Introduction and Overview

This document explains how to connect to your SensorGnome, check its status via the Web Interface, download detection data, update the software, and modify configuration files.

What is a SensorGnome?

A SensorGnome is an automated radio receiver, designed to detect and record radio signals transmitted by wildlife tracking tags, without the need for any person to be present.

At its core, a SensorGnome is powered by a mini computer – either a Raspberry Pi or a BeagleBone. The mini computer runs the software that listens for and records the radio data picked up by the antennas. In addition to the mini computer, a SensorGnome will have one or more USB dongles -- "software-defined radios" -- that take the raw radio signals from the antennas and convert it into a digital form that can be recognized and recorded by the mini computer. Finally, the SensorGnome will include a GPS and power supply, all of which is typically housed in a heavy-duty plastic case.

For a more detailed description of the components of a SensorGnome, and how they fit together, please refer to the Appendix.

Throughout this document, we will often refer to a SensorGnome as an SG, and to the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone as RPi and BB, respectively. For instance, a SensorGnome powered by a Raspberry Pi will be referred to as an RPi SG.

How to use this guide

Generally each time you work with a SensorGnome – either deployed in the field or as a test on your desktop – you will perform the same basic steps below.

  1. Connect the SensorGnome to your computer

  2. Open the Web Interface in a browser to check the SG's initial status

  3. Establish an FTP connection to download detection data or modify configuration files.

  4. Confirm status once again on the Web Interface (and take a photo or screenshot)

  5. Disconnect from the SensorGnome.

There are many similarities between Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone based SensorGnomes – in terms of the hardware, the software that powers them, and the process of using them typically follows the same outline. But there are also some key differences, particularly as it relates to the method of connecting to them and transferring data.

The steps above are described in detail in this guide, with an effort to presenting the commonalities between the two receiver types. Where differences are found between RPi and BB SensorGnomes, they will be broken down into sub-sections. Additional tasks, which aren't necessarily performed on a regular basis, are provided in various appendices.

This document may be modified or updated over time as we try to improve the guides. Previous links should be appropriately redirected, but if you've already read the guide and just want to find a key point, use the search function.

What kind of SensorGnome do I have?

The BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi computers may be housed in a variety of cases that may have different colours and labels on them. However they are easily differentiated by the ports that they have, as shown in the images below.

A Raspberry Pi (below) has one Ethernet port on the left, with 4 standard USB ports to the right of the Ethernet port.

A BeagleBone (below) has one Ethernet port in the centre flanked by a Mini USB port on its left, and a circular “barrel jack” on its right.

There are two other receivers compatible with the Motus network: the SensorStation made by Cellular Tracking Technologies (CTT) and the SRX receivers made by Lotek. For guides on how to use these receivers, please refer visit CTT or Lotek, respectively.

If you have never used a SensorGnome before, give yourself plenty of time before going out into the field to familiarize yourself with the equipment and the instructions. And if at all possible, confirm that the computer you will be using can connect to a BeagleBone or Raspberry Pi SG before going into the field.

We also have a "What to bring" checklist to help ensure that you have all the cables and software required to use (and troubleshoot) a SensorGnome on hand before getting there.

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