This instructable was written by Anthony Turner. The project was developed with lots of help from the Shed in the School of Computing, University of Kent (Mr Daniel Knox was a great help!).

It will show you how to build an Automated Audio Recording Unit for less than £150. You can use this unit to conduct research in the field of Soundscape Ecology (which is why I built this). You could use it to monitor the birds in your garden or just to make nice recordings of the dawn chorus, without having to get up really early.

The ARUPi (Automated Recording Unit Pi) uses the Raspberry Pi computer and an Arduino-based power-control board called the Sleepy Pi. It is fully customisable and you will be able to add different environmental sensors to the units if you wish (not explained here). This instructable will give you a bare-bones unit. I will provide you with an Arch Linux operating system (OS) that is stripped down and has the recording program pre-installed on it.

You may need to do some (very simple) soldering so be prepared for this, but it is possible to build this unit without soldering if you do not own or cannot afford a soldering iron (ca. £10). I will split this instructable into several steps. The first ## steps will deal with getting the software onto your ARUPi and getting the computer side of things up and running (uploading software to Raspberry Pi and Sleepy Pi). Once you have done this, you will be able to go your own way and decide which microphones and casing you want to use. If you want to make what I have made, then continue with the instructable and it will show you how to build some cheap (but good) microphones and assemble some field-tested, fully waterproof, pretty robust ARUPi's (pictured).

Step 1: Step 1 Items Needed

NB: for a more detailed list of parts, see note at end of Step 2

1. Raspberry Pi A+ (case optional) - get it from PiMoroni/Ebay/Amazon

2. Sleepy Pi - http://spellfoundry.com/products/sleepy-pi/

3. Sleepy Pi programmer - http://spellfoundry.com/products/sleepy-pi-program...

  • This programmer saves a lot of hassle. However, you can build your own for less money if you buy an FTDI 3.3V USB to TTL Arduino Programmer cable/board (http://spellfoundry.com/sleepy-pi/programming-sleepy-pi-standalone-board/). If you are new to programming I recommend buying the Sleepy Pi Programmer.

4. 16GB Kingston Data Traveler Micro (pictured). You need to format the USB drive to NTFS before plugging it into your Raspberry Pi (format USB using Windows Explore - see image). If you decide to use a different make/model/capacity USB storage device, you may need to change some information in the /etc/fstab system files on the ARUPi OS I supply you with. The OS I provide you with mounts the 16GB Kingston Micro DT to sda1 (the kingston Micro DT 64gb usb drive mounts to sda5 - you need to alter these in the fstab folder, but that is included in the instructions a bit later on). Whichever USB drive you go with, make sure you use the same one each time you change it in your completed ARUPi when out in the field - the ARUPi will not automatically recognise a new USB drive.

5. USB soundcard. I chose the Creative Soundblaster Play! because it records 16bit Stereo up to 48KHz. It is also compatible with the Raspberry Pi and doesn't need any extra drivers - plug and play. However, there are cheaper USB soundcards available so it might be worth investigating.

6. USB splitter. The one pictured works well and is available on Ebay from multiple sellers. It is slightly less bulky than others that are available (but it is still rather big - but it is more bendy so fits inside my waterproof enclosure well).

<p>Hi Anthony,</p><p>I'd like to chat with you about your project. Can we have a Skype sometime? I'm from the Open Source Beehives project, and we'd like to use these to record some field audio in beehives.</p><p>Thanks,</p><p>Aaron</p>
Hello Aaron,<br><br>That sounds interesting! I would be happy to Skype yes. I currently work full time but can Skype on Saturday or one evening (except this evening). Where are you based? I am in the UK.<br><br>All the best, <br><br>Anthony
<p>Thank you Anthony for your amazing project! I've been looking for devices to automatically record something I call a soundlapse (soundscape+timelapse), to make a collage loop where you can hear how the soundscape changes through the year in different environments. This project is going to cut my search for different solutions short and get me right into business!<br><br>You mention something about aiming for better sound quality in the beginning, what's your opinion of alternative choices of soundcards? I'll do it stereo, that's for sure, but otherwise I need to try to keep the costs down!<br><br>A</p>
<p>Hi Tatte,</p><p>Great to hear this project may be of use to you! If you want to keep costs down then there are plenty of cheaper USB soundcards out there. I went with the Creative Soundblaster because it was the only one I could find that gave full specs (so I could be sure of sampling rate (I think it goes up to 48KHz). But that doesn't necessarily mean it was the best option (just the only onw I could be sure of). It was also compatible with the Raspberry Pi (plug and play) but so are the following soundcards I believe (according to reviews I have read on Amazon).</p><p><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sweex-USB-Sound-Card-Adapter/dp/B005625U1Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462720044&sr=8-1&keywords=sweex+sc010#productDetails">https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sweex-USB-Sound-Card-Adap...</a> </p><p><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daffodil-US01-Speaker-Microphone-Connector/dp/B002FI7GWK">https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daffodil-US01-Speaker-Mic...</a></p><p>If you want to keep the costs down - building your own microphone will help (unless you already have mics). I bought some mic capsules from frogloggers - 10capsules for around US$100 delivered (so 5 stereo mics or 10 mono):</p><p><a href="http://www.frogloggers.com/bt-em172-additional-info/">http://www.frogloggers.com/bt-em172-additional-inf...</a> </p><p>These also have a water repellent acoustically transparent film/cover (i.e. they are waterproof). You would need to do a bit of soldering and build a battery box to power the mics (I have a schematic somewhere at home - i am away at the moment but if you need it let me know and I will try and find it for you).</p><p>It would be great to see how you modify the ARUPI to fit your purposes (if you decide to build one). </p><p>Let me know if I can be of help in anyway - I think the instructions are pretty easy to follow and I have used my units in all sorts of weather so they are reliable. There are some example recordings on my googledrive (link in the project). They can sometimes get a feint beeping sound in them, but this isn't visible on spectrograms. I think it tends to occur when the power drops. There is an example recording of this in the googledrive folder as well.</p><p>Hope that helps,</p><p>All the best,</p><p>Anthony</p><p><br></p>
<p>This is definitely a fascinating idea which I have never come across before in this forum. It must be such an amazing job you currently hold dealing with Mother Nature and almost hearing her respond back to you through this recording unit. Thanks for also sharing with us the few sound clips you have obtained which are of a high quality indeed.</p>
<p>Hello! Sorry I haven't replied - I only just noticed your comment. Thank you! Yes it is a very interesting job - I have been working as an ecologist for oer 10 years now. Recently I became very interested in the field of Soundscape Ecology. The reason for building the ARUPI was to reduce the costs of surveys for my research. I only shared a few soundclips of around 20gb from a study I did last summer - they worked really well in all sorts of weather in the UK. I am rather happy with the ARUPI, and it is easily modified to suit different recording requirements, so...yes - all good. Thanks again :-)</p>
<p>A very cool idea</p>
<p>Thank you :) </p>
<p>This sounds like a very interesting venture, are there any online links to sounds captured by this technique?</p>
<p>Hello, I hadn't thought to upload some sounds - bit of an obvious mistake, doh! I have now uploaded a handful of recordings to a folder in my GoogleDrive - accessible via link in Step 2 of instructions. I think the recording quality is pretty good - I have tried to include a few different ones including night-time recordings, dawn chorus ones, rainy ones and an example of a feint-beepy one, which I think is due to low-power supply (and also the beeping sounds are not visible on a spectrogram, so I don't think they will have too much of an effect on spectrum analysis - but this needs to be investigated!).</p><p>Thanks the heads up :)</p>
<p>Fascinating concept, it opens a whole new world waiting to be discovered, thanks for sharing, I hope it goes viral.</p>
<p>This is a really cool idea, and a well presented project. Nicely done!</p>
<p>Thank you! I am glad you like it - I think the instructions will need a good few amendments as people start building their own - time will tell. I am sure the unit/idea (ARUPi) could be greatly improved as well - which would be really good. This kind of equipment is very expensive to buy as an ecologist if you go for the ready-made stuff. I think it is good to have the option of having 5 units of (potentially) slightly lower quality versus one unit that costs the best part of your entire funding budget. It is also good having a unit comprised of interchangeable parts, with the option of adding other sensors and beyond. Thanks again for your comment :) </p>

About This Instructable




More by ARUPi303:ARUPi - A Low-Cost Automated Recording Unit for Soundscape Ecologists 
Add instructable to: