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Digi Cellular Routers Keep Bats from Hitting the Fan

DeTect, Inc. specializes in remote sensing technologies and systems for aviation safety, security surveillance, environmental management, weather detection and wind measurement. DeTect is the world leader in the development, deployment and support of radar systems for aircraft bird strike avoidance, avian risk assessment and migratory research, and provides support for wind energy projects worldwide.

As part of the process of securing approval from environmental agencies to develop a wind turbine farm, developers are required to assess the wind farm’s potential impact on local bat populations. DeTect provides this service via its Anabat bat detector which tracks bats by their ultra high-pitch calls. By monitoring these calls, the bat detectors can determine what species live in the region. Rare or endangered species, for example, would pose problems to wind farm development. The detectors can also determine population size and other important information such as feeding and mating patterns.

By nature of wind farm locations, they are generally located far away from people in very remote locations such as on the edge of a mountain ridge. In order to track data, the Anabat bat detectors previously used SDRAM cards that recorded the bat calls. Technicians would have to drive or fly to the remote wind farms to collect the data. This was time consuming and also risky because the SDRAM cards could fill up before a technician arrived, risking the loss of valuable data. Another option for recording data was to connect the Anabat directly to a laptop or PDA. However, this required the technician to be on site 24/7 in order to track data.

“The SDRAM cards can last from a week up to a month, depending if there is high activity at the site,” said Tim West, lead technical support, DeTect, Inc. “Once the card fills up, you also risk losing valuable data, which is not good. Along with the risk of data loss, there are big man hours involved in the process. Connecting to the detector directly was also not realistic. If we had 10 bat detectors at a location, we would need to have 10 people there connected to the bat detectors 24/7. We needed a solution that would allow us to get to that information more efficiently.”

Digi Cellular Gateways Make Remote Bat Detector Management Easy
Previously, the Anabat bat detectors could operate in one of two modes. They could download data to a card or upload it in real-time to a connected PC. Both modes were labor intensive. DeTect turned to Digi International for its Digi Connect WAN cellular router to make gathering information more efficient. The Digi Connect WAN is a wireless WAN cellular router that provides data communications via cellular networks to remote sites and devices. Using Digi’s proprietary RealPort® software, DeTect was able to create a cellular-to-serial interface in order to connect the bat detector via its serial port. DeTect can now plug its bat detectors into the cellular gateway via its serial port creating a “virtual serial cable” from the remote bat detectors back to DeTect’s head office in Panama City, Florida.

“Digi enabled us to gather remote information in real-time locally,” West said. “The beauty of the solution is you are taking the human interface and labor out of the equation. We no longer have to send someone out to these remote wind farms wandering around with a laptop. The Digi solution gave us a method for remotely monitoring several bat detectors from multiple locations in real-time from a central location.”

The bat detectors were not set up to work in a “connected” mode, so Digi enabled the devices to do something they were not designed to do. DeTect is also pleased with the remote manageability of the devices via Digi Connectware® Manager software.

“In the past, if a bat detector locked up, we would normally have to power cycle the device manually from the field,” West said. “Now, the Digi software can help perform functions to unlock the bat detectors without having to leave the office. We can now tech support and troubleshoot the devices locally. This wasn’t anything that could be done before working with Digi.”

A Long Relationship
DeTect has been using Digi’s products for nearly four years and has experienced excellent reliability and outstanding customer and technical support.

“We’ve started using other Digi solutions as well,” West added. “We try to stick with something that works.”

In conclusion, West stated: “Digi has been great for us. Digi has some innovative solutions that have enabled our products to do things they weren’t designed to do. They have also been extremely helpful to work with.”

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"Digi has some innovative solutions that have enabled our products to do things they weren't designed to do."

- Tim West, lead technical support, DeTect, Inc.

Application: Connecting Bat Detectors at Remote Wind Energy Sites

Industry: Avian Radar Detection

Company: DeTect, Inc.

Challenge: DeTect needed a reliable way to collect data from bat detectors in remote locations.

Solution: Digi Connect WAN®, a cost-optimized 2.5G Wireless WAN cellular router, and RealPort® software created a cellular-to-serial interface to monitor bat detectors from multiple locations remotely in real-time.

More about Digi Connect WAN
Digi Connect WAN is a cost-optimized, upgradeable, multi-function 2.5G Wireless WAN cellular router in a small form factor. It provides high performance wireless TCP/IP data communications via cellular GSM EDGE and CDMA 1xRTT networks. Digi Connect WAN features a unique “always-on” connection, patented COM port redirection software, and enterprise class remote device management software for easy setup, maintenance and configuration of large installations.

    Key Features:
  • Reliable performance for primary or backup wireless connectivity
  • Easy to deploy
  • Integrated VPN
  • Remote management software for large installations
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