd have to make a nuisance of myself - by reaching out to Wildlife Acoustics again, and explaining my intentions... Luckily, they agreed to send me a loaner.


SSF BAT3, EM Touch 2 Pro, TeensyBat 4.1 kit

 
Again, the line-up consisted of: The SSF BAT3, The TeensyBay 4.1, and The Echo Meter Touch Pro 2.

Bottom line: In the end, I decided that The EM Touch 2 Pro from Wildlife Acoustics comes out the overall winner.

The fundamental reasons why are:
  • Excellent performing microphone (sensitive, accurate, and good range).
  • Auto ID of bat species.
  • GPS tracking.
  • Stores full spectrum recordings for later analysis. 
  • It's as dependable as the device it's attached to (cell phone/tablet).
  • Recordings of particular interest, may be accessed & sent to your laptop, for in-depth analysis (fairly quickly & easily).

Performance-wise: 

The Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro from Wildlife Acoustics provides a comfortable listening experience - Featuring the choice of listening with either: RTE (Real Time Expansion), Het (Heterodyne), or TE (Time Expansion).

Microphone sensitivity, pick-up range, and ability to produce good/clear (legible) spectrograms:
The TeensyBat 4.1 was easily the equal of The EM Touch 2 Pro; which is impressive. 
In addition, it's ability to pick-up ultrasounds off-axis was superior (to either of the other two detectors).

The TeensyBat 4.1 also has a fairly unique 'Live Time Expansion' mode - Which is interesting, as well as pleasing to monitor (via ext. speaker). Especially if you're a fan of using time expansion mode. I won't go into it here (you'll have to wait for the TeensyBat review); but I felt compelled to mention it.

Now: Having said all that - Why exactly was The EM Touch 2 Pro the clear winner?

Well, in addition to the 6 bullet points which I listed above...There is a matter of an inconvenient drawback, on the part of The TeensyBat: It cannot record bat passes unattended. Not in a neat, automatic, and orderly fashion anyway.

Explained in another way: A TeensyBat user must be ready to press the Record button when a bat pass is being picked-up, and press the button again to stop the recording. 
In other words, a user needs to continuously attend to the Record button. If not, you can easily end up with very long (and large) recordings; with bat passes being few & far-between. I don't have to further explain how frustrating this can be when you're back at your laptop.

This is in contrast to The EM Touch 2 Pro's ability to: Automatically record a bat pass, stop when the bat is gone, save it, and go back to active monitoring. 
This results in a collection of neat recordings. With those having recorded ("confirmed") bat passes being conveniently marked with the yellow bat icon, which many of us are familiar with.

So, what happened after all these tests? I remembered that there's another, excellent (USB-based) bat detector - which would be an awesome prospect for this comparison! The U384 from Pettersson - It also fits in with it's affordable price point, as well as it's wonderful performance!

The U384 - USB based Bat Detector
As I'd received it for review
(directly from Pettersson)



     
A closer look at The U384, 
   with the 
included USB adapter.






As you can tell, this topic of discussion has the potential to get out-of-hand! All I'll say at this point in time, is that I recall the excellent performance of this Pettersson unit when I reviewed it. And I firmly believe that The U384 would do very well if it were a part of this detector comparison. I may elaborate on this in the future.

As a side-note: I've been doing quite a bit of experimenting with several external ultrasonic microphones. I'll be sharing all the geeky goodness here on the blog, in the future via Pics, etc. 

Just a sneak peek for now!


😊


So...I'm looking forward to ordering myself an AudioMoth 1.2.0, in the near future. They aren't in stock/available at the time of this writing, but have patience...

*Note: The Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro's are back in stock at Wildlife Acoustics.


Also, at the time of this writing, TeensyBat 4.1 kits are also back in stock.

Spectrograms will be added to this post in the near future. As alluded to earlier: Locating bat calls to create spectrograms of (from TeensyBat recordings) has been rather time-consuming... 

Until next time,

Happy bat recording analysis!

Unless you're enjoying the unseasonably warm Winter The British Isles is having - In which case: Happy bat detecting!
 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

General Considerations About Active (handheld) Bat Detectors Part 1 of 2

In this 2-part post, we'll address the question: Which bat detector to get?

More specifically...Which detector for under $400 / €400?

Recently, there was a period of about 2-3 weeks, when I actually found myself without a single bat detector! Yikes! It didn't take very long for me to begin panicking...My thoughts turned to - which bat detector should I buy for myself?

So, in an effort to compensate (?) I ended-up ordering two, within a very short time frame. ...Fast forward about two weeks (for the small parcels to clear Customs, etc.): And I'm now working on finishing up the testing, and reviewing, of both The SSF BAT3 and The Teensybat 4.1...

...Now, these 2 detectors needed to be purchased by me, (at full retail price) using my own funds. For those who missed earlier posts, the reason why is: Both organizations are not-for-profit. 

This added an interesting element to the entire process. And allowed me to fully consider the question of: Which bat detector would I want to own myself? So, first let's get something out of the way - I'm not a professional Bat Worker (yet! - we all need goals...). As much as I sometimes like to imagine myself as a Professional Bat Researcher, I'm not. 

I'm a hobbyist (perhaps a rather advanced hobbyist) but a hobbyist none-the-less. So, exactly which bat detector would I like to actually own? - Or, eventually own (if I had the patience to save up some money). 

So you hobbyists, and advanced-level hobbyists out there: This post should be of great interest to you!


Sensitivity & Pick-up range:

The TeensyBat 4.1 Kit on the left - The SSF BAT3 on the right.

Aside from having two new, and interesting bat detectors to review for my readers. There was a serendipitous consequence as well: I was actually "forced" to take a hard look at exactly which bat detector I found to be most desirable; when considering one for regular nightly use.

To address this fairly, I had to carefully consider bat detectors which were priced at about $400 US dollars or below. Just for grins, let's also imagine (for a moment) that I had resigned myself to owning just one detector (a crazy thought, I agree!).

I will share the first considerations which came to my mind:

  • It needs to be robust and dependable.
  • It should provide recordings which can be analyzed later, to confirm species.
  • It should be of good quality/good microphone, with excellent pick-up range.
  • Further to the above: Good sensitivity, adjustable gain, and at least one filter.
  • GPS tracking would really be nice.

The bat detectors which I carefully considered were:
  • The SSF BAT3   --- Approx. $400 USD
  • The Teensybat 4.1 kit (needed to build it first)   --- Approx. $200 USD
  • The Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro   --- Approx. $349 (+ any shipping)
  • The Pettersson U384*   --- Approx. $321 USD (with shipping to The US)

*Consideration of The Pettersson U384 USB-based detector came much later on. More on this later in Part 2 of this Post...

In this particular post, I won't go into a lot of specifics, or detailed comparisons, etc. (which will be addressed in the Post following this one). What I will state, is that I gave each of these a lot of careful consideration.

To be continued...

Until next time,
Happy bat detecting!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Upcoming AudioMoth Conference! Starts Nov. 28th

A temporary post, to remind everyone about the AudioMoth Online Conference coming up.

It's presented by Barbastella Academy.

The cost has been recently discounted - Learn more and sign up Here.

(I got my ticket!)

I'm determined to test and review the new AudioMoth (1.2.0) here in 2023!

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Review: The SSF BAT3 Bat Detector by MeKV (Germany)

Review: The SSF BAT3 by MeKV, sold by All About Bats (in Germany).

The BAT3 is full-featured heterodyne bat detector.


So, firstly: If you reside in Germany, Switzerland, or Europe in general - You might be interested to know, that ordering one of these detectors is a fast & easy process. And if you're in Germany or Switzerland, you are allowed to order it with the official battery.

Product Description - The SSF BAT3 is made by the same folks who manufacture The SSF BAT2, which is a well-known bat detector - which I reviewed Here (on this blog).

Packaging - I ordered The SSF BAT3, with all the options; and it all arrived to me here (in The U.S.) well-packaged, in ~2 weeks after ordering. I ordered mine from all-about-bats.net (in Germany), but they are also available from Veldshop (in the Netherlands).

For anyone ordering one of these units: 

  • If you live on the East coast of North America, you can expect the delivery to take approximately 8-14 business days (not counting Sundays).
  • If you live in Europe, you'll only wait a fraction of that time - Probably about 3 days, would be my guess (mostly likely as short as 1-2 days!).


Via DHL from Germany to The U.S.

Unboxing...Black Nylon carry case (w/ belt loop); the
included user manual is in the German language.

4GB MicroSD card, USB cable, European AC power adapter
The BAT3 wrapped in protective wrap.

This unit is small! And this happens to be one of the things which I really like about it. It's also very lightweight (125 grams).

Removing the protective plastic from the screen.
Look how small and cute it is!

The (optional) carry case features a belt loop, and very secure Velcro® flap.

The unit is provided with: The attached, adjustable wrist strap; a full printed manual in German. I had printed out the English version of it (even before it arrived!)

Link to the User Guide PDF, in English:

The SSF BAT3 - All About Bats (English)

I've been able to find The SSF BAT3 for sale from two online dealers:

All-About-Bats (in Germany)

-and-

Veldshop (in the Netherlands)

As already stated, The SSF BAT3 is an active, heterodyne bat detector. It may be used as a tuneable heterodyne, or as an Auto Heterodyne (AKA the "Auto Bat" feature).



From the beginning, it's hard not to like this detector! Upon powering up and checking/testing this instrument: You will notice the incredible sensitivity and range; as well as the precision of it's volume control. These are the two main features which I noticed first.
The microphone utilized is the small electret model # FG-23629, made by Knowles.

I really like it's features! This bat detector is also fairly easy to use.
Of course, you have full control of tuning the heterodyne portion of the unit, via the Up and Down arrow buttons on the front (in 1kHz steps).

First impressions were good! The frequency range of this unit, is 15 to 150kHz. I really liked the sensitivity of the unit, and the audio output of the speaker is very good: Plenty of audio for everyone to hear on a bat walk.

The SSF BAT3 is a factory-assembled, ready-to-use detector. So, I got to charging the battery immediately. 

Note: Again, if you live outside of Europe, you will need to purchase your (Nokia-compatible battery separately).

The typical battery life is stated as being about 3-6 hours. Initial charge time for the new battery (before 1st use) was stated as 8 hours in the user manual. I was able to achieve full charge in about half that time...


One of the reference screens available - Shown in German here 
(I have mine set to English).


When I went to insert the micro SD card, the little metal door came right off in my fingers - Yikes! I got it back on it's hinges, and locked the SD card in place. 

It has a few neat little informative "pages" (screens) about bats, bat calls, sonograms, etc., - Like a "micro encyclopedia" (for lack of a better description). I'll share pics of these screens below. It's available for viewing in both the German or English language. Something to look at during lulls in bat activity.




Just a couple of examples shown above


All in all, I like it. Mainly because it packs so many features into such a tiny package. Having purchased the belt loop carrying case, means it's easy to have with you, if you expect to be anywhere near bats.

With 2 button pushes to power on, it's very easy to use. Requiring the user to press two separate buttons in succession, prevents accidental powering on.

This little heterodyne detector would be ideal for beginner or intermediate bat chasers.
It would be an excellent choice for anyone leading a bat walk; and does produce nice sounding heterodyne audio.

Short videos of The SSF BAT3 may be seen on my YouTube channel.

I found this unit to be fairly accurate in what it detected, and the resulting spectrograms were very good. I would occasionally print them out, on 8.5x11" Letter size paper: The spectrograms look good, and you can write your own notes on the printouts. Either of the ("print screen") styles shown below, may be copied/pasted/e-mailed or sent directly to your printer.

While using The BAT3Viewer App, you can toggle between 3 color choices for ths spectrogram legend: Blue(s) as shown below, Green(s), and Red(s).

An example of a "Sonogram" (spectrogram)
produced by The BAT3Viewer App


This is the .BMP screenshot feature available
when using The BAT3Viewer App



Pros:

  • Uses a nice, sensitive, electret microphone element. It seems to perform as well as some other pro-level detector microphones. 
  • It's tiny! If someone were in the market for a James Bond-sized/secret/full featured bat detector, this would be it.
  • It has the potential to be plenty loud - enough audio, even for a large-sized group to hear on a bat walk.
  • It has a built-in torch - white LED. Which features an auto shut-off (I would have liked it a little brighter).

Cons: 

  • It seems to be based on a Nokia cell phone platform. It's not very robust, in fact I might describe it as closer to delicate.
  • The included wrist strap would be a must! If you drop it on a hard surface, damage will occur.
  • It's only a heterodyne detector, although it does have an Auto-Het tuning feature.
  • The door which holds the micro SD card, is the most delicate one I've ever encountered. Use caution.


Like The SSF BAT2, the unit covertly uses a built-in Frequency Division circuit to produce spectrograms.

Green

Red


All things considered, it is a very nice heterodyne bat detector, with useful features. If I discover any other information or notes to add, I will update this review as needed.

The next bat detector to be reviewed here, will be The Teensybat 4.1 (DIY) Kit; which comes to us from The Netherlands. 

Until then,
Happy bat detecting!

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Last Call for 2022: Do you have a Bat Detector you'd like to have reviewed?

The live webinar review of The SSF BAT3 heterodyne bat detector was completed on BatAbility Club - And is now viewable by club members...

The blog-based review is currently in progress...For now, you can view some short video clips of The SSF BAT3 on my YouTube channel (under 'Shorts').

This will be followed by a review of The TeensyBat 4.1 bat detector kit, also on BatAbility Club in January. Followed by a written article/review here on the blog. 

The TeensyBat Kit has been completed, and I've been enjoying it quite a bit! It's very versatile.

  • If you have an AudioMoth Version 1.2.0 that you would be willing to sell me, please get in touch!   batdetectors@gmail.com 
The fact that it can now utilize an external microphone (via 3.5mm jack), has rekindled and peaked my interest in this affordable unit! 
(end user must hand solder a jack onboard).

Speaking of external microphones - Have a look at Zach Poff's great site!
He's also been involved with the earlier version of The TeensyBat kit.

More new updates coming soon,
Happy Bat Detecting!

Latest Status Update On The Two Recent Arrivals: The SSF BAT3 & The Teensybat 4.1

Just wanted to share the very latest state of things (progress, etc.) and whats been going on with the SSF BAT3 from Germany -and- The Teensybat 4.1 from the Netherlands.

*Please note: If you order an SSF BAT3, and you don't reside in Germany, Switzerland, or Europe - You will need to buy your battery separately. As they aren't permitted to ship Lithium ion batteries airmail/overseas.

Here is the inner box, which contains the SSF BAT3 & accessories.


Comes with European plug for USB cable charging - But just about
any USB 5v source will do (more on that in a future post).

I'd like to give you an idea of what to expect: Here you can see the well-protected BAT3 (upper RH), the optional MicroSD card which includes software options, USB cable, a User Manual in the German language, and a plug for European outlets.

Then we have The Teensybat 4.1. It is a build-it-yourself kit... Although if you're lucky, you'll be able to occasionally see a built kit for sale (on the TeensyBat Website).

I recently completed the assembly of my TeensyBat kit. For anyone experienced with soldering/building electronic kits, this isn't a super-difficult one to build. 
What might be considered the most fiddly bit of all, is in the beginning. It is the soldering of the 2 optional memory chips (PSRAM) onto the Teensy 4.1 circuit board. Accomplish this task successfully, and the rest is essentially smooth sailing! Just take your time 👍🏻

The major sections of the TeensyBat 4.1 - As received from Edwin.


Stock photo from Edwin's site - All parts laid out.
(User provided Teensy board not shown)



This is what the completed TeensyBat 4.1 looks like 
 (stock photo from Teensybat site)



Until next time,

Happy bat detecting!

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Acoustic Ecology of European Bats by Michel Barataud

 Acoustic Ecology of European Bats

Bats, being nocturnal flying mammals, have developed a special and very efficient means of navigating in the dark: the sonar. Although the acoustic signals they emit are inaudible to the human ear, they can be perceived, recorded and analysed with appropriate equipment and software.

This book is a product of the knowledge and skill acquired by its author over more than two decades of constant research on the subject of ultrasound detection. The initial, purely auditory, approach is complemented by the computed-assisted analysis of the ultrasonic signals. 
With the method described in this book, a bat detector and a computer, the reader will be able to identify about 85% of bat acoustic records in Europe, carry out bat inventories and other more in-depth surveys without disturbing the animals. Thirty-five of the 42 European bat species, including all the most widespread species, are covered.


This book is a product of the knowledge and skill acquired by its author over more than two decades of constant research on the subject of ultrasound detection. The initial, purely auditory, approach is complemented by the computed-assisted analysis of the ultrasonic signals. With the method described in this book, a bat detector and a computer, the reader will be able to identify about 85% of bat acoustic records in Europe, carry out bat inventories and other more in-depth surveys without disturbing the animals. Thirty-five of the 42 European bat species, including all the most widespread species, are covered.

Michel Barataud has spent many years of research working on the bats of not only Europe, but also the Guianas and Lesser Antilles. Over time, and taking advantage of the ongoing technological progress, he has developed a very efficient identification method and disseminated his findings through a large number of publications. An enthusiastic teacher, he has trained several hundred bat workers in ultrasound analysis and given impetus to a vast network of naturalists.
Yves Tupinier, an expert and pioneer on bat sonar, is a life-long friend. His contribution to this book is a precious addition.

Book+DVD set
The DVD includes numerous audio examples to illustrate the method as well as scatter diagrams for the identification of the emitting species

Find online regular updates

Summary
The biological sonar
Ultrasound detectors
The sonar signals of bats: classification and interpretation
The acoustic identification of bats
Applications
Acoustic ecology
Frequently asked questions on acoustic detection and identification
Perspectives
Appendices


Happy bat detecting!

General Thoughts About Active (handheld) Bat Detectors Part 2 of 2

General thoughts & Considerations About Bat Detectors Part 2 of 2 "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's...