Laboratory Maintenance and Equipment Care
The Proyecto Primates laboratory is where we do most of our camp work
(measuring fruits, pressing plants, working on the computer,
transcribing data, and so on). We also store plant samples and feeding
source samples there, and have a small reference library available. A
large number of us share this space, so it is important to keep it
(fairly) clean and organized. It is kind of up to you how you want to
share/organize the space – feel free to personalize it with
photos, posters, and so on – and how to divide the one chore of
sweeping all the dead cockroach parts out every month or so.
importantly, this is also where we keep some of the project’s
more sensitive equipment – an electronic balance, the field
radios, the laser rangefinder, telemetry equipment, recording and
playback equipment, the computer and printer, etc. All electronic
equipment not currently being used regularly should be kept in the
“dry box” or in an airtight plastic container along with
active silica gel for desiccation.
There is a database on the computer in Proyecto Primates folder in the
Shared Documents folder with the inventory data. In that database is
listed WHERE each important project item can be found and should be
kept, as well as some information about how particular items need to be
stored. All Proyecto Primates folks should familiarize themselves with
this inventory database and with the care instructions for project
equipment A.S.A.P. We have a lot of high quality and important
electronic equipment here which must be treated well. Please try to
keep the lab organized and clean, update the inventory database as
needed, and apprise us A.S.A.P. when it looks like we are getting low
on any supplies (e.g., tree tags, flagging, data books, etc.).
A couple of important pieces of information about specific items…
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE COMPUTER
– The project computer is a Mac Mini running software called
Parallels, which allows us to use key PC programs (ArcView, Access).
This is perhaps the most important piece of electronic gear we have
down here now, so we need to treat it with care! The project databases
and other Proyecto Primates stuff are in the Proyecto Primates folder
inside the Shared Documents folder, which is accessible from the
Given that this computer is so new and so important to us – and
given that it has on it all of the data from various Proyecto Primates
projects from the last few years, I want to STRONGLY discourage you
from letting other folks work on it. It’s fine if one of you
wants to do something for someone else on this machine, but I do NOT
want someone working on it on their own with the possibility of
damaging the machine, or erasing or copying data files! ALSO, any time
you add data to one of the databases, you MUST back it up to the
Passport external hard drive, and copies of the latest database should
be burned to CD every month for a second backup.
BATTERIES / VIDEO CAMERA BATTERY / RADIOS – These SHOULD NOT stay
in their chargers for more than 24 hours as that can overcharge them
and reduce their lifespans. Once one of these items has been charged,
remove it and store it OUT of the charger until it is used.
Periodically, it is a good idea to let the batteries and radios run all
the way out and then charge them again. This prevents the buildup of a
“charge memory” in the battery, which can reduce its
lifespan and performance. Also, the radios should be turned OFF when in
the charger. Note that the radios are NOT waterproof, so you should
keep them in a plastic bag (you can use them straight through the bag).
The radios right now are set on a common channel, and there are
instructions in the folder of equipment manuals that describe how to
change those settings if necessary (which would probably be the case
only if you accidentally change the them). Radios should be taken out
of their bags, wiped dry, and plugged in to charge overnight in the lab
EVERY night you plan on using them the next day – a full charge
takes about 10 hours.
TRAPS – These are currently set up at the salt licks and are
Andres' responsibility for checking and maintenance. There is a
cardboard box inside of the "dry box" with additional digital still
camera trap and video camera trap supplies, including an extra 16MB
memory stick, as well an extra battery and charger and some tapes for
the video camera. Please don’t put other stuff in this
cardboard box, and please keep these items in the dry box until needed.
– In order to keep the radiocollars not currently in place on
animals in good working order, it is necessary to activate the collars
once per month and let them run for 24 hours or so. To activate the
collars, remove the small magnet that is taped to the side of the
collar, which will allow the collar to begin transmitting (you should
verify this by listening to the collar with one of the receivers).
After letting the collar transmit for 24 hours or so, replace the
magnet, make sure the collar has stopped transmitting, and return the
collar to storage.
A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT THE BINOCULARS
and TELEMETRY RECEIVERS – These are critical (and expensive)
pieces of equipment that you will use every day, so you NEED to TREAT
THEM WELL. Properly cared for, they will last many, many years. You
will have a specific set of binoculars and a specific receiver and
antenna assigned to you that is your responsibility to treat
well. If there are any problems that arise with the units you are
using, let us know A.S.A.P. The binoculars are waterproof, so it
is okay to use them in the rain and humidity – putting them in
the dry box every once in a while will help them out a bit,
too. The telemetry equipment is NOT waterproof, so you should keep
the receiver in a plastic bag inside of the carrying case at all times
in the field (you can use it straight through the bag, if you keep the
top of the bag open) and periodically (e.g., every week) let your
telemetry unit dry out in the dry box. Regarding the antennas,
these are robust but not unbreakable. PLEASE be careful in how you
treat them so that the elements do not bend too much or break, which
(obviously) makes them not work so well.
These are VERY GOOD binoculars with high quality optics that are
essential for the kind of detailed phenological monitoring you will be
doing on this project. You should NEVER, EVER clean them with anything
other than lens tissue (or toilet paper) and lens cleaning solution (or
contact lens solution) – especially NOT on your shirts! You
should clean your binoculars whenever your lenses accumulate dirt or
grit on them. The reason I am such a stickler about this is that
your binoculars are by far your most important piece of equipment you
have as a primatologist – you will spend a good portion of every
day looking through them.