VARIO2 Used to Monitor Insect Flight Patterns


12 September 2019

Raytec’s VARIO2 IR illuminators have been installed across several universities in and around Germany, providing the perfect the solution for a research project monitoring the flight patterns of insects.

The Challenge.

For Noldus Information Technology, who develop and deliver innovative solutions for the analysis of animal behaviour, this particular project involved conducting research into the orientation and the flight patterns of insects.

With the insects’ body and wings reflecting Infra-Red, a polycarbonate tracking chamber was designed consisting of black Infra-Red absorbing walls. Combining this with an IR illumination system would allow Noldus to easily identify and monitor the insects as they flew inside the tunnel.

To ensure the project was successful, Noldus were looking for an IR illuminator which could provide them with;

High-quality illumination – high-quality, IR images were needed to fill the entire tunnel, with an even distribution of light which would match the narrow width and length of the tunnel. Achieving this would allow them to capture precise images so that specific detail around insect movements could be obtained.

– Flexibility – being fitted to a custom-made, portable rack, the illuminators needed a degree of flexibility in how they could be mounted. Adjustable beam patterns were also important in allowing Noldus to trial different combinations and to generate the best images of the insects.

– Control – with a number of different research aims and objectives, being able to control the light to create different conditions and scenarios was important to Noldus. All hardware elements of the installation therefore had to be able to be controlled remotely and individually to establish the best outcome.

The Solution.

Due to this unique application and complex configuration, 6 Raytec VARIO2-i2-1 units, together with a PSU-VAR-150W-3 supply unit, were mounted onto a custom-made, portable structure to illuminate the tunnel. This structure would appear at the entrance to the tunnel, illuminating it whilst the two cameras took synchronised video images, and integrated with EthoVision XT 3D tracking software.

Why was Raytec chosen?

For previous research projects, Noldus had successfully used RAYMAX 25 and RAYMAX 50 illuminators, and this on-going relationship was important in their decision to upgrade to Raytec’s VARIO2 IR illuminators.

Upgrading to VARIO2 allowed Noldus to control the illuminators individually, using the VARIO remote control to adjust several advanced features, such as the power, remote switching, timer function, remote dimming and more. This also allowed a quicker set-up, saving cost and time during installation and ongoing adjustment.

With interchangeable lenses, VARIO2 allowed Noldus to easily modify the beam angle of each illuminator to achieve the best results, providing good quality, even illumination of the entire tunnel. This meant the tracking software being used could easily identify the insects, wherever they were in the tunnel, and allowed the entire system to operate at optimum performance.

Images were also enhanced by VARIO2’s Hot-Spot Reduction Technology (HSRT), delivering a highly diffused, elliptical beam shape and preventing overexposure of foreground objects so every insect could be monitored effectively, wherever they were in the tunnel.

As the space where the rack was located at the entrance to the tunnel was restricted, the compact size of the VARIO2-i2-1 units were ideal, while still able to provide the power required despite being the smallest sized illuminator in the Raytec range. VARIO2’s standard U bracket provided Noldus with the flexibility they required in terms of mounting.

The flexible mounting and positioning possibilities of the VARIO2 on the rack enable very good and evenly distributed light. This makes the insects visible for our cameras wherever they are within the tunnel.
Willem Van der Veer (Senior Electronic Engineer at Noldus)

All the above meant that VARIO2 i2 illuminators were the perfect solution for this niche application!

To discuss how Raytec illuminators can benefit your project, call us on
give us a call on +44 (0) 1670 520 055, or email Raytec Global at or Raytec Americas

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