Monday, June 10, 2013

The Perfect Bat Detector - Does It Exist?

I found myself idly wondering today: If the perfect bat recorder did exist, what would it be like?
What features would it have?
Of course, it would probably be slightly different for everyone...But, I'd like to just explore the idea for a moment. We are talking about an ideal bat detecting solution.

A bat detector (recorder) which you would feel confident taking with you anywhere, to any location. Whether it be Aunt Ida's house on the other side of town, or deep in the jungles of South America.

If you ask me, it wouldn't be too difficult to design.
Combine the versatility of 3 (or even 4) modes of operation. Similar to models such as: The Griffin from BatBox, The EM3+ from Wildlife Acoustics or the 1000DX from Pettersson:

1. Heterodyne
2. Frequency Division
3. Full Spectrum (high resolution)
And, so that nothing is left out, also:
4. Time Expansion

Make it robust, some rubber armoring perhaps? Weather resistant (at least partially water resistant). It certainly doesn't need to be fully waterproof.

I would allow the manufacturer full artistic license with respect to the microphone - Regarding type and placement. ...But - I have two mandatory requests:
  • It must be high-quality and sensitive.
  • And for Heaven's sake: Make it robust! - And not such a delicate, unprotected affair.
Shall we use some present-day machines as guides?
The BatBox Griffin, for example - A robust, and very capable machine. With the ability to monitor bat calls using multiple technologies (Heterodyne, Frequency Division, Binaural (which is a mix of both).
The ability to run almost two whole evenings on one set of AA batteries.
Records bat passes in TE mode, without missing a thing.
Has a large and lovely easy-to-read screen. And, many other advanced features...
Yet...It all hinges on one, very small, unprotected microphone element. 

The manufacturer were to combine the simple, intuitive Menu style from The BatBox Griffin,
with the sensitivity and sleek dimensions of The Batlogger M from Elekon. We might have something... 
We must also note, that many times, high costs are prohibitive to many Bat Workers, etc.
I believe that the new (relatively "secret") bat detecting/recording system coming soon from Wildlife Acoustics - May be the answer to this issue. It will provide amazing results, akin to high-end Pro equipment. Yet, will be very affordable...Especially to anyone who already owns an iPad device. That is all I can say for now. It is still a fairly secretive project.

As it stands now, the closest that a bat recorder comes to total perfection, is the Batlogger M from Elekon. And, since this opinion is also held by several well-known Bat Workers in Britain...
Questions have arisen... Hath this new machine no flaws?

{Whilst on the subject of well-known Bat Workers...The following information has been added here, for Mr. Richard Crompton}

Well, essentially, the answer is: Not really. 

All kidding aside, there are two very minor things that I happen to see as (minor) Cons:

1. On my test unit, I found that battery life is slightly shortened while the GPS system is engaged. Other owners (Bat Workers) that I've consulted with, have not noticed this. So, there is a very good chance that it will not be the case on most examples of this unit. However, it has also been mentioned in the Batlogger M's User Manual
On pages 18 to 19 (section 'Setup4/7').

2. The inability to set the current time on the unit independently from live satellite data.
I would like to see, perhaps an additional Clock implemented. One where a user can simply set the time; without the streaming data from GPS satellites changing it. Again, many users will actually welcome & appreciate this feature.

I've intentionally made an effort to keep these Con descriptions as brief as possible. There's no need to dwell on them, at the risk of making a World-class bat detector seem less than brilliant.
Because, as far as I'm still concerned: The performance of the Batlogger M is simply wonderful; and it abundantly provides just about all one could ever hope for in a bat detector. 

I may revisit this topic again, in the future...

Happy bat detecting!

1 comment:

  1. It would be interesting to see a head-to-head comparison of the Batlogger M and the EM3+.