For about 25 years California Condors have been carrying various types of electronics on their wings. In that time Telemetry Solutions has developed and supplied two different electronic packages for Condors.
The more interesting of the two is a GPS data logger with an ultra capacitor charged by a solar panel. In the field GPS data are transmitted over a UHF transceiver to a base station. A wildlife biologist then downloads the data from the base station to their laptop.
This product is very different from a GPS data logger with a rechargeable battery charged by a solar panel. The biggest difference is the extraordinary number of GPS positions that can be generated daily. Please click on how it works and watch the video below to learn more about this product.
How it works
Normally the first thing that one of our clients needs to do with a data logger is to set up the GPS schedule. That is not the case with this product. This data logger for California Condors requires no setup whatsoever. The GPS does not turn on and off based upon a schedule created by the user, the schedule is created by the sun.
Battery life is very much related to the GPS schedule. Without a known GPS schedule battery life is impossible to predict. With this product it is impossible to predict because there is no battery. The GPS receives power from an ultra-capacitor. The Ultracap is charged by a solar panel. As soon as the cap has enough current to turn the GPS receiver on it does so automatically. Under ideal sun conditions the GPS can turn on as frequently as every minute.
GPS data are downloaded remotely either on demand or by an base station in the field that will automatically connect to nearby Condors. Again, there is no battery and the download requires power. We solve this as follows: Whenever the ultra capacitor has enough energy to power the GPS receiver, before discharging to the receiver the download transceiver looks for the base station attempting to establish a handshake for the data transfer. In the case that it finds it then the transceiver gets the power from the ultracapacitor.
In the case that the transceiver does not see any attempted handshake it allows the power to discharge to the GPS receiver.