Recently, we’ve stumbled upon the extensive effort that is the BirdNET research platform. BirdNET uses a neural network to identify birds by the sounds they make, and is a joint project between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Chemnitz University of Technology. What strikes us is – this project is impressively featureful and accessible for a variety of applications. No doubt, BirdNET is aiming to become a one-stop shop for identifying birds as they sing.
There’s plenty of ways BirdNET can help you. Starting with likely the most popular option among us, there are iOS and Android apps – giving the microphone-enabled “smart” devices in our pockets a feature even the most app-averse hackers can respect. However, the BirdNET team also talks about bringing sound recognition to our browsers, Raspberry Pi and other SBCs, and even microcontrollers. We can’t wait for someone to bring BirdNET to a RP2040! The code’s open-source, the models are freely available – there’s hardly a use case one couldn’t cover with these.
About that Raspberry Pi version! There’s a sister project called BirdNET-Pi – it’s an easy-to-install software package intended for the Raspberry Pi OS. Having equipped your Pi with a USB sound card, you can make it do 24/7 recording and analysis using a “lite” version of BirdNET. Then, you get a web interface you can log into and see bird sounds identified in real-time. Not just that – BirdNET-Pi also processes the sounds and creates spectrograms, keeps the sound in a database, and can even send you notifications.
The BirdNET-Pi project is open, too, of course. Not just that – the BirdNET-Pi team emphasizes everything being fully local, unless you choose otherwise, and perhaps decide to share it with others. Many do make their BirdNET-Pi instances public, and there’s a lovely interactive map that shows bird sounds all across the world!
BirdNET is, undoubtedly, a high-effort project – and a shining example of what a dedicated research team can do with a neural network and an admirable goal in mind. For many of us who feel joy when we hear birds outside, it’s endearing to know that we can plug a USB sound card into our Pi and learn more about them – even if we can’t spot them or recognize them by sight just yet. We’ve covered bird sound recognition on microcontrollers before – also using machine learning.
Montana, rightfully nicknamed the big sky country, is a beautiful state with abundant wide open landscapes, mountains, and wildlife. It’s a fantastic place to visit or live, but if you happen to reside in the city of Butte, that amazing Montana landscape is marred by the remnants of an enormous open pit mine. Not only is it an eyesore, but the water that has filled the pit is deadly to any bird that lands there. As a result, a group of people have taken to some ingenious methods to deter birds from landing in the man-made toxic lake for too long.
When they first started, the only tool they had available was a rifle. Scaring birds this way is not the most effective way for all species, though, so lately they have been turning to other tools. One of which is a custom boat built on a foam bodyboard which uses a plethora of 3D printed parts and sensors to allow the operator to remotely pilot the boat on the toxic lake. The team also has a drone to scare birds away, plus an array of other tools like high-powered lasers, propane cannons, and various scopes in order to put together the most effective response to help save wildlife.
While this strategy runs the gamut of the tools most commonly featured here, from 3D printers to drones to lasers, the only thing that’s missing is some automation like we have seen with other drone boat builds we’ve featured in the past. It takes quite a bit of time to continually scare birds off this lake, even through the winter, so every bit of help the team can get could go even further.
Continue reading “Saving Birds With 3D Printed Boats” →
Machine learning is an incredible tool for conservation research, especially for scenarios like long term observation, and sifting through massive amounts of data. While the average Hackaday reader might not be able to take part in data gathering in an isolated wilderness somewhere, we are all surrounded by bird life. Using an Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense and an online machine learning tool, a team made up of [Errol Joshua], [Ajith KJ], [Mahesh Nayak], and [Supriya Nickam] demonstrate how to set up an automated bird call classifier.
The Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense is a fully featured little dev board that features the very capable NRF52840 microcontroller with Bluetooth Low Energy, and a variety of onboard sensors, including a microphone. Training a machine learning model might seem daunting to many people, but online services like Edge Impulse makes the process very beginner-friendly. Once you start training your own models for specific applications, you quickly learn that building and maintaining a high quality dataset is often the most time-consuming part of machine learning. Fortunately for this use case, a massive online library of bird calls from all over the world is available on Xeno-Canto. This can be augmented with background noise from the area where the device will be deployed to reduce false-positives. Edge Impulse will train the model using the provided dataset, and generate a library that can be used on the Arduino with one of the provided sample sketches to log and send the collected data to a server. Then comes the never ending process of iteratively testing and improving the recognition model. Edge Impulse is also compatible with more powerful devices such as the Raspberry Pi and Jetson Nano if you want more intensive machine learning models.
We’ve also seen the exact same setup get used for smart baby monitor. If you want to learn more, be sure to watch at [Shawn Hymel]’s talk from the 2020 Remoticon about machine learning on microcontrollers. Continue reading “Recognising Bird Sounds With A Microcontroller” →
Join us on Wednesday, May 27 at noon Pacific for the 2020 Hackaday Prize Hack Chat with Majenta Strongheart!
It hardly seems possible, but the Hackaday Prize, the world’s greatest hardware design contest, is once more at hand. But the world of 2020 is vastly different than it was last year, and the challenges we all suddenly face have become both more numerous and more acute as a result. We’ve seen hackers rise to the challenges presented by the events of the last few months in unexpected ways, coming up with imaginative solutions and pressing the limits of what’s possible. What this community can do when it is faced with a real challenge is inspiring.
Now it’s time to take that momentum and apply it to some of the other problems the world is facing. For the 2020 Hackaday Prize, we’re asking you to throw your creativity at challenges in conservation, disaster response, assistive technology, and renewable resources. We’ve teamed up with leading non-profits in those areas, each of which has specific challenges they need you to address.
With $200,000 in prize money at stake, we’re sure you’re going to want to step up to the challenge. To help get you started, Majenta Strongheart, Head of Design and Partnerships at Supplyframe, will drop by the Hack Chat with all the details on the 2020 Hackaday Prize. Come prepared to pick her brain on what needs doing and how best to tackle the problems that the Prize is trying to address. And find out about all the extras, like the “Dream Team” microgrants, the wild card prize, and the community picks.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, May 27 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have got you down, we have a handy time zone converter.
Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.
Camera traps are a very common tool in wildlife conservation and research, but placing and pointing them correctly can be a bit of a guessing game. Something very interesting could happen just out of frame and you’d be none the wiser. The [Andrew Quitmeyer] and [Danielle Hoogendijk] at DINALABS (Digital Naturalism Laboratories) in Panama are experimenting with hacked consumer 360° cameras to help solve problem.
The project is called Panatrap and looks very promising. They’ve done very detailed testing with a number of different 360° cameras, and have built functional prototypes with the Xiaomi Misphere and Ricoh Theta V. The Xiaomi had some handy contacts on the bottom of the camera for its selfie stick interface (simply a resistor and button), which allowed full control of the camera. An Arduino compatible board waits for the motion detected signal from a PIR sensor which then sends the required command to the camera to wake-up and take footage. The Ricoh was slightly more challenging, but they discovered that the camera will wake up if an emulated keyboard command is received over it’s USB port from a Teensy. Triggering is then done by a servo pushing against the camera’s button. Everything is housed in a laser cut acrylic case to help it survive the wet jungle. If anyone knows how to hack the Samsung Gear camera to work, the team is keen to hear from you!
All the work is open sourced, with build details and hardware designs available on the project page and software up on Github. Check out some cool 360° test footage after the break with some local wildlife. We are looking forward to more footage! Continue reading “Miss Nothing With A Hacked 360 Degree Camera Trap” →
Few people sacrifice themselves as completely as Dian Fossey did for the mountain gorillas of Africa. She fought tirelessly to protect them from poachers, cattle herders, zoo kidnappers, corrupt governments, and tourists. Dian left a comfortable life behind to make the misty slopes of an extinct volcano her home and headquarters. There, she patiently sought out the gorillas, mimicking their facial expressions and actions until they grew curious about her. Eventually, she had their complete trust and friendship, and considered them her family.
Dian spent eighteen years on and off living among the gorillas. She continually risked her health, life, and reputation to raise awareness of their plight and save them from extinction. While the mountain gorilla remains an endangered species, Dian’s research and conservation efforts have greatly contributed to their increased population in the years since her death.
Continue reading “Dian Fossey, Gorilla Girl” →
Do you have a couple of minutes? Literally and precisely, two minutes. That’s how long these ten songs play. So what? A short song is not new, but these ten songs are part of a campaign to encourage residents of Cape Town, South Africa to cap their showers at one-hundred-twenty seconds. Some of us do not have to worry about droughts or water bills, but most of us are concerned about one or both of those, and this ingenious campaign alerted people to the problem, gave them the means to time themselves, and made it pleasant, not oppressive. The songs are freely available, and one might even pique your listening tastes from the biggest stars in South Africa.
So, where is the hack? Some of us have experimented with egg timers on the towel rack, timers on the showerhead, servos on the faucet knobs, or occupancy sensors, but those are strong-arm techniques or only for measuring, not regulating water use. These songs attack the most viable vector, the showerer. Or is it showeree? Telling people there is a drought is one thing, but giving them the ability to regulate themselves in such a way that they comply is a hacker’s approach. The songs on the site do not autoplay so there will be no hanging out under the water spray to find the best song. Which is your favorite?