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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

A DIY Ultrasonic Microphone For The AnaBat Walkabout

A DIY Ultrasonic Microphone For The AnaBat Walkabout from Titley

Below, I describe some details of my experiences:

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.



Quick wiring-up
Panasonic WM-61A









 



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

Some random thoughts on Non-Bat Recorders

As many of you may know, I've been testing and using The Song Meter Micro from Wildlife Acoustics, and I'm impressed. 

 

The Song Meter Micro
 

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. 

I also remain hopeful, against the odds - that I'll capture vocalizations of a Fisher and River Otter.

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!

Until then,

Happy bat mammal detecting! ;)

Thursday, July 1, 2021

A Follow-Up Post To The Recent Interview I had With Neil Middleton Of The BatAbility Club

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.


Leonardo DaVinci

Jean-Henri Fabre

Raymond Ditmars

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

Interviewed by Neil Middleton of BatAbility!

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!

Here is the interview!

The Song Meter Micro from Wildlife Acoustics - First Look!

I am very happy to report, that The Song Meter Micro from Wildlife Acoustics has arrived for testing and review. So far, I'm very impressed with it.

 

  

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

Review Of The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro Bat Detector Part 2 of 2

Review of The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro From Animal Sound Labs Part 2 of 2 
 
I expect Readers to find much of the User Manual to contain rather interesting bits of information. Some additional pages of interest from the User Manual include:
 
3.11 Correction of the recording level (Rec Level) AKA: (Changing the recording level [Set Rec Level]). Page 16
4. Detector firmware update (Firmware Update). Page 17
5. Useful tips. Page 19
6. Approximate working times in different conditions.* Page 20
 
*Of particular interest, if you're a battery geek (like me) - Two excellent brands of batteries are mentioned as well.

The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro is a good product for those in need of a handheld, professional-level bat recorder; which may also be used as an unattended detector, in many instances. It is robustly built, and can be relied upon to record bats in almost any situation or environment.
 
I've been informed that the very latest version of this detector, has had the buttons modified to respond to less pressure, and the amount of button travel has been reduced.
The illumination of the LEDs has also been made more energy efficient. 
 
As mentioned in Part 1 of this (2-part) review, the unit is highly customizable. Amoung the features are:
  • 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.

 
It has demonstrated excellent sensitivity. As you will see, when I add some results below, in the form of sonograms, and recordings. ...Thank you for your patience...

Now, although Animal Sound Labs graciously provided a list of links to free sound analysis software - On their Download page (under the heading 'Programs').
I decided to go ahead and utilize the latest version of Kaleidoscope (Version 5.4.2) from Wildlife Acoustics.
Especially since an update post on this excellent bat call auto-ID software is on my agenda.
 
Eptesicus Fuscus (Big Brown Bat)
as seen with WA's Kaleidoscope Pro software.
 

Lasionycteris Noctivagans (Silver-haired bat

Other neat features worth mentioning are:
 
A standard (3.5mm) audio cable may be used to connect the detector to a cell phone (w/ Mic Input) - Allowing Apps such as SpectralProAnalyzer to display live spectrograms. You may also experiment with similar, spectrogram-producing Apps.
 
Once the GPS/GNSS (blue) indicator comes on, maximum signal strength (exposure to the open sky) is no longer needed.
 
The volume setting is remembered after the unit is powered off; and even during battery replacement (if completed in under ~1 minute).
The length of each individual recording may be set to anywhere from 3 seconds to 60 minutes. 
 
As always, I encourage readers to do their research, and shop around. Again, watch this space for soon-to-be-posted spectrogams!
To be continued...

Happy bag detecting!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Review: The LunaBat DFR-1 Bat Detector From Animal Sound Labs - Part 1 Of 2

Review of The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro Bat Detector From Animal Sound Labs

Part 1 of 2 - Hardware, User Manual, and other considerations.

Here is a review of a bat detector, whose arrival I'd anticipated for quite some time. It's The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro!


 The DFR-1 Pro
 
The unit arrived to me here in the U.S., directly from the manufacturer in Poland: Very, very well-packaged. Everything was neatly placed.
And one of the first things I noticed, were all of the good quality accessories which were included - I'm very keen on stuff like this:
 
Unpacking The DFR-1 Pro (unit is in the red bubble wrap bag)

 
An assortment of useful cables, are amoung the accessories included.


The DFR-1 fit very comfortably in my hand; and I'd say my hands are average -to- small sized. It is also lightweight, and very easy to hold for extended periods of time (many hours).
It weighs 175g (without battery and microphone), and circa 200g with batteries and ME-series microphone.

The LunaBat DFR-1, with Non-Illuminated Keys, is priced at 849 Euros.
The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro, with Illuminated Keys (indicators) is priced at 879 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.
 
Among the features which I find interesting and useful are: 
 
  • 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 LunaBat DFR-1 Pro - Summer of 2020 Bats were flying very close (~ 40-50 feet).
 

Some points of interest from The User Manual:
 
2.3 Recording without listening   Page 7
3.1 Selecting the recording mode Page 8
3.5 Viewing temperature and relative humidity Page 13
3.8 Writing a KML file Page 14
3.9 High pass filters Page 15
4. Detector firmware update Page 17
 
 
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.
 
The DFR-1 Pro would be ideal for anyone seeking a high-end bat detector producing professional level results. In use, it demonstrated excellent sensitivity and solid recordings. More on these topics in Part 2 of this review.



The DFR-1 Pro has a good solid feel to it, and comes with a built-in lanyard.
The battery compartment door, is found on the lower back of the unit. Two AA-sized (R6) batteries fit inside snugly; inserting the + end first is the way to do it. There's a ribbon provided to assist in removal of batteries (which is very useful). 
Directly above the battery cover, is a convenient tripod socket.
Holding the power on button for just a second turns the unit on (it's labeled with the universal power symbol). The 3-line display briefly shows the current installed firmware version. Followed by Animal Sound Labs; followed by the default/ready screen.
With either the default, or user specified settings in effect, you simply press OK to record (seen on the last line of the display as: "Press OK to REC"). While the unit is in ready mode.
 

While it boasts Professional-level performance, it also has the appearance of what I've come to refer to as - the quintessential bat detector.  

 
The DFR-1 Pro (Photo from Animal Sound Labs). 
 

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.
I was able to pick-up/record bats at respectable distances, akin to other high-end bat detectors. The Full Spectrum recordings were excellent!
The DFR-1 Pro consistently created excellent sonograms (more on this in Part 2).
 

Pros 
  •  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...
 
Cons 
  •  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
 
I do my best to be very thorough when testing and reviewing a bat detector. And of course, performance, quality of recordings, and features are of utmost importance.

Much more to follow, in Part 2 Of 2 of this review; where I will cover more hardware details, recordings/spectrograms, and an in-depth look at it's GNSS system.

Until then,
Happy bat detecting!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Update Post - The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro From Animal Sound Labs

The LunaBat DFR-1 (Pro) had arrived directly from Animal Sound Labs (in Poland), very well packaged. With many neat accessories included.



 

 
Printed User Manual, Fujitsu AA batteries + holder, and Carry Case.

The manufacturer offers several devices of interest to Bat Workers, Bat/Ultrasonic Researchers, et al. 

I invite the Reader to visit their Website; where you can see their entry-level bat detector: The DFD-1 Which is also offered as a Kit . As well as Microphones, Recorders (and custom-made recording solutions), Ultrasonic Playback Lures, and some useful Accessories.

Happy Bat Detecting!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Review Of The Titley Anabat Swift Part 3 Of 3 - Three Optional Microphones Tested

This Post serves as Part 3 Of 3 of The Titley Anabat Swift Review (If you haven't already, see Part 1, Part 2)
As well as the testing and comparison of the 3 microphones which are currently available, from Titley Scientific. These optional Mics allow additional, significant customization of your AnaBat Recording set-ups. 
 
In it's current state, this post is just a rough outline, I'm posting it here as a placeholder. It will be added to, as soon as time allows.

Owners of either The Anabat Swift, or The Anabat Express bat recorders, should be aware of the 3 Microphones currently available, from Titley Scientific.
The post immediately preceding this one, lists some detailed specifications and information on each of the 3 Mics (as per Titley). 
What follows below, are just some of my findings:

1. The Anabat Omnidirectional Ultrasonic Microphone - US-0 V3

While doing some experimental tests, using The Bat Chirp II (artificial bat, made by Tony Messina); I was able to get (mechanical-looking) sonograms. I'm sharing these here, mainly as a "curiosity".

This was at a distance of 50 feet.
Here is just a small section of the sonogram, as recorded by "Mic #1": The US-0 V3


The Bat Chirp II as heard by the US-0 V3 Mic on The AnaBat Swift



2. Anabat Directional Ultrasonic Microphone US–D V1
 
This was at a distance of 50 feet.
Here is just a small section of the sonogram, as recorded by "Mic #2": US-D V1



 
For my own purposes of organization, I refer to this microphone: Anabat Omnidirectional Acoustic Microphone AS–0 V1
as "Mic #3" - I apologize for not having a spectrogram from this Mic to share. I am currently still sorting through the recordings made using this Mic (again with the aid of The Bat Chirp II [artificial bat]). I will be adding (at least) one sonogram to this post soon...
 

Here is a sonogram of a real bat, made using "Mic #1" Anabat Omnidirectional Ultrasonic Microphone US-0 V3
 

  
A real bat, recorded using The US-0 V3 Mic on AnaBat Swift
(bat was approx. 100 feet distant)


For further, current Info, on these Mics as well as other compatible accessories, have a look at this page, from Titley's Scientific's Site.

Until then, Happy bat detecting!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Titley Scientific's Microphones - Announcing 3 Mics Which Are Now Available!

This Post serves as a precursor to Part 3 Of 3 of The Titley Anabat Swift Review (If you haven't already, see Part 1, Part 2)
It is also a preliminary look at the 3 microphones which are currently available, from Titley Scientific.

Owners (or potential owners) of either The Anabat Swift, or Anabat Express bat recorders, should be aware of the 3 Microphones currently available, from Titley Scientific.
See below for some detailed specifications and information on each of the 3 Mics, as per Titley:

1. The Anabat Omnidirectional Ultrasonic Microphone - US-0 V3

It is a versatile and affordable option, for recording bats in all weather conditions.

Brief Info: The latest iteration of their omnidirectional microphone is versatile and affordable. Titley's most popular microphone for recording bats in all weather. The ability to attach directly to the detector or via a cable means that you can make the most of your detector and microphone placement, avoiding echoes off hard surfaces.

Features:     
  • Can be attached directly to the detector or on an extension cable.  
  • Improved weather resistance with waterproof acoustic membrane
  • Compatible with Anabat Swift and Anabat Express
  • Low power consumption

Specifications:
  •  Weight: 22g
  •  Dimensions: 48mm (length) x 17mm (diameter) 
  •  Frequency Response: 10 – 130 kHz 
  •  Colour: Black 
  •  Directionality: Omnidirectional 
  •  Compatible with: Anabat Swift, Anabat Express

2. Anabat Directional Ultrasonic Microphone US–D V1

Highly sensitive directional microphone, perfect to target bats and avoid noise.

Brief Info: The directional microphone is a specialized ultrasonic microphone designed for the Anabat Swift and Anabat Express. It’s highly sensitive and directional zone of reception mean you can target your recordings and avoid ambient noise. This is the only weatherproof directional microphone commercially available, and allows you to record bats up to 250kHz. 

Features:
  • Can be attached directly to the detector or on an extension cable
  • High signal to noise ratio (very low noise)
  • Frequency response from 10 kHz to 250 kHz 
  • Compatible with Anabat Swift and Anabat Express 
  • Parylene coated microphone element for improved weather resistance       
  • Corrosion resistant stainless steel grill

Specifications:
  • Weight: 60g
  • Dimensions: 60mm (length) x 46mm (diameter)
  • Frequency Response: 10 – 250 kHz
  • Colour: Black
  • Directionality: Directional
  • Compatible with: Anabat Swift, Anabat Express

Weatherproof multipurpose microphone, record all audible wildlife. 

Brief Info: Another of Titley's latest microphones allows you to record audible frequencies with your Anabat Swift. Weatherproof and durable, you can survey birds, frogs and other vocalising wildlife for months at a time. 
Features: 
  • Can be attached directly to the detector or on an extension cable 
  • Low power consumption 
  • Improved weather resistance with waterproof acoustic membrane 
  • Comes with military grade, water repellent wind sock
  • Compatible with Anabat Swift

Specifications:
  • Weight: 23g 
  • Dimensions: 60mm (length) x 30mm (diameter) (including wind sock)
  • Frequency Response: 100 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Colour: Black
  • Directionality: Omnidirectional
  • Accessories: Wind sock
  • Compatible with: Anabat Swift

I'm happy to report, that each of these microphones are currently being evaluated/tested and compared. And I'll be posting my findings and remarks on the blog soon.
For further, current Info, on these Mics as well as other compatible accessories, have a look at this page, from Titley's Scientific's Site.

Until then, Happy bat detecting!