Welcome to October, the month in which spiderwebs become decor and anything vaguely gruesome is considered ‘seasonal’. Such as bats. Bats are in fact cute, furry creatures, but as they are part of the ‘Halloweeny animal’ canon, I have a perfect excuse to sing their praises.
Tegwyn Twmffat was tasked with doing a bat survey on a derelict building, and they took to DesignSpark to share their Raspberry Pi–powered solution.
UK law protects nesting birds and roosting bats, so before you go knocking buildings down, you need a professional to check that no critters will be harmed in the process.
The problem with bats, compared to birds, is they are much harder to spot and have a tendency to hang out in tiny wall cavities. Enter this big ultrasonic microphone.
After the building was declared safely empty of bats, Tegwyn decided to keep hold of the expensive microphone (the metal tube in the image above) and have a crack at developing their own auto-classification system to detect which type of bats are about.
How does it work?
The ultrasonic mic picks up the audio data using an STM M0 processor and streams it to Raspberry Pi via USB. Raspberry Pi runs Alsa driver software and uses the bash language to receive the data.
It turns out there are no publicly available audio records of bats, so Tegwyn took to their own back garden and found 6 species to record. And with the help of a few other bat enthusiasts, they cobbled together an audio dataset of 9 of the 17 bat species found in the UK!
Tegwyn’s original post about their project features a 12-step walkthrough, as well as all the code and commands you’ll need to build your own system. And here’s the GitHub repository, where you can check for updates.