Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: The AnaBat Walkabout Bat Detector Part 1 Of 2

Review Of The AnaBat Walkabout Bat Detector - Part 1 Of 2

The AnaBat Walkabout is a feature-rich, professional bat detector from Titley Scientific
The Walkabout has been designed and built from the ground up by Titley, to be a very versatile bat detecting device. As a top-of-the-range bat detector, it possesses an abundance of features. It just so happens, that it also functions as a complete Android tablet as well.

The AnaBat Walkabout configuration screen

The AnaBat Walkabout arrives in a well packaged box, with a good amount of protection:

Some accessories included as standard

The Walkabout, in it's molded plastic tray

See photos above, to have a look at the accessories included as standard. Including wall plug adapters, allowing you a convenient way to switch from US wall plug to European or UK wall plugs. This bat detector/recorder, is intended for active bat detecting. But, during my test period, I've used it many times as a passive bat recorder, where it has performed admirably. A suitable windowsill is the only prerequisite, one with a screen installed is preferred!

For a quick overview of The AnaBat Walkabout, have a look at this video made by Titley Scientific. 
And you can get an excellent overview of this bat detector's features, by visiting Titley Scientific's page on it Here.

As for The AnaBat Walkabout's User Manual, quick, illustrated, looks at button functions and screen features, may be seen on pages: 8, 13, 14, 29, 37.

Here are some other pages which I found particularly interesting; and helpful in understanding what The Walkabout can do:
  • Features Of The AnaBat Walkabout   Page 7
  • AnaBat Walkabout Basic Operation   Page 11
  • Scroll Wheel And Quick Menu Settings   Page 15
  • Audio Settings   Page 20
  • Audio Feedback Reduction, Dynamic Range Compression   Page 25
  • Sleep And Screen Off Mode   Page 27
There is much more to see and read, of course.

Essentially, The AnaBat Walkabout itself, is a very versatile bat detector. You can listen to, record, and view bat calls in a myriad of different ways (and in many combinations). It's like The Swiss Army knife of bat detectors.

By now, most have seen an advertisement or two featuring Titley's Walkabout. At first glance, most would (naturally) make a few assumptions: 
  • It has a large (5") colourful display with live spectrograms.
  • It appears to be comfortable to use in the field (one-handed operation). 
  • It's made by Titley Scientific, so being a good quality instrument is a foregone conclusion.

However, after testing it nightly since it's arrival, this device seems to be quite a bit more than that. So much so, that I'd feel more comfortable referring to it as a system (rather than just a bat detector).
It's more like a portable, easy-to-use, bat recording lab. With the added advantage of being a fully-functioning Android tablet as well! 
The built-in GPS tracking works wonderfully, and gives the user two screens to choose from:
  • A half sonogram / half GPS display.
  • A full GPS/Map display.
Half sonogram / Half GPS display option
Full GPS display option

It's very accurate and excellent for both walking and driving transects. 

AnaBat Walkabout in Android tablet mode

Here are some of the specific features which I particularly like:

  • A choice between Heterodyne, or Auto-Heterodyne audio output. There are several other monitoring choices to choose from (but I find these two most pleasing).
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Wi-Fi.
  • Selectable frequency range of 5-200kHz (useful for recording Orthoptera).
  • 16 bit resolution, and a 500kHz sample rate.
  • Temperature, Lux, and humidity sensors.

In regards to this last bullet point, the ability to record temperature, humidity, and Lux (ambient light levels) is important to professionals (and even some amateurs/hobbyists). 
Obviously, when recording bats (and documenting their behaviour, etc.) this data is very useful. It helps us to learn more about the habitats, habits, and behaviors of bats. And how these external conditions influence and affect their activities.
Even as a hobbyist first starting out, I made a habit of recording temperature, documenting other weather conditions, and wind speed. 
Many years ago, it was fun to see if I could disprove / dispel the beliefs that bats won't fly: Below certain temperatures, certain amounts of wind, and/or rain.

AnaBat Walkabout in 'Basic Mode' - (GPS coordinates blocked for privacy).

For those considering The AnaBat Walkabout, I'd like to point out something which became obvious to me during the test period. The recordings made by The Walkabout, are: High-quality, high resolution (up to 500kHz sample rate) recordings, which any Professional (Ecologists, Bat Workers, et al) would be pleased to work with. Due in large part, to the detailed spectrograms produced. 

The unit itself weighs 14.6 ounces (415 grams), and measures 7.1 x 3.9 x 1.1 inches (180 x 100 x 28mm). 
Generally speaking, it is among the heavier bat detectors I've reviewed. However, the included hand strap does make it much more comfortable, and easy to hold for extended periods. I've only found it to be slightly uncomfortable after using it in the field for several consecutive hours.  
In summary: During longer bat detecting sessions (4-5 hours), you may find it just a little tiring. There will obviously be some variation from individual to individual.

AnaBat Walkabout's Full-Spectrum mode is another favorite of mine

I feel that any added heft, serves as a reminder that what you're holding isn't a toy. It's a high-end (Pro-level) bat recorder, and should be treated as such (with care!). Even though The Walkabout is very well-built, robust, and not easily damaged - being very careful is a habit of mine.

Most places, including Titley, have The AnaBat Walkabout on sale for $1,595 - Or £1,599.00 if you were to order from NHBS or Wildlife & Countryside Services

The AnaBat Walkabout is designed in a very sturdy plastic housing (in what one might call "Signature Titley yellow"), with a removable dark gray Directional Cone. When attached, it provides directional characteristics to the front-facing, built in (Knowles) microphone. 
The gray Directional Cone also provides an excellent level of protection to the Mic element. This is achieved simply by having the Mic element effectively recessed. I'm very pleased to see this! I feel that some (high-end) bat detectors have their Mics too exposed/unprotected, sometimes simply protruding.

The nice thing about The Walkabout, is that it can be used with it's default settings (out-of-the-box) in situations where:
  • You would like to get started quickly.
  • You are using it for some general bat detecting. 
  • You are a hobbyist or don't have a lot of experience.
And can also be used in situations where all of the advanced features can be brought to bear:
  • During transects, surveys, and other professional endeavors.
  • You would like to make full-spectrum, high resolution (500kHz) recordings.
  • You would like to get close (zoomed-in) looks at the live spectrograms in the field (to help with immediate ID (if one is sufficiently skilled).
  • You would like to view spectrograms in zero-cross, and/or full-spectrum mode.
To summarize, you can use this detector in a quick & easy manner, utilizing the default settings -Or- You can familiarize yourself with it's myriad of features, and fully customize the way it records, as well as the information displayed as it does so.

AnaBat Walkabout in Zero Crossing mode

The AnaBat Walkabout would be well-suited for both amateur and professional users. Amateurs and hobbyists will enjoy things like: It's ease of use, impressive appearance, and included standard accessories. As well as optional accessories.

Professionals will appreciate things like: Performance, sensitivity, and the myriad of customization available (in both the recording & display choices/features). There are several, which I plan to cover more in Part 2 of this review.
It would be well-suited for professionals / researchers who have already decided on Anabat Insight as their software platform of choice for analyzing bat calls.

I found The Walkabout to be very sensitive, and accurate in what it detects. The ability to trim it's frequency response will be a very welcomed feature; especially for professionals.

  • Many types of audio settings to choose from (Heterodyne, Auto-Heterodyne, Frequency Division, Full Spectrum, Time Expansion).
  • Live spectrograms: Several types and combinations of displays to choose from (Heterodyne; Zero-Crossing and/or Full Spectrum).
  • Built upon a fully-functioning, Android tablet (WiFi, etc.)
  • Built-in, rechargeable, 7000mAh Lithium Ion battery.
  • AnaBat Insight bat call analysis software is free.
  • Operating system (and more importantly), the Walkabout system itself, may gain additional features, etc., through dynamic software/firmware updates.

  •  May be considered expensive. 
Much more to follow, in Part 2 Of 2 of this AnaBat Walkabout bat detector review. 


Until then, 
Happy bat detecting! 

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