Ghost Gadget Guy
Unbiased Paranormal Gear Review
Rule #1 We have yet to prove ghosts exist
Rule #2 We have yet to find a device that proves ghosts exist
Rule #3 Debating Rule #2 without accepting Rule #1 is silly
Rule #4 Closed minded people suck
(Yes, this review is VERY late. Nobody told me being a Dad was this busy!!!!) Where were we??
Ahh yes, the full bodied apparition. The holy grail of ghost hunting. The pinnacle of paranormal research. It’s a very rare event. Alas, even I, your humble Ghost Gadget Guy have not seen one. But I have seen shadows, and lots of them. Maybe it’s a trick of the mind, as our mortal eyes try to see in dark rooms, but many of us have seen, and even captured shadow people. Some say they are inter-dimensional beings. Some say when a spirit manifests, it draws energy and sometimes that energy is light. Whatever the reason, shadow figures are a reoccurring phenomena in paranormal events. So, besides cameras and video, how do we capture these black masses?
Every so often a new piece of equipment comes out that gets me excited again about ghost gear. It’s great when it’s an everyday item we may use in our field. But when it’s a gadget specifically designed for paranormal research, it gives us another tool to try and validate the supernatural. Gary Galka is no stranger tool paranormal tools. He is the inventor of the MEL-8704, the most widely used EMF meter designed for ghost hunting. Well, Gary did it again with the SDD or Shadow Detection Device. Essentially, this device will detect any change in the ambient lighting at your location, or more specifically, between a light source and the meter. I tried making one of these two years ago using an infrared door chime kit, only resulting in solder burns on my pinky, and a kit that doesn’t work. I should have used my better judgment and left it up to the experts, again!
The Shadow Detection Device
The SDD comes in two models currently. The DAS-SDD-1Z, which is a self contained stand alone unit, or the MEL-8704R-SDD. As I have only tested the MEL version, my review will be based on that unit only, but the SDD portion works very similar between both devices. The unit is designed to detect very subtle changes in light in the location it is set. Those changes are then signaled by ascending (brighter) or descending (darker) tones, and via green or red LED (on the DAS-SDD only).
The MEL SDD is built into the latest incarnation of the MEL-8704 EMF meter. Without going into the specifics of the EMF portion of the meter, rest assured, it’s the great single axis meter we’ve come to know and rely on. For those that got the very first version of the MEL, this version has a few tweaks that are great, glowing buttons, red LED flashlight, etc.
The SDD device is built right into the MEL. The on off switch, which is separate from the EMF control is located on the back of the device below the stand. Once pushed, the unit will beep twice and default to the least sensitive range, of which there are 5. Sensitivity is controlled by a separate button on the side, and each push corresponds to an increase in sensitivity. At this point the device begins to level set, and now establish a “baseline” if you will. Any changes in luminescence will now trigger the device. Does this mean it will go off if a flashlight shines in the room, or a car drives by? Maybe.
The SDD self calibrates every 5 seconds. This is good for several reasons. First, after you set it up, you will more than likely trip the device as you go lights out, or leave the room. Rest assured in 5 seconds, the unit will reset itself to the new ambient light, or light source. This proves to be very handy because unless you are in a completely sterile environment, you are likely to get stray light contamination.
As either a light source is introduced, or is reduced in the case of a shadow, it will now trip the LED tones. The response time is posted as 250mS, with a light sensitivity of 400-600nM using a 12 bit processor and a hermetically sealed precision LDR. It operates on one 9v battery (8-10 hours reported).
Bench Tested- I did several separate test using the SDD. First using just the ambient light of a room only lit by a small safety light, the provided battery block illuminator, and a green laser grid.
Out of the box, the device is solid and well built. Gary recommends the use of a tripod, but I simply used existing furniture to set it on. Once turned on, the unit set itself. As I turned the lights off in the room, the unit immediately triggered, but within 5 seconds reset itself. The SDD is very sensitive right off the bat, and immediately triggers to anything walking in front of it, but this is dependent on the source.
only the safety light, the SDD sensitivity only needed to be increased
one time to accurately capture movement. The SDD performed much better
using the red LED block illuminator and the green laser grid, needing no
adjustment at all. Simply waving your hand in front of the device
triggered it. Conversely, adding light to the room, say a moving
flashlight, did trigger the SDD. In the low ambient light of the safety
light, this was easy to trigger, but with a direct light source like the
LED or laser, the unit seemed to not get contaminated and set off. I
also experimented with UV and IR lights. UV light only triggered the SDD
when the UV source was pointed at the device, but bright IR from a
flood triggered both directly and indirectly depending on the angle and
reflective material across from the SDD. I left the unit on all night
and it was still on in the morning, working fine. The source maybe as
far as 75’ away to trigger the SDD.
Innovation= A+ Once again, Gary built the first such device of it’s kind out there. Some people are using light meters, but this is a more economical choice, and if you go with the MEL version, you have a great multi-tool.
Ease of use= A- First, the A is for the simple on/off and calibration of the device. It is a truly set it and forget it unit. The only caveat is you need to be aware that man made light sources may trigger the unit. Care needs to be exercised in rooms with windows, or in areas where investigators may be walking with flashlights, or IR/UV lights. I HIGHLY suggest using this in conjunction with a video camera so that you can document any light anomalies the SDD may capture, or validate false positives.
Quality=A+ This is a quality unit and Pro-measure makes their tools to last. I have dropped my old MEL quite a bit and it works like brand new. The electronics are well placed and protected.
Price= A $159 for the DAS-SDD and $189 for the MEL-SDD. Yes, there are cheaper light meters out there. But to use and monitor them, you need to use a camera. This is a well made stand alone device that will allow you to go about your investigation and signal you if you are out of the room.
Field Tested- I have used this unit on three investigations so far, and although it did not catch any paranormal anomalies, it worked flawlessly when the lighting changed in the room. This was great for debunking contamination from other investigators, such as their flashlight or camera, that may have caused shadows we may have taken for ghosts. Also, the unit even caught a person walking out of sight, but in-front of a bright light source. As mentioned, cared needed to be exercised as one room used got the occasional stray car light that triggered the device. Simply adding the direct LED block across from the SDD eliminated that trouble.
Bottom Line- Once again, a great innovative product from Gary Galka and Pro-Measure. This is an excellent gadget for you to have in your paranormal toolbox. If not for catching anomalous shadows, than definitely for capturing light variations that we may mistake for activity. Great job Gary!!
About 15 years ago, the first true consumer grade digital cameras hit the market. Ghost Hunters flocked to them because they could now snap away tons of shots, and not have to pay to develop 200 photos of nothing. The bad news, these 1 megapixel toys took crappy pictures. The good news, holy mother of paranormal proof, look at all the orbs, and streaks, and mist. And although I still have people showing me orbs with grandma’s face in them. For the most part, Paranormal Investigators have figured out the flaws and limitations of digital photography.
The same has been true with digital audio. No more lugging around bulky studio recorders, or using memo meeting recorders that sounded like you were recording in a shoe. And the best part, no tapes and the ability to dump right to PC and edit/manipulate to your hearts content. Problem is, same as early digital photography; early portable digital recorders left much to be desired for audio quality. With sampling rates as low 8kHz, poor quality mics, and a razor thin frequency response, the audio left much to be desired. Hence, when Skippy unzipped his jacket across the room, the recorder got “Get out! Die Die Die. Beelzebub is the shnizzel for sizzle!!”
But even the lowly handy office recorder has come a log way with sampling rates above 44 kHz/24 bit recording. But then came the Pro-Recorder Zoom H2 (Ahhh, hear the angels singing?). Holy mother of crystal clear quadraphonic sound. The infamous 360 Mic!!!! (hear the angels again?). Not only did this little baby record in surround sound in CD quality, you could hear Skippy’s burrito dinner in the next room. But alas, gone went the Class A EVP’s, well, 90% of them. Too bad, so sad, live with it. But the Zoom H2’s Price (sub $200) and the features were a little more then most audiophiles, and ghost hunters needed. Welcome the Zoom H1. Ok, so I took a year to pick one up, let me explain . . . .
The Zoom H1 Handy Recorder
It’s been out for over a year, but I wanted to wait and get some serious reviews from audio engineers who use it everyday. The Zoom H1 is the baby in the Zoom recorder family, but it’s more like baby Huey with it features. True X/Y stereo recording, beyond CD quality, condenser mics, and one button operation make this a great little tool for your spook arsenal. On board Lo Cut filter, Auto Leveling, multi-format recording, and up to 50 hours of recording at 44kHz/16 Bit using only one AA battery make this a great tool for audio techs, and all for under $100 bucks. But let’s talk shop for ghost hunters.
Bench Tested- Right out of the box you will notice one glaring thing, plastic and a lot of it. And unfortunately, it does not have the heft and weight of ABS plastic to give it a more rugged feel. That being said, it is light and will mount nicely on video gear. The H1 comes with a 2 gig micro-SD card, that will give you just over 3 hours of recording at 44kHz/16 Bit. You’ll want to swap it with at least a 16 gig card (Zoom has a reference chart online for approved cards, buyer beware). I picked up a PNY 16g for $24, a probably could have done better online. The Zoom will come with a crappy battery that won’t last an entire investigation, so pitch it. Once the battery is in place and the card inserted, you slide and hold the power button to fire it up. I like this as you can easily bump the power button on the Zoom H2. Once fired up, the Zoom will format the card, and ask you to set the date, which is pretty easy to do, if you read the manual. The battery life on it sucks. Expect to use 1 AA for each use. Zoom claims 10 hours, um . . no.
Once ready, you get a bright display showing your record level, your current format (WAV or MP3), you current liner PCM recording format (44kHz/16 Bit- 96kHz/24 Bit), recording time remaining, and battery level. The format is very easy to set, and you may also adjust the input level from 0-100, boosting +39dB gain. Caution must be exercised as a higher gain will clip your recording, but the H1 has a peak meter and light to display you are clipping. The flat frequency response for the mics are 70Hz to 20kHz, as apposed to the H2’s 25Hz low end. Now, does this mean it does not record below 70Hz? No, but it does begin to decrease sharply below 70.
I know, I know, your brother’s uncle’s, friends, daughter told you that most EVP’s are caught in the below 20Hz range. Bullshit. Didn’t hear that? Let me turn it up BULLSHIT! Let me explain. First, even if you have a really expensive mic, let’s say a gold plated beryllium mic, which cost as much as a FLIR, you’re getting a reference mic that has a flat frequency response of 20-20Khz. Why? Because really smart audio people who design these know that humans don’t hear beyond that frequency and designing one to record the human voice and music, and just for kicks, go sub-harmonic, is, well just silly. And, let’s pretend captain Nemo, that you have one that records submarines and plate tectonic movement. What are you gonna play it on? Your Skull Crusher Headphones? Or your Kliptch Surround system? And even better still, how the #%^&* are you gonna hear it since most adults cannot hear below 20Hz? And if your gonna tell me, you multi-plex the frequency on all your EVP’s to get them into the audible audio range, call me to get my gear, cuz’ you got way more time than I do. Seriously, unless you can explain to me how the EVP is muxed up, when the recorder is not designed to do that, I would like to know.
Ok, off the soap box. The Zoom H1 does have a Lo Cut filter that will immensely decrease wind noise, and noise floor rumble. It also has an auto level that you can turn on to account for spiking sounds. If so inclined,the H1 has a stereo line in for external mics, or line level input, as well as a stereo headphone out with volume control. Like the H2, listening live with the H1 is a trip as you can hear an ant fart across the room. Nice.
Lastly, you will want to set your recording format, either WAV or MP3. Sure, it takes less room on your SD card to record MP3, but if you wish to be taken seriously with your EVP work, you will need to record in WAV, uncompressed format. As the minimum sampling rate on the H1 is 44.1kHz/16 Bit, you are already starting at CD quality sound. And using the nyquist theorem (google it for more info), you are meeting the minimum criteria to capture audible frequencies. BUT, with a 16 gig card, you can get up to 8 hours using the 96kHz/24 Bit setting. Think a camera with a higher pixel setting, get it?
One important item to note, is that the mics on the H1 are in an x/y stereo pattern. Pundits will say you need at least a 12” spread to capture true stereo, but I found the H1 mics to be spatially accurate, and very sensitive in distinguishing left and right sounds. Keep in mind the H1’s mics are directional, and not omni-directional, so care should be exercised when placing the mic. And one you’re ready to record just push the button to start and stop.
One feature I really like on the H1 is the ability to set markers on a track. Meaning, if you are listening live, or get something while recording you can hit the Mark button and it will flag that spot. You can do this up to 99 times per track. This will greatly assist in your EVP reviews. Speaking of which, you can dump your EVP’s to PC using either a USB 2.0 cord (not included), or you can transfer from the micro SD (which is WAY faster). Another sorta nice addition is the little speaker on the bottom to listen to tracks, but since it’s the size of ju-ju-bee, the sound quality is quite poor.
So, most importantly from my bench testing, how do the recordings sound? Well, I can’t explain it, but side by side testing of the H1 and the H2 (which I’m told use the same mics), the H1 does not sound as good as the H2. It’s by a very slight margin, and very hard to tell, but the H2 just sounds better to me. Still, the sound on the H1 is head and shoulders above most recorders in it’s price range.
Innovation= B+ Zoom’s Handy Recorder line is great. This isn’t the first quality low price stereo recorder out there, but Zoom has added some nice features.
Ease of use= B I like the set it and forget it, one button recording of the H1. But, it’s very easy to bump and accidentally start to record, or change settings by bumping the buttons. Other than that, it’s pretty darn easy to use.
Quality= C+ Sorry Zoom, the feel and the heft of the case feel cheap. Although decently designed, I guarantee one drop and it will damage the case, and worse the electronics.
Price= B For 99$, you get a pretty good stereo recorder. But, I have found other stereo recorders with the same quality sampling rate and mics for less. Only reason for the B is the H1 has some nice features that are great for ghost hunters.
Field Tested- So far the Zoom has performed well in the field. After getting used to the different buttons, it was pretty easy to use. Like I mentioned, it’s very easy to bump it and start recording, so you need to either set the power button to hold, or turn it off. Also, the mics are VERY directional. You’ll get great stereo, but you need to watch how you sit it. If you place it on it’s side, make sure the mics are facing you, especially if you move away. You can stand it on end, but the base is VERY small and will fall over easy (guilty). Also, you must be careful with the input level. I cranked it up while I was playing and clipped a few times while recording. Also, as mentioned, this things sucks batteries dry. I killed one in less than 6 hours, and that was right out of the box.
****Update**** The following class A EVP was captured on the ZOOM H1 on the Mezzanine of the Historic Coronado Theater in Rockford, IL. It was not heard, nor reacted to by the three investigators nearby.
Bottom Line- If you’re a Zoom fan, which I am, you’ll find the H1 to be a great little recorder. It’s definitely the little brother to the H2, and the Hulking H4n (which to me is WAY overkill). Can you find a similar quality recorder for less? Sure, but I do like some of the added features of the H1. I would recommend using this for a static mic vs an EVP session recorder.
October 20th, 2011
So, you’re out on location at your latest hunt, and for no reason you start to get the creeps and your hair stands on end. Are you just getting weirded out? Or are you actually feeling the effects of paranormal activity. As you’re aware, it’s been theorized that when paranormal activity occurs (before, during, and after), that ion activity changes. Essentially, this can affect the static polarity of the room. This change may be measurable, but pro-meters can cost hundreds of dollars.
If you will recall, I reviewed the E-Pods by Gary Galka/Pro-Measure in my very first review. These are still available, and great at what they do. But, at $45 a pop, and the fact you cannot distinguish whether the change is positive or negative, make these a bit limiting. Leave it to the new guy on the paranormal gadget block, Keith Engel of Spectercam, to come up with a great little device that is not only cost affective, but can distinguish both positive and negative static charge changes.
The E Field Detector is a compact snap on electrostatic fluctuation detector. It is no bigger than the top of 9 volt battery, and has either a Green (positive +) or Red (negative -) LED, as well as a short wire antenna and white marking for polarity. They are sensitive down to 200mV, and can detect static field anomalies 2-3 feet away from the device. Keith claims with an added wire to the antenna, you can detect fluctuations from over 8 feet away. Keep in mind this is very dependent on the humidity and charge in the area. In a positive or neutral environment, the negative detector will be lit, and will dim as a negative charge approaches. The opposite goes for the positive detector. Keep in mind, the LED may NOT be lit, depending on the static state of the environment, and may then begin to light as the field becomes neutral. The fully potted housing is water resistant and is fine indoor or out. 15 hours minimum is the claimed run time, but is also dependent on the current temperature. Care must be exercised in placement of the devices, as easily charged material (carpet, etc.) may create a false positive.
Bench Tested- Out of the box, first thing you’ll say is “Holly crap these are small!” Maybe ¾” by ¼”. The antenna is a very malleable wire and caution must be exercised not to bend as I’m sure continued flexing will break it. The device easily snaps onto a 9v battery. CAUTION- attaching via the wrong polarity will fry this device; not immediately, but pretty quickly. The LED’s are super bright, and easily seen in a 360 degree area. A very simple test of rubbing plastic wrap in my hair was immediately noticed by the red –LED from over 2 feet away. As I got closer the light dimmed, but the green +LED stayed lit until I pulled away (there by creating a positive effect). Only if I pulled away slowly did the green stay lit. So clearly, these are polarity separate, which is much easier to use than the much more expensive ePod. I moved these upstairs to a dry room with carpet and placed on the floor. The detector was able to pick up me walking from almost 8’ away, so again caution need to be exercised in placement. I left the green + plugged in and it stayed lit for over 24 hours. YMMV.
RS 12-469 Inside the Hack Photo Courtesy of
“Can you hear me now?” That commercial has got to be as annoying for the living as “Is there anyone here who wishes to talk to us tonight?” is for the dead. Although we have come a long way since table tipping and rapping, the paranormal field has always been looking for the best ways to potentially communicate with those that have passed on. It was rumored that Thomas Edison himself was working on a telephone to the dead before he died. Technology has afforded us different devices that have moved us beyond the Ouija board, with several sophisticated devices using microprocessors and such, running several hundred dollars. Following on the heels of the controversial Spiricom, Frank Sumption’s device now called the Frank’s Box moved into the realm of digital paranormal communication. These rare devices and the present “mini-boxes” can run you from several hundred, to thousands of dollars. What’s a ghost hunter on a beer budget to do?
I’ve seen several people lay claim to inventing the “Shack Hack” so I won’t even get into the debate. Suffice to say, someone wanted to emulate the AM radio frequency scan that was done by the previous boxes and figured they could make a regular cheap radio do that. So where does one find cheap electronics? The to the Batmobile, Robin!
The Shack Hack
Taking a step back, one of the features of the Frank’s Box and Mini-Box is that it scans the AM (and now FM) radio band at a selectable rate. As the snippets of words zoom by, the theory is that the “other side” can manipulate the radio and form words or even sentences to communicate with us. (before I get emails telling me that you have heard words like f$%k and such that can’t be on FCC controlled radio, listen to college radio for a day) Well, someone figured out if you can alter the radio’s auto scanning feature, it won’t stop on the next station and will just keep scanning forever. Add a powered speaker to the headphone jack and voila! You’re talking to your dead uncle Ernie (who frankly wasn’t that interesting when he was alive). Yes, this has been out for a little while now, but I keep getting questions on A) whether it’s worth it and B) does it work?
Bench Tested- Although several variations out there exist, I used the Radio Shack 12-469 Portable Radio. It does not show available on-line, but I have seen them at the stores recently, or you can try the other models out there. The radio ran me under $30 from what I recall. It’s a simple hand held digital tuning AM-FM radio. It has dial that looks like an older iPod control. UP DOWN for volume, LEFT RIGHT for scanning. The station is backlit displayed and is easily viewable night or day. It takes 3 AAA batteries.
In order to make a ghost box out of this (look on you tube and you’ll find plenty of videos teaching you how to do this), you need to open up the radio and disconnect the circuit boards. There is set of pins that control various functions of the radio. One of these pins is a part of the auto tuning and allows the radio to stop when a strong signal is found at the next station. By clipping this pin, you have now prevented the radio from stopping when it is put into scanning mode. This is quite easy to do, but you do need to know which is the right pin, and have a small wire cutter or gently bend and cut the pin. Once reassembled, the radio works the same with the only exception of the continuous scanning. As with most small cheap radios, the reception is not great especially in interior rooms or basements.
I experimented with several different powered portable speakers. Your opinion may very, but I found you need a decent speaker to in order to hear anything intelligible. Once put into scan, the radio scans either the AM or FM band, up or down, at about .5 second intervals. Surprisingly, this is more than a enough time for a full words or even short phrases to be heard. What is annoying with this “hack” is that as it scans through the stations, there is a dull clicking noise that occurs at each frequency step. Although you can “tune this out” as you listen, it is quite annoying. Using the FM band is not recommended as you hear mostly music, which makes it more difficult to hear the words. In the AM band, you will still get music, but speech is more prevalent. Right off the bat I was getting all sorts of words and phrases.
Innovation= C Ok, the first person to figure out how to do this get’s the gold star, but
otherwise this was nothing new in the ITC world for users of the Frank’s box and Mini’s.
Ease of use= C+ It only gets the plus as you turn it on, start the scan, and start asking
questions. If I have to do the opening prayer, chant, rain dance recommended by ITC
purists, it get’s an F.
Quality= B This is a cheap radio from the Shack. Nuff’ said.
Price= C+ $30 bucks is $30 bucks. Not going to break your bank, but I’d rather buy a
decent flashlight, or case, or something.
Field Tested- I have use the Shack Hack a few times in the field. It’s pretty much
worthless in basements, or at rural locations. In areas that have had decent reception, I
have only had one instance of a positive “hit” if you will. We asked if we should leave, we all
did hear “Go Away.” Or maybe it was “No Way.” Or “Snow Gray” or maybe a dyslexic Harry
Belafonte saying “Oh Day.”
The point is pareidolia, aka matrixing, has our brain trying to find logic in chaos. When we
asked should we leave, the odds were pretty good that the speech bits we were hearing
would give us the “O” and “Ay” sound together. Ask if the box can say someone’s name in
the group. If there is a Mike (“Eye” sound) or a Joe (“O”) or Steve (“EE”), odds are you’re
gonna think you heard your name. Have it say Rebecca or Anthony or Samantha and I’ll be
impressed. The evidence I have found out there is sketchy at best, a lot like most EVP
examples out there. Now I know people have claimed to hear “Go to Hell” or “O” “OOH”
“El.” See my point? You heard the word “F#@K You” which is not supposed to be said on
the radio? Are you sure you didn’t “Uh” “Ooh?” ITC purist will also claim to hear words and
phrases overlaid in the noise. I have yet to hear one good example that I did not think was
Bottom Line- Let me state that I believe in ITC. I’d like to believe if there are discarnate
souls out there, that they can figure out ways to communicate with us, and technology will
help do that one day. Unfortunately, I find that 90% of the evidence out there is subject to
matrixing. Also, I find people who use these devices working with a backwards sort of logic.
They will hear (or think they hear) “murder.” Now comes 20 questions on how they were
Do I think this is worth $30-40? Sure, if you’re a fan of ITC or just want to try it out and
know the limitations. I would suggest if you plan to present evidence, the same questions
need to be answered multiple times to rule out coincidence. And the answers need to
relative to the questions asked, or on topic with the investigation. Good luck and let me know!
Paracroder 667 Paracorder Triggered
One truism in paranormal research is that 95% of the gear that we use today is not designed per se for ghost hunting use. From EMF Meters, hand held recorders, night vision cameras, etc.-these have been designed for scientific, industrial, or consumer use. Not to see if dead people are still hanging around. 5 years ago that number was more like 99.99%. Since then, like them or not, inventors like Bill Chappell and Gary Galka have been designing and producing products specifically for the ghost hunter.
There was also Moditronic, a small group of engineers and paranormal enthusiast in St. Augustine, Florida. They took a relatively obscure hobby kit tri-field meter from Ramsey Electronics, added sound to it and a few other modifications, and made a pretty neat, but insanely sensitive EMF/Electro-Static meter. They then added a deep IR Camera, and “full spectrum” video camera (see November 8th, 2010 review) that has become quite popular. As they found most folks were only using the ION/Electrostatic feature of their tri-field meter, they set out to design a meter to be used for ION detection, as well as additional features useful for ghost hunting.
www.paracorder.com <<<<<<<<<See Moditronics demo video.
The Paracorder 667
The Paracorder bills itself as a ghost lure, detector, and communicator. I give Moditronic a lot of credit as making a claim like that these days take A LOT of chutzpa! Without getting into a debate, I would like to review this device based solely on what it claims it does, and it’s construction, quality, and cost.
Detects ION/Electrostatic Fields (Detects Ghosts)
Emits an EMF Vortex based on Schumann resonance (Attracts and Feeds Ghosts)
Allows communication with a spirit via mechanical connectivity
The basics- The unit itself is constructed of a hard plastic electronics kit box, about the size of a typical handheld EMF meter. It has two toggle switches on each side-One to turn the unit on and off, the other to turn the sound on and off. The unit also has two bright LED’s-. One is green to let you know the unit is on, and that all functions/detection are normal. The other red to let you know that one of the detectors has been triggered. The sound alert itself is loud enough to be heard from several feet away, and as mentioned can be turned off. Also, the unit has two 7” inch plastic coated wires sticking out of the front that are attached at the end (to be used for the communication). The Paracorder runs on a single 9 volt battery, and is claimed to run approximately 8 hours continuously on one battery.
1) Detects ION/Electrostatic Fields- As I do not have an ION generator, I have to go by Moditronics claim that turning a light on creates IONs. Although I can find no direct support to this, the unit performed as claimed. Simply turning a light on (both incandescent and fluorescent) triggered the device into a chirping sound, which promptly stopped when the light was turned off or the device was moved away (this was not due to a light sensor as this would work even in an already bright environment). Also, the unit was sensitive to electrostatic charge as well. Using the old charged balloon trick, the Paracorder detected a charge from over a foot away. I would make the assumption that environmental factors (humidity, etc.) will have an affect on this. Please note, Moditronic makes no claim as to whether the detection is for positive, negative, or both polarities.
2)Emits an EMF Vortex based on Schumann resonance-First things first, does this emit and EMF vortex or oscillation? Yes. Although not readily detectible beyond two feet, it clearly emits a detectible EMF pulse, I clocked at around 6.2hz. Without getting into a long diatribe about Schumann resonance (Wikipedia it), it’s considered to be the “heartbeat” of the universe, tied into all sorts of paranormal and metaphysical science, pulsing somewhere along 7.5hz. Close enough, I guess? This feature is claimed by Moditronic to attract and feed spirit activity, as well as enhance EVP sessions.
3) Allows communication with a spirit via mechanical connectivity-Ok, let’s put the spirit thing aside for a minute. From what I can gather, the two pieces of wire work off of conductivity. Meaning, when squeezed by your bare fingers, it triggers the device. Squeeze it again, and it un-triggers. The mere act of squeezing the wires has no effect as gloved hands, or plastic tweezers did not trigger the Paracorder. And, it’s a bit tricky as simple light touch did not always trigger the device, but movement of the wire did. Can a spirit manifest itself and do this? As paranormal activity has been said to touch, push, etc. I can only assume based on that reasoning it is possible.
Field Tested- I received the Paracorder late winter and have not had a chance to give it a serious test in the field. As the “busy season” approaches, I expect to give this quite the workout. Stay tuned.
Innovation= B+ As there is not a cheap ION detector out there, I’d give this an A. But there are several cheaper electrostatic detectors. Combine it with the other features and it earns the B+.
Ease of use= A- This is another turn it on and monitor it device. Two switches, nothing to calibrate. Pretty straight forward. Why the minus? I don’t like the fact I don’t know which sensor was triggered. Was it the ION? Electrostatic?
Quality= C+ Although not a cheaply made unit, I do have several issues. First, I do not like toggle switches. They are far too easy to bump and turn on in your case or pocket. Second, the “communication” wires seem far too fragile. If they are simply conductive, two copper knobs attached to the case would suffice. Again, don’t get me wrong, this is built well. I’m afraid it will break easily. Time will tell.
Price= B $89.95. Based on all the forums, $50-75 seems to be the break even point for most hobby ghost hunters. There are several devices that individually have the features this unit has for less $$. But, if you combine all the features 90 bucks isn’t bad, but it may keep the average KII owner away.
Bottom Line- I like Moditronic. I think Al and his team really are out to innovate in this field, and if they make a couple bucks doing so, I wouldn’t hold it against them. I know for a fact they ain’t getting rich off of their devices, and some of the mods they have done would be a real pain in the @$$for most of us. But . . . I have to admit, the Ghost Detector claim pushed this device to the edge. The Sacred Geometry in the circuit board (see Moditronics Pics. I was politely asked not to show pics of the circuit board) and the 667 designation (one more than 666, their words not mine), has a lot of people rolling their eyes.
Like I said from Day 1, my reviews are unbiased. Does the Paracorder’s features work as claimed. I can honestly say yes. Will it lure and communicate with ghosts? I’ll leave that up to you. Would I use this in the field? I would absolutely try, but my fear is that uncontrolled environmental factors may trigger this device and lead to false positives (***Both my cell phone and a mini-fridge triggered the device). Also, I would ditch the metaphysical stuff. It has already turned some buyers away and honestly will keep this from being considered a serious paranormal research tool. Beyond that, I’ll give it a try.
ATDD ATDD in Kit Box
My biggest pet peeve, and even I am guilty of this, is watching investigators with their eyes
locked onto their gear. In the mean time, they may be missing events as they happen
around them. I love set it and forget it gear. If you can data log it or alarm it, great. If you
can monitor it from a distance, even better.
Well, Gary Galka, President of Pro-Measure and make of the famous MEL Meter series, did it
again. Always the innovator, Gary has created the Ambient Temperature Deviation Detector,
or ATDD for short. Although his MEL Meter does a great job at measuring ambient
temperature, unless you physically experience a cold spot, or you are staring at the meter
(my pet peeve), you may miss some great paranormal phenomena. The ATDD solves this
problem acting like a temperature sentinel. Set it, forget it, monitor it.
The Ambient Temperature Deviation Detector (ATDD)
The ATDD is a simple circuit board that measures temperature fluctuations +/- 5° at 1°
intervals. What’s neat is not only will the unit visually display changes 1° at a time with
either blue of red LED’s, but it will also sound an auditory alarm, stepping up or down in
octave correlating with the change. Pre-built the unit is quite small, no more than 2” x 3”,
and sits atop a 9v battery enclosure. I purchased mine as a kit, and had to do minor
soldering to complete. I also put my ATDD inside an electronics kit box to protect it from
damage. The unit also includes a reset/control button that allows you to reset the ambient
temperature reading, as well as control the audio signal as well.
NOTE- Gary had these listed on eBay, and is not currently selling them.
If you contact pro-measure, I’m certain he will release more.
Innovation= A I have no doubt, this was a kit somewhere. Surprisingly, I’ve never seen it,
and I give kudos to Gary for putting this out as there is currently no device this size that
does this. Maybe the MEL meter with audio is next? ***Update 3/10*** I spoke to Gary. This was a completely new circuit designed by him. Although there are few simple kits that will measure deviation, I gave not found a kit that measures step changes in this fashion.
Ease of use= B There is no on/off button. Once the battery is in place the unit is live. I’m
sure I could have added one to my kit, but I was lazy. The control is quite simple via the
“tare” button. Hit it once to rest, and hold to cycle the options. The only problem, if you
want to call it a problem, is it is very sensitive and may trigger false positives. A simple
breeze sets the device off.
Quality= C My problem is that the device is not enclosed or protected. Yes, that would
cause the price to raise (I added a $4 kit box). But exposed like this, it will break quite
easily. I will say this, if you buy the kit, a monkey could put it together. A soldering monkey
with small fingers and good eyes, but a monkey nonetheless!
Price= B Ok, Ok. The pre-built kit was like $50 and the DIY was like $30, but I am sure
there is an obscure catalog selling a kit like this for less than $10 out there. I’ll kick in a few
more $$for the great instructions and the fact the IC chip was already soldered (those are
a #$@&*), but again, I’m sure there is a cheaper version out there.
Bench Tested- Once you secure the 9v battery, the unit’s green LED lights and the
ambient temperature will “zero” set. The white “tare” button will allow you to reset the
device at any time. Any change in temperature will now trigger either the blue (cold) or red
(hot) LED’s at 1° intervals. There is also a step tone that either raises or lowers in
conjunction with the temperature. Although the device claims a 75’ recognition by site or
sound, I guarantee you see this from over 100’ and easily hear it between floors. The “tare”
button also allows you to mute the device on the plus/minus side or even completely mute
the device. Remember, this device does not display temperature, only recognizes changes.
At that, the unit is VERY sensitive. A cool or hot breath will easily trigger the device. I would
highly suggest that you take this piece of gear out of your case early and allow it to come to
room temperature before use. I found a simple breeze easily triggered the device which is
why I set mine inside a kit enclosure. Also, although not exactly at 1° intervals, the unit
does come quite close in recognizing subtle changes. This may be useful in paranormal
events where you may ask an entity to raise or lower the temperature on command. As this
runs on a 9v, I have no doubt one battery will last you many investigations before
replacement. Speaking of which, VERY IMPORTANT, the battery must be put in correctly or
you will fry the device (trust me on that one).
Field Tested- I have not had a chance to field test. Stay tuned. ***Update 3/10*** I used ATDD recently. It worked as designed. Caution needs to be exercised as heating and cooling will set this off in one degree increments. Keep in mind this may occur well after heating or cooling is turned on or off.
Bottom Line- Although I think there is room for either a better price, or an added
enclosure, this is a worthy addition to any ghost hunters gear case. Along with IR motion
detectors, I love the fact that I can set this out and concentrate on the investigation without
having to stare at a screen. Like I said, I’m sure in some electronics catalog, this device is
out there, I have not found it. So thanks again Gary for another tool in our quest!
As my home page says, even Thomas Edison felt that IF we were to communicate with dead someday, that communication would probably occur using technology. As it is theorized, EVP’s we capture with our recorders are actually picked up via magnetic induction. That is, the spirit cannot create audible sound that we can hear, but is electronically able to be picked up, recorded, and played back. So then, reversing that logic, you may theorize that as spirits have no physical being (ie. Ears), maybe we need to talk to them the way they talk to us. Science has already proven that powerful EM inducted signals, broadcasted near our head, cannot only be heard, but seen and felt. Several years back, I picked up a device from Bill Chappell and Digital Dowsing called the R. EVP Reverse EVP Transmitter that does that very thing, broadcast sound via EMF.
The R.EVP, as stated by Bill, was designed to test one method of how EVP’s are created. The unit takes audio input, and transmits it using EM modulation. Not only could you use this device to test imprinting on our digital recorders, but you may potentially use it to communicate with the other side. Think about it-even our ears do this. They take a physical wave (sound), and via the inner ear nerves convert that wave to a neuro signal that is translated by our brain.
Bench Tested- The unit itself is in 3x5” kit box, and runs on a 9v battery. It has one toggle switch, a power light, and a 1/8” female mono input. I used a Radio Shack omni-directional mic, which worked rather nicely. The Shack mic is a powered mic, and seemed to work better a dynamic mic. Once the toggle switch is flipped, you are on the air. To prove this was broadcasting EM, I used my inductive amplifier ( see December 2009 review) to see if it was picking up my voice. Sure enough, when the IA was close to the R.EVP, you could audibly hear my voice (albeit somewhat staticy). The IA had to be within a foot of the device in order to pick up signal. I also checked with an EMF meter. Although a KII lit up like a Christmas tree, my MEL and Tri-Field only registered about 4-6mg and that was when it was right next to the device. So any thought of putting this on my head and seeing God was dashed. I did experiment to see if the transmission could be picked up by my recorders. Neither my Olympus nor my H2 could pick this up. Now that’s not to say that EM cannot be picked up by recorders, because it can. I just don’t think the R.EVP is powerful enough to do so. I did try to open up the device, but something is preventing that and I did not want to damage it. As far as power consumption goes, I’ve had the same 9v battery since day one. I’ve hooked up my iPod to this and it works great.
Innovation= A Once again, Bill has created a device that no one (not to my knowledge) has made for ghost hunting. Unfortunately, he only made a few of these and is no longer producing them. You essentially could do the same thing with a loud speaker (the voice coil creates a modulating electromagnet). Only problem is you will acoustically hear what you are saying or playing. Not saying that this is how the R.EVP works, but the concept is similar.
Ease of use= A Just flick the switch and away you go. Can’t be any more simple.
Quality= A I’m not sure when Bill got all these 3x5 kit boxes, but they are virtually indestructible. As I could not open the inside and peak around, I cannot comment on the guts. But historically, Mr. Chappell builds quality gear.
Price= ? Sorry kiddies, for the life of me, I cannot recall what I paid. It was more than $30 and less than $75 from what I recall. As it is no longer made, I guess the point is moot.
Field Tested- Outside of my bench experiments, I have only used this a handful of times in the field. I’ve played music, as well as conducted EVP sessions using it. Unfortunately, it did not yield any evidence, or cause activity.
Bottom Line- I firmly believe induction and the EM spectrum will be the tool we use to communicate. Promising ITC results are coming with folks using the inductive amplifier, so there is no reason to believe a device like to R.EVP can’t be the way we telephone the dead.
July 8th, 2011
So before I get into my first review I wanted to tell you a little about myself. My name is Noah Leigh and I am the founder of the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee. I want to be the first to say that I am not an expert in electronics or engineering. I am a scientist by training, but mostly I am a paranormal investigator that likes to use equipment to capture evidence of the paranormal. I have been frustrated in the past, (like many of you I am sure), when seeing that new gadget on TV or online and wondering “Is it worth the money?” “Does it really do what they claim?” “It sure would be nice if there was a Consumer Reports-esque website that would review equipment and give an unbiased opinion about how it works and if it is worth the money”, I thought. I could review the equipment but lacking a computer science degree I sure couldn’t make a nice website to display my reviews. Then recently, during one of my Googling fits, I stumbled upon the Ghost Gadget Guy website and the rest is history.
I am new to this review writing business so please bear with me. I am sure that as I write more of these I will get better and things will flow more. I also want to note that I am not affiliated with any makers of paranormal equipment. The reviews I will give will be my opinion of the equipment’s functionality and usefulness for paranormal investigation. So without further ado I present the Magnii DSP-523 EMF detector.
Quality = A+This unit is built extremely well of high density plastic. Would I drop it on purpose? No, but that goes for almost all of my equipment, but if I did drop it I would expect it to survive unscathed.
Price = B+I struggled with this grade simply because the unit is not cheap. At a $309 list price this will more than make a dent into the average paranormal investigator’s budget. However, there is nothing out there like it. For those who want to have the filtering capabilities but are willing to trade off the 3-axis, the single-axis meter is also very good and comes in at only $170.
Field Tested:I have used this unit on many investigations and I have always been happy with its response time. I have been able to use the axis tracking function to track down a high EMF field that didn’t have an explanation to a hidden junction box. As with all EMF meters, if you move this one quickly or bang it on anything you will get a false spike, but other than that I haven’t noticed any other issues with this unit while in use. I use this to do baseline readings and to monitor EMF during an investigation.
This is an easy to use 3-axis EMF meter with functions no other meter has. It is more expensive than some, but would be worth saving up for. It would be a worthy addition to any paranormal investigator’s equipment roster.
Spectercam 4 Spectercam with DVR Package
First Let me apologize for not updating for awhile. April proved to be a busy month, and I really wanted to field test the item for my next review. So let’s see, where were we . . .
There has been a lot of talk recently in the tech arena of the paranormal field as to what will be the next big break through. Specifically, what will significantly yield results that we have not seen to date. Pardon the pun, but I believe that next area of focus will be full spectrum technology. Back in November, I reviewed Moditronic’s (now called) Full Para Spectrum video camera. I still stand by assessment that it is a decent camera that sees deep into the IR spectrum, as well as dipping into near UV-A band as well. But in order to do this in low light situations, you need a fairly bright external light source.
But, if you are looking for a professional grade camera, that needs minimal to almost no external lighting, and captures deep into to the IR and UV bands, look no further than Spectercam. If you have been a fan of any of the shows using FS technology, you’ll notice in recent months that the shots have been incredibly bright, and great in detail, and have added features like motion tracking. These are the products of Keith Engel and Spectercam. Although most of the product line is CCTV type cameras, Keith does sell a FS camcorder. For this review, I will focus on the Spectercam line. I waffled for months about getting a Spectercam. I already have a HD Sony, that in night shot will see deep into IR, but is limited in the UV band. It also cannot shoot in night shot during the day. As mentioned our team has the Moditronic camera. But after seeing the incredible results with the SC line, as well as the added features of the camera, I was sold on the SC4
The Spectercam 4
The SC4 is the current flagship of the spectercam line. Modeled after the incredible SC3, this CCTV type camera has the added capability of single channel sound, as well high tech shielding and improved noise filters. Although this camera is light, and with the added DVR package is mobile, I do not recommend using it while in motion. Like a professional grade CCTV camera, the user must adjust the focus manually. This is a 12 volt DC camera with very low lux capability. How low? Try .0004 in B/W. How low is that? Try near pitch dark. Extremely low ambient light is more than enough to light this camera (with some exceptions, see below). Shooting up to 620 tvl, this is near broadcast quality, and will only be limited by your DVR or capturing medium. Along with all sorts of pro-camera adjustments (noise reduction, auto-gain, digital zoom, etc.) this camera also features intelligent movement tracking that will box out on screen any movement captured (way cool).
From a full spectrum perspective, this camera does not block out visible light. If you wish to do that, you may purchase an additional lens and filter. Again, this is a Full Spectrum camera. How full? Try 320nm-1000nm. The visible light spectrum is from 400nm-700nm. Keith has demonstrated on his site, that this camera will see well down into UV-C (below 280nm). Using this type of lighting is not recommended and is VERY hazardous to human beings.
Although I purchased my SC4 with the DVR package that includes a single channel DVR, 12v DC battery pack, super clamp, and all cables, my review will focus on the SC4 camera only.
Bench Tested- Out of the box, the first thing I noticed is that the camera is much smaller than I pictured it, which is a good thing. It will take up minimal case room and is quite light. You will need to connect this camera to a 12v DC source for power, and it comes with a 110 AC/DC transformer if AC is available. It is a BNC type connection for video, although Keith supplies and RCA converter if you going straight into an analog video source. When the camera powers up, it goes into a brief diagnostic mode. Within seconds you have video. Keith sends the cameras pre-set to the most likely settings you will use, although you are free to play away and he sends a pretty decent manual explaining each setting. As mentioned above, this camera does not auto focus. Like a professional CCTV camera, you will need to adjust the zoom and focus to get your picture. The center ring adjusts the aperture with a manual iris which is nice going from outdoor bright shots, to indoor shots with minimal lighting.
Ok, the next thing I noticed was a WTF moment. Initially, the footage looked like any normal color video camera. Was I duped? Nope, moron, this is a FULL SPECTRUM camera. It does not block the visible light spectrum. It was only then that I noticed the tell tale purple hue coming from the above florescent lights, and that when I aimed the camera outside, if I barely opened the aperture I could see the IR light reflecting off the new spring leaves. Ahh FS!! The camera has many, many settings you can play with, but I will only discuss a few.
The first setting is the on-screen naming. Put what you want. FS CAM. Basement. Joe’s Bar. Whatever. You may also “block out” or mask areas that a client may not want viewed. Neat feature.
The next setting I dig is the sens-up. Essentially, the camera has onboard low light algorithm technology that let’s you see in almost total darkness, rivaling military grade night vision. In a room that looks pitch black to the naked eye, but may have minimum ambient light, the camera via the sens-up technology (x2 thru x256), and a full open iris, will light up the shot as if you were using external lighting. This does come with a price though, as you will get light smear and frame dragging at the higher settings. To demonstrate this, I pushed a rolling toy in complete darkness past the camera. The movement was captured as a smear, but again this was captured in complete darkness. My solution? I preferred to shoot with a small IR booster (an IR flood in larger rooms), and a UV Flood. This was equivalent to shooting in near total darkness, and with the sens-up only on x2 or x4, I still captured full motion with no smear whatsoever. For those that want full spectrum, without having to also use a bright source at night, this is the camera for you.
The camera will auto switch to BW in darker shots. You may manually override this with the onboard settings, and keep a full color shot, even in low light. Why do I like this? I want that tell tale UV purple hue if I capture something in that band. Pure and simple.
Lastly, the setting that folks will really like is the intelligent motion tracking. The camera will “box out” with a white box, any movement detected in the shot. The sensitivity can be set for this feature and is pretty amazing. It doesn’t need a large solid object to track and is quite sensitive with an adequate light source.
If you choose to use Keith’s mini-DVR package, both units will run for about 4 hours. The DVR battery is internal, so unless you have an AC source, when it dies it’s dead. The camera also has a standard screw mount and was quite secure on a tripod. Once again, I would recommend using a tripod and not using this in a mobile capacity.
Innovation= A+ Although a few dabbled in the full spectrum arena prior to Spectercam, there is not a camera at this price that can do what this camera does. As Keith is on version #4, he is constantly improving the line. Beyond the cameras, Keith has some pretty kick @$$lights and other gear. He just introduced the world first 3D paranormal camera.
Ease of use= A Some may be intimidated by the pro settings of this camera, but I found it easier to use than my Sony. The menus and the buttons are easy to navigate, even in the dark. And once the majority of settings are made, this is a simple plug it in and away it goes piece of gear.
Quality= A This is a pro-grade CCTV camera in a sturdy housing. Although I wouldn’t drop it, this camera has a solid feel to it and should last forever. Warranty wise, this is a one man operation for Keith. Although all sales are final, Keith stands by his products and is very responsive to questions and issues. Take care of your camera and he will take care of you.
Price= A- The SC1 starts at $99 running all the way up to the flagship SC4 at $355. I have no doubt that you will not find a camera like this in this price range. The only reason for the minus is you will need an external DVR or mini-DVR. This may put a product like this out of reach for 90% of the ghost hunters out there. But you can spend more on gear you will never use, I guess.
Field Tested- So far I have used this on two investigations. One was a small location, and ambient light was more than enough. I used my externals only in a large room; otherwise the shot was washed out. I really like being able to adjust the iris and still capture full color. The other location was West Virginia State Penitentiary aka Moundsville. I cannot tell you how impressed I was with this camera. In the cell blocks, using an IR and UV flood, I was almost able to capture the entire length of the corridor. And that was on a X2 setting!! On a higher sens-up I could capture the entire cell block, but again I really wanted to capture full motion, non-smeared video. In low light, you will get almost a BW shot, but colors entering the shot such as a green laser or red flashlight, or even the red LED from my gear could be seen from 100’ feet away. I did not use the intelligence setting for motion tracking at this time. Although when I did experiment, I did capture movement many many feet away.
I also purchased the additional lens and visible light filter, mostly for daytime use. The picture and UV/IR capture is phenomenal.
Bottom Line- I will reiterate that I think the next big breakthrough in evidence capture of the paranormal will be using Full Spectrum technology, and more than likely in the UV band. This camera is for the serious ghost hunter looking to catch quality evidence. The SC4 or SC3 may not be for you, but you couldn’t go wrong with the SC1 or SC2. Even beyond ghost hunting, UFO enthusiast would be foolish not to own this camera. As the saying goes, big boys have big toys. If you were looking to make one big purchase, look no further than Spectercam.
Radio Meter Plasma Ball
Twas the week before the investigation, a worried look upon my face.
I searched the forums frantically, for new gadgets for my case.
Then what to my weary surfing eyes should appear?
But two gadgets to detect ghosties, at 1/100th less than a FLIR!
OK, clean the egg nog off of the screen. I’m not a poet and I know it (hey, wait! That’s rhymes too!). But as us gear geeks with RAZR-IR dreams on Ghostmeter budgets come into the holiday season, I found some toys, yes toys, for you good little girls and boys to play with on your next investigation. Both can be found at various sites on the web, but Edmund Scientific’s seemed the cheapest, and I got a great Cyber Monday shipping deal too. I’m dispensing with grades this review, um they’re toys and they’re cheap.
The Radio Meter
Anyone who was halfway awake in science class in junior high probably saw one of these funky things. It looks like a clear light bulb with a black and white diamond weather vane in the middle. Quite simply, you shined light on it and it spins. OK, there’s a buttload of science involved and the original inventor even had the principle behind it wrong for awhile (apparently the Encyclopedia Britannica does too even today). I’ll let you Google it and read on.
What I like about this gadget for paranormal investigations is two fold. One, the interior apparatus is protected in a near vacuum field. This means, in order for it to turn “something” must turn it, either by light or a spirit “physically” moving it. In complete darkness, or low light the vanes should not spin. And, since the vanes theoretically should only move in one direction when light moves them, getting them to move in the opposite direction would only happen with paranormal influence. What I like is this is way cheaper than a light meter $11.95.
Bench Tested- In normal light, you will get a little spin on the vanes. In sunlight or brighter light, you will get good spin. In pure darkness, of course, you will get nothing. UV light registers with a little spin, but IR really makes the vanes spin. What like is that on a solid surface, vibrations barely affect the vanes, so if this spins on an investigation, something has to spin it.
The Plasma Ball
To be honest, I was first researching Tesla Coils and their use in paranormal experimentation when I came across the plasma ball. Although slightly a different concept than the Tesla Coil, the plasma ball is a safer way for you to observe high voltage discharge and it’s manipulation. Essentially, high voltage is oscillated on an electrode. At some point, the exited electrons break free and ionize the gas surround them in a plasma stream. The light is seen as the atoms return to a lower energy state from their excited state. When a person or “thing” comes close to or touches the glass ball, the plasma steamers (or most of them) will “ground to” (my words) to you or an object. The one I purchased is battery operated (4xAA) and although I’m sure is not very dangerous, I wouldn’t touch your tongue to it, or your iPhone (oops). And for $12.95, this is a cool little toy.
For ghost hunting, again the use is two fold. First, there is much speculation that spirits are attracted too, can use, can affect, can drain etc. energized electronic devices. If that’s the case, than this should either be like a beacon or a red bull for the ghosts. Second, since you do not physically need to touch the ball in order to manipulate the plasma streamers, I hope to see if we can get something to influence the ball on command (or not).
Bench Tested- I could play for hours with this. Even in normal light, the plasma streams are visible from across the room. In normal mode, the streams will react as an object get within a few inches of the ball. Even solid objects like a pen draw the streams,. But, they really react to human touch. In music mode, the streams only light up to loud sounds, or pulse with music. This would be fun on EVP sessions as quiet speech does not affect the plasma ball.
Bottom Line- I have not used these yet, and strangely, I haven’t seen anyone else out there using them too (or not many). I’m sure I’ll get crap about using toys on “scientific” investigations. But to be honest, I’d use a tickle-me-Elmo if I could get us closer to the paranormal truth. Have you used one? Let me know and I’ll post. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, and have a Happy Hopefully Haunted New Year!
November 8th, 2010
Moditronic Full Spectrum
Paranormal Researchers and Ghost Hunters have theorized for years that spirits reside in
the spectrum outside or on the fringe of human vision, either in the UV or IR spectrum. IR
photography has been used for many years in our research, sometimes catching apparitions
on film that did not appear to the naked eye. Probably the most famous is the White Lady of
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery. Back then, and even today, IR & UV photography was very
expensive, very tricky in terms of handling of the film, and did not yield the Bang for the
Recently, interest in full spectrum cameras has peaked as Barry Fitzgerald of GHI and Andy
Coppock have dazzled the Ghost Hunting world with modified, but expensive cameras that
they claim shoot in the full spectrum, meaning UV through the visible spectrum to IR. The
pictures and videos come out in psychedelic purplish hue, attributed to the UV Filters. The
drawback is (from what I have heard) these cameras with the modifications run several
So what’s a Ghost Hunter on a limited budget to do? Call on our friends from Moditronic, the
previous makers of the obscenely sensitive modified Ramsey Trifield Meter. First let’s get
this straight. This review will be two fold (as most of my reviews are)- 1) Does the camera
do what the manufacturer says it does, that is shoot full spectrum and 2) Is it worth the $$
for your average everyday ghost gearhead?
The Full Spectrum Camera by Moditronic
The FS camera is a modified SVP T700 handheld video camera. Pre-mod, the camera shoots
1080p video (1440x1080 30 fps) with a 5.0 MP CMOS sensor and 3X digital zoom, and will
play HD via an HDMI cable to your TV and via USB 2.0 to your PC. The videos are recorded
using H.264 which keeps the files smaller, but are also recorded in .MOV format which will
require the appropriate software to edit. The 8.0MP stills are recorded in .JPG format with
either an Auto ISO or manual ISO 100-400. The memory is an SD/MMC expandable to 32GBSDHC. The camera uses a 3.7 Li-ion rechargeable battery (and swappable) or the DC power
supply. This camera before mods retails for $119.
Moditronic, from what I can see has made two modifications on the camera. First they have
removed the hot mirror which is allowing the camera to go deep into the IR spectrum, and
the have added a visible spectrum filter. So stop right there, doesn’t that make this a wide
spectrum camera? Well, technically yes and Moditronic shows that on their lab chart. So
although calling this camera full spectrum is a bit misleading, it is done for a reason. The
light in the visible spectrum would overpower the UV & IR spectrum, thereby preventing
usable coverage of that spectrum. Other than that, from what I can tell the camera is stock.
Photo courtesy of Moditronic.
Innovation= A+ Moditronic was the first company to mass market such a product for
ghost hunters. There may have been others doing it, but not to this volume. I see others
out there now making similar products, but from what I have seen on the forum boards,
their product does not match this for price and quality, or is not mass marketed.
Ease of use= B+ This is a REALLY basic camera. The only reason I give it a B+ is due to
the fact that you MUST use an external light source for UV or IR illumination in the dark.
Otherwise this is a click, point and shoot camera. Uploading videos to your PC or the web is
a snap. Oh, and the lens is a finger print magnet!
Quality= A Moditronic did a great job at their modifications. I see no sloppy glue work or
shoddy mods. Keep in mind this is a $119 dollar camera. It will not match the feel or have
the extra features of your $2K Sony. I would not drop this camera though.
Price= A+ $195 The bang you will you will get for your buck is well worth it. This camera
does shoot 1080p and in good light provides an excellent picture, and with IR light it is an
excellent night shot camera. Their mod is $75 over the current price. Go price a quality
visible light filter and then grind it to fit, and remove the hot mirror yourself. No thanks, I’ll
pay the experts 75$extra to do it for me thank you.
Bench Tested- The camera fires up as soon as you open the screen and is immediately ready to shoot. Handheld, I found the video jerky, but you will not get image stabilization from a camera this price. Mounted to a tripod, the video was very clear. On Moditronic's website, you will see images captured outdoors with the camera. They are very clear and bright. But since most of us will use this camera indoors, in low light, I have attached a video showing how the Moditronic FS compares with a standard Sony HD Night Camera. As you will see, in low light conditions, the camera image is a bit dark with only normal ambient light. Adding an outboard light or an IR Illuminator, and the image brightens considerably. Also, as you will see, you will need a pretty bright UV source if you are going to use strictly UV. With a full spectrum illumination, the picture is as bright if not brighter than my $2K Sony (I used a 850nm IR light & and a 390nm UV light). So, answering question #1, yes this camera pics up light in both the UV and IR spectrum. As Moditronic's website states, the UV is more difficult to capture, but is clearly evident in the shot. ***I spoke to Al with Moditronic after the review. They are working on improving the focus in the UV spectrum.
Field Tested- Our team has been using this camera for several months now. It is extremely
easy to use, and is not cumbersome. The 3” LCD screen is crisp and shows up well in the
dark. Although illuminated buttons would be nice, this camera is so basic you won’t be
fumbling with it in the dark. The camera includes a great pouch and attaches easily to a belt
and is no larger than a blackberry case. The battery has averaged around 2 hours of
useable time, which I wish was longer, but keep in mind you can purchase extra batteries.
In low light conditions, as mentioned in the bench testing, the camera does have difficulty
focusing. Do I blame the camera? Well, not totally as my $2K Sony has the same difficulty.
I would highly suggest a tripod in the field and using a bright external light, either IR, UV,
or low level camera light. So, will this camera capture paranormal phenomena? All I can say is the below video was captured by Kathy Richardson, Team Lead with our Group C.P.I. The shadow man you see pulse in the frame, and then walk to the right was not seen by Kathy while she filmed. If you listen closely, you will hear an audible sigh as well. There was no other person behind Kathy, nor was there another light source behind her.
The Bottom Line- Up until the above video was captured, I have to admit I was skeptical of this camera. I believed Moditronic made good on their claim, as they are reputable people, that this camera shot into the UV and IR spectrum. But, our team and Moditronic has tried to debunk the above video six ways to Tuesday and all we can say was the video was captured by the camera, and NOT seen by the investigator. So answering question #2, for $195, for that type of evidence, I'll take two!
My head hurts. I mean in a good way. I’ll explain why in a moment.
So if we all had a dollar for every time someone said that Paranormal Research will not be taken seriously until we approach our research scientifically, well . . . we’d probably have enough for a FLIR. Well, I happen to know a few scientist-real one’s with lab coats and beakers and stuff like that. And although they advocate scientific method (they have to, it pays the bills), they will admit in hushed tones after a few beers that the biggest innovations have happened either by accident, or were thought not possible. I do agree that we need to have protocols and procedures conducting our investigations. But, these pesky ghosts don’t always appear when and where we want them to. Still, in order for our “evidence” (when we get it) to be given some credence, we need to know the science behind the tools we use, why we use them, how (this is the big one) to use them, and how to document what we find. This is where my headache comes in. I just finished reading David M. Rountree’s book Paranormal Technology-Understanding the Science of Ghost Hunting. Yeah, yeah, this is not a Gadget but if you visit my page you’re a gadget geek and probably salivate over stuff like this.
First, saying you’re an “expert” in our field is like saying . . . well, you just shouldn’t do it. And Mr. Rountree never claims to be a ghost expert. What he is though is a VERY knowledgeable scientist, electronics expert (yes, that is ok to say), and has been doing paranormal research for over 30+ years. Not just “hey let’s go to this haunted place and take pictures,” but “let set up these 20 cameras, and these 40 meters, and sit here for days, and do this about 5 more times” type of research! In his day job, he is the Director for Audio R&D for one of the largest public transportation corporations in the country. At night, he is the Director of Scientific Paranormal Investigative Research Information and Technology or S.P.I.R.I.T. for short (www.spinvestigations.org) . If you are any kind of ghost techie, you have seen his posts, read his research, or seen his work on numerous sites. Pardon my French kiddies, but this guy knows his #^&^&!! I have read MANY books on Ghost Hunting,and even those dedicated specifically to Ghost Hunting Technology. This book is the Alpha and the Omega of them. But be warned, this is not a bedside book!
Mr. Rountree begins with his possible theories on the paranormal. These go beyond residual and intelligent hauntings. We’re talking multi-universe overlap and Lorentzian Wormholes type concepts (and the detailed science behind them).The majority of the book discusses the scientific tools we may use to measure the environment during an investigation. From Photo-Video-Audio-Temp-EMF (standard tools) to Ions-Radiation-Static Electricity to Experimental tools like Free Air Conductance Testers and EMF-EVP Correlators, he explains the science behind these tools and there proper use. He even gives recommendations for the gear he has found to be the most useful and even economical if need be. He discusses other experimental devices and concepts for ITC, and although I may disagree with his assessment on some of them, I agree that his science holds up to his critique. He spends the latter portion of the book discussing various experiments that he has conducted and uses to this day in his paranormal research. If you thought your group was scientific, read these-yes, they will humble you. Lastly, he discusses Scientific Method. He knows that actually experiencing the paranormal is rare, but capturing it is very rare and very difficult. But, he maintains if we consistently follow basic scientific methodology, our findings will hold under scrutiny.
Obviously, I’m not a book critic, and didn’t expect this diatribe to be one. I found Mr. Rountree’s book to be extremely detailed, but not to the point that I could not finish it. Yes, I disagree with some theories, but that’s why we’re here. I do highly recommend the book.
magCAM iGeo Phone
As more developers are discovering the power of the iPhone, the DROID, etc., we are finding paranormal inventors are no exception. New apps seem to be popping up daily for ghost hunters. Some are silly. But some are cheaply replacing tools that many of us paid big money for prior.
Well, Bill Chappell, inventor of the controversial Ovilus, has done it once again. He has taken a break from producing hardware and has developed some neat apps for the iPhone, with their version for the DRIOD coming soon. All total he has seven apps out now, with one even being a version of the Ovilus. Although most are experimental, two of the apps are IMHO must haves for those paranormal investigators with iPhones.
The magCam uses the iPhone’s 3 axis magnetometer and camera to create a powerful tool for the paranormal field. Essentially, the app measures the average EM field around the phone, and when it sense a change (user defined) in that field, it snaps a pic and saves it to your picture folder with time stamped data.
Innovation= A Once again, Bill invents a "why didn’t I think of that!" item. I’m sure developers were smacking their heads wishing they were first. Well, you weren’t.
Ease of use= B Although this is simply a fire it up, adjust the level and leave it app, the fact that I have not found a cheap good tripod mount for the iPhone is frustrating. Yes, I have a windshield mount I can use, but it is pricey and a pain to use. And one minor issue. The screen graphics are vertical, but the data orients on the horizontal axis when saved (see above picture).
Quality= A This is a simple, well designed, perfectly executing app!
Price= A+ This is $1.99. A decent EMF meter with a data port out is $100+ and a decent digital camera with a trigger input is $500+. You do the math.
Bench Tested- I really dig this app. Why, becomes it’s simple and it works. Vibration or light did not trigger the app, but introducing EMF set it off. In fact, on the highest sensitivity it was triggered from over five feet away. This was not a battery hog either, although it does not go into sleep mode.
Field Tested- I have used this app twice now in the field. Although I have not gathered any solid evidence, the device did trigger several pics once when my MEL meter did not record a spike in EMF. Maybe it was the sensitivity? Not sure, stay tuned.
The iGEO Phone uses the iPhone’s three axis accelerometer as a very sensitive vibration detecting tool. It not only displays a live meter of vibration detected, it tracks and displays the minimum, maximum, and average reading. It is also sensitivity adjustable.
Innovation= C Well Bill, like my 3rd grade teacher once said, "I expected more out of you." There are several seismic apps out there that do much more than this. In fact, not only does iSeismo have a better display, it has an alarm, will data log, and send you the data via email. I’m sure Bill will update, but this has so much more potential. How about vibration and EMF data logging? Maybe even add a light intensity capture? How about a graphic representation of the vibration, meaning it will display footsteps. Oh, and timestamp it too!
Ease of use= B Yes it is simple, but it’s too basic. Give me more tools. And the display is too small to be read if you are more than a few feet away.
Quality= B App works as designed, but needs an update.
Price= C Sorry Bill, other apps for .99 do way more.
Bench Tested- This does as designed. As the iPhone’s accelerometer is very sensitive, this is also. It captured slight tapping on the bench, and even a truck going by. Can’t say much more.
Field Tested- Since my 3GS will not run multiple apps, if I have to pick between running the camera and this, the magCam won. Have not used, nor will until an update is added.
Bottom Line- Although the iGEO Phone is a swing and a miss, the magCam is a home run. Bill continues to make great inventions for our field and I know he will continue.June 27th
Cell Sensor RF & ELF/EMF Meter
Besides a recorder and a camera, the "must-have" ghost gadget is the EMF detector. When I die, if I find out that I can’t manipulate EMF, I’m gonna be pissed. Why? Cuz’ I’ve spent hours walking around taking base readings, staring at meters, and hundreds of dollars on various meters. But let’s assume that I will be an EMF affecting S.O.B.
There are literally thousands of EMF detectors out there. Ok, maybe not thousands, but a lot! From cheap detectors that basically light up and say "Danger!" to expensive tri-field three axis meters that will measure a cat moving in the next room, the choices are plenty. Let’s focus on cheap and decent. The Cellsensor has been out for over 10 years now (Winner of the Design and Innovations Award - CES 1999!!). If budget is really key, I can sort-of recommend the Cellsensor. I can go into all sorts of explanations about EMF meters. But if you are visiting this site, well, you probably know as much as I do.
For more information and to purchase-
Just Google Cellsenor. Prices very weekly.
Innovation= C+ Ok, it won an award in 1999 at the CES, but as far as lighting up the paranormal world (yes, I know it wasn’t designed for us ghosties), it’s like a new flavor of vanilla. I do like the fact that it measures both cellular RF, and ELF/EMF with one unit.
Ease of use= C Although I do like both probes, what’s the point of having one remote? I’ve seen folks put this on a stick and two feet ahead of the unit and I’m like "Why?" Frankly, I wrapped the chord around the unit and velcro’d it to the top of the unit.
Quality= B Made of ABS plastic, the unit feels solid, but I wouldn’t drop it.
Price= A The cheapest I found this device was $23.98 as of this writing. Some places are charging as much as $40.
Bench Tested- The meter itself weighs only a few ounces, even with the 9v battery. There is a volume control knob (volume is great!), an on-off switch, and a sensitivity switch. Stand alone without the probe, the meter is an RF meter measuring 0.1-1.0 mW/cm in normal mode and 1-10 in high. The unit will flash and beep depending on signal strength. This unit is designed for close distance measurement, and distance from the source will affect the measurement. By attaching the probe, the unit now measure ELF/EMF in a single axis. The meter reads in milliGauss, and reads 1-50 mg in normal mode, 1-5 in high sensitivity mode. Remember that EMF meters are frequency specific, and this unit is calibrated to 50/60Hz. When compared to other meters such as the tri-field, the MEL 8704, the 822-A, and the KII, the Cellsensor proved itself pretty sensitive. What I liked is that even if the EMF source increased in such a small amount that the meter barely moved, the light and the beeper sounded. The meter is too jumpy to take a specific reading though. I’ve used the same 9v battery for the last year, so this is not a power hog.
More info from manual-
Field Tested- Using this on various investigations, yes, it found baseline sources of EMF like power in walls, electronics, etc. I now use it more as a stationary meter, putting it in view of a camera or within earshot of a recorder. I have to say that I have not had one anomaly using this unit.
Bottom Line- For a cheap sensitive unit, this is OK. If I had to spend the $$again, I probably would have just got the Ghostmeter from the same company. It’s cheaper, and serves the same purpose. I do like it’s sensitivity, but I rely on much more solid meters to serve this purpose. Save your money, get a tri-field.
PWS-1000TD Professional Weather Station with Data Logging
Even since the days of Harry Price, Ghost Hunters have observed a change in environmental factors such as temperature, pressure, wind, etc. when paranormal activity has occurred. From both cold and warm spots, to an observed rise in pressure associated with headaches and anxiety, to known correlations between extreme variations in humidity and it’s effects on people, pets, and electronics-our ability to measure and track these data points during our investigations is key to either corroborating paranormal activity, or by documenting sources which may be causing perceived paranormal activity.
I spent a long time looking for an economical unit which would not only measure temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure, but track and graph that data as well. I found many that would handle temperature and humidity, but not pressure. I found some that do all three, but not data log. Most I found that would do all three and data log were hundreds of dollars. Then one day I spoke the Gary Galka, President of Pro-Measure and inventor of the now famous MEL meter who said "Hey, Michael, I’ve got just the thing!" The PWS-1000TD not only measures all three data points (and wind speed/direction and rain fall) but will transmit every 48 seconds and store up to 4080 readings. It also includes some great software for immediate display and future analysis. Pro-Measure has several units, and a basic stripped down version may be found at Creepy Hollow Gear.
For more information and to purchase-
Innovation= A You will not find a unit that will do all of this for this price. I know, I tried. Is this unit rocket science? No, but it does a lot. And although not specifically made for the paranormal community, it has everything we need.
Ease of use= C or B depending if you’re not an idiot like me! I admit, I jump in headfirst before reading directions. The units operation itself is pretty basic. But you do need to read the directions and learn how to correctly set it up. Otherwise you will either not retain, or worse, lose all of your data. Which I did. Twice! Grrrrr.
Quality= A This is a well made unit. The display tablet is pretty sturdy, although caution should be exercised with the touch screen. The other parts are made of weather resistant plastic and pretty solid as well. I see years of use with this unit. Price= B The 1000TD runs $159 from Pro-Measure, and $99 for the stripped down unit from Creepy Hollow. Can you find it cheaper on eBay? Probably, but because Gary and Paul will price match, I’d kick the $$to our peers. Do you need the deluxe version with the wind indicator? How much is an anemometer and do you want to track all the data in one package? Your choice.
Bench Tested- The base station 9" x 5.75" x 1.25", about the size of book. The thermo-hygro transmitter., which is about the size of a large Snickers bar, slides into a protective housing, but can be used without it if not requiring wind speed. If you use the whole unit, you will need to add a tri-pod or base of some sort to stand up the transmittor. The base take 3 AA’s and transmitter 2 AA’s. The manufacturer claims 1-2 years life on the batteries, that’s with non-stop usage. Once I read the instructions, the unit is fairly simple to control via the touch screen or connect via PC. You will have to connect it via PC if you wish to set the sample rate to the lowest interval (about 1 minute). You will have to set this up every time you replace the batteries, but the whole process takes less than 5 minutes (once you know what you are doing). Both the base and transmitter reactions times are almost immediate. The transmitter transmits every 48 seconds so there may be a slight delay between a variance and recording. I compared the accuracy of the readings with other temperature meters and barometers and found the 1000TD to be accurate to +/- 1 degree. Also, I did find there to be about a 1-2 degree difference between the base and the transmitter. Note that the base only the base measures relative pressure, not the transmitter. The manufacturer claims a 300ft line of site distance between the base and the transmitter, but I was able to use the transmitter in a second floor room, with the base all the way in the basement no problem. You may either use the base to data log and dump to a PC later, or you may hook it up to a PC for immediate display. The base connects to your PC via USB and the software provide is not only kick @$$, but very user friendly. You may also dump the data to a spreadsheet or via jpg for display (see example below). Also, the base is green backlit for easy reading in the dark.
Remote Temperature Pressure Humidity
Field Tested- I have used this unit for several investigations now. At the very least it provided baseline settings for two separate rooms. The base was kept at our monitoring station, and the remote unit was placed at various hotspots. I admit, on the first investigation, I didn’t know what I was doing and lost all the data captured (again, read the manual). The unit was sensitive enough to capture when the investigators were in the room as the temperature did raise slightly. On the second investigation, we did capture an anomaly. At the same time activity was starting to occur, the hallway we were in dropped about 8 degrees. This was validated by our MEL meters at the time. The remote unit was in the bedroom next to us. At the EXACT same time we felt the cold spot form in the hall, the temperature in the bedroom increased, the pressure increased, and the humidity fell sharply. Although this was during the winter, no one opened any doors at that time, nor did the furnace kick on or off. Was this proof that whatever was manifesting, was also affecting it’s environment physically?
Bottom Line- If you’re like me and want to capture as much data as possible during an investigation, than you can’t go wrong with this unit. Rock solid construction that will give you years of use, and pretty neat software, this makes for a great ghost gadget!
Laser Pen with adjustable grid
Green Laser Grid
Lasers for paranormal investigations have been used for some time now. They’re great to visually see the dust content in an area (“How can I have caught all these orbs, I didn’t see any dust?!”), can be used to light up an area quite a distance away, and with a little tinkering can be used as perimeter alarms to secure an area. They have also been used to detect the presence of shadow people or solid manifestations.
Up until now, the only way to use the laser for shadow or manifestation detection was by watching for something to form in or break the lone solid beam. A matrix or grid could be built, but it required mirrors and tri-pods, etc. As lasers have become cheaper, especially the bright green lasers, so have their accessories such as diffraction gratings. The gratings allow the laser to be split or reflected into patterns, such as grids , fans, or columns, which allows for greater coverage of a room for detection. The only issue is that you needed to purchase the laser (approx. $80) and the gratings (approx. $15) separately, as well as build some type of mount for them. Thanks to Pararock Productions for offering a fantastic, cheap solution to this need! A quality laser pen with a pretty neat innovative stand.
***Caution must be exercised with lasers! Direct eye exposure can cause severe eye injury!***
Innovation= A+ Yes green lasers have been offered online now for years. And the diffraction gratings have recently been available too. Even the combo pens have been offered for about a year now. But offering the quality laser with a “how did they make that?!” stand is genious.
Ease of use= A Simply slide the laser into the tri-pod, screw the clamp down and adjust the tripod legs to your liking. My laser came with a disclaimer NOT to use the screw to clamp down the laser’s button, although the acrylic mount has a notch on one side of it to accommodate the switch. I assume they have received complaints of broken switch from people who have turned the clamp too tight. They advise taping the switch. My two cents is only clamp it down tight enough to activate the switch and you should be good to go. Be aware that long term use will heat up the pen, as well as drain the batteries quickly. I have not used the pen for more than an hour at a stretch, and other than battery drain, the unit seems fine.
Quality= B I give the pen a B because although it seems like a pretty solidly made unit, I don’t know the manufacturer and can’t vouch for it’s quality. Also, the tripod (although pretty interestingly designed) seems very fragile. Every time I move the legs I feel like they will break. Maybe it’s just me.
Price= A The pen runs $32 for one and $12 for the tripod, about $45 with shipping. Consider I paid $85 for my first green laser, this is a steal. They offer bulk rate discounts too!
Bench Tested- The unit is 14mm x 160mm, a little bigger than an ink pen. The seller claims that the laser is 534 nm <30mW, um . . . ok? So it falls somewhere greater than 0 mW and 29.9 mW?? All I can say is that if you screw the diffraction tip off of the laser, it is noticeably brighter than my $85 534nm 5mW laser (which irritates me for what I paid for it). The body is as solid as my higher priced pen. The unit runs on 2 AAA batteries. Sorry, I won’t sacrifice the unit by leaving it on until the battery dies for you to determine battery life (I did that once with a red laser and killed the diode). What I can say is after using it a few times for 30-60 minutes, like my other laser, the battery life does depreciate. As I stated the diffraction tip on the end is removable if you wish to use this as a straight up pointer. The tip rotates so that you can create a solid grid pattern on a wall. As you adjust the more lines are created, but the points get dimmer. I like keeping it the brightest as it still creates a grid of hundreds of points. From less than 10 feet away, you can cover an entire room. I blew out a candle on one side of the room and watched as the smoke visibly trailed through the grid. Pretty neat! Again, I cannot emphasize to take precautions with lasers. Either point them away from everyone, or ensure everyone is wearing protective eye wear.
Field Tested- Although I have used my other green laser many times on investigations, I have not been able to use this device yet. If others have, please share and I will post. ***Update*** This has been a great tool. More than once we have captured disturbance in the grid.
Bottom Line- For about $45, you cannot beat the deal on this gadget. If we are able to detect shadows or manifestations using laser grids, then this will make the job even easier. And if not, you still have a pretty neat toy! Have fun!
Let’s say you want to secure a location if you leave for a bit. Or maybe you want to secure a room while you are in other rooms. You can obviously do this with multiple cameras (but who has that many), or you may secure doors with security tape ala Paranormal Cops. Or you can you use a cheap easy device known as a Passive Infrared Motion Detector or PIR for short.
PIR’s can be thought of as a camera that takes a snapshot in it’s viewing range. If anything that has “mass” and a temperature different than the background surface moves in front of the field of view, it will trip the sensor. Most PIR’s are designed to either chime like a doorbell, or trigger a piercing alarm. Although PIR’s are designed so that small pets, or objects like curtains will not trigger the alarm, caution must be used in their placement around vents and windows.
So why use these for Ghost Hunting? Well first, they are great for securing a room ensuring that it is not contaminated or compromised by humans. Second, although we have no evidence that Ghost reside in the infrared spectrum, or affect temperature, we have had instances where the PIR’s have triggered in areas that we have had activity.
For more technical information see-
Innovation= B These have been around for years with little changes, and have been used for paranormal investigations for some time now. You can now get PIR’s that will monitor a 360º field, and can be set with a wireless key fob remote.
Ease of use= B These are a set and turn on device. You either set them to chime or alarm and walk away. What keeps me from giving these an A is that caution must be exercised in their placement. Although air vents should not trigger the device (air has low emissity), the heat may warm objects that can trigger the sensor. Also, lights in windows such as the sun or headlamps can trigger the device.
Quality= B Most of these are made over seas. Although they are decently made, because they are meant to be mounted, I would be careful not to drop them.
Price= A For $15-20 bucks (even cheaper if you buy in quantity on eBay) these give a lot of bang for a buck.
Bench Tested- The device itself is about 4”x2”x1” and weigh only a few ounces. They run off of either AA’s or 9v's and do not need replacement for many investigations. On a flat surface they will sit sturdily, or you may attach the bracket for more stability. Once turned on the unit will take 30 seconds to set. Once armed, anything entering the field of vision will trigger the alarm. Until that object leaves the field of view (usually 90º), the alarm will still be triggered. The sensitivity for most of these are listed as 50-100 feet, although I have found that they are most sensitive up to about 30 feet. Because these are cheap sensors, it is possible to sssslllllooooowwwwlllyyy sneak up on them. But any normal movement will trigger them. I have never had false alarms during my bench tests, even for hours at a time. Moving objects like curtains of items tossed in front of the PIR did not trigger the device.
Field Tested- These have been around for awhile so why review them now? Well, I’m surprised how few groups use these cheap devices. My group likes to set up and leave for about an hour. Although I used to be against this (why waste good investigation time, right?), we have found that not only does this give the site time to settle, we have caught some great evidence during this time. Not only have we caught the sound of footsteps and doors closing, we’ve got voices and conversations. So how do we eliminate human contamination? We set up the PIR’s along with our cameras and digi’s. You can set these up near entrances to ensure no one has entered. On more than one investigation we have had the PIR’s trigger even though we have no evidence that any one entered. We have also caught movement on our digi’s even though the sensors did not trigger. During one investigation the chime went off multiple times in rapid sequence which is not possible. Also, during one investigation, we started asking provoking questions to only have the PIR’s go off in series as if something moved down the hall and to the bottom floor.
Bottom Line- For about $60 you can get enough PIR’s to cover an entire house. Can ghost trigger these? Not sure. But what I can say, is that we have never had these trigger and not had any other activity. Even if not used for ghost hunting, they are worth the money to secure your site from contamination.
OK, Say you’re at an investigation and your client reports the sound of walking or banging and you want to capture that on a geophone. Or maybe you suspect a low frequency rumble is the cause of reported feelings of uneasiness. Maybe you wish to test out the Singapore Theory and play back familiar sounds or even EVP’s to trigger activity. Or maybe you just need more historical data for a location. How about doing an entire client reveal on a device that fits in your pocket? Guess what? There’s an app for that!
Before you ask what I'm smoking (which I don't), I promised I'd bring you gear not made for the paranormal, but pretty useful nonetheless. Ahead of the curve for Ghost Hunting, but a little behind on upgrading my dying Blackberry, I assimilated into the iPhone Nation recently. Although I won’t discuss/debate the actual phone quality of the device, I am left wondering what took me so long to get it. And yes, I consider this a pretty kick @$$Ghost Gadget. I'd post a pic of the iPhone, but Apple's attorneys are bigger than mine.
Innovation= A Let’s face it folks. There is nothing out there like it. The Droid and others are making strides, but the apps for the iPhone out number the competitors 10-1. And I have a feeling we have yet to see everything this piece of gear can do. Even Bill Chappell of Digital Dowsing has created 3 apps with I’m sure more to come.
Ease of use= B- The iPhone is very intuitive, and most apps are smartly built around that. But, maybe it’s my fat fingers or the fact that I keep hitting the home button that keep closing things out when I’m right in the middle of them. Seriously, many apps are seamlessly integrated into the features of the phone like sending a report/pic via email, or triggering alarms or the camera. Pretty basic, but too easy to exit out of apps while in use.
Quality= B OK, I bought a pretty solid Skullcandy shell for the phone and Apple makes a solid product. That being said, this is not a tank and I have seen many a screen cracked from dropping. Also, the fact that the battery is built in and cannot be swapped out sucks.
Price= B+ Considering that the iPhone cost less than a laptop, is more compact than a netbook, and gives you more bank for your buck than a Blackberry, it’s not a bad deal. I paid $199 for a 16gig 3GS. Consider that a geophone will run you $50-100 bucks (app is free), a semi-decent digital recorder is $50+, a cheap digital camera and a video camera at least a couple hundred, etc. etc. I haven’t even touched on the netsurfing features (which it does faster than my DSL at home).
Bench Tested- I’m only going to discuss some neat apps I found for the iPhone that I consider pretty useful for paranormal investigations.
iSeismo- (free) This app kicks @$$!! The iPhone has a very sensitive three axis accelerometer built into it. That means it detects any movement of the device on an XYZ axis. Simply start the app and it starts working like seismometer (see picture above). You visually see any movement to the device or vibrations very clearly on the screen. Also, very neat feature, you can set the alarm and the app will set itself, and once any movement is detected it will sound an alarm. You can also send the data to yourself via email. But to be honest, the data is very cryptic.
For more info go to http://iphone.objectgraph.com/iseismometer/
Soundlevel- (free) This is a very basic visual based sound level meter. It monitors sound on what looks like stereo levels. The iPhone from what I have read does not record in stereo, but gosh golly, if you move the sound, the bars move differently (see picture above). Do the numbers correlate with dB? Not from what I could ascertain using an actual sound meter. The app also has three different displays. Sonogram, which shows a color bar in reference to the sound (useless). Mute, which works like an oscilloscope (neat), and FFT which actually displays where the sound is on the frequency spectrum, meaning a low sound spike to the left and a high sound spikes to the right (pretty cool). I think this is neat for ghost hunting as I can watch this and see if I pick up a sound on the meter and my recorder, but not with my ears.
SpyCam- ($0.99)This is a motion, sound, or both triggered camera. With both sound or movement, this is pretty sensitive. Once it’s set and triggered, it keeps snapping pictures until either the motion or sound subsides. This is not a drop and leave app since it will snap pics about every two seconds. But I can imagine using this during an EVP session to see if something can trigger it. Video would make this even better.
Metal Detector- ($0.99) I have no clue how this works, but it does. The closer you get to metal, this thing goes off. Is it like an EMF meter? No idea, but it would be another tool in our arsenal.
Field Tested- Honestly, I have only used this on one investigation so far. But, I certainly got a lot of use out of it. This was a return visit to the client. Although a final reveal was pending, I was able to play some VERY clear EVP’s we captured (using my Olympus). Since the iPhone’s speaker is geared towards human speech, the EVP was even more clear than on headphones. I also was able to display some pics and video to the client from past investigations. I did test the iSeismo app was able to visually see a teammate walking on the old creaky floor of the location we were at. We also used the audio playback to replay past EVP’s caught at the location to see if it would trigger any activity (it didn’t, sigh). And before you ask, yes, I set this iPhone into airplane mode which turns off the transmitter which can affect recorders and EMF meters. Last, I was able to google some historical info to validate a question we had about the location.
Bottom Line- I know you’re saying the Ghost Gadget Guy has lost it. But I am really excited about the potential this device has for paranormal investigations. I’m sure there are plenty more apps out there I haven’t found yet, or are in creation. I’d like to see a shadow detector using the iPhone’s light and proximity sensor. A video spycam would rock. Give me a way to datalog all my devices right to the iPhone and then send them anywhere or monitor them from anywhere. Bottom line, Apple has always made a good product. I have to admit I am excited about the upcoming iPad and it’s larger screen. My advice, if it’s time to upgrade your phone and you are a ghost gadget geek, you could blow your money on more useless toys. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!
IR Illuminator Ver. 1
What’s better? Spotlighting a great gadget? Or one that also is going to help a great cause? Answer-BOTH!
So you got a camcorder or camera with night shot and wish you had a better/stronger/lighter IR light? This edition of the GGG Gadget of the week is Creepy Hollow Gear’s Infrared Illuminator. The IR Illuminator Ver. 1 is not only a kick-@$$addition to any ghost hunter’s arsenal, but Paul Bradford of CHG and Ghost Hunters International is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Haiti Relief Fund. Way to go Paul!!
Innovation= A Paul continues to not only produce cutting edge gear, but nuts and bolts products that help further our field of study.
Ease of use= A Turn it on and go. You may need an external bracket to add to your camera to mount the unit depending on your camera.
Quality= A- The case is made of good ABS kit plastic, and the components are all quality parts. I would not call the unit fragile, but I probably would not be dropping this as the LED’s are not recessed. Also, due to the location of the switch, like others I have inadvertently switched on the light while it was in my case. Others have changed the location of the switch, or used a less obtrusive switch which does the trick. I simply modified my case to accommodate the switch.
Price= A+++ Free, yes you read that right! Paul provides the schematics right on his site if you wish to purchase the materials and build it yourself. Don’t have a Radio Shack nearby? Then you can buy the guts for $28+S&H and do it yourself, or buy the unit pre-made for $35+S&H. Considering that the El-Cheapo Big Box IR lights that die after about an hour run $45-$80, and the Sony HVL-HIRL & HVL-IRM (although well made) cost $99+S&H+Tax, this is a STEAL!!
Bench Tested- The unit itself is H 3.25" x W 1.75" x D 2" and weighs about 2oz without the battery, and about 4.75oz with. This makes the light heavier than the Sony’s, but keep in mind it’s a larger unit and it has it’s own battery (which means it’s not sucking the life out of your camera!!). Speaking of the battery, these will run 10+ hours on a single battery. That Rocks! The design consists of four 850 nm external IR LED’s, one toggle type switch, a standard hot-shoe mount, and an external 9v battery housing. The viewing angle of the LED’s is listed at 30 degrees with a range of about 35 feet.
I only own the Sony HVL-HIRL, but I have used HVL-IRM in the field and find their IR illumination similar. Comparison wise, the CHG IR light is as bright if not brighter than the Sony (see below). Coupled with the camera’s onboard IR Light, the CHG IR light does a fantastic job and doesn’t kill my Sony HD camcorder’s battery. Although heavier than the Sony, and needing an external bracket, the weight was barely noticed. I can vouch for the battery life. One 9v last beyond 10 hours.
SONY Nightshot Only SONY HVL-IRL CHG IR
SONY HDR-SR11 10.2mp at 20 feet
Field Tested- Let me say first that the battery life is great. The CHG IR light lasted for two investigations before dying. One of my co-investigators used her IR light for over 10 hours straight without fail. CHG’s just seemed brighter than the Sony. Maybe it was the widened viewing angle, but I didn’t seem to have that tunnel vision I have with my Sony, especially in closer quarters.
Bottom Line-Creepy Hollow Gear’s motto is "By Ghost Hunters For Ghost Hunters." This IR light certainly had that in mind. A good quality, well made, affordable light. If you were not familiar with Paul Bradford and his site before, his gear and his forum are great sources for every paranormal investigator out there! Thanks Paul and safe travels on GHI!
Belfry Bat Detector
Belfry shown with 1/8" output
and optional LED
It is theorized that spirits may communicate using Infra-sound (<20Hz) or Ultra-Sound (>20kHz). Although neither range is within the human hearing spectrum, these frequencies are not only able to be "sensed" by humans, but may be able to be captured by audio recordings as they are harmonically mux’d up or down. That being said, it is then possible for manmade sounds to give false positives that are captured as EVP evidence. Although Infra-sonic detectors are very expensive, Ultra-Sonic detectors by way of Bat Detectors are somewhat affordable. Professional meters range from $500 to several thousand dollars.
I wanted to eliminate the possibility that manmade Ultra-sonic sounds contaminated an EVP, creating a false positive. So when I went looking for an affordable Bat Detector, it had to meet three criteria for the paranormal investigator. First, it had to detect sounds above 20kHz. Second, it had to built to take the abuse of field work. And last, it had to be affordable for the paranormal gadget junkie. What I found was the Belfry Bat Detector. A small handheld unit with recording outputs, as well as an LED visual.
Innovation= B from what I found so far, there is nothing this cheap that will handle this function.
Ease of use= B Again, this is simply a turn it on and stand back device. No tuning is required and the mic is omni-directional.
Quality= C+ Although the case is made of good quality kit plastic, the toggle switch and speaker have a somewhat cheap look and feel to them. I do not wish to determine if this will take a fall and will need to ensure it is on a solid surface and laying flat when used.
Price= C+ $65 for basic unit to $85 for the unit with 1/8" output and yellow LED indicator.
Bench Tested- Although this works exactly as promised (and even demonstrated on their site) I guess I expected more. When the unit is turned on, it will "click" as it detects sounds above 20kHz. Jingling keys that would have harmonics in that range produced a plethora of clicks. So did turning on the TV, the vacuum, and all sorts of stuff. No wonder our pets run when this stuff is turned on. On a more scientific test, I mux’d up a test tone above 20kHz and cranked it out of a high power piezo tweeter. The detector clicked like a geiger counter. When I raised the pitch of a human recording above 20 kHz, I got the same-lots of clicks. I guess I expected the unit to convert the frequency to a range we could hear. There are units out there that will do this. But for the cost of the Belfry, it did detect the ultra-sonic sound as promised, as well as give an audible and visual cue. Lastly, I conducted the same experiment, this time recording with my Olympus and Zoom H2. Neither recorders caught the ultra-sonic sound, or at least from what I could hear (LOL). This operates on 1 9v battery and ran for hours.
Field Tested- First, let say this thing does detect bats. I received this unit late summer and on a hot humid, mosquito infested night, I turned this on outside. I wasn’t surprised as I could see the bats shuffle through the night sky. What I was surprised was the amount I could hear. Again, the Belfry clicked away. On the Ghost front. I used this on both an outdoor and indoor investigation. During the indoor investigation, the Belfry did record several clicks through the night, but none were in concert with any EVP session questions, nor did they coincide with any EVP’s captured. I did have an interesting thing happen during the outdoor investigation. At the same time the Belfry was clicking, the Tri-field Natural EM’s needle was jumping (sum mode) at the same time as the clicks on the Belfry. This happened for a period of about 30 seconds and then stopped. It did not happen again for the duration of the investigation. I have no rational explanation for this. If you do, please contact me.
Bottom Line- The unit performed as described and for the bat enthusiast, the Belfry is a bargain. The jury is still out on whether Ultra-Sounds may explain some EVP’s, but I hope to find a correlation with this device. Stay tuned . . .
Inductive Amplifier Front
Lately, you may have seen a little wand/speaker device used on investigations. That item is an inductive amplifier. These devices are used primarily in the telecommunications and IT world for wire and cable tracing (usually with a tone generator) without having to make direct metallic contact with the conductor. These will also detect AC EMF (like a lamp or wires behind a wall) and make a distinctive 60hz buzz when detected. These will also detect EMF off of cell phones and DC powered devices that have a high EMF. These items are nice to not only identify manmade electric disturbances, but may be used to “hear” paranormal EMF fields where you know there is nothing electric near.
Innovation= ? These have been used for telecom for years. Ghost hunters are just starting to realize their usefulness.
Ease of use= A- Simply press the button. Would be better to add an on/off toggle (which I did).
Quality= A The tool warehouses build these for techs to drop and abuse. I have had mine for 15 years and it’s still in great condition.
Price= B+ $60-80 A little pricey for a spur of the moment purchase, but you will get a lot of use out of this in and out of paranormal investigations. One of the good manufacturers out there is Progressive Electronics.
Bench Tested- These consist of a battery, a speaker, a pushbutton, a circuit board and a tip sensor (usually metal or plastic coated), pretty basic. I added a switch from RS for under $2. This allows the unit to be left on. These will easily pick up EMF and electrical signals from up to two feet away depending on the strength of the field. You can easily trace out electric behind walls. Got an EMF spike with no outlet/or switch near? This will let you hear the 60hz AC hum. You can even pick up the EMF off of a poorly grounded water pipe. For the experimental side, if you pick up a high EMF field on your meter, but the amplifier stays silent, you may have something. Also, theorist out there say that spirits may speak via EMF. This may pick that up. I just wish I could build a more sensitive version.
Field Tested- On the debunking side, I have found many an EMF source from radio waves. When I turned on the amplifier and let it sit, it too was getting some strange pops. These were not in conjunction with any questions asked. I wouldn’t say paranormal yet, just unidentifiable.
Bottom Line- These are nice to have. Not only to corroborate manmade , but may be a new gadget to allow us to sense or communicate with sprits. where there wasn’t supposed to be one. At one location, the homeowner claimed to get creeped out on the stairs, and past investigators noticed a high EMF spike up and down the stairs. Well, as it turned out, there was a hidden electric run behind the stair wall giving off over 5mg. On the experimental side, this was used at a location where I was picking up strange clicks on my recorder. There were no electrical sources anywhere near, and my Tri-field EM was not picking up electrical or
November 30th, 2009
The EM Pump by Bill Chappell of DigitalDowsing.com
EM Pump in action
From the guy who brought you the controversial Paranormal Puck and the Ovilus, available now is the EM Pump, as seen on the ’s Ghost Adventures. This device puts out a low level magnetic field, or as Bill calls it “a magnetic white noise.”
The device produces an EM sweep from .1 to 34 Hz for 30 seconds, followed by a sweep from 64 to 128 Hz for 15 seconds, finishing with a 256 Hz for 1.5 seconds, and back again. During each sweep the lights change from green to blue to red.
This in theory is supposed to act as a beacon or a trigger device. As seen on GA, when this is turned on “bad things start to happen!” Ok, not bad things, but activity either increased or “something” was attracted to the device and drained the battery multiple times. It was advised to keep EMF meters at least 12” away for “safety” sake, although the EMF strength at 6” is quite low.
Innovation= A Bill is cutting edge. Nothing else out there like it.
Simply turn it on. = A
Quality= A Bill products are built like a brick outhouse. Made of heavy duty plastic and laser stenciled, this will take some abuse.
Price= C+ $69. I understand Bill makes his items small batch and by himself (he is not doing this to get rich folks!), but I have to wonder the cost of the circuits involved. Could it be smaller and cheaper, or slightly more powerful for the cost?
Bench Tested- This works exactly as promised-turn it on and it starts pumping away. The LED is very bright and will be seen quite far in a dark room. I’m not sure what I expected, but I did use caution when I turned this on and kept my EMF meters a good distance away (like 5 feet). I used a Tri-field Natural EM, a MEL-8704, a KII, and a Cell-sensor all at the same time from equal distances to see the effect. As the units got closer, you started to watch the needles (or lights or digits) pulsate with the EM Pump’s sweep. It was interesting to see how each was affected not only at what range, but at what frequency as well. Surprisingly, the cell-sensor was as sensitive as the much more expensive Tri-Field meter. No meter registered from more three feet, and at 12” the field was still quite low. I wasn’t about to sacrifice my Tri-Field, but with the KII I figured what the heck and set it right next to the EM Pump. Well, the KII lit up like a as expected and didn’t start to smoke. For science sake I threw caution to the wind and did the unthinkable! I placed the EM Pump on my head and waited to see God. Although His Holiness did not appear, I remembered where I lost the remote control earlier in the day. Coincidence? Seriously, this does what it says. Bill Chappell is an innovator in our field and is always thinking outside the box. If this will act as a beacon for spirits, I just wished it was more like a floodlight than a flashlight. This operates on 1 9v battery and ran for hours.
Field Tested- Well . . . . call it a coincidence, but apparently the flashlight was all that was needed, even on a bright afternoon. In a famous haunted locale outside of Chicago, I turned on the pump after not getting any activity for more than an hour. Coincidence or not, not only were two EVP’s captured shortly after, but a branch began to bounce by itself while there was little wind, and no other branches moving at the time. This could not be explained or duplicated, but did occur AFTER the EM Pump was turned on. Stay tuned for further field updates.
Bottom Line- Once again, you can expect great new products from Digital Dowsing and Bill Chappell. The EM Pump is a new gadget for us out there and I expect to see some interesting field reports from all of you!
November 16th, 2009
The E-pod by Gary Galka President of DAS Distribution & Pro-Measure.com
May 21stApril 13th
May 21stApril 13th
E-pod in action
From Creepyhollowgear.com (the only current supplier)-The E-field feature has been designed to assist a Paranormal Investigator make an informed decision based on EMF and Electro-Static evidence collected during an investigation. When you are performing your investigation, team members will often refer to the hair standing up on their arms or the back of their neck. This added feature can help to detect this invisible E-field that causes this condition. The colored LED (red, blue, or white)of the E-Pod will remain ON and as a charged object slowly approaches the Pod, the colored LED will begin to dim in relationship to the e-field strength and proximity to the static source. Eventually the LED will go off when the charge is within a few inches of the Pod. The colored LED light will slowly come back on again when the charged object moves away from the e-field.
Here's a video of Gary demonstrating the E-pod
Innovation= A Nothing else out there like it.
Ease of use= B+ OK, this is a turn on and monitor device, but see Bench Test.
Quality= B- This first batch are more like prototypes. Crude but effective.
Price= B $45 or $150 for a four pack.
Bench Tested- OK, flick of the switch and go right? Well, not really. The e-pod (my understanding) will only light when in a positive state. Meaning, when you turn it on it may or may not be lit. If lit for example, moving a negative charge near it will dim the light (I used the old hair rubbed balloon trick). Boy, did the light start to dim as it got closer-from even around 4 feet away. Problem is some of the e-pods (I ordered 4) do not start out lit. I assume if I moved a positive charge toward them they would light. Sometimes I could get them to light and stay lit, but it was tricky. I spoke to Gary at length this week and the bottom line is you want to track change. These will be great to line up or use as a grid and monitor visually or with a camera. Oh, and the middle resin glows in the dark so you won't trip on the non-lighted ones. These operate on 1 9v battery.
Field Tested- Not yet. ***Update*** I have used these several times so far. Although nothing anomalous has occurred, these have proved quite sensitive.
Bottom Line- For a completely new product, these things are neat. We've got EMF meters galore out there, but this is a cheap easy way to potentially measure the presence or movement of ghost. Great Gadget Gary!!