Happy Bat Appreciation Day! Spot Bats With a Raspberry Pi
Build your own device for capturing images of bats in flight.
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It's true; April 17 is Bat Appreciation Day. Bats have gotten a bad rap in the past (think spooky Halloween decorations and vampire movies). But the only mammals capable of flight deserve a day of their own. They eat insects that would otherwise overrun neighborhoods and farms, they're excellent pollinators, and echolocation is a pretty amazing feat — we're building robots inspired by their abilities.
Plus, bats are seriously underappreciated in the cuteness department. Exhibit A:
Photo: Joshua Tree National Park/Flickr
I mean, look at that face.
In the spirit of Bat Appreciation Day, I'd like to introduce you to the Batinator: a Raspberry Pi outfitted with a Pi NoIR camera board and infrared lights. It lets you capture images of bats in flight — a rare thing to see, given the low light conditions when bats are most active.
Photo: Bat in flight/Raspberry Pi
The creator of the Batinator, Martin Mander, has written instructions on how to make your own. With some light hardware knowledge and basic Python, it should be a straightforward project. The end result looks like a police radar gun. It's not, of course, but it's a satisfyingly sci-fi finish.
Mander also recommends soaking some old socks in beer and stringing them up to attract moths — known to the bat community as delicious snacks. There's more than one way to celebrate Bat Appreciation Day, after all. Cheers!
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