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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Batlogger and Batscanner microphone protection

I have recently been asked to test and review a new product supplied by NatureCounters http://www.naturecounters.com/ in the UK. The product is a protective desiccant cap for Elekon Batlogger, Batlogger M and Batscanner microphones.

 
The product simply fits over the Batlogger or Batscanner microphone whilst not in use. I prefer to leave my microphones attached to the unit when in transit and so I use the caps as a protective measure for the microphone as well as taking advantage of the desiccant feature of the cap.

 
 
 
Inside the rubber-like casing are desiccant silica gel beads which absorb any moisture the microphone may have picked up, these change colour to green/blue when they have absorbed water. This notifies you that the beads need drying out and this can be done by baking them in the oven. This is particularly useful if you use the BL microphones but should also assist with maintaining the life of the FG black microphones along with the Batscanner mic's.

I have been using these on Batlogger BL microphones for several weeks now. After a particularly damp evening with heavy rainfall I placed the cap over the microphone and checked the beads the next day.  On opening the cap, the beads had changed colour. I placed the beads in a baking dish and put them under my grill for 30-45 minutes on a  very low heat (80C), they changed back to their standard amber colouring and so I left them to cool before placing them back into the caps. Please note that the caps are tight fitting and so care is needed when opening the caps, otherwise you will end up with beads flying everywhere! ;) My microphone was in good working order and seems to have experienced no ill effects from its damp evening out, the microphone has continued working well since and is stored with a  protective cap as a precaution.

NatureCounters are planning to supply these caps with purchases of Batloggers and Batscanners and so this is a nice additional product which I'm sure others will appreciate and benefit from as well.
 
 
Review by Sally-Ann Hurry

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

New bat detector from Elekon - Batlogger A

A new bat detector is to be released by Elekon.... the Batlogger A.

This has only recently been revealed this month so few details are known, see Elekon's website http://batlogger.com/en/news.html for further details.


Thursday, 13 August 2015

Elekon @ UK National Bat Conference 2015

Following on from Elekon's attendance at the European Bat Conference last autumn, the Elekon team will be attending the UK National Bat Conference this September. They will be presenting and demonstrating their range of bat detector products including the newly released Batlogger C (released in May 2015).
 
Fledermausrecorder
The Batlogger C is a passive monitoring device with many interesting features suitable for long-term deployment with a choice of power supply and direct messages regarding data and detector status sent straight to your phone via SMS or via email. Further details can be found on Elekon's website: http://batlogger.com/en/real-time-systems/batlogger-c.html 
 
I see this device being highly suited for long-term monitoring projects and research, including use at wind farms.
 
This is a great opportunity to meet some of the team and get the chance to see the range of products and ask all those questions. Enjoy!
 
(Wish I was going!!!)
BATLOGGER C
 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Titley Scientific - Anabat Express

Titley's 2014 offering to the passive bat detector market was the Anabat Express. I have recently been asked several times regarding different detector options but having only recently used one of these detectors I now feel able to provide a short summary review of the device...
 

 
The Express is supplied with a USB cable, 4 AA alkaline batteries, case, magnet lanyard, weatherproof microphone, protective screw cap, 4GB SD card and a usage leaflet. The case provides a useful and protective measure for the Express and is a nice feature often not included with other detectors.
 
The device itself consists of a tough waterproof camouflaged outer plastic body with two secure side clips. The microphone neatly attaches to the front of the device and when not in use can be stored inside the case. Another nice feature is the supply of the protective cap to place over the 4-pin connection on the front of the case when the microphone is not in use.
 
 
 
On opening the secure clips, the case opens up to expose the control panel and battery compartments on the left. At the top of the unit is the SD card slot, in built GPS unit and mini-USB connection. The control panel is simple to use with only two buttons (a power button and record mode selection button). In addition, similarly to the SD1/SD2 models, the panel also includes raised information lights indicating the status of power, recording mode, errors, GPS and microphone signal detection. The inner right side of the case includes a summary instruction panel which provides accurate and very useful information to aid rapid deployment of the unit. A foam padding insert also aids protection of the lid switch and microphone storage area. (The lid switch records when the lid is open and closed and stores this information within the log file).
 
The unit is powered by 4 AA batteries, these can provide up to 14 nights of continuous monitoring (12 nights using alkaline batteries). A CR2032 battery also acts as a memory/system clock back up.
 
In order to fully utilise the Express, specific free software is required. This includes the analysis program AnalookW and Anabat Toolbox. These can be downloaded from:  http://www.titley-scientific.com/uk/index.php/software_firmware The user manual can also be found here.
 
The free software allows the download of all files including data recorded, log files and GPS location. Anabat Toolbox also informs the user of any firmware updates. I have found updating the firmware very easy and the software is very intuitive. The division ratio and recording schedule can also be set using Anabat Toolbox.
 
However, back to the device itself as this is not a review of the software. I have used the detector for passive static monitoring so far and so cannot comment on the GPS in terms of transect usage, however, I have found the GPS unit to be accurate for static deployment and the time it takes to lock on to the GPS is fair even in a cluttered environment.
 
GPS is locked onto prior to closing the units lid, however there is a small blue LED on the front of the case (next to the microphone) which also flashes whilst it is connecting to the GPS. Once the detector is installed you can check the unit is operating by placing the supplied magnet next to the LED, it will flash briefly. You can also check that the microphone is detecting sound by holding the magnet in the same location and rubbing your fingers in front of the microphone, brief flashes indicate that the microphone is detecting.
 
 
Please note, the Express does not come supplied with any attachment accessories such as straps. However, a  camouflage strap can be purchased in addition from Titley. The strap is good quality and of a suitable width and strength to hold the detector in place on trees for example. The strap fits perfectly between the side clips of the case and is held in place through its own tension holding below the microphone. A security box and cable lock can also be purchased from Titley for additional security.
 
I particularly enjoy the ease of set-up and deployment of the Express. The detector can be set to record from sunset to sunrise and automatically turn on and off in accordance to the appropriate time gained from the GPS, allowing automatic night recording. The GPS also sets the time of the unit (this can be adjusted manually if needed on Anabat Toolbox).
 
Having the choice of several other detectors for the same use, I feel that these are the benefits of this particular device:
  • Weatherproof good quality discreet case
  • Good quality omni-directional weatherproof microphone
  • Quick, easy deployment - lightweight and compact
  • A power source which is easily replaceable and available to purchase if caught out - a low power device
  • Easy and quick data download from an easily available storage device (SD card)
  • Free and easy to use software to use the device and analyse data
  • Good value for money
  • Multiple uses
  • In-built GPS
  • Quality of build and reliable product
  • Standard port connection type
 
As with all devices there is always room for improvement and I would suggest that the only disappointment for me is the black barrel of the microphone. I am planning on adding camouflage tape to the barrel of the microphone in order to further hide the device. However, this is a small detail and when comparing to other devices currently on the market for the same purpose it is of negligible importance.
 
An overall great device that I am very happy to use and ticks many aspects on my wish list for this type of detector.
 
 
Review written by S.Hurry
 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Elekon: Batscanner Stereo

So, at this current time there are several new bat detectors which have been recently released or are soon to be released. One of those is Swiss manufacturer's Elekon's new offering, the new Batscanner Stereo. Yes, that's right, a bat detector which gives you an output in stereo!

Please note: that the Batscanner Stereo model I show in the photographs here is of a prototype model and so there are slight changes in the final manufactured units.

The Batscanner Stereo has built upon the great features present within the Batscanner but now gives the user an enhanced experience with stereo output, the choice to tune manually or use the automatic detection and tuning mode along with additional menu features and noise reduction.


As with the Batscanner the Batscanner Stereo is extremely easy to use, you simply take it out of the box and press the power button on. Giving some time to read the manual allows the user to find and use the new menu features and to switch between tuning modes. Both Batscanner models are compact, lightweight and shaped to fit comfortably in the hand. There is a an in-built speaker and a headphone jack and a very handy and useful wrist loop for extra security of the unit. It is powered by 3 AAA batteries (rechargeable batteries can also be used) and the operating time is very good with around 20+ hours available. The batteries are changed by undoing a screwed on panel on the reverse of the unit.


Used in the automatic detection and tuning mode it works similarly to the Batscanner. It picks up bat passes and displays the peak frequency. I have found that in locations with several different species I still manage to hear all of the bats and the screen display switches between the peak frequencies as the different species pass. This assists along with the sound to identify most species in the field. 

Used in the manual mode you can tune the frequency by repeatedly pressing the up (large speaker symbol) and down (small speaker symbol) buttons. With new menu options it is also possible to set a minimum and maximum frequency (between 15 and 120kHz), so the detector will only pick up bat calls between those frequencies. This can be useful where you have crickets creating noise at a similar frequency, also by pressing the power button once it eliminates lower frequency continual cricket noise but will still pick up if for example a noctule flys by :)

When you first turn the device on it starts in automatic mode, to switch between automatic and manual mode simply press the up and down buttons together and a light will show on the LED screen next to M or A signifying which mode the detector is now in.

The great new innovative feature of this detector is the ability to hear bats in stereo. So, now when you are standing until late in the evening listening to bats but not being able to see them you can still tell which direction they are flying in or in which direction they are foraging etc. When using the in-built speaker you are informed of the direction through two LED lights on the screen above the letters L and R, in turn you can tell which direction the bat was first heard from or is travelling to. In order to fully enjoy this new feature I recommend using headphones, this way you gain full advantage of the stereo experience with sound moving from one ear to the other. This is a wonderful experience (a bit like having a surround sound system) and once you have that pleasure you will always turn to this detector for your bat walks. With the use of headphones you can choose (through the option menu) whether to retain the LED lights on screen or to turn these off and just enjoy the stereo sound.

The Batscanner Stereo is equipped with two small electret condenser microphones positioned on either side of the detector case, these are omni-directional. Unlike the Batscanner, these are fixed into the device and so are not replaceable. However, this type of microphone has a good level of water resistance and its positioning within the case gives it a certain level of protection. The quality of the microphones and the digital heterodyne converter creates a warm rich clear sound.


The volume of the unit has 5 settings, the lower volume settings are quieter than that of the Batscanner unit but this is beneficial to the Batscanner Stereo. To fully enjoy the stereo effect it is best to use headphones. In turn, if you are in a noisy environment such as near a road or simply a public space where you need to be able to hear what is happening in your surroundings as well as the detector, you need the volume to be slightly quieter in order to remain safe. With both headphones in and even on the lowest of the volume settings you can still hear the detector perfectly and can hear what is occurring in the background around you.

Another change to the Batscanner Stereo model is the ability to disable/enable the 30 minute automatic off timer. With this option enabled the device will automatically power off after 30 minutes. With it disabled the unit will only power off when the power button is pressed and held for over 1 second.

In low light situations I find the white buttons easy to use and due to the limited number of buttons (only 3) you don't find yourself altering options without choosing to.

I have used and demonstrated the Batscanner Stereo in a range of situations and would recommend its use in a wide range of activities, from bat walks and talks, commercial surveys (alongside a Batlogger and/or Batlogger M), roost counts, waterway surveys, field surveys etc. It is a device that I would not be without and it suits both the bat enthusiast as well as the professional with features which are beneficial to both users. I gain most enjoyment out of using it on those fun nights off when I get the time to just go and enjoy bats and can fully become immersed in the stereo sound, I feel it almost makes you feel like you have really entered the bats world and can understand how they may sound to each other as they do their fly by's (you have to experience it to believe it). On a commercial basis have you ever stood around or been walking a transect with your bulky recording device or detector and been making note of bat passes with no idea where they have come or where they are going because its just too dark to see? Well, now you don't have to have that frustration, you can still use your recording devices (or Batlogger etc) to make the necessary species records for post survey analysis but you can have a small, lightweight, high quality device which actually informs you as to which way bats are travelling, very useful data and rather neat! 

In terms of choosing between the Batscanner and the Batscanner Stereo, I simply couldn't. They each have their place for a variety of uses and users. It simply depends on how you are mainly going to use the detector and for what purpose.

This product is innovative and provides something that no other currently does, I feel this is what Elekon stands for and work towards, (once again) well done Elekon!



Review written by Sally-Ann Hurry







Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Elekon Batlogger Microphones

Elekon produce three microphones to be used in conjunction with the Batlogger and Batlogger M models. All microphones are omni-directional; take the temperature measurements and have a frequency range of 10-130kHz:

FG Black: This is the new improved version of the original BL microphone which is relatively insensitive to moisture and humidity. This microphone can be used directly plugged into the Batlogger M or used with an extension cable on the Batlogger.

We find this microphone to be highly sensitive, in some situations this is too sensitive for what is necessary. For example it is great if doing standard emergence/re-entry bat surveys standing still in one place for a length of time or undertaking walks along a hard surface. However, if undertaking field transects through long vegetation or simply moving about a lot this microphone becomes too sensitive (particularly if the settings are not altered from what you would normally use with the BL microphone). We personally keep these microphones purely for when we know that conditions may be a little damp, small enough to carry and easy to replace in the field. A must have for any professional.

FG Green: A highly sensitive microphone to be used with the 100m extension kit and the Batlogger M. We have not had the opportunity to trial this microphone and so cannot state any conclusions, however we believe this microphone to be highly sensitive when considering the length of the extension cable.

BL: This is the original microphone which comes with the Batlogger and Batlogger M as standard. It can be sensitive to moisture or dew in the air and we have had microphones degrade over time after experiencing damp conditions. The microphones do not immediately stop working but rather degrade over a time period which may be a week or so or even several months. Of course, all microphones will degrade over time if placed within damp conditions (although the FG Black has shown considerable resilience to even being placed outside in all weathers). We use this microphone for most survey work as it is highly sensitive and an all-round general microphone suitable for most situations including field transects.


So what about when using the microphones for other survey types such as car transects....
During car transects both the FG Black and the BL microphones perform very well. We use the Elekon 2m extension cable so that the detector can remain safely within the vehicle with just the microphone taped or cable tied to a roof bar etc. In order to help to reduce any wind noise we add a small windshield (acoustic microphone foam cover) over the end of the microphone. In automatic mode the Batlogger and the Batlogger M does not pick up any wind noise using either microphone what so ever and so you only record bat passes, a big plus when it comes to analysing! With the use of the acoustic foam the quality of the sonograms does reduce slightly but this is nothing to be concerned of due to the exceedingly high quality of the sonograms produced from these detectors and species identification is not impaired. A fantastic easy detector with microphone options depending on weather conditions.


It must be remembered that there are many different types of acoustic foam and windshields available. Therefore, denser or more open foams from that which we used may produce differing results. The Elekon 2m extension cable is of high quality and no deterioration to the recordings has been experienced.


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Batlogger M by Elekon

Elekon are now trialing a new "Batlogger M", this new detector has the added benefit of being able to hear in "real-time", a feature not available in the original detector. As with the first detector the 'M' is time expansion 10:1.

Using their well tried and tested "BatScanner" technology , this makes a really good detector retaining the GPS function and temperature recording is only the start. Using Elekon's "Bat Explorer" software a satellite image of the the locations of the recordings, excel spread sheet output and analysis of the recordings is achieved.


Quote from Elekon:
The new BATLOGGER M with many new features and improvements fresh out of development.
In addition to the established BATLOGGER system, following has been updated:

  • Live monitoring function by speakers and headphones
  • Higher audio quality and detection performance
  • Better overview with a 3-line display
  • New GPS features
    • Track history
    • Indication of the speed and compass direction
  • and much more ...

Although "Bat Explorer" is recommended for analysis "BatSound" (Pettersson Elektronik) can also be used to identify species from wav files recorded.

The sonograms created from the sensitive microphone are of the clearest and highest quality (as good as Pettersson's D1000X sonograms) for species identification, particularly of the harder to identify Myotis species. When using a bat detector for commercial purposes the main aim is to identify the species as accuartely as possible and with using this detector analysis becomes far easier and less time consuming.



Bat Explorer


BatSound



A speaker is mounted inside the case and an earphone socket, when used, will cut out this speaker. The batteries are built into the unit and it has it's own charger, having used three Batlogger's for a couple of years we have not had any issues with the battery and it remains charged up for many days.

The new "Batlogger M" retains the ease of use in recording to an SD card (supplied with the device) and is in the same case as the earlier model, no separate recording system means the only wires are to ones headphones. The detector is still ergonomically designed, an important feature when you have to carry a detector around for a few hours on site. The case is also rubberised and so is unlikely to be dropped. The detector is also of a far reduced weight in comprison to many other detectors we have used, in fact even with the upgrades the weight does not seem to have increased greatly.

The menu system has been updated but is still very easy to use and instictive. You can literally pick this detector up out of the box, take it into the field and be using it within moments. It includes great features such as the running display showing: remaining SD storage, temperature, battery level indicator, GPS co-ordinants and number of satellites, peak frequency, sampling and recording notifications, date and time. The screen can be dimmed in order to not distract from surveying, the volume is easily adjusted. The great feature of the M is that it can now not only be used as a passive monitoring device simply as a logger but also as a field survey detector with the ability to listen. The delayed recording can be set up for two separate time recording periods within a single days monitoring. The settings of delayed start and thresholds etc can be adjusted both on the device but also using the ''BatPars Editor''.

It comes in a purpose built case along with the charger and earphones. The charger is of a european plug but this is no problem with an adapter.



It should be noted that all of the software required for analysis and set-up is free to dowload from Elekon's website.

Testing of a NEW microphone is 'on going' it sounds very positive from the report we have had from Switerland we have been asked to test in wet conditions so watch this space.

The weather conditions have been cool and therefore bat activity has been low this autumn, however our resident long-eared bats in the church next door proved that there is very little loss with this microphone.  It has been used (weather permitting) a number of times in wet conditions and I understand that it has proved succesful over a long period in Switzerland.




http://www.elekon.ch/en/batlogger/products/


http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2041-210X.2012.00244.x/abstract
 

By Roger Jones and Sally-Ann Hurry