Elekon BatScanner Short Review
Pros: Simple to use — just point and listen. Compact design ideal to slip in a pocket. Good sound quality and excellent microphone sensitivity. Scans across all frequencies so never miss a passing bat.
Cons: Screw-on battery compartment cover would make changing batteries in the field a pain; a wrist strap would be a handy addition, and a protective case for storage / carrying would be good.
Price: CHF225 (c. €185) + shipping direct from the Elekon website;
View the BatScanner on the Elekon website
Buy the BatScanner from the NHBS website
Elekon BatScanner Full Review
Bats are fascinating creatures. I love watching their aerobatic antics in the half-light of twilight… but to really appreciate bats you need to be able to hear them, and for that you need access to a bat detector.
The Elekon Batscanner is an incredibly easy to use bat detector that uses the “heterodyne” frequency mixing principal to make high frequency bat sounds audible to the human ear through either the built in speaker or through any standard headphones attached to the 3.5mm jack.
Auto scanning makes bat detection easy
Generally a heterodyne detector only “listens” on a very narrow frequency range either side of a tuned frequency set by the user. That means on a bat walk you’re constantly tweaking the tuned frequency on the device to “key in” to various bat calls around you, and there’s always the chance you’ll miss a passing bat if your detector’s tuned to a frequency outside the bat’s range.
The BatScanner neatly sidesteps this little conundrum by using sophisticated internal hardware and software to continuously scan all available frequencies and automatically tune in to any bat within range of its sensitive ultrasonic microphone. The bright green LCD then display the peak frequency of the last bat detected.
With the BatScanner you just turn on the unit, set the volume and go for your walk…it’s so simple a child could use it. In fact, mine do: the nine-year-old in particular is very taken with listening to the bats around the garden.
Using the BatScanner
The BatScanner is compact and lightweight, and it’s curved edges make it very comfortable to hold in your hand. It would have been a nice addition if Elekon had included a wrist strap to guard against accidental night-time fumbles… but that said I never felt that I was in danger of dropping the unit in use.
Setting it up is a doddle – you simply unscrew the battery compartment, slip in three AAA batteries (alkaline or NimH rechargeable work fine), replace the cover and you’re ready to go batting!
Super simple controls
The controls on the BatScanner are amazingly simple, and consist of three buttons on the face of the unit: the On/Off/Reset button and two volume buttons (up and down). Push the On/Off button to turn the unit on – the display shows the default frequency of 48KHz. You’re now bat-detecting, and will “automagically” hear any bat that flies within range of the detector.
Use the volume buttons to set the unit to your desired volume setting from 1 to 5 (default at power-up is 3). Push the on/off button again to reset the frequency to 48KHz (useful if the detector inadvertently locks on to a background ultrasound source), push and hold the on/off button to power off the unit when you’re finished listening. That’s all there is to it.
Sensitive and clear
The Elekon Batscanner appears to be a very sensitive little detector. It picks up bats quickly and at range, and delivers clear audio through the built in speaker or through headphones. The display instantly shows the peak frequency of the last bat detected in bright, clear green LED numbers… a vital first step to species identification in the field. I had no trouble picking up soprano and common pipistrelles around the garden, passing Leissler’s bats overhead, and even picked up the very quiet calls of a brown long eared bat.
Built in filters mean that the detector tends to focus exclusively on bats… and doesn’t generally pick up annoying background ultrasound like rustling grass, insects and other potential distractions. Genius! The BatScanner also appears to be very well shielded from mobile phone interference. Other detectors I have used are very sensitive to nearby mobiles – but the BatScanner seems impervious unless you hold your phone right up to the unit.
The perfect bat walk companion
Its compact size, its excellent sensitivity and it’s phenomenal ease of use make the Elekon Batscanner ideal for just listening to bats in your garden, on a batwalk or at public bat events. It’s a great “grab and go” detector, and is compact and convenient enough to carry with you anywhere.
For more detailed bat survey work, where you want to record bat calls either manually or remotely for subsequent analysis, you’ll need a more sophisticated (and generally much more costly) time expansion or frequency division type bat detector (like the Pettersson D240X – review coming soon).
But if all you need is a simple no-nonsense, easy to use detector that does a very impressive job of detecting bats the Elekon BatScanner is a great choice.
I’d like to thank Elekon for submitting the BatScanner for review on Ireland’s Wildlife.
NB. Ireland’s Wildlife has no specific affiliation to any optics or gear manufacturer and all reviews on the site are completely independent and objective. If you’re an optics or gear manufacturer and would like to submit your wildlife related product for review on the site please drop us a line using the contact form and we can take things from there.
Elekon BatScanner Vital Statistics
Taken from the Elekon website:
|Dimensions||BATSCANNER (WxLxD)||65 x 120 x 27 mm|
|Weight BATSCANNER||145 g|
|Power||Power supply||3 x 1,5 V batteries type AAA ( LR03)|
|Operating time||approx. 20 – 25 h|
|Audio||Sensitivity range||15 – 120 kHz|
|Type of microphone||Elektret mikrophone|
|Heterodyne mixer||with automatic adjustment|
|Audio output||Speaker, Headphones (3.5mm mini jack)|
|Display||7-segment LED||green, 3 digits|