RESTON, VA — Vektortek, a research, development and manufacturing startup that focuses on the geo-location needs of research biologists is supporting Nova Labs’ expansion plans with a $5,000 sponsorship.
Vektortek’s products include the Cellular Transmit Terminal (CTT), a small tracking device fitted to birds to help biologists track migration patterns.
This technology is literally “for the birds.”
Vektortek CEO and member Fred Briggs credits Nova Labs for assisting with product development and manufacturing.
“The product case was made using the exact same techniques that are taught in the carbon fiber and mold making 101 class at Nova Labs. I have also benefited from the support provided by the Arduino group,” Briggs said, noting that the microchip in the tracking device uses the Arduino boot loader.
CTT uses traditional GPS and a GSM data connection to transmit location data. A solar cell is used to extend the life of the device by several years. The unit can log data when out of range and then transmit the logged data once it returns to a coverage area.
Briggs is also working with Nova Labs incubator tenant, Bob Coggeshall at Small Batch Assembly, to provide PCB assembly services for the boards.
Vektortek’s transmitter was selected and deployed by the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory in California. Here’s a video showing how the transmitter is fitted to a red-tailed hawk.
The study has yielded some interesting results. For instance, it was discovered that one of the red tail hawks was a San Francisco 49ers fan, having spent most of its days at Candle Stick Park. A map of the tracked birds can be viewed here.
The CTT was developed as a low cost solution to expensive satellite-based tracking products. GSM coverage is ubiquitous and cheap and transmitting large volumes of data is easier on GSM than with a satellite solution.
The technology opens new doors into tracking animal behavior and allows researchers to ask new questions that were never possible before.