When Computers Hear the Birds Sing…
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When Computers Hear the Birds Sing…

Hey there! Zach here with the Songbird Identification project for a quick update. Since the last post, I’ve been hard at work creating a prototype device to listen for and record songbirds. I began by creating a small circuit using a microphone and amplifier chip. This acts as a sound recorder and also includes circuitry to act as a trigger to start recording when sound is detected. Currently, the sound level can be set using an adjuster on the board and an LED light indicates when sound is detected. This worked, but I needed more power and a dedicated board before I could begin field-testing…

After proof of concept, I began work on the actual recording device using an Arduino M0 Pro microcontroller. I connected this to my circuit and an SD card reader and programmed the board to automatically record as a .wav file to the card when sound is detected. Having completed this initial prototype, I had the circuit turned into a PCB “shield” (an extender for the Arduino microcontroller). Once put together, the initial prototype boards looked like this:

At this point, it was about time to do a field test, so I took the board out into the woods near the Nichols Arboretum to see how well the board would pick up birds in the wild. Check out the video below to see it in action. When you hear the birds, watch the red LED on my board… it flickers as the birds sing! This is the visual indicator that the board hears the bird and has started recording!

Bird Box in Action

The next step will be to develop a weatherproof housing for the board. This is an important step for two reasons. First, I need longer term test recordings to make sure that my hardware isn’t running into any issues. Second, the housing itself is a key element to this project, as the end goal is to deploy these boxes for days, maybe even weeks, at a time. Be on the lookout for an update once I have my enclosure built!

My 4th of July Parade Hat, Ft. Acrylic, Laser cut songbirds!

Thanks for following the project thus far and stay tuned for more!


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