The D500X is a full spectrum "direct recording" ultrasound recording unit intended for long-term, unattended recording of bat and other high frequency animal calls. Designed to be deployed for weeks or months, this device detects full-spectrum ultrasound and records in real time using the highest quality, highest signal-to-noise ratio microphone presently available on any passive bat detector today. Coupled with sophisticated automatic species identification built into the new SonoBat 3 software, the D500x will become the hardware component of passive acoustic monitoring solutions for the future. This detector was produced by Pettersson at the request of bat biologists with features heavily influenced by BCM to meet the goals of long term passive recording deployments without compromising sound quality to make the best of today's automated bat call classifiers.
The D500x recorder is equipped with four slots for readily available CF flash memory cards. A total capacity of 128 GB can be obtained if four 32 GB cards are used. The triggering system allows the device to start recording as a sound is detected, and can include a predetermined time before a trigger event if desired. A sophisticated trigger system only records events that are more likely to be bats rather than noise. The recording length can be selected in steps from 0.3 up to 30 seconds, and even manually triggered. In order not to fill the card too fast at locations with extremely high activity, a wait time between two recordings can be applied. The newest (free) firmware upgrades includes automatic sunrise/sunset timers, more sophisticated trigger logic, rich metadata support, more detailed log file, more intuitive use of user profiles, and better power management and reporting.
Battery life depends on the chosen sampling rate (the D500x is optimized for a "best in class" 500 kHz sample rate), amount of bat activity, and the settings (e.g. how long to wait between recordings). It is expected to be up to 15 days for the internal "C" batteries. This assumes the unit "sleeps" during daytime and that it is active for 8-hours each night, but not constantly recording during that time. Using an external 6v battery will allow much longer operating times. The current consumption while recording is in the range 150-200 mA. We have run a D500x for one month on the external 13 Ah battery listed below and had over 6v of good charge when recovered.
"Direct Recording" is a relatively new class of bat detectors that is not intended for active monitoring, only passive monitoring where the unit will be deployed unmanned for hours, days, or weeks unattended. This class of detector usually has no speaker or bat call display and the memory cards must be downloaded into a laptop for analysis. For 2014 Pettersson added a headphone port (the SE FD model) allowing the user to monitor bat activity in real time by using frequency divison technology. This enables the user to take advantage of the premium microphone on this unit to record voucher calls or other active recording pursuits. Unlike other passive detectors, file numbers are readily apparent onscreen that enables you to keep track of what event you are recording. A manual record button allows you to make voucher calls of any length, and even record voice notes. The special FD Edition includes a headphone jack to monitor frequency division output in real time, enabling easy manual recording bat passes and tracking bats for voucher calls, or simply answer the question that inevitably plagues anyone who has deployed passive recorders: "Is this thing being set off by bats or bugs?"
General D500x Features:
January 2014-Current D500x Special Edition FD Features:
March 2013-Current D500x Standard Features:
March 2013-Earlier D500x features not carried forward:
While competitors's offerings are rapidly end-of-lifed,
"I spent the past two weeks teaching back-to-back workshops that focused heavily on acoustics..... and (as always) the D500X out-performed all the other models combined in number and quality of calls. I think our students were mightily impressed and my mantra "you get what you pay for" has started to sink in. Nothing beats how easy and user friendly the D500x is to operate and how easy it is to post-process the calls and get on with the business of analysis. I'm hoping it will become the "go to" device for applications requiring the best sound quality available in a passive detector."
- Janet Tyburec, principal bat workshop instructor for BCI, BCM, USFS & others since 1992 and is an expert user of AnaBat, AnaLook, Wildlife Acoustics hardware, and SonoBat software
Full Spectrum "missing" Myth
There is a persistant myth that full spectrum devices do not record as many bat passes as frequency division (a.k.a. ANABAT) devices. This refers to the Pettersson D240x unit which is a "full spectrum time expansion" detector. The D240x unit must pause to download the recording to a recording device and in theory would miss other bat activity during download (however, this is highly disputed in real life tests). The D500x is a "full spectrum direct recording" device and essentially does not pause between recordings (although it can be programmed to.) Time Expansion was a method of allowing relatively slow computers of the '80s and '90s to record at high sample rates necessary to record bat calls. This method has been surpassed by faster computers that simply record to memory cards and hard drives. Time Expansion is still an extremely valuable during post processing tool; for example, listening to a a file in TE allows you to easily hear multiple bats in a single recording.
Confused about acoustic monitoring for bats?
Acoustic monitoring is more complicated than it appears. How do you know if what you are recording is any good, if you don't know what it's supposed to sound like in the first place? Please see our acoustic help section particularly for placement and weatherproofing suggestion. BCM also offers highly rated workshops of various lengths around the country for those wishing to jumpstart their learning curve. We also offer professional services ranging from managing your acoustic data for you to complete project management; contact John Chenger for quotes.
A note about placement and weatherproofing the Pettersson D500x
The Pettersson D500x and SonoBat software meets the guidelines contained in the USFWS Indiana Bat Survey Protocol. We recommend:
Pettersson D500x Pricing
Pettersson D500x FD
Special Edition Bat Detector
Includes (1)- 4GB compact flash card, external microphone with preamp, protective microphone capsule, and manual. Live frequency divison sound output via headphone jack. 4- C batteries and mic extension cable not included.
Standard Bat Detector
Includes (1)- 4GB compact flash card, external microphone with preamp, protective microphone capsule and manual. 4- C batteries and mic extension cable not included. No audio output.
Starter Acoustic Survey Package
Everything in one box for short term surveys
(Meets USFWS Indiana bat survey protocol)
*For use with EchoClass or BCID software, full spectrum .wav files must be down sampled to frequency divided (Anabat compatible) files using the free tool in the demo version of Kalideoscope from Wildlife Acoustics or ZCANT by Myotisoft. AnaBat files cannot be converted for use in SonoBat as there is too little data in AnaBat files.
"Grab and Go" Field Acoustic Survey Package
Additional kits for short term surveys (no software)
What's the Grab 'n Go box for?
What's the Microphone Capsule for?
Simple, proven, long term recording
now also for active monitoring
The Pettersson D500x Special Edition FD and included external microphone takes a field proven, rock solid recording platform and expands it with even more capability for power users. This device design was influenced by BCM and other bat field workers specifically to obtain the highest quality sound recordings and be user friendly to feed data daily into auto classifiers when post processing calls. The external mic input is balanced (differential) and cable runs up to 100m (330') long have been tested with no discernable signal loss.
The Special Edition FD is a new option requested by biologists who wanted an easier method to record voucher calls and other active monitoring tasks. Live frequency-division output is available using headphones and allows you to make full spectrum manual recordings for as long as the bat of interest can be heard.
Extensively deployed at BCM workshops along with other similar detectors from other manufacturers, the D500x is the "gold standard" we compare others to for recording quality and ease of use. See Chenger/Tyburec poster Comparing Bat Detector Deployments at Different Heights, In Different Orientations, and Using Different Microphone Types
Products for Sale:
D500x Survey Pouch
Any bat detector should be up off the ground during a recording session. The microphone is closer to bats and there is less chance the detector will be stepped on, run over, or carted off by unhelpful wildlife. The size and weight of this detector does not lend itself to be easily taped to a limb or balanced on a ledge. BCM designed this custom pouch so that a D500x can be hung on a tree trunk and the microphone angled in any direction by an adjustable strap. The front side is heavy mesh and allows the buttons to be used. The display is mostly visible for visual confirmation that the detector is working and can be seen from a distance. Not waterproof. Compatible with early D500x when using the internal microphone, or current D500x when the external microphone is plugged directly into the chassis.
D500x External Microphone
Includes 1m long D500x-to-DMX mic cable. Weatherproof but like any microphone, not long term corrosion proof. Mount horizontal for best weatherproofing.
D500x Mic Extension Cable
Heavy duty professional audio cable to remotely place microphone. No signal loss on a D500x external mic. Select length in shopping cart; longer lengths over 100' available, email or call for quote.
D500x-to-DMX Mic Cable (pre-2013 replacement)
1m long cable required to connect 5-pin DMX mic cables to the D500x external mic port. One is included with every external mic sold before March 2013. This is a replacement item for these units. Not necessary for D500x purchased after March 2013, or units which have been upgraded with the DMX port on the chassis.
Storage/Travel/Short Term Deployment Case
Intended to hold everything in our "Grab and Go" kit; a D500x, 25' cable, and mic capsule. We have cut a small groove in the lid for you so the mic cable can exit. Plastic, weather resistant, lightweight construction and stackable. Large box can also hold the external battery for longer deployments between servicing.
D500x External Power
D500x External Power Cable, original
30cm/16 inch cable terminates in "S" for connection to 6v rechargeable batteries or Battery Tender accessories. Solid "S" connector and epoxy-filled detector plug for reliable long life. For all D500x purchased before March 2013.
D500x External Power Cable 2013-Present
30cm/16 inch cable terminates in "S" for connection to 6v rechargeable batteries or Battery Tender accessories.
2.5x5.5mm screw in detector plug epoxy filled for reliable long life and secure connection. For all D500x purchased after March 2013.
6v Battery Tender Charger
Smart charger will not overcharge 6v batteries. Includes a fused ring "S" connector as well as other accessory leads to connect to other various batteries.
20Ah External Battery
Newest firmware is doing more noise scrubbing, requiring more battery capacity. This 6 volt, 20Ah sealed lead acid battery, non spillable, still fits in the Grab 'n Go kits. Requires a fused ring "S" cable connector to be compatible with Battery Tender Jr. 6v chargers and the D500x external power adapter. For comparison, the best rechargable C-size D500x internal batteries are 5Ah capacity.
Not available from BCM: Obtain from your local battery supply store or online
Fused Ring terminal Quick Connect and Hardware
Quick connector to attach to the 20Ah battery with ring terminals. This enables you to quickly charge the battery with a 6v Battery Tender and also connect to the D500x External Power Cable. We include machine screws, washers, and lock washer hardware for the connection.
Servicing a D500x
If your unit has been physically dropped, abused, flooded, etc. the customer should send the device directly to Pettersson following their instructions. For other instances below, Myotisoft may be able to assist in the USA:
Early External Microphone Port Upgrade: Very early units require an internal modification for the external microphone port to function correctly. Units with a serial number (printed on the label next to the CF card slots) of 178 and higher do not need the modification (anything purchased after November 2010). This does not affect the use of the internal microphone, and those early units only need upgraded if you wish to start using the new external microphones. This upgrade is covered by the manufacturer.
2013 External Microphone Port Upgrade: This upgrade replaces the more weatherproof external mic port Switchcraft connector on pre-March 2013 D500x with the current less weatherproof DMX microphone port. This upgrade forever releases you from the having to use the proprietary Switchcraft-to-DMX adapter.
Clock Battery Upgrade: If you must reset the clock on every power up, the internal lithium clock battery needs replaced. On very early units, this unfortunately requires completely disassembling the unit. (In newer units the backup battery is located near the CF cards.) We can modify your early D500x so that the clock battery is user-replaceable. After this upgrade the clock battery is expected to last 5-10 years. This upgrade is covered by the manufacturer.
Port Connectors Replacement: If you have broken the physical connectors on the D500x (ext mic/ext power/ext trigger), the unit must be disassembled. However, often this is not a time critical repair if the port still functions.
For USA D500x Service as described above, please ship with signature confirmation to: Myotisoft, Attn: David A. Riggs. Note that shipping to our main office in Carlisle will only delay your upgrade; please ship directly to Myotisoft. Repair quotes available once the unit arrives and is tested. Units that do not power up will be referred to the manufacturer. Some upgrades may be covered by the manufacturer, shipping is additional
Check Pettersson's website for the latest firmware recommended for all users. Use the D500X Utility (be sure the Utility has an .exe extension) to transfer firmware to a CF card, do not drag and drop the firmware onto the CF card.
Bat Conservation and Management, Inc. Carlisle, Pennsylvania (717) 241-ABAT
Deploy for passive recording in 4 easy steps...
1. Verify time settings
Under TIME SETTINGS, program the time, date, and time zone (aka UTC off-set), and enter GPS coordinates in D/M/S. If a project spans the "daylight savings time" time-change-date(s), make the D500x "DST aware" by turning DST "ON.
2. Verify timer
Under TIMERS, select Relative Timers. Activate a timer by pressing the "on" button on the keypad. Verify that sun set/rise times are accurate (if not, something in TIME SETTINGS is incorrect). The D500x will then turn on at sunset (18:59 in our example) and turn off at sunrise (05:49). Users can enter a +/- HH:MM offset if desired. Deactivate any active Absolute Timers to avoid conflicts.
3. Check user profile
Under USER PROFILES, use the left/right arrow keys to select USER0 and program the values on the screen-shot, and press ENTER. Then at the "ready" screen, ensure that USER0 is the current active profile by pressing ENTER. Use the left/right arrow keys to select USER0 and press ENTER.
4. Start a recording
Press REC and use the left/right arrow keys to select the settings of 80/120/0 for a typical recording session. An asterisk will flash when input and trigger thresholds are met and the D500x would record. If the asterisk is solid and the Tr bar is maxed out, move to a less noisy area or reduce gain & increase the trigger level until levels stabilize. Trigger levels higher than 200 will start missing bat passes.