Monday, November 23, 2015

Review: Baton XD From BatBox Ltd. Part 1 Of 2

Review: The Baton XD bat detector from Batbox Ltd. Part 1 Of 2

The BatBox Baton XD is a new, dual technology bat detector, from BatBox Ltd. UK

I suppose, that after having tested and reviewed almost 40 different bat detectors, I must have developed the ability to discern a bat detector's ability right away
These days, I can practically tell how effective (sensitive) a bat detector is likely to be - Simply by powering it on...Indoors.

Case-in-point, the new Baton XD detector, from BatBox Ltd. A perfect example.
As soon as I un-boxed it, and powered it on: I could sense right-away, that an "ultrasonic mist net" had just been deployed. It could hear the faintest high frequency sounds within many meters, in any direction. It didn't take very long to realize that this one's a keeper!

It features two principal modes of detection: High-quality Frequency Division and Time-expansion (10x). This unit boasts a frequency response better than 18kHz to 120kHz.
Particularly note-worthy, is that time-expansion is among the methods of detection which this portable unit is capable of. We ought to keep in mind, that time-expansion is a technology, which has only recently been made affordable. Most especially, to the average Hobbyist. 
If you were among those bat detecting Hobbyists, who longed to have a TE detector - But could not afford one, then this Baton XD is (still) a "Big deal" for you. 
For a long time, I was among the many Hobbyists who hoped to own a detector with the ability to record in time-expansion. And I could not afford one either...

This is not to insinuate that time-expanded recordings are necessarily the "best", or most desirable of methods for recording and/or analysis -- Only that, until recently, it was simply out-of-reach for most. Including some Ecologists, in fact! Now that I think of it...
It wasn't too long ago, that the lowest-cost TE-capable unit, was selling for $1,500 U.S. Dollars. Two units in particular, come immediately to mind, in fact. 

With the release of the Baton XD from BatBox -- We now have a very capable -and- affordable unit; with which to make time-expanded recordings of echolocating bats.
The Reader may notice, that I've used the words "very capable". This is because The XD from BatBox Ltd. is the first of it's kind, to allow continuous / unattended recording (of TE calls). A rather important distinction, when one looks at the available prospects on the market today. Especially in this price range.

It may also be noted, that BatBox was not the first manufacturer to offer a TE-capable unit, in recent years. One that was affordable, that is.
The X05 Series from Ciel comes to mind. My full review of it, may be found Here.
However, this new Baton XD from BatBox, brings us to another level of (TE) recording ability. As well as the ability to choose a Professional quality, Frequency Divided output.

It's size and weight are very similar to the original Baton (which I've written about / Reviewed Here).
Some current retail prices for a Baton XD, range between about $362 (directly from BatBox Ltd.) to $436 (from NHBS); U.S. Dollars. And, of course, there are other online sources to order from as well. Wildlife & Countryside Services has it for £295 including
UK delivery and VAT.
I would encourage you to shop around for the best price

A very effective way to become familiar with it's features, is to to take a look through the free-to-download Quick Start Guide (direct PDF download Here).

As for the design, it is very similar to the original BatBox Baton; which I'm sure many are at least somewhat familiar with.

This advanced technology Baton XD still retains the ease-of-use of the original. This will be a comfort to those who have owned a Baton before. I found it to be so.

The Baton XD would be an ideal choice, for both beginning and advanced Hobbyists. 

With it's ability to connect to many smartphones: For live analysis, or recording, directly to a smartphone - Many Professionals will find it to be a valuable bit of kit. 
For instance, on Page 1 of The Quick Guide -- The Baton XD is indicated for transects:

"Baton XD is available with built-in strong magnets which will enable the unit to be attached to the exterior of most cars for mobile transect road surveys." 

In the past, I've referred to (the original) BatBox Baton as a "workhorse" of a bat detector. This new Baton XD, is an innovative new bat detector; which is sure to become the new high-tech "workhorse" detector, for many. Especially die hard Fans of the original Baton.   

The Baton XD allows the (headphone-equipped) user, to listen to both the TE (AKA 'TX') and FD audio at the same time. With the push of a button, the user may choose to listen to the TE sounds in the left side, and the FD in the right side; of the headphones -- Or, the other way around, if preferred.
Again, a brief glance at Page 1, of The Quick Start Guide will illustrate all...And of course, the ability to record to your smartphone is also an attractive prospect.

 Part 2 Of 2 of this Review will cover the following material and topics:

  • A description of the process of using it.
  • Photos
  • Accuracy and resulting Spectrograms  
  • Pros and Cons  
  • Summary
The bats are hibernating for the Winter (for the most part), here in New York USA. The BatBox Baton XD and The M500 USB Microphone (from Pettersson) were the two detectors which I finished the season with.

Part 2 of this Review, will be followed by the (long-overdue) Review of the new M500 USB Microphone from Pettersson. There are several exciting developments there as well!

Happy bat detecting!
(to those South of the Equator!) 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Before The Fancy New Baton XD...There Was The Original BatBox Baton...

Before we move-on, to the very latest & greatest, high-tech version of this detector (The Baton XD), let's take a short trip down memory lane...

Back in 2013 (and earlier), the original BatBox Baton was a detector to be reckoned with.

Here is a scan of a review in the Autumn 2013 issue of The Wildlife Sound Journal. (The Wildlife Sound Recording Society's Journal):

More to follow! 

Happy bat detecting!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Promising New Contender - Batlogger A From Elekon

Have a look at what has just been announced by Elekon!


Just record

"But it isn't quite that simple. We did some thoughts and implemented some of the ideas of our costumers. The result is a box that can just be placed in the field.
A lot of features of the BATLOGGER-family are available in the BATLOGGER A as well.
Let surprise yourself...."

"Step in the world of real time recordings of bats

The new BATLOGGER A is the next member of the BATLOGGER-family. The real time recording, in full spectrum, with 16-bit resolution is as powerful as with the BATLOGGER M and BATLOGGER C.
The device is ideally suited for passive monitoring at a location. The BATLOGGER A is fully waterproof and can be easily and inconspicuously placed in the field.
Adjustable trigger functions, options for delayed records and the analysis software BatExplorer are of course fully supported."

Link to the article


Happy bat detecting! 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Update: New Batlogger C Now Available From Elekon!

New Batlogger C now available!

The New Batlogger C has just been announced as being available! (for order from Elekon). 

Happy bat detecting!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bat Detecting Season 2015 Mini-Reviews Of 4 New Bat Detectors

Bat Detecting Season 2015: Mini-Reviews Of 4 Bat Detectors, And Other Updates

I'm faced with a unique situation this bat detecting season: I actually have bat detectors in queue to be reviewed.
More specifically: Several (brand new models) have arrived, for testing and review - I have had the opportunity to un-pack, and briefly test the various detectors, but haven't had the time to share my first impressions of them. And I've been very anxious to do so!

I have been keeping busy, monitoring weather conditions nightly (New York, USA)...Hoping for an occasional evening with conditions conducive to bat flight.
Since I prefer to monitor and record, on the nights which generate a steady stream of bat activity.

The Folks at Titley Scientific are very nice, and are allowing me to take more time to test the new Express. Thank you Titley! 

The four new ultrasonic devices are:  
...There is, in fact, a fifth ultrasonic device - And it seems to be very eagerly anticipated by all concerned (myself included). But, it hasn't been officially released yet -- And is not available for purchase at this time. So, it's not on this list yet...
It is The new AnaBat Walkabout from Titley Scientific. And, I'm very happy to report that I'm scheduled to receive a loaner unit to test, in the near future.

The AnaBat Walkabout, from Titley Scientific

I'm taking a brief moment away from my (ongoing) review (Part 1 Of 2) of The AnaBat Express, to share my opinions of these four new devices at this time.
I thought it would be a good idea to write a brief, conventional, "mini-review" of each. Similar to a review that one might write on The NHBS Site, for example.
My reviews will soon be featured by Wildlife & Countryside Services as well. Martin is currently working on a new Web page, dedicated to helping you choose the right detector for you. Link will be featured here on the Blog, as soon as it goes live.
I will be including The Anabat Express. I'd like to take this opportunity to provide a short, general overview of it as well - Even though the full (2-Part) version will be the next comprehensive review I post. 
Again, these will simply be very basic, and very short reviews.

While working on the Pros and Cons Lists, for the next two bat recorders -- I realized, that: Each Manufacturer has already put forth the effort, to create their own, respective 'Comparison Charts'. And, that any effort on my part, would prove (mostly) redundant at this time.
Instead, I shall post each of their charts below, followed by my observations, regarding any discrepancies. 
In addition, I do plan to publish my own Pros & Cons for each of these two; inside each of their respective full reviews. After a lot of careful contemplation... 

(click to enlarge)

As per line 14 in Wildlife Acoustic's SMZC chart above, the 'Red X' represents the lack of an 'Integrated Mounting Bracket' for The AnaBat Express. However there is, in fact, one available from Titley Scientific.

(Click to enlarge) 

As per line 9 in Titley's AnaBat Express chart above, we have a green 'Yes' for 'Detachable microphone for external mounting'. This is true, for the most part - The included microphone is detachable. However, in order to "externally mount it", a (fairly inexpensive) Microphone Extension Cable must be purchased separately. 

* The same comfortable (and successful) shape and design of it's predecessor; the original BatBox Baton - Simply a joy to use.
* Incredible sensitivity - Much more sensitive than the original Baton; bats will be hard-pressed to escape it's detection range. It's pick-up range spans far & wide.
* A dual detector - Frequency division and Time expansion; the lowest-cost (full-on) Time expansion bat detector available.
* Complete with accessories - Each new Baton XD includes useful accessories - High-quality (gold-plated) audio cables. Allowing you to plug-into any recording device, including iPhone and Android devices.
* Operation is very simple - It's easy to get used-to using this bat detector (in either mode).

* Retail price may be viewed as a bit high (depending on where you order) - Some may consider the initial investment expensive; however it truly isn't when you consider what you get with this kit.

Bottom Line: Aside from a price tag which some may consider a bit high, there isn't much to complain about with The Baton XD. I really like the unit overall, and honestly cannot bestow all of the accolades that I'd like to, inside this mini-review... It's definitely a bat detector that one can "grow with" (as one's recording skills increase, etc.). The box arrives packed with useful, little goodies; enabling the user to hit the ground running. The BatBox Baton arrives with the cables the user needs, for recording (to more than one device). A 9v (PP3) battery is included; and I also like the drawstring sack provided, for a bit of added protection.

Full review forthcoming... 

This little detector, is by far, the most inexpensive unit you can buy - And it's ready-made, no assembly required. A simple design, using a good quality microphone. Add two AAA Size batteries, and enjoy!
I see that it has improved, since the original Batseeker 2
 Speaker on left-hand side / Battery compartment, upper right-hand side
On/Off switch seen on the far left-hand edge / Microphone hole, on right-hand side

* Very inexpensive - Currently the lowest-priced bat detector available.
* Super-simple to use - Basically, one On & Off switch.
* Very lightweight and portable -The only weight comes from the 2 AAA-sized batteries.
* Great for beginners - Frequency division detector, with no tuning required.

* Construction is not robust - Housing is made from fairly thin (black) plastic.
* Battery latch is not very strong - Battery door sometimes opens on it's own. 
* Short battery life - Battery consumption could stand some improvement. 
* No external jack - There isn't a (3.5mm) jack for audio output / recording.

Bottom Line: 
The new Batseeker 2 is the least-expensive route, for getting someone a working bat detector. It's operation is simple enough to allow practically anyone to use it; including youngsters. An excellent first detector. Obviously better than not having a bat detector at all.
With the addition of well-placed piece of adhesive tape (Masking tape, Scotch tape, etc.) to hold the battery door closed - You have a very lightweight, super-portable, FD detector; at a price that's hard-to-beat.

Full review forthcoming...

* The M500 is compact, very lightweight and portable; yet very well-built, with sturdy construction throughout.
* It features a 500kHz sample rate, 16 bit ADC resolution, an advanced electret Mic element and an 8-Pole Anti-aliasing filter. 
* May be used as omnidirectional or directional - Using the removable, plastic "horn" provided (seen attached, in Photo above).
* Complete with software and high-quality USB cables - Allowing you to connect to virtually any (MS Windows) tablet PC or laptop.

* Cannot be used without attachment to a computing device - Forgive me for stating the obvious, but several Folks have inquired.
* Overall performance of the system, is in direct proportion to the overall abilities (speed) of the PC system it's attached to.
* Will not work on Apple-based devices.
Bottom Line: First and foremost - Please keep in mind, that this (mini) review is based on one of the first Beta versions of The M500. Many changes have taken place, since I was issued this sample (one of the very first units). Batsound Touch software is all-new; and there have likely been some updates made to the actual hardware as well. 
Pettersson's new M500, is a USB-based ultrasonic microphone, providing great overall performance. When considering a USB Mic in it's price bracket or below: It is the clear choice. Each unit will be provided with a light version of the brand-new BatSound Touch software, and (gold-plated) USB cables. The M500 USB Mic performs best on a fast computer; if you have a slow tablet or PC, you may want to consider getting an upgrade.
I happen to like it very much; and find it aesthetically pleasing as well. I found it to out-perform all USB-based microphones in it's price-class (and lower). 
Note that The BAT MiniMic still reigns supreme in the $695 (and higher) category.

Happy bat detecting!

An Interesting Update - For Owners Of The BatBox Baton XD

Just a temporary update post, (an FYI) for owners of The new Baton XD from BatBox. This reminds me of a "Technical Bulletin" commonly issued to Service Departments of computer hardware systems...

A recent post, from BatBox Ltd. --

"Anyone using the Baton XD bat detector may be interested to know that last night whilst using it I discovered an additional unplanned feature. I'd left the connecting lead in the car but remembered the smartphone. When I opened one of the Spectrogram apps, Spectral Pro, it picked up the expanded bat calls from the XD speaker through the phone mic. and displayed them quite clearly on the Android screen. Although phone screens are relatively small, it is quite possible to distinguish the call traces of all three pip species, plus noctule, serotine and myotis (not to species level) without the connecting lead. Of course this requires a fairly quiet background. I know the mics on phones, these days, are easily capable of covering a range of 12kHz so, theoretically, should be able to handle time expanded calls of all British bats."

There you have it, something new to experiment with!

Happy bat detecting!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Review: The New AnaBat Express From Titley Scientific Part 2 Of 2

Review: The New AnaBat Express From Titley Scientific Part 2 of 2

The AnaBat Express sports a clever design, which reminds one of a weatherproof Pelican brand case. When attached to a tree (anything except a Birch tree!) it blends-in very well. The Camo pattern is very effective. 
Out-of-sight, out-of-mind; this equates to a much lower probability of potential theft or vandalism. There isn't nearly as much concern, as one might have leaving other brand units in the field. 

Once the unit is powered-on -- There are three options to choose from:
  • Schedule
  • Night Only
  • Continuous
This arrangement makes The AnaBat Express nearly fool-proof. Close the unit, snap the two latches closed, and you're done. 
Titley has provided an interesting feature - The black nylon cord seen attached to the top of the unit, has a magnet inside (the tiny enclosure at the end).
After the unit is installed, you don't have to remove it in order to double-check it for proper operation. You simply hold it (the black clip) up to the LED (lens) on the outside of the case.
"A brief flash indicates the unit is working" 

In use, you will probably be a bit surprised, by just how sensitive this unit is. But, again, it doesn't seem to record many unwanted (non-bat) noises.

The accuracy of recordings is very good; as well as one would expect from a modern-day, zero crossing recorder.

Small and lightweight.
Very simple operation/Deployment.
Built-in GPS.
May be monitored live via USB port.
Firmware updates are extremely easy.

Cons: High price (compared to it's competitor, The SMZC),

The overall simplicity of The AnaBat Express, makes it a pleasure to use even on a nightly basis. Although most owners, will be using it for field deployments of up to 10 days at a time.
The price of the unit varies, depending on where you shop. Here in The U.S., you may purchase from Titley directly. For those outside of The U.S., I've listed two sources which come to mind: NHBS -and- Wildlife & Countryside Services (both in The UK). 
It is provided with (4GB) SD card and (4AA) batteries.

I feel as though my general impressions regarding The AnaBat Express, were pretty much summed-up in Part 1 of this review. To re-iterate: I like: The size, robust design, the simplicity of operation, and the dependability of this unit. 

I'll be adding some AnaBat Express-related screenshots to this post, in the near future. In just a few short days, The Express will be on it's way back to Titley Scientific (here in The US). Thanks again, to Titley for the loan of the unit.

Among the Reviews coming-up next, will be a short overview of Titley's free AnaLook software.

Happy bat detecting!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Review: The New AnaBat Express From Titley Scientific Part 1 Of 2

Review: The New AnaBat Express From Titley Scientific

The AnaBat Express, is the very latest passive bat monitoring solution from Titley.
It is a fully weatherproof machine, for collecting ultrasonic recordings of bats.

My Nephew, Gabriel, seems to like The AnaBat Express too

It's no secret, that this passive monitoring solution, is in direct competition with the (SMZC) offering from Wildlife Acoustics. 

I knew that the time would come, when I'd have to address this subject. There's certainly no way around this topic. It just so happens, that the Review most recently published here, was of The SMZC.
Many Ecologists, Bat Workers, Researchers, et al, will be narrowing their choices down to these two solutions. Both are formidable.
So, we may as well get it out in the open, straight away.

I do not intend for this review to be a direct "Shoot-out" between the two, but rather more like an informative summary; which will aid those faced with the task of choosing between the two. With the goal of (hopefully) making the decision process a lot easier.

The brand-new AnaBat Express records bat calls in zero crossing format, directly to a removable SD card. The recorded ultrasounds are intended to be analyzed afterwards, utilizing Titley's free downloadable software packages - Specifically, AnalookW.
AnaBat Toolbox is also a very helpful, and well laid-out application, developed to help you with manipulation of recorded data. It is also free. User Manuals may also be conveniently downloaded, via the Menus on this Link. All of the most current / up-to-date downloadable applications, and even firmware, may be found on This Titley Link.

The AnaBat Express arrived well-packaged. To give you an idea, of what type of packaging to expect, when your Anabat Express arrives. see Photo below:

Un-Boxing The AnaBat Express.

For users who prefer direct Links: AnaBat ToolBox 1.16  - And -  AnalookW 1.4t

The AnaBat Express, inside it's carry case.

I like the small size of this unit, very easy to handle (I was able to hold it in one hand).
Being a unit primarily designed for passive / unattended bat recording; The AnaBat Express isn't what one would call "Feature rich". Opening the unit, the user will quickly attest to it's economy on buttons. There are 2: A 'Power' and a 'Select' button.
To be fair, they are just about all I've ever needed. 
I am fond of the blue LED indicators; the fact that they aren't too bright is also a plus for those in the field (they are not so bright as to ruin one's night-adapted vision). 

The AnaBat Express, secured in it's custom case

The design is rather nice - The exterior of this unit is produced in a (very effective) camouflaged finish. When the unit is closed; it's really closed.
The system is very compact; yet has the ability to hold the microphone in a (foam-lined) slot (when not in use). There is also a black plastic cap provided, to screw onto the microphone port, to protect the opening from the elements. It also stores inside the Express. 
The essential equipment, which also benefits from the impenetrable housing includes:
  • The on-board (built-in) GPS unit
  • The SD Card Slot
  • Mini-USB connector 
  • 4 AA-Sized (LR6) batteries 
Not to be neglected...There is also a memory/system clock back-up battery (CR2032) and a Lid Switch; which informs the system (and logs) each time you open/close the unit.

Using the unit is very straightforward and yes, easy! Talk about quick deployment...The AnaBat Express rates very highly in this area. The only drawback I encountered while having tested and used the unit, was the delay in acquiring GPS lock. However, Titley cautions the user regarding this possibly, throughout their documentation. Which, I found admirable.
Another feature which I really like, is the 'Instructions for use'.
Just below the small 'SN 324XXX' (serial number) sticker, is a very useful sticker, with simple instructions for the deployment of this unit. Very neat!

Amoung those who would be most interested in The AnaBat Express, would be someone for whom quick deployment is paramount. Obviously, this product would prove useful to Bat Workers and Ecologists, needing a reliable bat recording device. But the small size of the Express, would allow each Professional to easily carry more than a few in a back-pack, etc. An AnaBat Express, with batteries installed, is surprisingly light. This translates into the ability to deploy many units, without the need for many people.  

So far, I have no complaints. I've used this unit for overnight recording of bat activity, on every good night (with weather cooperating). And, I like the fact that (I've found) it -- Quick to set-up. It's very sensitive in response to bat calls, but doesn't record too many false triggers -- As compared to other bat recorders in general. 

This (Part 1) section of The Anabat Express review, is actually still in progress -- Watch this space for some comprehensive changes and additions...I've also just been informed, that a new firmware update will be (automatically) released for it. When you connect your Express to your computer via USB cable & open AnaBat Toolbox: You'll have the opportunity to update your firmware.
The unit itself, has been working wonderfully. I have no complaints, or issues to report.

Much more to follow, in Part 2 of 2!

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...