Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: The Batango From Dodotronic

Review Of Dodotronic's Batango

One of the newest bat detectors on the horizon, also happens to be the smallest. It is the latest offering from Dodotronic, makers of the now well-known Ultramic series of microphones. It is called The Batango. And, believe it or not - It is a fully operational, frequency division bat detector that is made to fit on your key ring!

The Batango's design is simplicity itself: A very small black plastic enclosure; with one momentary push button, and one red LED indicator. This simple ultrasonic detector, is controlled exclusively by this one button. Each of the different settings - Such as: Power On/Off, Volume Up/Down, and Frequency Division Factor settings - Are all adjusted entirely by a simple sequence of button pushes.

See Dodotronic's Batango Web page; for a complete, graphical explanation.
As you can see: The unit is small! Now, you'll never have to miss listening to/or recording some unexpected bat activity!

One side of the unit features the MEMs microphone element (not shown in photo above), along with a 3.5mm Earphone Jack - Which provides audio output.
The unit is powered by a small, "button-type" battery (CR1220 3V Lithium cell) which lasts a good long while. The battery supplied, is still going strong (after a lot of testing).

In the beginning, I've found that it's a good idea to have a print-out of the instructions handy (just until you become familiar with it's operation).

Since Winter is upon us, and my area is currently experiencing very cold temperatures - Ivano Pelicella of Dodotronic, also supplied me with a small, electronic bat sound emulator (this very small circuit was shown on Dodotronic's Web page demo). Pressing a momentary micro switch on the circuit, produces ultrasonic chirps for testing, etc. In addition, I'm also trying to sort through my CDs, .wav files, and some online resources; to locate some (raw) bat recordings, which I would like to try The Batango on as well.

Preliminary tests, using only a pair of (average/inexpensive) earphones were very good. The unit is excellent at rejecting man-made ultrasonic noises. Such as: The ever-popular, rubbing of index & middle fingers against your thumb, or clicking of fingernails, etc. I've recently been informed that this is by design - The unit was designed to reject sounds below 20kHz in frequency.
At the same time, however - It has no problem picking up the ultrasonic pulses produced by the bat chirp emulator. So, this is great news!

I did notice that The Batango does not feature the same kind of pick-up range, as a normal/full-sized detector. At the same time, I realize that this key-chain-sized detector would not be used in settings where long pick-up range is needed. In my opinion, it's great to have handy for serendipitous monitoring of bats. In other words, in those situations where/when you unexpectedly see bats flying about (while you're away from home).

Some other examples, of settings/locales: You may happen to be visiting, with your Aunt Adele (or your Uncle Dominick). And, when evening begins to roll notice that your Aunt (or Uncle's) backyard has more natural bat habitat that you originally remembered.
Or, there is a small wooded lot or other "batty looking" area that you hadn't noticed before... Or, you are dining at a restaurant, and step outside for some fresh air (while waiting for the main course to arrive) and you notice what you are almost sure was the erratic flight of a bat... I'm sure you can understand my point; and you can just imagine the different possibilities!
The other nice thing about it, is that it can be used very discretely. Most onlookers, or a passerby will think you're simply listening to your MP3 player...

Again, since these types of spots are places where your first indication of bat activity is likely to be visual; the pick-up range of the Batango will be adequate.

In regards to The Batango's recording performance, and sonogram production: The unit wasn't exactly designed with those uses in mind. I will share some excerpts, of a recent e-mail, from Ivano Pe
licella of Dodotronic:

"...As I've written in my website it's not suited for audio recordings since the outcoming waveform is synthesized and the spectrogram can have a lot of harmonics due to the square waveform of the internal sound generator. For ultrasound recording the Ultramic is the best solution.

The frequency range is 20 khz ~ 140 khz...Batango has an internal filter that cuts all the signal below 20khz, this is the reason why it's so immune to normal audio..."

So, I've given it some thought - And, after careful consideration: I've decided that instead of writing a Part 2 to this review, I will leave it as-is. And, if any additional info needs to be added - I will add it to this post.
The completed, full production units will be available for purchase from Dodotronic in a few months. In the meantime, any questions may be directed, via e-mail to Ivano Pelicella at Dodotronic.
Winter is a good time to organize your notes, sound recordings and sonograms; to be ready for Spring...

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