Tom Igoe, author of Making Things Talk, is in the rainforest in eastern Ecuador, applying his sensor and embedded hacking skills to tracking monkeys (from Part 4 of his adventure postings):

This morning, Kevin and Tony and I went to look for titi monkeys. We didn’t find any, but we did manage to get lost, or as Tony prefers to put it, “got to know the forest a little better.” It was a good hike, but frustrating for them because no monkeys were found. I did another test with the GPS micro-mini, and got the same results. I’m pretty sure it’s going to take a bigger antenna to make it work.

This afternoon, we ran some tests of signal strength of 2.4GHz using XBee radios. Transmitter was sending 1 sample of AD0 and AD1 at 80 ms intervals for all tests. I don’t necessarily want to use XBees, but they were the only high frequency radios I had in hand to test with. The current telemetry gear works in the 148 – 152MHz range, which supposedly gives better penetration through the foliage.

We can probably go up to 100 grams on a large monkey. Here are the weights of the things we’ve currently got. Small monkey radios: currently 54g (big one), 22g (small one), large monkeys currently 45g. Logomatic v2 plus battery: 51g. Xbee Pro plus LilyPad power supply plus small LiPoly battery: 27g.

Tom’s posted four parts to his monkey tracking adventures; keep an eye on his blog for more posts.


I'm a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I'm not tinkering, I'm probably editing a book for Maker Media.

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