discussion / Acoustics  / 23 September 2021

What value would you place on regular status updates from your acoustic recorder?

Frontier Labs is currently weighing up the possibility of including a 'heartbeat' function for our next iteration of our Solar BAR. What value you would place on receiving regular updates on the battery life, SD card space and microphone status from your Bio Acoustic Recorder?

Our current thinking is this feature would be most useful for teams who are placing recorders in very remote areas for extended durations as it is expensive to trek out and check them. However, we are in a lab most of the time and want to hear from the people who actually use them! All comments much appreciated :) Nicole

We do not currently have in our lab any Solar BARs, but the ability to know that the sensor is operating is of very high value as invariably our sensors are located in very remote areas. Knowing that it is not working is important for ensuring that we minimize loss of data from areas (and periods) that we can not afford to have gaps. Of course, such features come with increased consumption, but in the case of the solar BAR, I guess, this is less of a concern.

Hi Astaras, I'm Mark Calder one of the engineers at Frontier Labs. Yes we think that the energy used in sending a message by satellite once per week will get quickly replaced with the solar panel. We plan to send a short message with battery capacity remaining and card space remaining once per week typically. Probably also that sound was recorded in the last recording period. That is the microphone signal output was not flat fine. That can happen if the mic is broken off for example.

Obviously if you don't get a message from one of your recorders at the set time then that's cause for concern. It can take 4 hours to aquire a satellite and send the message though so you'd probably wait until the next day to make that judgement. The battery in a Solar BAR lasts for about a month with 24/7 recording if there is no more solar so it should be able to send out messages during long rain periods.

We'll be starting this project later this year. If you can think of other info to have in the messages please let me know. My email is [email protected] if that's more convenient.

Hi Nicole--

We've already chatted about this function, and I think the answer is "quite a bit" for a lot of deployments. The more accurately the proposed function tracked microphone status the better, though even something to the effect of "I'm still getting a signal from this microphone" even if there was no more nuanced quality information than a yes/no would still be better than what much of the field is doing right now. 

I think the question is how much this would add to the cost of the unit + how much whatever data service you're using would add to the ongoing costs but I'd imagine that Frontier are still figuring out those specifics.