Bee Tracking: A List of Improvements needed…

There were several issues that became apparent during and after the 2021 Summer experiments! I’ve listed some of these issues and the planned solution. This isn’t a very exciting post, skip down for the last few posts which have 3d videos!

Detectable Posts: Although fairly easy to detect, sometimes non-posts get detected. I think a few more stripes to make finding them easier (at the cost of a slight reduction in the maximum distance). E.g. go from 11 stripes to 15.

Improved pot design: It turns out we can tag the bees in-field with modified marking pots, but need to add lids to stop them escaping!

Tag contamination: The wax on the retroreflectors degrades them: Try using alternative materials.

Firing rate: This is a big challenge. There are several potential bottlenecks. I found the flash thermal-protection circuits kicked in. I did experiment with only firing half of the flashes each time – I’ve not looked at the results of this yet. Might be able to disable the protection circuit! The other problem was I found many failed images, due, probably, to buffers failing to be serviced quickly enough etc. Will need to experiment (might be able to downscale image 2×2). A rate of 4Hz is currently possible for 10 seconds.

Tag shape / detectability – related to the above issue is that the tags aren’t always visible, possibly because of their shape. Redesigning to make them visible from all directions (e.g. a cone, cylinder or sphere) could help.

Timing alignment – a major issue I found was that the raspberry pi generated time stamps often ‘jumped’ or ‘froze’, given the importance of precise timing, this is causing a major problem. The solution I’m building is a (GPS-time-synced) ‘clock’ that simply displays the time to the nearest 4ms in binary, in a cylinder. LED driver, LED, GPS receiver, arduino [e.g.].

PCB for one part of the ‘binary clock column’. This will give the GPS synchronised time to 1ms accuracy in LEDs.

Range – should keep looking at how to improve the range – switching to glass corner cube reflectors? Focused flash? If frequency is increased could trade it for a tighter ‘high gain’ beam?

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