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Old Sunday 27th August 2017, 16:45   #1
SanAngelo
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Outdoor monitoring for indoor 24/7 listening?

I'd appreciate your input on how you wired your feeders, birdbaths, or backyard for indoor audio monitoring.

I briefly thought about putting something together myself.

I thought maybe wireless would work but the more I got into it the more it cost. Then there's the size factors (transmitter, outdoor 24/7 power supply) and the need to waterproof.

Looking for alternatives, I ran across this; Nature's Window 3 Outdoor Sound Monitor. The website doesn't show the mic and lead but this product review has a picture of each.

No disparagement intended but it seems a system such as this could be put together costing quite a bit less? I may be wrong, I may wind up buying this product.

In the meantime, I'd like to run this past the BF audiophiles.

If I'm right, all you need is; small mic with a 3.5mm jack, a 20-30 foot lead and a pair of computer amplified speakers with input/output jacks.

A side note.......I'm taking it for granted the sound picked up from a proper mic will be sufficiently audible via a pair of amplified computer speakers?

The lead is simple to acquire but the mic is another story. There's all kinds out there....but what works, what's water proof, and at what cost?

Hope you could give me some ideas on a mic or thoughts on whether this will work......or examples of your system.

Anyway, that's it.....I appreciate your input.
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Old Monday 28th August 2017, 23:42   #2
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What about those 3.5mm mini-mics used for GoPros, Smartphones, tablets, or cameras? Not the collar or lapel mics but the ones with the mic head sitting on top of the 3.5mm jack.

Anybody using those?
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Old Tuesday 29th August 2017, 09:33   #3
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Firstly :What you are doing here is completely right, because if someone hasn't actually put together a working rig, the chances are you will spend money on trial and error experiments before you will get a working solution.

I don't have contact with anyone who is doing what you are describing. I do not use waterproof mics. However, the following is my personal view, which you are quite welcome to ignore without offending me.
I have every confidence that I could quickly lash up something that would work, but, I have boxes of full of microphones and all the bits I need to make a working system, and if I gave you a potential parts list the cost would not please you as they used for a rather different purpose and are definitely overkill.

If I were to do this for real I would be tempted to build a housing for one of these, however, my SM58s are reserved for other purposes!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95U7wxPQZdE

Microphones need to be matched to the device they are connected to, look at the number of microphones returned to Amazon that the purchasers found to be unworkable for their use.

For instance, some of the simplest need a appx 1.5v input to work properly that can be generated by a simple audio recorder (we are not talking about more upmarket 48v phantom powered mics here - but simple run of the mill mics) many will take button cells or AA cells to provide the necessary power if it is needed. You need to read the specs to find out.

All my mics need a pre-amp to get them to produce enough oomph to drive something useful, such as computer speakers. I have both audio recorders and mixers for this, however you can buy stand alone microphone amplifiers quite cheaply.

I understand that there are USB mics out there that have built in headphone drivers which would also work with computer speakers, but I suspect that they need a source of USB power to work.

There are people selling waterproof mics - Google 'waterproof mics' and you will get a flood of possibly useful info including people who use them.

What you are proposing is clearly possible, however, unless someone comes back with an existing solution they use (give time as audio buffs tend to be less vocal than other folks you might find around here) I would suggest using an off the shelf solution that the seller/manufacturer guarantees will work.

It is great fun assembling specialised solutions to things, but can be frustrating and potentially costly if you havn't had any experience.

N.B. There are some nice little omnidirectional lapel mics out there that would be my personal starting point if I were learning how to put together a water resistant housing.

As I said at the start these are purely my personal thoughts on the subject and if you are really lucky someone will read this, tell you I am talking rubbish and come up with a working solution for you.

Last edited by iveljay : Tuesday 29th August 2017 at 11:13.
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Old Tuesday 29th August 2017, 13:06   #4
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Great info, I really appreciate being schooled on mics. Oh, and the youtube vid added some fun, thank you sir.

You start out with a simple plan and it just explodes in your head. Which translates to invested capital, cost growing with every vision.

I've only seen a home wired like this once about 15 years ago. I didn't know the gentleman, a Master Bander and retired Professor from some University in Minnesota. This was in the north woods of Wisconsin, I was invited to his home by a mutual friend.

His wife was a horticulturist, Master Gardener, everything outdoors around the initial home was groomed for birds.

There was a lot to his property; banding shack, bog, small pond, running water with a cascading bird bath. Some open area but mostly surrounded by north woods. Needless to say, his home was a magnet for birds. This was in late spring but I imagine he gets his fair share year round.

His home office/den was floor to ceiling windrows on once side, large picture windows on an adjacent side, an egress on the other side, the last side led into the house. It was this den that was wire for sound. Upon entering, my audio senses became overwhelmed. It was just like I was standing in the middle of that cascading water fall with all the birds.

He had a pair of wooden boxed speakers mounted on opposite walls. It was great sound.

I didn't think to ask about the design of his system, I was overwhelmed by his lovely home. Spent most of the time banding but we did hiked a trail he cut and groomed, birding along the way.

I have a plain, modest home. Both back and front yards are no more than 50 by 30 feet. I have only Desert Willows but I'm surrounded by my neighbor's Ash, Live Oaks, Pecan, Fig, and Plum trees.

My initial intent was to wire my shepherd's hooks (hummer feeders) for sound (therefore, the need for a small mic). I know I get three species, one is rare for this area. I'd like to view him more than I do. I also get a good bit of migrant warblers to my neighbor's trees, which I'm hoping to pick up. This is what's diving the project.

Anyway......I'm going to make this happen, just haven't figured it out yet.

Again, thanks for holding school call.

Last edited by SanAngelo : Tuesday 29th August 2017 at 17:49. Reason: Spelling = stand to standing
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Old Thursday 31st August 2017, 03:42   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iveljay View Post
Microphones need to be matched to the device they are connected to.......

For instance, some of the simplest need a appx 1.5v input to work properly that can be generated by a simple audio recorder (we are not talking about more upmarket 48v phantom powered mics here - but simple run of the mill mics) many will take button cells or AA cells to provide the necessary power if it is needed. You need to read the specs to find out.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iveljay View Post
I understand that there are USB mics out there that have built in headphone drivers which would also work with computer speakers, but I suspect that they need a source of USB power to work.
A day of googling and searching eBay confirmed this. Even the power modules (phantom Plug In Power) are battery operated; no AC modules to DC conversion. Doing searches for PIP speakers comes up empty. There's PIP computer boards for USB jacks but no stand alone speakers.

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Originally Posted by iveljay View Post
N.B. There are some nice little omnidirectional lapel mics out there that would be my personal starting point if I were learning how to put together a water resistant housing.
Well, I'm no longer focusing on waterproof mics. I'm currently looking at the ETM-001. I'll try to put together a water resistant housing, if I get that far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iveljay View Post
What you are proposing is clearly possible, however, unless someone comes back with an existing solution they use (give time as audio buffs tend to be less vocal than other folks you might find around here) I would suggest using an off the shelf solution that the seller/manufacturer guarantees will work.
It appears the most significant feature of the "Nature's Window 3 Outdoor Sound Monitor" is the speaker which is providing the PIP for the mic.

Taking a guess, I need a current set of external speakers with a microphone input jack. I'm guessing here because the latest tech gear (recorders, cameras, smartphones) are all PIP. Anyway, I haven't found speakers with this feature....I guess they're don't exist.

Here's my thoughts......

Inputting the ETM-001 mic to a Zoom H1 recorder via 25 feet of 3.5mm cable and connecting the Zoom output to a pair of amplified speakers.

The Zoom supplies the PIP as well as some level control.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iveljay View Post
All my mics need a pre-amp to get them to produce enough oomph to drive something useful, such as computer speakers.
I have a DTA-120 Mini-Amp that I use when streaming video. If I need more power I'll run it through the mini-amp.

Can you see any problems...??...only problem I see is tying up my Zoom.

Last question: can you think of anything else I can use in place of the Zoom as a power source?

Last edited by SanAngelo : Thursday 31st August 2017 at 03:51. Reason: Last question.....
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Old Thursday 31st August 2017, 08:51   #6
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The Zoom output should drive computer speakers without any problems.

The main potential problem may be the length of cable between the mic and the Zoom that will introduce some degradation of the signal. The quality of the cable will be important, but without trying it out I cannot really predict if it will be a problem or not.

Looking at potential alternatives to your mic, the following appears to get over the PIP problem by having its own switchable low voltage power supply.

https://www.amazon.com/BOYA-Electret...mm+microphones

I would expecty there to be lots of alternatives, but this is the first I came across and is even cheaper than the ETM-001.

Assuming that I was not recording remotely with a directional mic I would probably have a dynamic mic of the kind used by performers connected by balanced XLR connector terminated cables to a mixer that would provide enough output to drive the computer speakers. A reasonable dynamic mic can be picked up for less than a ETM-001, say about $20, something like a Behringer Q502USB for the mixer/pre-amp and 10 metres of XLR to XLR cable to join the two. The only reason I an picky over the cheapish mixer is that many serve up 48v phantom power and that you wouldn't want, the Q502 allows you to switch it off. The trouble is that you are talking in the region of $100 for this sort of setup without waterproofing the mic and its connector. The cable is considerably bigger than that you would need for your ETM-001 solution and would be noticeable and possibly a nuisance, and if there are any unexpected problems you are a bit on your own.
The upside is that it would free up the Zoom recorder.

So summing up:

a) Clearly the minimum risk solution is to buy the ready made box.

b) The 'home-brew' solution with minimum cost and hence least potential loss is something like the Boya solution followed by your ETM-001 solution. This has the potential to work if the mic is happy with the length of cabling, and will free up the need for PIP but still needs a pre-amp if you dont want to tie up your Zoom recorder. However before investing in a pre-amp make sure that it works using your Zoom recorder.

A low end pre-amp that will take a jack input will cost about $50. The following looks typical, you may need an adapter to change your jack plug to fit. I have not tried this unit so I am not recommending it, but again it was the first suitable looking item I came across.

https://www.amazon.com/ART-TubeMP-Tu...ophone+pre-amp

c) My alternative won't show a great cost benefit over the ready made box, it should work, but obviously without actually building, testing it and fixing any niggles myself there could be no guarantees. The upside is that it frees up the Zoom from the ETM solution, and potentially will give clearer signals, but uses much bigger microphones and cables that will be very obvious, more difficult to waterproof and far harder to locate in a good position for optimum sound quality. From your point of view it is the highest risk alternative, but the opposite for me as I have boxes of variations of mics, cables and mixers/recorders to play with.

This sums up my honest view of the situation.

Last edited by iveljay : Thursday 31st August 2017 at 09:03.
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Old Thursday 31st August 2017, 11:44   #7
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I considered the cable signal loss just didn't mention it in my reply. However, I did send off an email to Edutige asking them about the possibility of using their ETM-001 with a 30 foot cable. I've yet to receive a reply.

I overlooked the Boya BY-M1 because of the battery requirement. I wanted to run this 24/7; battery life becomes a problem. After your reply I gave it a second look. Found a pdf manual and it says it's operational with the battery OFF for smartphones but needs to be ON for recorders, DSLR, PCs....didn't understand that, PIP should be present in all of these.

XLR and 1/4 is larger than I wanted to work with. I definitely couldn't pass it through a window frame and it's more than I'm willing to drill out on a door jam.

I like that Tube Pre Amp idea in place of the Zoom. It would work if I was willing to configure it with the battery powered BY-M1, although untested. I wonder what the battery life is?

For now, I'm waiting to hear back from Edutige.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iveljay View Post
So summing up:

a) Clearly the minimum risk solution is to buy the ready made box.
All things considered, you could be right......my next post may be found in BF Equipment Review.

Thanks for the tech support.

Last edited by SanAngelo : Thursday 31st August 2017 at 11:49. Reason: Omissions
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Old Thursday 31st August 2017, 14:23   #8
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I read that interesting bit in the pdf manual, one of the 'fun' things about translated manuals is seperating fact from fiction. It is not totally unknown for the contents to be for a totally different model to that on the cover, that is not aimed at Boya, because Ive never owned any of their products, but it has happened with other organisations. I once had three sizeable paragraphs on how to light a candle with a match!

The good thing is that the right position of the switch will be obvious - one way will give you a live signal, the other shouldn't.

Battery life is one of the great mysteries in life, and continuous running can produce very different results to adding up individual hourly sessions, but it is not something you can guess.

I thought that the XLR solution would not be right for you, it was purely what I would do using stuff I had lying around.

Good luck with whatever you end up doing.

J
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Old Thursday 31st August 2017, 15:24   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SanAngelo View Post
It appears the most significant feature of the "Nature's Window 3 Outdoor Sound Monitor" is the speaker which is providing the PIP for the mic.

Taking a guess, I need a current set of external speakers with a microphone input jack. I'm guessing here because the latest tech gear (recorders, cameras, smartphones) are all PIP. Anyway, I haven't found speakers with this feature....I guess they're don't exist.
What about a karaoke machine.......there's all kinds of used karaoke machines on eBay?

They must have machines using 3.5mm jacks as well as PIP. I suspect the better ones even have phantom power.

The question remains if a 30ft lead is doable.

Just a thought, I won't be able to do the research till this evening.
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Old Friday 1st September 2017, 01:22   #10
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What about a karaoke machine.......
Mid range boxes use dynamic mics with 1/4 jacks. High quality boxes use XLR jacks. Couldn't find any with 1/8 jacks, might be on the low end machines that I skipped over. I found most to be aesthetically cheesy. Only the upper end boxes came with equalizers.

It's like anything else, if they're right in front of you I imagine you could make it work. It's not something I would purchase sight unseen via the net. If I found one at a flea market I'd be tempted to pick it up.

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Originally Posted by SanAngelo View Post
I considered the cable signal loss just didn't mention it in my reply. However, I did send off an email to Edutige asking them about the possibility of using their ETM-001 with a 30 foot cable. I've yet to receive a reply.

Edutige got back to me. The longest cable they tested was 16 feet and they had no problems. Beyond 16 feet they're not sure how it will work. They suspect no problems but they can't be certain. They said the Zoom H1 does well with the ETM-001. As for the cable, they said be sure to get good quality, some third party vendors are not quite reliable. 5 meter cable is the longest lead on their website.

As for the BOYA BY-M1, I found a YouTube unpacking and review that showed the paper work from the box. The mic cable is 20 feet long and the LR44 battery life is 700 hours.

The ETM-001 YouTube videos impressed me more than the BY-M1 vids. This one in particular sold me on the ETM-001. Scanning ETM-001 videos you'll find most of them are shot out doors. BY-M1 vids were mostly shot indoors. I know, the switchable power supply is a plus but...?? Also, the 20 foot cable on the BY-M1 gives me hope that I'll have no problems with a 30 foot cable .

I'm going to order the ETM-001, search for a quality cables, and put this thing together. That's about a 50 dollar investment. If it works I'll order the pre amp.
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Old Friday 1st September 2017, 08:41   #11
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For every audio connector, someone sells an adaptor to turn it into something else, so joining things together is not a problem. Sometimes this will reduce the signal being transmitted, usually because of the laws of physics rather than any flaw in the adaptor, but this shouldn't occur with anything you are proposing at the moment.

Most karaoke machines are based around variations of the sort of kit I use, but I have never played with one.

The reason why balanced xlr cables were/are popular in music venues and recording studios is that they will carry a signal a long way without degradation. For some applications radio mics are a simpler and more practical solution, but they cost.

I think that what you are proposing to do will be interesting to a lot of people. In many ways you are replicating the sort of experiment that early pioneers in telephones carried out. It was the sort of thing that I used to do years ago, the only thing I can say is - be careful - it can become addictive!
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Old Friday 1st September 2017, 21:31   #12
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A long weekend coming up, Labor Day, a holiday for most. Shipping will be slow, at best the parts may be here on the 8th more likely the 11th. If everything works well, I'll post audio shortly thereafter.

Thanks J, appreciate the help.....I'm also a little surprised no one showed up bragging on a working system.
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Old Sunday 3rd September 2017, 15:10   #13
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Almost, if not everyone on this forum uses cost effective, portable recording gear capable of recording birds from a distance.

I am one of the exceptions, since most of my kit is more aligned to recording music, while I have portable stuff and use it, things like my 32 track mains powered recorder, mixers and rack mounted gear don't really fit into the outside environment as they stand.

There are people out there who do precisely what you are wanting to do, though I suspect that most have far bigger budgets and rarely read this forum.

Also for those starting out there is a steeper learning curve for audio, you can buy a Canon slr, bang a Canon long lens on it and start getting bird photos of variable quality almost immediately, audio is rarely that simple until you have been playing with it for a bit. It isn't that audio is more difficult, its just that manufacturers produce a greater number of variations of kit that needs to be carefully matched together to get best/any results.

Anyway, have a good Labor Day and it will be interesting to see how it all comes together.
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Old Saturday 9th September 2017, 02:02   #14
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It works...!!

I found a pair of amplified computer speakers at a thrift shop. Power On, volume control, and headphone jack. Cheap quality, the only ones I could find. Cost $3.99 .

I purchased 50 foot and 35 foot 3.5mm male to female cables. Cost $7.53 plus shipping.

I also purchased an ETM-001 microphone for $30.00.

I already had the Zoom H1.

For the initial test, I ran the 50 foot cable from my living room, under a pair of french doors, through a sun room, under door to the backyard, across the deck, on the lawn, and up the shepard's hook. I temporarily secured the cable end with a twist-tie and attached the mic.

I set the Zoom and speakers on a library table just inside the french doors. Cable input to the Zoom, output to the speakers, Zoom is also powered by USB jack to the computer. In one of the attached photos, you can barely make out the shapard's hook with feeders and bird bath through the french doors.

The other photo shows the Zoom and speakers.
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Last edited by SanAngelo : Saturday 9th September 2017 at 16:51. Reason: Forgot one photo...
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Old Saturday 9th September 2017, 02:05   #15
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This test recording simply validates the operation of the mic with a 50 foot cable.

Right now there's not a lot of bird activity. The Black-chinned Hummers are all gone, the Ruby-throated are still moving through. They'll be gone by the middle of next month. Fall migration is about a month off.

I recorded about 2 hours of mp3 audio of which I cut a few selections.

The levels on the Zoom were set previously to 100 on input and 85 on output. I left them there.

I don't have a windscreen so I get that noise, as heard in the recordings.

In house audio is nearly the same but louder due to speaker volume control. The volume control on the speakers is more that adequate, I can hear the audio throughout the house and into the garage.

As I previously mentioned, the speakers are low quality and that's noticeable by gain noise associated with speaker volume settings. I'm not sure what I can do to compensate for that on this set of speakers.

The 3.5mm cable did not show signs of pinching from the bottom of the doors. I'm not sure how I'm going to permanently run the cable or where I'll locate the speakers.

The ETM-001 seems to be a really good mic. It's clear, I can hear dogs barking a couple houses away, birds in my neighbor's trees, and people talking loud 2 houses over.

One audio are House Finches on the top of the shepard's hook drinking water from the ant trap.

I have another audio of 2 Blue Jays in my neighbors trees.

Another with dogs barking a couple house over and a hummer flying by the feeders.

A very short audio with 2 hummers fighting at the feeders.

I still have to water proof the mic and make a windscreen. In the meantime, the mic will be put out and taken in daily.

I would like to find something to take place of the Zoom? A different speaker system with PIP? Any ideas would be appreciated.

That's it.......whatcha think Jay?
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 H.Finch on Hook.mp3 (188.6 KB, 8 views)
File Type: mp3 2 Blue Jays.mp3 (87.2 KB, 7 views)
File Type: mp3 Dogs n Hummer.mp3 (141.7 KB, 7 views)
File Type: mp3 Hummers at Feeder.mp3 (39.8 KB, 7 views)
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Old Saturday 9th September 2017, 10:05   #16
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Well done, its great when a plan comes together, but remember success can lead to addiction!

##############################################

More random thoughts on replacing the Zoom:

Generally, to get the microphone output up to the line input levels that powered computer speakers etc., need is just a simple microphone pre-amp. PIP (1.5 v plug in power) on its own doesn't really add anything unless the microphone needs it to work properly, the output will still need amplifying either way. However devices that offer PIP usually have the amplification we need.

Looking at Amazon.Com for a few ideas - the following came up, but most do far more than you need and you are paying for features that you don't want and may get in the way.

The trouble is that the mic pre-amps available are overkill and most expect an XLR connection, a convertor is cheap, but unnecessary hassle and you definitely don't want anything that gives you non-optional 24v phantom power.

There are a few cheap solder it yourself kits around, but I have no idea of the quality, but they give an idea of the basic cost of the components we need on their own - mildly depressing. Most are a bit crude without additional parts as well.

Another obvious option are powered speaker systems ( low powered portable pa systems, low powered instrument amps with a mic input or karaoke amps).

Most are a bit overkill and may need adaptors etc similar to the pre-amps above.

Typically:

https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-AT1...=behringer+108

This, with the right adaptor could work well, but at a price.

A cheapish option is something like:

https://www.amazon.com/Teacher-Heads...with+mic+input

But the quality might be somewhat iffy, but there may well be something similar that could do the job.

The final obvious option is an inexpensive mixer with a microphone input, such as

https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-Q50...ehringer+mixer

Again you may need an inexpensive jack to XLR adaptor for connecting. It isn't clear whether the jack input on Channel 1 actually goes through the pre-amp. The cheaper BEHRINGER XENYX 502 version of this pumps 48v phantom power at your mic with no option for disabling it, so is a non-runner.

These are purely examples culled from looking at one well known retailer (they aren't meant to be the best of whats out there, just typical examples) - in the old days you could trot round to your Local Radio Shack and they would have an answer, these days it isn't as simple.

One thing to be aware of is that the better your amplification and sound system the sooner you will be aware of noise from your long cable and mic, it can be filtered but that is another story.

Anyway you seem to be getting on well on your own.

The final point of course is that for some of the above you would end up spending a fair proportion of the cost of your Zoom H1 with a power adaptor. A second hand Zoom H1 might be an option?

################################################## ####

There isn't a lot you can do with your hissy amplified speakers I am afraid, removing noise from live audio systems usually involves replacing things with better quality components (costs) only to discover that the new clarity shows up problems elsewhere to take a slightly pessimistic view.

################################################## ###

Anyway carry on the good work, I enjoyed your recordings and I am sure that others are interested in what you are doing and with any luck someone will try out different things and come up with a few options.

J

Last edited by iveljay : Saturday 9th September 2017 at 10:30.
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Old Sunday 10th September 2017, 15:23   #17
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Thanks J, I appreciate the help.

I reduced the footprint. I replaced the computer speakers with my house speakers; 8 ohm Coral BX1001. I'm using the DTA-120 Mini-Amp on the output from the Zoom H1. The H1 is functioning as a quasi pre-amp, as a recorder, and power source for the mic.

Besides the smaller foot print, I eliminated the hiss from the cheap computer speakers by switching to the DTA-120 Mini-Amp.

I want to brag on the ETM-001. I really like it, I think it has better sound than the X/Y microphone on the Zoom H1. The sound is cleaner and clearer than the H1. I also think the pick-up is better.

The H1 has a problem with handheld noise. Hitting record, holding the H1, and sticking it in the direction of the bird generates a radiating noise up through the plastic case. The noise sounds like rattling inside a tube. Using the H1 with the ETM-001 eliminates this noise.

I've attached two clips, 20-30 seconds long, with and without the EMT-001. The noise I'm speaking of is handling noise; pressing RECORD and directing the mic/record towards the bird. The difference in handling noise and audio dynamics is clearly noticeable to me.

Added Edited Info: The jays heard in the audio are in my neighbor's trees, about 20 yards away.

Overall, I'm lovin' this rig. I like the sound, I'm excited to have it perfected and in place for next spring.

I'm going to stick with the H1. The footprint is small, it works well as a quasi pre-amp, and I like having the recording ability.

What I need now is a way to waterproof the mic or encase it without audio loss. If anyone has ideas I would appreciate the help.
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 Zoom H1 + ETM-001.MP3 (120.0 KB, 8 views)
File Type: mp3 Zoom H1.MP3 (176.0 KB, 9 views)

Last edited by SanAngelo : Sunday 10th September 2017 at 18:23. Reason: Added Edited Info
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Old Monday 11th September 2017, 19:17   #18
iveljay
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wiltshire, England
Posts: 794
Definite progress, most small recorders are not good handheld which is one reason many folks use external mics or have a seperate hand grip with a suspension mount for the recorder if they need to be moved around.

There are several articles on the internet for waterproofing mics, I havn't tried any of them, but some might be promising.

Keep up the good work and remember my warning about getting addicted !

J
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