discussion / Community Base  / 10 April 2020

Recommendations for low cost & versatile teaching/training supplies

Greetings Everyone,

The Fung Fellowship at UC Berkeley has a little money left over from this academic year that must be spent ASAP, and we'd like to use it to assemble some supplies for our soon-to-be-launched Conservation + Technology undergraduate program. Thus, we'd appreciate your suggestions on what you think would be valuable and VERSATILE tools for teaching, training, and experimenting for undergraduate students new to this space (conservation & tech), especially if they are low cost items (<$200 US), and readily available for purchase in the USA.

NOTE: We're already considering items such as the following, but definitely welcome other ideas and/or links to recommended suppliers, versions, etc.:

  • Infrared iphone adaptor - e.g., something like this.
  • Low frequency or other audio detector kit - perhaps like this.
  • Camera trap - no idea what might be good to start with!
  • GPS transmitter - I've had good experiences with SPOT, but there are so many now.
  • Endoscope cam - this one is a bit expensive, so what's a good, general low cost one?
  • RaspberryPi/Adruino/Etc. kits - such as this.

To put this another way, what would be your "top 10" or so supply/tool purchases if you were going to start teaching/training undergraduate students about the uses of technology for conservation purposes.

Thanks in advance and very much looking forward to your recommendations! ; )


Hi Dan,

Fantastic to see undergraduates getting experience with a bunch of useful tech. A really great idea!

I second @carlybatist - Audiomoth immediately came to mind.

On the GPS front, rather than a Spot Trace, Globalstar also have the SmartOne C: https://www.globalstar.com/en-us/products/asset-management/smartonec. It's a bit bigger than the Spot Trace (although once the base is removed, it's pretty similar - I just cut the side flanges off that connect the main case to the base) and IMO, much more reliable. Be aware you need a monthly data plan, and even the cheapest is US$8.95 per month for a single fix being sent each day. There's also the i-gotU (datalogger - i.e. stores data on board) GPS, which is quite cheap and also pretty reliable. http://www.canadagps.com/IGotU_GT-120GPS_Logger.html. There are quite a few researchers that have modified them (usually adding a bigger battery for example). I am staring at five I am turning into collars as we speak!

I've used this camera trap a few times with good results: http://bolymedia.com/index/Cameras_detail/id/13. It has cellphone data sending which can be really handy, plus the basic features like trigger time are reasonable. Looks like Amazon has it for just under your $200 budget: https://www.amazon.com/BolyGuard-MG983G-30M-1080p-Wireless-Camera/dp/B016VOAMOM. If that's a bit of a steep price and you don't need remotely accessible data, these aren't too bad: https://www.ltlacorn.com/product/ltl-acorn-12mp-940nm-infrared-hunting-trail-camera-ltl-5210a/ particularly because it has the angled PIR sensors that help to catch an animal off to the side of the camera. 

I'd be really interested to see what you come up with the thermal camera iPhone attachment. 

You could also look at the OpenMV H7 camera: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/15325 if there's an interest in machine learning applications. 

Don't know anything about endoscopes sorry (although I think there are ones that connect to phones that are a bit cheaper), but you can't go wrong with Arduino and Pi kits. Check out Sparkfun (https://www.sparkfun.com/) and Adafruit (https://www.adafruit.com/) for all sorts of peripherals etc.

Any interest in diagnosing issues with kit, or repairs etc., as you could also consider staples like a decent multimeter and soldering station? Again, Sparfun and Adafruit usually have options for both, and other tools. I'd recommend these anyway if there's a plan to work with Arduino and Pi kits etc. 

If I think of things, I'll be sure to post and please do let us know what you get and what the students get up to with it all!



Hi all,

Teaching assistant here for the Fung Fellowship that Dan linked above.  First of all, THANK you for the responses @carlybatist & @Rob Appleby.  This has been extremely helpful for what type of technology we could introduce to students.  We will report back with what we use this fall and student's feedback/comments/enthusiasm! 

One point that is  particularly relevant now is that this course will now be completely remote for the fall semester.  Given that this will eliminate any opportunity for students to have hands-on time with a physical device...does anyone have any additional recommendations specifically that would work in a remote teaching environment? 

Thank you in advance!


Awesome thank you Liz!  We will check this resource out and reach out if we want to discuss more or have any questions.