Biologging / Feed

Real-time tracking of animal movements is enabling more effective and efficient wildlife monitoring for management, security, and research. As devices get smaller and prices drop, the possibilities for using biologging on a larger scale have grown, and so have the possibilities for increasing customisation to meet specific research needs. Likewise, real-time tracking of illegal wildlife trade, timber, and fish products as they move from source to consumer can shed light on trafficking routes and actors, as well as support enforcement, making tracking gear a powerful tool beyond the field.


How to add a salt water switch

Hi – I’m working on developing a GPS / LoRa tracker for Diamondback Terrapins (DBT) with some colleagues. DBTs spend a lot of time in brackish water and we’...

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I'm going to use a TTP223 module as a solution.  This is a capacitive touch switch, used to turn things off and on.  It's not just human touch that triggers it, anything somewhat conductive and grounded, like a body of water, in close proximity, will set it off.  This means it can be placed inside a waterproof enclosure and still be able to detect when the enclosure is submerged.  I'll update when I've actually used it in anger.

Hi Harold, Thanks for that information. I hadn't considered a touch sensor. Can you share how you plan integrate the TTP223 into your design? Are you simply using the module with the TTP223 mounted on a board and enclosing the whole thing? I didn't expect that would work since it's not in contact with water but as you note, it just needs to be in close proximity. I should give it a try. 


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Who's attending the World Biodiversity Forum in Davos?

Hi all, @StephODonnell and I are making plans for our trip to Davos in June for the World Biodiversity Forum. Is anyone else planning to be there? We'll be presenting the findings...

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Sounds great.
At what day will you present your talk?

Greetings from Austria,

We'll be presenting Wednesday morning as part of session 10.1b on "Integrating earth observations and biological tools in ecology and evolution to cogenerate knowledge towards meeting the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework targets." For the side events, we're planning tentatively for a social Monday evening (following the welcome Apéro) and a meeting Wednesday during or after lunch on leveraging animal movement to meet conservation/policy goals. 

We'd love to see you!

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Fully-retrievable Satellite Tags for Seals?

Hello WILDLABS biologgers! I am wondering if anyone knows of any satellite telemetry devices for use in the marine realm (specifically for pinnipeds - seals/sea lions) that...

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Hi Courtney,

I haven't read through all the Wildlife computer options but I have heard of people using Zinc Anode disks as a type of slowly degrading attachment point for tags. We use these also as a backup for other types of releases on Oceanographic moorings etc. It would take some testing to see how the zinc could be attached or be small enough to degrade completely away from the pinniped but still be strong enough to hold a tag.....just some thoughts!



Honestly, no (at least not for wildlife applications).

I suspect for the manufacturing community it's a balancing act, and I am not confident that the manufacturing community has invested a lot of resources or effort to integrate sustainability in their tag designs specifically related to the materials. Reasons that come to mind are material durability and cost (both materials costs and cost to for R&D). 

With that said, I think Stuart (below) makes a good suggestion...

We are ready to make efforts on materials, but today there are few solutions available. Today, our partners' R&D efforts are focused on renewable energies and the energy source's capacity. In the absence others solutions, and to take action, we have chosen to develop solutions to recover these tags, some of which are reusable (thanks to Gonio RXG-234 @ThomasGray). To date, thousands of tags have been recovered and some reused. This is the "upcycling" of science! It's a small step, but a great leap forward!

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Acoustically Transparent Epoxy

Hello all,I'm developing an animal-borne passive acoustic monitoring system and plan to pot the internal electronics in the housing with epoxy to waterproof the system. We're...

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Same issues here. A MEMS is a great idea to pot, but you really need a piezoelectric element for this to work and not a MEMS based on capacitance (btw they're all capacitance, except for one now discontinued...). It was originally made by Vesper, but the company was bought out last year and the MEMS is no longer made. 

This is because you're no longer really doing a typical microphone, this would be a contact type hydrophone. For waterproofing, you can actually get a waterproof MEMS. As long as your not submerging this for an extended period, it should do the job. Be sure to keep the cable short between the PCB and the mic as you'll get noise as I've experienced. 

For generally answering your question on the "best" epoxy to with sound transparency, in general the harder the material the lower the acoustic impedance. I use Epotec 301 resin with a hardness of 85. Your shape will also influence the resonance frequencies, meaning the flat frequency response will now be distorted and you'll probably have distorted audio. . 

You generally don't want to pot MEMS microphones since they're designed to pick up on air pressure changes and adding any material in front of the microphone just introduces another transition layer where pressure waves need to propagate through. Also, potting the MEMS microphone can be tricky since if you get any material in the port, you could damage the microphone or drastically reduce its performance. If you want to seal something with epoxy, take a look at contact microphones. Higher frequencies will be attenuated but depending on the application, it could work. 

There are companies, however, that design fabrics that are waterproof/resistant but have a relatively low acoustic impedance. SAATI has a variety of samples that you can request and GORE makes Acoustic Vents that could work. You can design a mechanical housing around your MEMS microphone with small perforations that are covered by one of these materials. I did this for one of my latest projects and it holds up just fine in heavy rain conditions. 

Hi Jesse,

For a material to be acoustically transparent (in air), the speed of sound in the material times its density must match that of air.  Realistically, any solid material will have a greater density than air, and a higher speed of sound to boot, so I'm afraid there's no way to match it to air.  Sorry.

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WILDLABS AWARDS 2024 - Underwater Passive Acoustic Monitoring (UPAM) for threatened Andean water frogs

In our project awarded with the "2024 WILDLABS Awards", we will develop the first Underwater Passive Acoustic Monitoring (UPAM) program to assess the conservation status and for...

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This is so cool @Mauricio_Akmentins - congrats and look forward to seeing your project evolve!

Congratulations! My first hydromoth was just arrived yesterday and so excited! Looking forward for the update from your project!!!

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Introducing The Inventory!

The Inventory is your one-stop shop for conservation technology tools, organisations, and R&D projects. Start contributing to it now!

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This is fantastic, congrats to the WildLabs team! Look forward to diving in.
Hi @JakeBurton,thanks for your great work on the Inventory!Would it be possible to see or filter new entries or reviews?Greetings from Austrian forest,Robin 
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Waterproofing DIY VHF transmitter

Hi everyone,I plan on tracking roe deer fawns for one to two weeks (checking for mortality).We want to use lightweight VHF transmitters that should fall off after a couple weeks...

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That's my kinda crazy @Rob_Appleby. Reminds my of a concept from my last job where they were trying to create strain gauge power meters that customers could self apply to their bikes. Normally this process was done in factory using special CA glue cured in 50-90c ovens. For the self applying version they were experimenting with an adhesive that had tiny metal beads in it that would heat up when a current was applied to self cure if I remember correctly.

Now I want to be able to drop it from a drone and have it glue itself to the fur of a deer or wild hog. I am designing that now, it will have a detachable lawn dart that drops from a drone and lands on a target animal. That lawn dart delivers the payload, either a tracker or a dose of contraceptives. Then the drone comes and picks up the lawn dart again for reloading. 

So the lawn dart has a small compressed air cylinder and some pneumatic style switches. When it touches down the switch actuates and the compressed air energy is used to deliver a dose of drugs and or spray some glue and  ink. That can be reloaded with a bike pump and hypodermic.

I am working on that too haha. So in my design you load the glue gun with two part Loctite, it has two separate metal rings. Glue and hardener in each ring. Then each ring has a few tiny holes drilled, and you fill the holes with a disposable plug. 

When the switch is actuated the pressure inside the metals rings goes from atm to 100kPa, and sprays the glue and hardener together as the plugs blow out. The transmitter is attached to the plugs, so it is left behind and glued in place with one switch. That loctite glue is basically instant. The whole thing would not even be that traumatic to the animal. When you score a hit, you find the lawn dart glue gun again and pick it up with the drone. 

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Hi,I guess a number of you have used these in the past. They are very good GPS loggers and very affordable. have been working with the manufacturer and tested a new model with...

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I have couple of good use cases for this model in a conservation project here in Cambodia however limited by lack of funding.  Would be happy chat if you are interested. 

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WILDLABS AWARDS 2024 - TimeLord: A low-cost, low-power and low-difficulty timer board to control battery-powered devices

Hi everyone,@Alasdair from Arribada Initiative and I are so pleased to announce our TimeLord project as one of the lucky winners of this year's WILDLABS Awards. What is TimeLord...

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Thanks @Freaklabs, I think you'll really enjoy getting involved with this too as we're looking for input from makers in the community to get the most from the approach and to capture features and usability ideas from a large number of people.

I've a new modular drop-off tag build using @Rob_Appleby's original SensorDrop board that I think would be great for this project too to see if we can drop different compartments, or do various different timed events with the one TimeLord board.

Most importantly, we have to make it play a MIDI version of the DoctorWho theme song when you arm the device. That has to be the #1 feature if you ask me!


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non-invasive technique to apply GPS collars without catching?

Dear all, I was wondering if they were "passive" techniques to "install" GPS collar or other GPS devices on a terrestrial animal ? Just a discussion...

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Not sure what happened to the excerpt I wanted to post. Apperently the Alaska study authors had some scepticism themselves.

I would be extremely worried about catching wrong species in many cases - with potentially detrimental effects.

My study in particular is only looking at species that go under fence holes in Southern Africa. The hole determines species size and juveniles for these species are so small the collar would just fall off. I think a proper study could really determine these collars could be useful if the right study species and setting location was determined. 

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DIY VHF receivers?

Hi everyone. Looking for an affordable DIY VHF receiver option. I'm working with an engineer to develop an automated audio playback system that will play pre-recorded sounds from...

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Hi Brandon,

I agree and think VHF will always have better range than UHF. Given how commonly it's used in wildlife tracking, it also makes perfect sense to use it if possible. The trade-off for us was to go for lower cost and higher availability parts. This is particularly a problem for VHF receivers, as you mentioned in your original message. But, SDR is good option potentially for VHF (and UHF), especially given the success of MOTUS. 

Range of our 433MHz UHF tags was usually around 250m (up to 500m) LOS, using an external antenna and a high transmission power. We also used high gain, omnidriectional antennas on the receiver end. Tags were triggered by an accelerometer threshold so that they'd save a bit of power whilst animals were resting. 

More than happy to discuss further and help if I can. 



Hi Brandon,

This is hard for me to write, because I don't have good news for you.  You can find many receivers and transmitters for 433MHz that are used for remote control, such as wireless doorbells, garage door openers, lost model locators, etc.  These are extremely cheap, a couple of dollars literally.  While this tech can be modified to operate with wildlife tags (around 150MHz), we are talking about hacking RF, not to be approached lightly.

If you really need to DIY, I see 2 options: migrate to 433MHz and build/rebuild all your kit (tags, collars, receivers, locators).  Commercial solutions are cheap and available, the work remaining is not much above handyman level.  But it is work, and not just work but also testing.

The other option is to remain with 150MHz (although you can make your own tags) and modify an aviation receiver (it lets you listen in to aircraft talking to each other or to the airport).  These receivers operate at 130MHz, which puts it in spitting range of 150MHz wildlife tags (this matters).  This is the option I'd go for, just because I know it can be done, and I have less sense than curiosity.

You mention you're working with an engineer, here are a couple of pointers:

  • with an SDR (the "digital USB receivers" you mention) you can scan some bandwidth to detect radio pulses. I'm only familiar with the Lotek coded VHF transmitters but they can be received as in the Motus Sensorgnomes. I can point you at the code used there, it does involve a good amount of digital signal filtering/analysis code. One issue with the SDRs is that they're pretty power hungry so you need to plan on more solar panel and battery than you may like, e.g. even rPi Zero + SDR is probably >300mA. Another issue can be interference in that SDRs have a very wideband front-end and so TV, radio, and other stuff can desensitize the front-end.
  • there are integrated receivers (ICs) that can be tuned to 150Mhz and can detect VHF transmissions, it's easy for non-coded ones, a bit more involved for coded ones. Specifically, the Semtech sx1231 or sx1276 series are widely available (often called Hope RF69 or RF96, which are modules with those chips). You need someone comfortable writing a customized driver that uses OOK mode or RSSI detection. The other issue is that while there are many suitable boards available for 433/868/915Mhz (e.g. Adafruit, Sparkfun, LilyGo, and many others) you most likely won't find one for 150Mhz. However, for RX-only the matching isn't so super important if you have a good antenna and the signal isn't crazy weak. From a power point of view these can sip power so you can run one on an 18650 for days and a small 1W-5W solar panel is most likely all you need.

Hope this helps...

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The Variety Hour: 2024 Lineup

You’re invited to the WILDLABS Variety Hour, a monthly event that connects you to conservation tech's most exciting projects, research, and ideas. We can't wait to bring you a whole new season of speakers and...

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extending battery life with solar panels

Is anyone out there up for a development challenge involving "smart" GPS and accelerometer collars with extended lifetimes (arorund a year), possibly involving solar...

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Hi Peter, we manufacture solar powered Iridium trackers for birds, crocs/alligators and collars for various species. Our longest standing unit is a 55g unit on a Vulture and has been going for 4 years, providing data on an hourly basis. Our croc units include a pressure/depth sensor and provide details of depth and time at depth. Most of our devices include a VHF transmitter which is fully configurable over the air (you can change frequency, pulse duration, pulse interval and operation times - good for security).

Hi Greg! Your Iridium tags sounds really interesting. I tried looking you up on

but there is not much to be found. Can you provide more details and images of your tags? 

Cheers, Lars

Hello Peter, 

Have you find a solution ? I will be happy to discuss with you about your project and field challenges ? 



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Catch up with The Variety Hour: March 2024

Variety Hour is back! This month we're talking about making AI more accessible with Pytorch, new developments from WildMe and TagRanger, and working with geospatial data with Fauna & Flora. See you there!

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Unfortunately, I can't be there. When will you upload the recording?    
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Leveraging Actuarial Skills for Conservation Impact

Hello Wildlabs Community,I'm an experienced actuary with a deep passion for wildlife and conservation. With over 15 years in the insurance industry, I've honed my skills in data...

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Need tips on best practices tracking turtles

Hi, I am working on a project that aims to track the movement of turtles in the Amazon. I would like to get tips mainly on what would be the best equipment regarding...

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Hi Gabriel,

Our TagRanger Tags can be used for tracking turtles,  we already have a tracking project commencing soon in South America for ~40 turtles...  

The Tags use LoRaWAN allowing you to communicate with your Tags in real time.  As well as requesting current GPS locations from long distances away  (20km Line of Sight) you can also use the integrated ranging tools which give you distance to your Tag in metres when you get closer.  

Key features:

LoRaWAN (tested > 20km line of sight). Use a 'Finder' which is a handheld gateway or you can also use your own LoRaWAN network.

UWB ranging gives distance (in metres) to the Tag up to 150m away

Hybrid Ranging combines the equivalent of a VHF pinger from a few km away (line of sight) with the UWB ranging when you get closer

Log Download remotely using UWB radio

The Tag can last for very long lifetimes depending on how you configure it

Please drop me a line if you are interested in hearing more about this and how we could configure it best for your application.


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