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Archive for the 'FYI' Category

Updates on GPS satellite collars for bears in Mongolia.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

In May 2011, I blogged about our first Iridium collars for bears shipped to Mongolia for field tests. The test ended in June and the performance of the collars was excellent as we saw the data online using our website page. In addition to the repeat order from the customer who participated in the field test, now we have the Mongolian government placing an order after having trouble with their Argos GPS made by another company. If you would like to learn more about our satellite collars, please visit

GPS Wildlife Telemetry Tips, Tricks and Tools

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

I may have mentioned this before, I’m amazed at the quantity of GPS wildlife telemetry products available on the market. And I don’t envy potential new users the task of trying to determine which is right for them. Not only will you need to sort that out but after that there are many things you will need to know that will increase your level of success with your new equipment. But who has the time to become an expert in another new field? No fear, I made a CD to get you started on that path. It’s only $12.99 on Amazon.


Time to reconsider a long held belief about wildlife tracking collars?

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Since before I became involved in the business of manufacturing electronics for wildlife research (1979) it has been widely accepted that most mammals are fine carrying an additional 5% of their body weight in the form of a tracking device.  Why is this accepted?  Is it because that for the last 40 years animals generally survive a few years wearing a collar that heavy?  Is that a good reason to accept this 5% limit?  I don’t think so.

When I communicate with potential GPS collar users there is a trend for the inquirer to request a product that maximizes battery life and maximizes the number of GPS positions possible from the product in question.  That makes perfect sense, the more data the better.  But it’s time to think about not maximizing the weight based on this old fashioned 5% rule.  I have a dog that weighs 5 kg.  Using the 5% rule she should be fine carrying a 250 gram collar.  I think that’s totally insane and not just because she’s my pet dog.  That is too much weight and too much bulk.  It’s 2011 not 1971, let’s start getting these weights down, the technology is there, it’s just a matter of changing a widely held and old fashioned belief.


Spinal surgery and GPS collars for wildlife

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Today I was in a conversation with one of America’s premier back surgeons.  We were talking about patients whose lives are completely transformed (for the better)  by back surgery.  He suggested that it’s all about patient selection.  He said that spinal surgery has gotten a bad reputation but it’s because operations are often performed on patients who don’t fit the criteria for a good outcome.

GPS collars seem to fit this pattern as well.  Not all projects using GPS collars on wild animals will have a good outcome and sometimes this is because the animal in question just isn’t a good fit for the technology.  Being that I make my income manufacturing GPS collars for wildlife projects this may seem like a strange thing for me to say but it’s true.  When the criteria for a good outcome are not met it’s the responsibility of the vendor to enlighten the potential user to this.  But the user must also bear the responsibility for undertaking a certain amount of “experimentation” when the decision is made to put a GPS collar on a wild animal. 

This is a conversation worth having.  Think about it and talk about it with your collar vendor and the potential for a good outcome will most likely improve.

Quintin Kermeen

GPS collars in Mongolia sending GPS data via satellite to www

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

In anticipation of the release of our latest GPS collar we have sent two collars to researchers working with bears in Mongolia.  The question was whether or not the collars could transmit GPS data via satellite from that location.  There is no reason to believe that they would not but the proof is in the pudding.  So we programmed the collars to transmit new GPS positions from memory every 8 hours.  The data modem that we are using is made by Iridium and uses their low orbit satellite constellation to transmit information.  The product is deployed for tests only at this time, released for sale after completion of our field tests.