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” →
It’s common knowledge that bats navigate and search for their prey using echolocation, but did you know that the ultrasonic chips made by different species of bats are distinct enough that they can be used for identification? [Tegwyn☠Twmffat] did, which is why he came up with this impressive device capable of cataloging the different bats flying around at night.
Now this might seem like an odd gadget to have, but if you’re in the business of wildlife conservation, it’s not hard to imagine how this sort of capability might be useful. This device could be used to easily estimate the size and diversity of bat populations in a particular area. [Tegwyn☠Twmffat] also mentions that, at least in theory, the core concept should work with other types of noisy critters like rodents or dolphins.
Powered by the NVIDIA Jetson Nano, the unit listens with a high-end ultrasonic microphone for the telltale chirps of bats. These are then processed by the software and compared to a database of samples that [Tegwyn☠Twmffat] personally collected in local nature reserves. In the video after the break, you can also see how he uses a set of house keys jingling as a control to make sure the system is running properly.
As winner of the Train All the Things contest back in April, we’re eager to see how the Intelligent Wildlife Species Detector will fare as the competition heats up in the 2020 Hackaday Prize.
Continue reading “Identifying Creatures That Go Chirp In The Night” →
Arbor Day is a holiday many countries dedicate to planting trees, but with the steady encroachment of climate change, we need to maximize our time. Dronecoria doesn’t just plant a tree; it sows “hectares in minutes.” A hectare is 10,000 square meters or 2.471 acres. These aren’t the drones you’re looking for if you intend a weekend of gardening, this is in the scope of repopulating a forest with trees or reinvigorating a park with wildflowers. The seed balls in the hopper are 10kg of native seeds coupled with beneficial microorganisms to help the chances of each drop.
The drone’s body is laser cut from what looks like baltic birch plywood. The vector files are available in Illustrator (.ai) and CAD (.dxf) formats released under Creative Commons BY-SA, so give credit if you redistribute or remix it. In the 3D realm, you’ll need a SeedShutter and SeedDisperser, and both models are available in STL format.
We have other non-traditional seed spreading methods like canons, but it is a big job, and if you’ve build something to pitch in, drop us a tip!
Things rarely go well when humans mix with wildlife. The problems are exacerbated in the suburbs, where bears dine on bird feeders and garbage cans, raccoons take up residence in attics, and coyotes make off with the family cat. And in the suburbs, nuisance wildlife can be an intractable problem because the options for dealing with it are so limited.
Not to be dissuaded in the battle to protect his roses, [dlf.myyta] built this motion-activated sentry gun to apply some watery aversion therapy to marauding deer. Shown in action below against a bipedal co-conspirator, the sentry gun has pretty much what you’d expect under the hood — Raspberry Pi, NoIR camera, a servo for aiming and a solenoid valve to control the water. OpenCV takes care of locating the intruders and swiveling the nozzle to center mass; since the deer are somewhat constrained by a fence, there’s no need to control the nozzle’s elevation. Everything is housed nicely in a plastic ammo can for portability and waterproofing. Any target that stands still for more than three seconds gets a hosing; we assume this is effective, but alas, no snuff films were provided.
We’re not sure if [dlf.myyta]’s code can discern friend from foe, and in this litigious world, hosing the neighbor’s kid could be a catastrophe. Perhaps version 2.0 can include image recognition for target verification.
Continue reading “Auto-Tracking Sentry Gun Gives Deer A Super Soaking” →
Trail and wildlife cameras are commonly available nowadays, but the Wild Eye project aims to go beyond simply taking digital snapshots of critters. [Brenda Armour] uses a Raspberry Pi to not only take photos of wildlife who wander into the camera’s field of view, but to also automatically identify and categorize the animals seen using a visual recognition API from IBM via the Node-RED infrastructure. The result is a system that captures an image when motion is detected, sends the image to the visual recognition API, and attempts to identify any wildlife based on the returned data.
The visual recognition isn’t flawless, but a recent proof of concept shows promising results with crows, a cat, and a dog having been successfully identified. Perhaps when the project is ready to move deeper into the woods, elements from these solar-powered networked birdhouses (which also use the Raspberry Pi) could help cut some cords.
Ultrasonic repellent devices used to keep away insects, rodents, birds, and even large animals have been around for quite a while, but their effectiveness depends on who you ask. Some critters just don’t seem affected, while some others definitely will avoid being around such a device. Deploying a few of these devices to scare off animals seems to be working quite well for [Ondřej Petrlík]. Around where he lives, the fields of tall grass need to be mowed down during the spring. Unfortunately, the tall grass is ideal for young, newborn animals to stay hidden and safe. The mowing machines would often cripple and hurt such animals, and [Ondřej] desperately wanted to solve the problem and prevent these mishaps.
He built an electronic repeller to keep away wild animals and their young from his farm/ranch/range back in the Czech Republic. He used an Arduino Mini to drive a large piezo transducer to scare away the wild animals from the vicinity of the device. He likely used a high enough frequency beyond human range, but we’ll know more when he publishes his code and details. There are also a few large 10mm LED’s – either to visually locate the device or help drive the animals away in conjunction with the ultrasound, with an LDR that activates the LEDs at night. Using the Arduino helps to turn on the transducer at random intervals, and hopefully, he is using a range of different frequencies so the animals don’t become immune to the device.
His first prototype was cobbled together using vanilla, off the shelf parts. An Arduino, a step up converter, an LDR, a couple of LEDs, a reed switch for powering it on via a magnet, and a large ultrasonic transducer, all powered by three alkaline AA batteries. He stuffed it all inside a weatherproof molded enclosure, holding it all together with a lot of hot glue. This didn’t make it very rugged for the long-term, outdoor field use. While the prototype worked well, he needed several of the devices to be placed all around his farm. To make assembly easy and make it more reliable, he designed a custom PCB to fit in the weather proof enclosure. This allowed him to easily mount all the required parts for a more reliable result. His project is still a work in progress, so if you have worked with these types of ultrasonic repellent devices to keep away animals, and have any insights that may help him, do chime in with your comments. [Ondřej] seems pretty satisfied with the results so far.
The need for clear and reliable communication has driven technology forward for centuries. The longer communication’s reach, the smaller the world becomes. When it comes to cell phones, seamless network coverage and low power draw are the ideals that continually spawn R&D and the eventual deployment of new equipment.
Almost all of us carry a cell phone these days. It takes a lot of infrastructure to support them, whether or not we use them as phones. The most recognizable part of that infrastructure is the communications tower. But what do you know about them?
Continue reading “A Field Guide To The North American Communications Tower” →