Identifying and fixing noisy antennas to reduce data charges

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Motus Wildlife Tracking System

Sep 23, 2021, 11:18:48 AMSep 23
to Motus Wildlife Tracking System
Dear Motus,

We have updated the Motus Station Guide to include a section on identifying and addressing noisy stations/antenna, or those that collect a lot of radio interference. Diagnosing noise and optimizing station performance and processes is important to maintain high data quality, and to reduce the amount of data being recorded, stored, and potentially transmitted through expensive cellular or satellite networks.

In most cases, large volumes of data are likely caused by one or more 'noisy' antennas on stand alone SensorGnomes and SensorStations with antenna operating on 166.380, 150.100, and 151.500 MHz.  We’re currently investigating what acceptable noise thresholds may be and cannot offer specific guidance on when a station is too noisy. For the time being this guidance mostly applies to managing data sizes in order to manage cellular or satellite data charges. Naturally stations in close proximity to tagged animals, specifically those at roosts, breeding colonies, or groups of birds on stopover will also accumulate high volumes of data. In these scenarios data size and charges may be an acceptable trade-off.

We are also looking into some longer-term solutions such as optimization of hardware and software to limit the size of data stored/transferred, automatic flagging of likely problem antenna, and implementing data transfer options. In the meantime this guidance in combination with summary reports from your cellular provider will help identify which stations may be exceeding data fee thresholds, how to identify which antenna might be causing problems, and suggestions on how you might be able to fix it.

Specifically for collaborators transmitting data through cellular networks we suggest that you:
  1. Examine your statements from your cellular provider which will identify which receivers are exceeding data thresholds.
  2. Follow along the instructions here to download the data from the problem receivers in R to identify and examine data from noisy antenna. *We will be providing the amount of 'noise' detected on each antenna for each station on the Motus website so you don't have to download the data in R, but this will take a little while to implement.
  3. Or, send your list of problem stations to, and we'll run a similar diagnostic for you.
  4. Mitigate the interference through one of the options described here.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

The Motus Team
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