A guided bat tour is often just an acoustical impression – the echolocation calls of the bats can be heard from the speaker of a bat detector, but often it is just too dark to see the bats or in a forest they are not visible against the background. There are also no dimensions, because the sound originates from a single point – the speaker of the bat receiver.Tony (2nd from right) on a railway-trip in northern Germany
I already had the idea of making the bats (actually their flight tracks) visible for some time. This year Tony (from Las Vegas, NV) visited us again and we discussed the topic. Tony started drawing schematics and then we started soldering a prototype. The tests were promising and so I started building more of the „blinken bats“ (we just combined some german and english words). The device consists of a „simple bat detector“ (developed by Tony), some LEDs and a PIC-processor, which controls the LEDs and a transparent case. A bat call triggers the LEDs and then they slowly fade off.
After some public bat events we decided to create a kit – Tony made a board (and added more LEDs to increase the „blinken“ effect) and I adopted and improved the software.
See the blinken bats in action:
This is the kit (built up, just needing a case):