Batinator – spot bats in flight

Even you live somewhere heavily endowed with bats, you’ve probably never had a good look at one on the wing. Bats fly so fast – in poor lighting conditions – that if you’re lucky you’ll get a glimpse of something flashing by out of the corner of your eye, but usually you won’t even notice they’re there.

Enter the Batinator.

bats

The Batinator is a portable Raspberry Pi device with an Pi NoIR camera board and a big array of IR lights to illuminate the subject, which means it can see in the infra-red spectrum. Martin Mander has set it up to record at 90 frames per second – enough to capture the very fast flappings of your neighbourhood bats in slow-mo. And it’s powered by a recycled 12v rechargeable drill bat-tery, which makes it look like some sort of police hand-held radar bat scanner. (Which it is not.)

batinator

Here’s the Batinator in action (bats start doing bat stuff at about 1:30):

Martin’s made a full writeup available on Instructables so you can make your own, along with some video he’s taken with the same setup of a lightning storm – it turns out that the same technology that’s great for bat-spotting is also great for storm-filming. He’ll walk you through the equipment he’s built, as well as through building your own bat lure, which involves soaking your socks in beer and hanging them from a line to attract tasty, tasty moths.

sad bat

Thanks Martin – let us know if you take more footage!

 

14 comments

Alex Bate

10 house points to whoever can draw a picture of Batman nibbling at a beer-soaked sock!

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Question: why are the later bats green-tinged, whereas the earlier ones are pink?
(Love the music, btw)

Alex Bate

The earlier ones were lady bats.

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Oh, badoom tish.

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The green ones came from Fukushima, while the pinks are from Chernobyl. In 5K years – both species will turn black again :).

With IR cameras (NoIR) natural colors get shifted/twisted more or less.

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Batinator would be awesome affixed to a punt on the Cam. You get loads of bats scooping up bugs from over the water surface. You normally have to find them with a bat detector which mostly finds nokias, and other such devices.

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I guess you might need to angle it right (or use some kind of shroud) in order to avoid getting lots of IR reflections from the water?

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Probably, might be a suck it and see experiment. Then find ways to make it better hmmmm….

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Sounds like an Emma & Steph project :)

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Sounds like a good plan for the CamJam weekend, weather permitting!

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As it’s keeping a lookout for bats, Would that then be a CamJamBatBotSentry entry?

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Excellent project! I’m going to try to incorporate this into my sound activated bat recording Pi (http://pibat.afraidofsunlight.co.uk/sound-activated-recording-2) so that bat calls trigger the start of video recording. I have an IR illuminator lying around somewhere, and a Pi NoIR camera…. :-)

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I love it when a plan comes together :-)

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That sounds great! I experimented a bit with a bat detector but found it was really affected by being close to other electronics – a longer cable between it and the Pi is the next experiment!

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