What did ghosts do before electrical ghost hunting tools?

When someone asks me how ghosts communicated before modern ghost hunting tools, I laugh.

My reply is simple. “They did what the living did, before electricity.  They used what was available.”

Ghosts can communicate without modern electrical devices. Sometimes, people are so focused on high-tech ghost hunting tools, they forget that ghost research flourished in the 19th century and earlier.

Low-tech ghost hunting tools

Time tested, non-electrical communications include:

Dowsing rods.
– Table tipping and table tapping. (The first involves the table moving. The other means rapping sounds on the table. Both may occur at the same time.)
– Automatic writing.
Ouija boards and spirit boards. (Some insist they’re very different devices.)
– And, one of my favorites: Direct requests to ghosts. In other words, just ask them to respond in specific ways, like moving an object or making a sound.

The problem is: non-electrical communications can be entertaining, but they’re not scientific evidence.

Worse, they’re very easy to fake. The more high-tech the faking methods, the more difficult they are to detect.

Famous "brown lady" ghost photoMost ghost hunters want more than easily debunked entertainment.

Some want ghosts that perform reliably on command, and give 100% accurate responses to questions, 100% of the time.

Even the living don’t do that. I’m not sure why we expect ghosts to.

Others want full-body apparitions in photos they take themselves.

We seem to be able to photograph orbs, and shadow people. We rarely see apparitions, much less capture them on film.

Some people want to hear ghostly voices on a recording.

Convincing apparitions and crystal-clear EVP are so rare, they still impress me… when they’re credible, that is.

The future of ghost hunting tools

Today, scientists and technicians are developing high tech, paranormal research tools.

They’re designing ghost hunting devices that might produce consistent results under laboratory conditions.

We’re getting closer, but it may be several years until we have ghost hunting tools that work consistently in haunted locations.

However, for an entertaining — and often convincing — display of ghostly activity, old-school methods can be a fine choice.

If it’s your research — meaning that you’re in full control — low-tech ghost hunting tools can be excellent. Perhaps even better than electronic ghost hunting devices.

If that’s what you’re looking for, follow the careers of two ghost hunters.

One is Brian Cano, who appeared on the “Haunted Collector” TV series. He’s familiar with many old-school ghost hunting tools & methods.

The other is paranormal researcher Sean Paradis. He’s been exploring very low-tech ghost investigation tools.

How do people use pendulums in ghost hunting?

In ghost hunting, pendulums are divinatory tools. Ghost hunting pendulums are usually made with a weighted object suspended from the medium’s hand by way of a chain, ribbon, or string.

They’re simple, everyday pendulums, used by some ghost hunters.

In other words, there’s nothing unique that makes a pendulum a “ghost hunting pendulum.”

It’s just a moderately heavy object on a chain, ribbon, or string. You’ll hold the pendulum in one hand, suspended by whatever is attached to it, so the weight can swing freely in response to questions.

Pendulums for ghost hunting
Pendulums photo courtesy Pixabay.com

If you’re going to buy one, look for handmade pendulums that attract you. Never buy a used pendulum, no matter how pretty it is. (But, if you just can’t resist it, be sure to clear residual energy off it. Submersing it in sea salt, overnight, is one option.)

For my own ghost hunting pendulums, I’ve trusted — and give my highest recommendations to — pendulums from Sleeping Meadows. (Not online as of Nov 2016.)

In real life, I’ve also bought ghost hunting pendulums in Salem (MA, USA) from “witch-y” shops like Hex and from shops on Pickering Wharf, including Artemisia Botanicals, Laurie Cabot’s shop (now online), and NuAeon.

If the subject of witchcraft — which (in non-religious terms) I believe is firmly rooted in quantum resonance — bothers you, don’t shop at a witch-related shop. Not for any reason.

You must feel 100% comfortable with the ghost hunting tools you use. In dangerous settings, even the slightest waver can open a channel you may not have intended.

I like all the pendulums I own, but — though I rarely use them — I keep going back to my pendulums from Sleeping Meadows. They seem less formal and more user-friendly. (It’s difficult to articulate why I like them, without sounding weird and, literally, incredible.)

Make your own

You can make your own ghost hunting pendulum, easily. A ribbon and a ring or even a metal washer can work fine. Generally, the ribbon (or chain, or string) should be around eight or ten inches long, or longer.

That’s one way to see if you are adept with a pendulum, and if you like using it.

In the right person’s hands, pendulums can answer simple yes or no questions.

Also, some investigators use them to determine the direction to move in, the same as others use dowsing rods to point the way.

Maps and charts

Several remote dowsers use pendulums over maps.

Some people use pendulums with with special charts. I’ve tried them, and I wasn’t very impressed. However, you may have better results.

Some charts strongly resemble the symbols and alphabet — plus yes and no — on a Ouija board.

You can create your own charts, too. All you need is a pen and a normal sheet of paper. On it, mark years, numbers, words, colors, or compass directions. Really, there’s no limit to to the kind of charts you can design for use with a pendulum.

Hold the pendulum over your chart. Once it’s still, ask a question. The pendulum may swing to indicate the best answer on the chart. (Usually, it keeps pointing at one — and only one — answer.)

Divinatory tools are not for everyone. Always direct the spiritual energy to the tool, not to or through your hand. Prayer or shielding is a good idea, before you being your work.

My field tests

In the field, I’ve tested pendulums with people who claimed no psychic gifts.

One test involved about 20 people at haunted Gilson Road Cemetery in Nashua (NH, USA). The results were no better than a coin flip. (Keep in mind: I wanted to see if pendulums worked accurately for absolute beginners .)

My own pendulum research results have been okay, but not impressive enough to rely on pendulums for my ghost hunting research.

However, I’ve seen pendulums work really well for others.  For example, Lesley Marden’s results are impressive.

Remember, this is a controversial topic. No two researchers will answer this question the same way.

Consider all opinions carefully before using divinatory tools of any kind.

Ghost hunting pendulums can work, but — from what I’ve seen — only a small percent of researchers use them, and results vary widely.

How do people use dowsing rods in ghost hunting?

In the right hands, dowsing rods can be useful ghost hunting tools.

First, you’ll use them to detect normal phenomena that can make a site seem haunted.

For example, dowsing rods can detect underground springs and streams.

Underground water can contribute to infrasound. Its low-level frequency disorients some people. They might think they’ve encountered a ghost when they haven’t.

Some ghost hunters use dowsing rods to identify active areas at a haunted site. For that, you may need skill and sensitivity.

You can learn the skill. I’m not sure everyone can develop the necessary sensitivity.

Dowsing rods can respond to yes-or-no questions, as well.

How to hold dowsing rods

Some people use just one rod. I use two, and hold one in each hand.

Hold the rods with a light grip. It should be loose enough so the rods can move without much resistance.

(The exception is dowsing rods that include a casing between your hands and the rods. Since your hand won’t influence the rods one way or the other, hold the casing as tightly as you like.)

Also, check the length of the rods and what they might hit — especially your face — if they start swinging wildly. (That’s happened to me a few times.)

Initially, hold the rods so they are parallel to the floor or ground.

Then, tilt your hands so the tips of the rods are at a slight downward angle… less than a 10-degree drop. This allows gravity a gentle influence on the rods. If the rods are able to swing wildly, they’re useless.

However, don’t let the rods point too far downward, or gravity will pin them in place.

Ideally, the rods move slightly against the pull of gravity.

Begin with some test questions.

I start by asking basic questions I can answer myself, such as, “Is my name Fiona Broome?” The movement of the rods tells me what the rods will do for a “yes” answer, if anything. The rods may swing in opposite directions. They might swing towards each other and cross. They might point to the right or to the left.

I try enough yes/no questions to detect a pattern.

After that, I put a coin on the floor or ground, and stand at least ten feet away. Then, I tell the rods to lead me to the coin. I do this aloud, saying something like, “Where is the coin? Point to it and lead me there.”

In most cases, both rods point in the direction of the coin. When I get there, they either return to resting position, or — more often — they’ll cross in front of me as if to prevent me from walking ahead.

After that, I’m ready to use them on that investigation. I know how to detect a yes, a no, and how to tell where the rods are leading me.

During the investigation, I might use them for yes/no answers. For example: “Is this ghost female?” “Is this ghost male?” “Is the ghost a child?” “Did this ghost live in the 17th century?” “… the 18th century?” “… the 19th century?” And so on.

Note: Never start by asking when the ghost “died.” Many ghosts seem to reject the idea that they’re dead.

Or, use them silently.

dowsing rodsMore often, I simply hold the rods in the “ready” position, and walk around. I let them lead me to a “hot spot.”

If the rods indicate a “hot spot,” I usually walk around, testing different directions.

Dowsing rods can detect underground water, water pipes, and electrical wiring. So, I see if the rods indicate (or point to) a long, straight line. If they do, I know the reading isn’t paranormal.

I’ll check that same line with an EMF meter. I’m looking for normal (but elevated) EMF levels. If I find it, I’ll avoid that area as I continue my research.

If just one spot or a small area seems active, I set up my ghost hunting equipment. I’m looking for anomalous readings and responses.

You can ask dowsing rods to lead you to the “hot” areas of a haunt. There, you can use the rods, seance style, to ask — and receive answers to — questions about the ghost.

However, dowsing rods don’t work for everyone. So far, we don’t know why.

Practice makes perfect?

If dowsing rods work, but not as well as you’d like, you may need more practice. Place small objects around your living room. Then, ask the rods to lead you to a particular object. The more often you do this, the more skill you’ll have with dowsing rods, and the more confidence, too.

Warning: Do not expect ghostly energy to work “through” you. Maintain firm boundaries.

The ghostly energy works with the tools. You’re just propping them at the correct angle.

(This is why I prefer to use dowsing rods with casing-type holders. I make no direct contact with the actual rods.)

Never give a spirit permission to enter or use your body to communicate.

That may seem like a fine point, but with increasing dangers in ghost hunting, precautions are important.

Reliable dowsing rods for paranormal research

Some companies – including Joey Korn at www.Dowsers.com — manufacture powerful dowsing rods designed for ghost hunting.

I’ve used their larger, custom rods (17- or 18-inch rods) with researchers who swear that dowsing rods don’t work.  So far, they’ve had success with those rods 100% of the time. (But, I’m not sure if Joey’s company still offer such large rods. If they don’t, make them yourself. They’re that useful.)

I’ve also used Joey’s recommended portable (collapsible) rods with great results.

However, in my field tests, others had weaker (or no) results with smaller rods. So, start large. Over time, work down, if the big rods become too sensitive (swing too wildly) for your research.

Or, make your own dowsing rods.

You don’t need to buy dowsing rods. Make your own from wire coat hangers. Visit EncounterGhosts.com for step-by-step instructions.

If you want to use a casing for handles, visit a DIY store (like Lowe’s or Home Depot). Ask them to cut two small lengths of narrow, straight PVC pipe or brass piping. You’ll slide your dowsing rod handles (the shorter sides of the bent coat hangers) into them. Then, your hands can’t influence the rods at all.

In my opinion, the more active my dowsing rods, the more active the haunting. If the rods barely move, not much is going on. If they respond vigorously, I’ll usually see EMF spikes, orbs in photos, and other phenomena.

In rare cases, my smallest dowsing rods have swung in complete circles, repeatedly. (It can look silly, like a tiny helicopter blade.) I’m pretty sure those were active, paranormal spots.

They occurred at:

– Cambridge (MA, USA): At the mass grave of Revolutionary soldiers, buried under a mound in the Old Burial Ground at Harvard Square.

– Also at the tree in front of Peet’s Coffee House, 100 Mt. Auburn Street, Harvard Square. (It’s the site of a “witch jail” during colonial times.)

– Methuen (MA, USA): Upstairs at Tenney Gate House, in one of the front rooms. Repeated several times before the anomaly ceased.

– Salem (MA): In the basement of 127 Essex Street. (The basement isn’t open to the public. But, excellent ghost tours leave from in front of that shop).

– Stratford-upon-Avon (England): One room in the Falcon Hotel, but only briefly. Several times at the Falstaff’s Experience (Tudor World), 40 Sheep Street.

– York (England): The Golden Fleece Pub, but only a few times, in odd spots near the entrance. Did not repeat during additional visits.

How do ghosts turn flashlights on and off?

Ghosts and flashlights… they’re an interesting mix. Can ghosts really communicate by turning your flashlight on & off?

Here’s my answer.

Ghosts don’t actually turn the flashlight on and off. Not with a switch or lever, anyway.

lightThe effect comes from a loose contact between the batteries and the light bulb.

A ghost might be able to move the flashlight just enough to make the light blink on for a split second.

Or, ghosts might generate EMF energy. That’s a popular theory. If it’s true, a small amount of energy might reconnect the battery and the light bulb.

Either way, some ghosts and flashlights seem to have a connection (no pun intended). Ghosts might be able to communicate through a loosened flashlight. That’s how it’s looked in tests on TV and in the field.

Fiona's adviceUse the kind of flashlight that turns on and off with a gentle twist of the flashlight case. The Mag lite brand is the most popular.

But, inexpensive clones can work just as well, as long a the flashlight has a metal case, not plastic or resin.

Note: I’ve talked with the staff at Mag lite. They were baffled by my questions. They wouldn’t tell me which metals are in their flashlight cases are proprietary. Still, they insisted that conductivity wasn’t likely.

So, any flashlight may work equally well.

How to get the best results with ghosts and flashlights

Here are steps to use a flashlight to communicate with ghosts.

  1.  Turn the flashlight on.
  2. Twist the case just enough so the flashlight is off.
  3. Gently shake the flashlight. If the light flickers on and off, the setting is right.  (If it won’t flicker easily, adjust the case until it does.)
  4. Place the flashlight on a level surface.
  5. Then, instruct the ghost to reply to questions by briefly turning the light on if the answer is yes. (Or whatever directions you want to give to the ghost. It might be “signal once with the light for yes, and twice for no.”)

This kind of real-time communication can be exciting and produce remarkable results.

Sadly, there’s at least one big problem:  This is far from actual, scientific evidence.

Heavy footsteps, a passing truck, a nearby train, or music with a heavy base can be enough to make the flashlight flicker.

In other words, a blinking flashlight isn’t proof of anything, even if it seems eerily accurate and consistent.

How I begin each flashlight session

Generally, I ask questions with known answers: “Is my name Fiona Broome? Flash the light once for yes.”

Then, “Flash the light once if I’m male, twice if I’m female.”

(I mix things up. I want to be sure the flashlight isn’t responding to footsteps in a nearby room, or infrasound from trucks or an underground stream.)

I’ll continue questioning the ghost for several minutes. (You could think of it as “establishing rapport” rather than commanding the ghost to perform.)

“Are we in [name of location]? Flash once for yes.”

“Did George Washington (or some other impossible name, like Queen Elizabeth II) live here? Flash once for yes, twice for no.”

If the answers aren’t at least 75% accurate, I don’t bother with a flashlight “seance.” The controlled responses must be more accurate than a coin toss.

If the flashlight responds accurately enough, I set up my equipment nearby.

Confirming flashlight responses

My usual tools include EMF detectors, real-time ghost communication devices, and EVP recorders. We set them up and resume our investigation.

We continue to ask questions, and check our other tools for anomalies that happen at the same time as the ghost seems to flicker the flashlight.

Flashlight communication with spirits can be exciting.  However, I believe you need more evidence, collected at the same time.

After our investigation, I look for documented history that supports or refutes what the ghost seemed to tell us via the flashlight.

Unless historical evidence exists, the rest is speculation. It might seem reliable, but I’m looking for more than just a consensus from a loosened flashlight and a few other tools.

I want something on paper that’s independent of any ghost investigations. That means census records, vital records (birth, marriage, or death records), court documents, and so on.

This article wandered far from the flashlight topic. However, “talking” flashlights are such unreliable evidence, they shouldn’t be your only focus in an investigation.

Besides… if the ghost really is that communicative, you might miss other investigative opportunities, like EVP and ghost photos or video.

But yes, flashlight communications can work. And, as part of a pre-investigation visit – or during your regular research – the answers can help you identify your ghost and why he or she haunts.

How much should I budget for ghost hunting gear?

As a beginner, avoid investing in specialized ghost hunting equipment.

First, make sure this will be a long-term interest, hobby, or profession.

With experience, you’ll know what kind of ghost hunting you enjoy. And, you’ll have seen others’ equipment, and know what works best where you investigate.

But, whether you’re a beginner or a pro, never invest more money than you can afford to lose.

Here’s why..

trees and moonlight in haunted setting– People drop things when they’re startled.  In the dark, you might not find whatever-it-is.

(The problem becomes worse if you drop what you’re carrying, and run away in terror.)

– If you drop a sensitive $5k camera or a $2k heat sensing device, it can break the same as a $40 camera or a $15 digital thermometer.

If you didn’t buy a replacement warranty, or it doesn’t cover that kind of mistake, you may have wasted thousands of dollars.

– Electronic equipment can fail in extremely haunted settings. In fact, many of us use unexplained equipment failure as an indicator of paranormal activity.

Personally, I think EMF spikes are to blame. Most electrical devices, will glitch or fail when exposed to intense magnetic energy. That’s reasonable, unless it’s remarkably well shielded.

If your expensive camera or other device won’t work when you’re ghost hunting, you’ve wasted your money. Worse, it can be difficult to return that equipment if it shows any wear, or if you can’t demonstrate how it fails.

Instead, focus on just one aspect of ghost hunting.

If you like ghost photography, invest in photographic equipment.

If you like divinatory tools, buy or make specialized dowsing rods or pendulums.

If I were starting fresh, today, I’d probably budget $100 or less.

– I’d start with the camera in my phone. It’s good enough. I wouldn’t bother with a fancy ($$) after-market lens attachment, either.

For many investigations, that’s all you need.

If I were starting out and decided I really liked taking ghost photos, I might get a good camera.

I bought a couple of used, refurbished point-and-shoot digital cameras. They’re great… but they use specialized batteries.

So, I keep going back to my trusty Nikon Coolpix camera. (I talked about that in my article, What’s the best kind of equipment for a beginning ghost hunter.)

For photo-processing software, I’d use GIMP, or something else that’s free. (Today, I use Photoshop, but GIMP and other programs work well enough to tell if you’ve captured an anomaly.)

– I’d make dowsing rods from coat hangers. (If you’re not sure how, see my Homemade Dowsing Rods article at EncounterGhosts.com, for instructions.)

– I’d use the voice recorder on my phone, or buy an inexpensive one at an office supply store or warehouse. (Make sure the microphone is omni-directional, so it picks up sounds all around you, not just in one direction.)

– I’d buy an inexpensive flashlight with a metal case. I’d make sure the light bulb housing unscrews easily, to test yes/no responses when the housing is loosened.

– I’d get a good surgical-type mask that protects me from toxins, bacteria, and viruses around me. (Not vice versa. The free masks at doctors’ offices are designed to contain germs inside the mask… not keep bad things out.)

– I’d put all of that in a backpack with lots of pockets (to find things in complete darkness).

My backpack is the basic Amazon one. My cameras, Ovilus, etc., go in the big pocket. Maps, pen & a notebook, small first aid kit, etc., in the next largest. Spare batteries in the outside pocket. And so on.

I’d also add a small, inexpensive first aid kit.

Don’t spread yourself too thin, in terms of learning or financial investment. Set a firm spending limit and do not exceed that.

It’s easy to get carried away.  Keep your ghost hunting expenses low.

Don’t let ghost hunting jeopardize other aspects of your personal, professional, or family life.

When you’re a beginner, see how well you enjoy ghost hunting, before you spend much money.

Do ghost hunting apps work?

I’ve tried several different kinds of ghost hunting apps. Many of them rely on EMF anomalies to produce flashing lights and sometimes spoken words. Some show the direction the energy is coming from.

Initially, I dismissed ghost hunting apps as toys. After all, how could a 99-cent app work nearly as well as my $300+ tools?

The lunch that changed my mind

puzzle piecesThen, when I was a speaker at a Canadian ghost hunting event, a few of us went out to lunch.

Once we were seated in the restaurant, one of my companions took out her phone.

It had a ghost app on it. I’m pretty sure it was the Ghost Radar app.

She put the phone – with the app running – on the table where we were eating.

Another companion said that, if the app really worked, she’d like a message from her mother.

The app started “talking.” It said several words, none of which seemed significant to the woman who’d asked the question.

However, as I sat there, nearly every word the app said… it described the mural on the wall, next to us. (At the time, I felt like I was the only one who was putting the words together, and seeing a clear picture… no pun intended.)

My companions didn’t seem interested. They were talking about that night’s scheduled investigation, and how we should prepare for the chilly, windy weather ahead.

After several minutes, I finally interrupted them. I pointed to the mural since the words were a match.

Then I pointed to the signature on the mural, also indicated by the app. (I believe some of the words it said included “word,” “sign,” and “picture.”)

The woman who’d asked the question nearly lost it. The first name of the artist was the exact same, slightly unusual name as the her mother.

(I didn’t know that was her mother’s name when I pointed to it.)

Maybe it was a coincidence, but none of us thought that. Not with the clarity of the indication, once I pointed to the mural.

(To me, it had been obvious after the first three or four words. The app kept “talking” only until my dining companion finally paid attention to it. And, at least 80% of the words were clearly about the signature on the mural.)

So, that was my first experience with a ghost hunting app.

Even if that had been my only experience, it was powerful enough to change my mind in favor of ghost hunting apps.

A second, startling experiment

The second experience was a couple of years later. I was in a NH cemetery with psychics Lesley Marden and Sean Paradis.

We were testing equipment, collectively. That is, each of us was working with some kind of ghost hunting equipment. We wanted to see if the results correlated.

In addition, we drew on Lesley’s psychic skills, since her accuracy rate is high. (Sean’s is good as well, but different. Mine is not as sharp, around 85%.)

Sean was running the Ghost Radar app on his phone, and it indicated an energy form (or ghost) approaching us.

My Ghost Meter Pro was running in “seance” mode.

Lesley was chatting with us when she had the strong impression of a spirit named Jonathan.

Then, the Ghost Radar suggested that the ghostly energy was within 15 feet of us.

At the same time, my Ghost Meter Pro signaled the option of conversation with a spirit.

Lesley was sure the grave of that ghost was outside the enclosure where we were.

That seemed confirmed by both the Ghost Meter Pro (in yes/no terms, anyway) as well as the words “said” by the Ghost Radar.

So, we left that enclosure.

We followed directions given to us by dowsing rods, the Ghost Meter Pro, and the Ghost Radar, plus Lesley’s guidance.

We walked about 60 feet when the Ghost Radar shouted “Pennsylvania.”

We laughed because we were in Concord, New Hampshire, nowhere near Pennsylvania.

However, the Ghost Meter Pro also signaled something nearby. At the same time, the dowsing rods came to a halt, pointing at one very tall monument to the left of us.

When we got there, the grave belonged to a man named Jonathan. He’d been killed at Valley Forge. It’s in Pennsylvania.

There is no way that had been set up by any of us. It also confirmed that ghost hunting tools can work together to refine research results. Mostly, I was very impressed that the Ghost Radar app had been exactly right.

Everything it said was an exact match for the grave marker, in ways we didn’t have to contrive to fit.

So, I’m now a firm believer in the merits of ghost hunting apps.

Do apps like Ghost Radar perform better with certain investigators? Are some people “lightning rods” attracting psychic energy? Does it help if they’re psychic?

At other investigations, some ghost hunting tools have seemed worthless until the right person came along. Then, the devices went from near zero accuracy to at least 70%.

On its own, I’m not sure that the Ghost Radar app is as useful as other, dedicated ghost hunting tools.

Nevertheless, for the price and convenience, apps may be worth trying.

How does white noise help ghost EVP?

White noise is controversial.

White noise might provide spirits with sounds (“noise energy”). In theory, ghosts can manipulate white noise to form words on EVP recordings.

ear - sounds -EVPI’ve heard remarkable results. This theory might be credible.

It’s the same reason some investigators encourage people to talk normally during EVP sessions. Using software, they can filter out the researchers’ voices. They can highlight anomalous sounds and ghostly voices, too.

Ghosts might use, manipulate, or recycle ambient noise to communicate with us.

A few ghost hunters believe white noise might provide a wall or background. Against that, ghosts feel confident that their words can be heard.

To me, that seems unlikely, but I could be wrong. I’m just guessing. In this field, most of us are.

Sure, white noise and other audio input might your EVP recordings, but – as of late 2016 – scant scientific evidence exists. So, it’s best to test it yourself, and see if the results are worthwhile… and credible. (This applies to all real-time communications with spirits, recorded electronically.)

You can download white noise free (or at low cost) at sites like rain.SimplyNoise.com.

Other inexpensive apps can generate white noise to use during EVP sessions. You’ll probably find several for your phone or other devices.

Also, experiment with other “colors” of noise at http://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/whiteNoiseGenerator.php (Try noise calibrated with more brown or pink in it.)

You may prefer Coffitivity.com. It’s not white noise, but it could be a good background for your EVP sessions. Just be sure the Coffitivity voices aren’t saying anything you might confused with actual EVP.

If specialized noise makes a dramatic difference, use it.  If it doesn’t, don’t bother with it.

Note: Some team members are distracted by certain noises.  So, be sure to check with them before conducting too many tests.

What’s the best kind of EMF detector?

Most EMF detectors are designed to help people measure unhealthy levels of EMF energy. You’d use one to check electrical equipment like computers, microwaves, and wiring in your basement.

Ghost hunters need specialized EMF devices.

K-II meters were among the first highly acclaimed EMF detectors used by ghost hunters. The K-II is still one of my favorites. It’s sensitive and easy to use. However, I’ve discovered inconsistencies among K-II meters. Big inconsistencies.

Two identical K-IIs can respond completely differently. I borrowed one from Grant Wilson (formerly on the “Ghost Hunters” TV series) and his worked great. It seemed to detect all kinds of subtle, anomalous energy.

Since then, I acquired another, identical K-II. After nearly two years of testing, it’s not sensitive enough.

Ghost Meter ProStarting in 2014, I’ve used a Ghost Meter Pro. (Don’t laugh. I’m serious.)

Yes, it comes in an “As Seen on TV!” package. That’s more than a little shady.

So, I can’t vouch for consistent quality. I might have an extraordinarily good one.

I also have an Ovilus III. Likewise, it’s a good meter, but it cost me about five times as much as the Ghost Meter Pro.

(The Ovilus also does about five times more things. It senses temperature variations, and “talks” from a dictionary or using phonetic sounds. It does other things, as well.)

I keep going back to the Ghost Meter Pro because it’s so easy to use. Sometimes, the simplest tools are the best ones.

The best EMF meter is the one you use with confidence. It’s any EMF meter that produces good results for you.

You have many choices. Some EMF meters make noise, others have colored lights, and some have both. Many EMF meters have a dial so you can see the precise level of EMF you’re encountering.

For ghost hunting, make sure your EMF meter has at least one setting that is extremely sensitive.

Remember, a standard EMF meter from the hardware store may be great for seeing if your microwave oven is leaking energy. It probably won’t be sensitive enough for ghost research.

Read reviews and recommendations by other ghost hunters. Ask friends and team members if you can try their EMF meters.  See what you like, and what works well for you.

Above all, avoid EMF meters that you have to watch all the time.  The meter should be a tool, not a distraction.

You may find gently-used EMF equipment online at a reasonable price. Check sites like eBay for good, used equipment with a money-back guarantee.

Who sells the best high tech equipment?

“Where do I find the best high tech equipment for ghost hunting?”

If you’re asking this question, I hope you’ve been involved in ghost hunting for many months.

Until you’re sure ghost hunting is for you, don’t invest in specialized equipment.

This is important: Don’t try to impress others with fancy equipment. Instead, learn to use basic tools well. That impresses fellow researchers.

Sometimes it’s the equipment. Sometimes, it’s the investigator.

shack hack
A “hacked” Radio Shack radio, used for ghost hunting.

I used to raise an eyebrow at “Shack Hacks,” until I saw John Zaffis talk to one. Suddenly, it talked back, clearly and in context.

It wasn’t his Shack Hack, and it was at least a dozen feet away from him. It just responded to him, as if it recognized him.

(Since then — around 2009, long before he became a TV star — I’ve never seen anyone achieve the same results with a Shack Hack. Maybe I just haven’t seen others as skilled as him. I don’t know.)

Where to shop – online and off.

Where you find ghost hunting equipment will depend on how specialized the devices are.

For example, cameras and voice recorders can be purchased at any electronics store or online. Amazon and Overstock offer low prices for basic and backup-level equipment. Other retailers do, too.

Ovilus or real-time EVP devices require an equally specialized shop or online retailer.

It’s important to feel confident about your purchase. You may need to discuss your options with a store clerk or seller who’s familiar with ghost research.

It’s equally important to check reviews by professionals who’ve tried that equipment. It helps if they’re also experienced paranormal investigators.

Some electronics wizards specialize in dedicated equipment for paranormal researchers. Digital Dowsing — the website featuring Bill Chappell’s custom-designed equipment — is one of the best-known.

Others keep a lower profile. You’ll see their equipment at ghost-related events, but not in stores and rarely online.

To find them, go to events, especially off-the-beaten-path events where high-profile investigators get together. That’s where you’ll find the most experimental tools… devices you may see on TV shows, several months later.

Spend with caution.

Investing in experimental devices can be risky. Generally, they have a 50/50 chance of working as well as hoped. Some will work great for a short time, and then break. (Most designers/manufacturers will replace the item.)

Never spend money you can’t afford to lose if the seller turns out to be completely clueless about this field. (However, I rarely run into that.)

In many cases, the best, specialized equipment is made in small batches, as few as two or three at a time. Expect to sign up for a waiting list. It may take months to receive the high-tech tools you want.

Like the “high rollers” tables in Vegas, this is a risky area for beginners.

What’s the best kind of video camera for ghost hunting?

You should be comfortable with any camera you use.

For beginners, the best video camera is the one you’ll really use. If that’s your mobile phone, it’s fine for now.

Later, choose a dedicated video camera for your ghost investigations. It doesn’t need to be very expensive.

Your video camera should include:

– A good lens. Glass lenses are better than plastic lenses.  Even if the video camera seems expensive, ask if the lens is glass or plastic.

– A stabilizer to steady the image if your hands are shaking. Today, that’s a normal feature in video equipment.

– The ability to film in low light conditions.

– Also, make sure you can secure your video camera to a tripod, so you can set it up and leave it running.  (If it wobbles, that can affect video integrity.)

Are you good at capturing ghosts on video?  Explore specialized video cameras. Some can produce extraordinary results.

Any equipment I’d recommend in this book might be “old” and replaced by better options by the time you read this.

I recommend watching ghost-related TV shows to see what equipment they’re using. (Sometimes, they get access to specialized tools before the public does.)

Also go to public ghost hunting events, and ask professional ghost hunters which brands and models they prefer. Ask them which video camera features (what bells & whistles) are most useful. They’ll probably point you in the direction of high-end equipment… but maybe not.

Always ask, “Can you suggest a good video camera for someone on a budget?”  Most professional ghost hunters started out with limited budgets. They know what’s worth buying, and what isn’t.

Keep in mind: Some professional ghost hunters don’t really understand their equipment. Always get a second and third opinion. In some cases, the extraordinary results from a certain camera may be more about the person using it than the camera itself.

That’s true of all ghost hunting equipment.

Compare results, and compare users

For example, I know two high-profile paranormal researchers who own “Frank’s Boxes.” Those boxes were made by Frank Sumption, and seem to use radio waves (and snippets of sounds) to form words that “speak” for ghosts.

Franks box
Frank’s Box, opened. Photo courtesy Coast-to-Coast AM.

I’ve seen Researcher A use a Frank’s Box with astonishing accuracy. He has complete faith in the box.

Unfortunately, some of Researcher A’s business practices damaged his reputation.

(That’s tragic, because he really is a gifted researcher.)

Researcher B has a better professional reputation, but flits from one tool or theory to the next.

That researcher swears that, after a while, Frank’s Boxes stop working.

After watching Researcher B at various paranormal events, I concluded that Researcher B is bright and clever… but hasn’t the same ghost hunting skills as Researcher A. (I’m not even sure Researcher B believes that paranormal experiences are real.)

Also, I believe that Researcher A gets better results because he maintains faith in the box. (He’s also convinced that Frank had a unique, mystical gift that transformed each box.)

I believe ghost hunting tools work best when people are confident about the results. That means believing that the tools work, and believing that paranormal encounters are possible.

Get and use equipment that you feel good about. That includes video cameras.