For transmission and data-specific questions, check our Answers from Our Engineers.
Placing An Order
- How long do PTTs last?
The operating lifetime of a transmitter depends on the type of device
and the conditions it encounters (before and) after deployment. Most
avian transmitters have an operating lifetime of 2–3 years if promptly
deployed (and properly stored, if necessary), and fish tags can be
deployed for up to 12 months (depending on the programming
Obviously, many external factors could interfere with the operation of a
transmitter after deployment including death or injury of the bird or
fish, human disturbance, etc.
- Can I use my VHF antenna and receiver with Ground Track (GT™)?
uses UHF frequencies within the range of 412.000–412.975 MHz and
433.000–434.975 MHz. Any antenna or receiver used needs to be tuned to
match the GT™ operating frequency of the PTT being tracked. Typically,
VHF antennas and receivers cannot be tuned to the appropriate UHF
frequency, and therefore cannot be used.
- How much additional data will I get if my PTT has XT™ programming?
With XT™ programming
a Solar PTT will transmit during the OFF period of its duty cycle if
the battery is fully charged. This means that the amount of additional
data depends strongly on the amount of sunlight the PTT is receiving based on
the weather and activity of the bird, and therefore cannot be defined.
- Can I purchase a replica transmitter for display or harnessing practice?
Yes. We can make non-functioning replica models of any of our
transmitters. Additionally, we can remove the battery from
non-refurbishable avian transmitters to make them ideal for long-term
storage or display.
- Should I use the smallest possible device for my species?
Not necessarily. Our larger devices have the weight allowance for more
sturdy materials, so we often advise using the largest transmitter model
that will suit your study species and objectives. Also, larger
solar-powered models can better prevent feather coverage that could
potentially block the solar arrays and reduce the battery charging rate.
- Can I order part of a device to incorporate into another device?
No. We do not sell partial devices or any of our components. Our transmitters are strictly supplied as completed units.
- Does MTI sell devices for small terrestrial mammals?
No. Our transmitters are configured for optimal performance on birds and
fish. Their designs are specifically suited to the physical and
behavioral attributes of these types of animals.
- Does MTI have transmitters already made that I can purchase?
No. Our transmitters are built-to-order so that they can be specialized for individual projects.
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- How do I access my data?
Argos PTTs (both avian and marine transmitters)
1. Go to the Argos website: www.argos-system.org
2. Click on "Data Access"
4. Click "Data" on the top left of the page
5. Select "Download COM/PRV/DIAG"
6. Choose "PRV/A DS" as your download "type"
Argos users can access the prior 20 days of data for an ID; after 20 days, the data are archived.
GPS/GSM 20-70 Transmitters
Data are transferred to our server when a transmitter connects to the GSM network. Normally within 10 minutes of receiving the data, the server will automatically parse the data and email four output files directly to the customer:
- "G" File: contains the GPS coordinates of each fix, with other parameters such as speed, course, altitude, HDOP and VDOP
- "E" File: contains engineering data, including battery voltage, temperature, and activity
- KML File: enables GPS positions and tracks to be viewed in Google Earth™
- Mobile KML File: enables the most recent 400 GPS positions to be viewed in Google Earth™ on a mobile device
The entire transmitted dataset is safely archived and made available to the user.
- Can my GSM data be sent through Movebank?
Yes. If you would like your GSM data to be sent through Movebank, create an account at www.movebank.org
, and contact us
so that we can route your data to the Movebank system.
- How often should I check for fish tag data?
We recommend checking your data every 10 days after deployment. For safety reasons, a tag may initiate its release mechanism
prior to the programmed pop-off time. Because of this, we encourage
users to check their data regularly to see if a tag has begun to
transmit. Once a tag is transmitting, we suggest downloading the data
every 10 days as well to create some overlap in the downloaded data.
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Storage & Recovery
- What should I do if I can't deploy my transmitter(s) as originally planned?
It is always best to deploy your transmitters as soon as possible after receiving them. We understand that circumstances can affect deployment plans and that transmitters are sometimes not able to be used when originally planned. If this occurs, make sure that your transmitters are stored properly and kept charged if necessary (charging applies to solar-powered transmitters only). See your Field Manual for more information.
If you are unable to deploy your avian transmitter within a year, you may want to have it refurbished so that we can install a fresh battery.
If you are unable to deploy your fish tag as planned, it can be reprogrammed if necessary for later use. Please contact us
to discuss reprogramming options.
- What is the best way to store my transmitter(s)?
Solar-powered transmitters should not be kept in complete darkness. Keeping them in a room with a window, but out of direct sunlight will help to maintain a minimum charge in their batteries. Additionally, they will require 1–2 hours of direct sunlight every 2 weeks. It is safe to leave the orange tape that we use to attach magnets on your transmitter while it is charging.
Battery powered transmitters should be kept in a safe location with the supplied magnet securely attached to the STOP position.
Fish tags should be kept in their padded tubes and stored in a refrigerator (~1.5–4 °C) with the supplied magnet securely attached to the STOP position. Do not freeze tags or store in hot environments.
If storing multiple transmitters, leave at least 1 inch of space between devices. The magnets necessary for turning off each transmitter could potentially counter one another if left too close, causing transmitters to turn on while in storage.
Be sure to test all transmitters within two weeks prior to deployment. If your test location is not near where the tags with be deployed, re-test your transmitter(s) at your deployment location. See your Field Manual for testing instructions.
- How should I recharge my solar-powered transmitter if it was in the dark for a long time?
We have special testing and charging instructions for solar-powered transmitters that have spent prolonged periods in the dark.
1. Place transmitter outside (without a magnet attached to the STOP position) in a safe location to test AFTER DARK. Do not expose the transmitter to sunlight prior to this test. It is better for the transmitter to recharge gradually, so choose a test
location where the light will be shaded/indirect the following day.
AVOID direct sunlight.
2. Leave the transmitter outside to test overnight.
3. Log in to Argos (for satellite PTTs) or Auspex (for GSM transmitters)
to check the transmission data in the morning. If the device
transmitted during the night, then it is safe to continue charging
normally. If it did not transmit, leave the transmitter in the shaded
test location for at least 2 transmission periods of its duty cycle (for satellite PTTs) or about 2 days (for GSM transmitters).
4. Check your data again at the end of this time to confirm that your device is transmitting.
Contact us if you have any concerns about testing or your data.
- If I recover a transmitter, should I refurbish it, or can I redeploy it?
Refurbishment of an avian transmitter generally involves minor repairs, battery replacement, and at times, reprogramming. If a transmitter is recovered and appears undamaged, is operating normally, tests well after recovery (see your Field Manual for testing instructions), and is within one year of the original production date, it is typically a good candidate for redeployment. Otherwise, we recommend that you review our Avian Transmitter Refurbishment Policy
to see if your transmitter is eligible for refurbishment.
Recovered fish tags cannot be redeployed without refurbishment due to the nature of their construction. See our Fish Tag Refurbishment Policy
for more information.
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- Should I return my ID numbers to Argos?
If you have PTTs that are deployed and you don't receive transmissions from them for a short time, we advise that you do not immediately return your Argos IDs. Should that PTT begin transmitting again after its ID has been returned, you will not be able to see the new data. Additionally, please let us know if you are sending us a PTT for refurbishment with an ID that has already been returned to Argos.
- How can I dispose of a damaged or unrefurbishable transmitter?
Transmitters that are no longer able to transmit and can't be refurbished may be sent to us for disposal in an environmentally responsible manner. Review our information on Avian Transmitter Refurbishment Procedure
and Fish Tag Refurbishment Procedure
prior to shipping, and make sure that the package clearly indicates that the device is meant for disposal.
Alternatively, we can remove the batteries from avian transmitters, making them ideal for long-term storage or display.
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- Does MTI sell through agents or distributors?
No. We are the manufacturers and sole distributors of Microwave Telemetry tracking devices. We have no authorized agent.
- Does MTI have an office in Europe?
No. Our only office is located in Columbia, Maryland, USA.
- Why do MTI transmitters cost so much?
All of our transmitters are built by hand by our specially trained
production team. The price of our transmitters covers the cost of the
materials, labor, and testing that goes into each device, as well as the expenses involved with rigorous R and D so that we can continue to bring you new
market-leading research tools.
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