Video and IR LED Illuminator set up

I was so impressed when I saw Pat Waring’s video presentation at the BCT northern bat workers conference I thought I’d build something similar. While Pat’s system from was great it was also quite pricey and would involve importation from the states.

Pat Waring's set up

Pat Waring’s set up

So I headed off the eBay.

I quick search of the term “IR LED Illuminator” brought up a fair array of choices, most of which were located in China or Hong Kong but given a max price of £10 for a 48 led 850nm unit I guessed it was worth a punt. Sit back for a few weeks until the units arrive and then a quick trip to Maplins for the necessary leads and fittings.

eBay IR LED Illuminator set up

eBay IR LED Illuminator set up


Video IR setup from the back

Video IR setup from the back

For just under £50 I managed to get a 4 x 48 IR LED Illuminator set up which runs off the same 7ah 12v battery I use through autumn to power remote Anabats monitoring swarming sites.

I’m using a Sony HDR SR5 video camera which has the all essential 0 lux nightshot setting and records direct to a 40gb hard drive (again an eBay purchase – £100 brand new unused).

Note the 850nm illuminators have a very dull red glow when on, but emerging Brown Long Eared bats haven’t been affected by them so I figure in a barn setting they’re unlikely to be a disturbance factor. Last night they managed to pick up non echolocating BLE’s light sampling in the apex of a barn roof it would have been easy to miss if you were relying just on detectors (I was using both Anabat and Pettersson 240x, Anabat missed them and the 240x only recorded very faint echolocations which couldn’t be seen in Batsound v4).

If you’re surveying sites such as barns likely to have Brown Long Eareds or Myotis sp can you afford not to use video to strengthen your survey methodology?

Here’s an example of the footage and detail you can capture (actual footage is fullHD out of the camera)




Spring is in the air

Spring is in the air; there’s a definite warmth to the sun now and we’ve got Curlews back on the moors and wild garlic sprouting in the woodlands. This means there’s a need for a change in the survey gear I’ve been using, time to pack away the caving gear and prep the survey bag for 2012

Lowe Pro  Flipside 400AW

Lowe Pro Flipside 400AW

I use a LowePro Flipside 400AW for lugging around my survey gear, it’s just the right size to prevent overpacking and the padding makes carrying everything a not unpleasant experience. So what’s in there?

LowePro open

Everything but the kitchen sink

The great thing about camera bags is the adjustable internal compartments keep everything organised and protected.

So starting from the top of the bag down, I carry:

  • Anabat SD1 with Pda and bluetooth gps.
  • Spare high and low Anabat mics.
  • Anabat SD1 with compactflash card programmed for immediate monitoring.
  • Yukon Digital NV Ranger 5×42 Nightvision monocular
  • Sony HD Camcorder with nightshot
  • Pettersson D240x time expansion bat detector
  • Sennheiser PX100 headphones
  • Edirol R09 HR digital recorder

The small pockets on the inner back usually carry preprogrammed compactflash cards for Anabat to cover dusk til dawn, spare batteries and leads.

And lastly on the outside; a Manfrotto MH293A3-RC1 carbon fibre tripod for the Sony and it’s infrared lighting rig.

If you need more space there’s one more outer pocket that fits ID guides, gloves, thermometer and sample pots.

Everything you need in one place means you’re unlikely to forget anything.