Because the Paranormal investigation field is mostly based on theory and hypothesis, there aren’t any official pieces of equipment that can definitively detect or conclude whether a ghost is in the room, or even exists at all. The main reason being that science still hasn’t determined what a ghost actually is. Paranormal research requires an open mind as well as a practical one.
Firstly we start with theories about the paranormal. Then we set out utilizing tools and equipment that are already commercially available in the attempt to confirm or dismiss these theories.
One theory about spirits, is that they are made of, or draw on, energy to help them manifest. This could be electrical, magnetic, thermal or any other form of energy.
Using an EMF (Electro-Magnetic Field) meter , like the Trifield 100XE EMF Meter can help determine whether there are any unusual fields of energy in the area. These devices detect fluctuations in magnetic, electric and radio/microwave energy levels. Some investigators have speculated that anomalous readings in those energy fields are a sign of a ghost. Whether this is true and fact is still open.
Audio recorders, video cameras, photo cameras, thermometers and various audio / visual, motion and atmospheric data gathering tools can be used as paranormal investigation equipment to gradually piece together some sort of picture.
Of course, having lots of equipment does not make you a better investigator, but it does offer you more options and directions in experimentation and trialling.
Various pieces of equipment Haunted Auckland use during our investigations to record and document possible paranormal activity. For images of the team in action, check out our investigation reports.
Static and Hand-Held Video Cameras
Video is great to have, either to carry with you or to set up on a tripod and let it run in hopes of catching something anomalous. Make sure the video camera is equipped with some kind of night vision (such as an Infrared Night Vision and Full Spectrum Camcorder) so it can record images in minimal light. The choices with video these days is amazing. Again, get the best one you can afford. High-definition video has become quite affordable, and it’s advantageous to get a camera that has either an internal hard drive or that records on memory cards. These allow you to easily transfer your video to a computer for editing and analysis. The team utilises various types of video camera equipment within our investigations.
From Standard Handycams to Nightshot, Go-Pros, Full spectrum, Bloggie 3D, Digital hard drive, digital and ‘analog’ cassettes, assorted motion sensing IR mini cams, as well as a 4 and 8 camera DVR system.
Digital and DSLR Still Cameras
You don’t need to have an expensive digital camera, but you should use one with as high a resolution as you can afford. The better the resolution you have, the more detail you’ll be able to see in your images. Cell phone cameras are not adequate, even if they have a 5 megapixel or higher resolution, because the image sensors in cell phones are too small and the lenses are not very good. For those who take hundreds of pictures, the digital camera will save a small fortune for there is no film to buy, nor are there any processing costs. The pictures are immediate and ready to be enhanced, enlarged or altered. The pictures will last forever for there is no paper to deteriorate or negatives to fade. The storage of photographs requires minimum space. Prior to the advent of the digital camera, the 35 mm SLR camera is probably the most popular type among people interested in taking photographs. Available in various sizes, large, complicated a simple “point and shoot” 35 mm camera, sometimes small enough to fit in purse or pocket, replaces bulky cameras and all the necessary equipment. We use a variety of cameras to allow for experimentation and trialling. From simple digital point and shoots, Sony Night shots, to DSLR
Photographic and Videographic Lens/Filters
Specialist lenses and filters can be used to reduce or remove certain wavelengths of light, enabling views into the Infrared and Ultraviolet spectrum which may uncover manifestations outside the normal field of human vision.
Atmospheric Sensors –
EMF, Temperature (ambient and surface), humidity, vibration, air pressure, carbon dioxide / monoxide
EMF Meters measure fluctuations in electromagnetic fields. These fields are a direct result of electrical appliances in home, cell phones, power lines outside and even fluctuations in solar activity and weather. Beyond that, a primary theory in the paranormal world is that entities can manipulate these fields in their attempt to manifest themselves or interact with our world. The units of measurement registered on an EMF meter is called milligauss. Theories in the paranormal field suggest that ghosts have the ability to manipulate these fields. An EMF meter is a staple piece of equipment used to detect sources of these fields or possible manipulation in order to document and promote potential communication with these entities. Take base readings throughout the area you are investigating and make note of the numbers. This will help in detecting legitimate spikes and anomalies. We use various models of EMF meters so comparisons can be made. From basic models, to Cell Sensors through to Tri Field meters.
Zero-Lux Trap Cameras
The Trap Camera or game camera is a fairly new method of capturing possible Entity’s. The game camera is usually set up in area High with Paranormal sightings of apparitions. The camera shoots out an infrared beam naked to the human eye with a sensor that if triggered takes a series of pictures or video clip.
Digital Voice Recorders
A good Digital Voice Recorder is needed to record electronic voice phenomena (EVP). Digital recorders are preferred over cassette recorders by most investigators because they have no moving parts; you don’t want motor noise in your recordings. Digital recorders from such manufacturers as Olympus, SONY, and RCA range in price from about $30 into the hundreds of dollars. Again, get the best one you can afford because the higher the price, the better the quality. You’ll want a model that can record high-quality sound. Some of the more expensive models record in uncompressed modes, which gives you the best fidelity. With less expensive recorders, you might also want to add an external omnidirectional microphone. The team utilises a few different models and sizes of Audio recorder. From classic analog dictaphones, mini USB recorders, to digital audio recorders, through to more high – end Zoom branded products.
The ParaPod 2 detects E-Fields within it’s detection range. It is controlled by a small microprocessor which is programmed to be very sensitive to E-Fields or static charge, it also has the advantage of very low power drain when powered on so you dont have to worry about battery drain. It has an detection radius of 2 meters from the unit. The ParaPod 2 can also be used as an alert system for trigger objects without the use of steel plates and alligator clips. Produced by Australian based W.D Paraproduct.
Various light spectrum torches and illuminators
As there is a good chance an investigator may be working in the dark, or in low lighting, it is a good idea to stock up on torches of varying types. The light spectrum is a wide one and there are many different light sources available on the market giving you the freedom to experiment and try new things within your team whilst on location. Because the paranormal is still an unknown science, we are still all working in the theorist experimental stages. Try different techniques, theories and hypotheses to see what works and what doesn’t. No one knows for sure what the best environment to interact or witness a ghost is, so as investigators we need to try all ideas and work on every theory available to ascertain the best directions to take in the research journey.
INFRARED TORCH – An Infrared Flashlight is a device designed to emit light that falls outside the normal visible spectrum. This can be accomplished through the use of special bulbs or light emitting diodes (LEDs) that only cast infrared light, though it is also possible to fit a normal flashlight with a filter. Active night vision, which requires some type of infrared light source, is the main purpose these devices are used for. When an IR flashlight is used in conjunction with a special camcorder, or other type of night vision device (NVD), it is possible to see even in complete darkness. LEDs are a smart choice because you don’t have to worry about replacing bulbs; the LEDs last a long time. And don’t forget to bring along extra, fresh alkaline batteries.
GREEN LIGHT TORCH- Used mainly by hunters at night and emits a bright green beam which, to an animal is not very visual as it falls under their night visibility spectrum allowing the hunter to observe the animal in the dark without being noticed. Also, the human eye recognizes the colour green faster than other colours, green light is best used for map reading or signalling, especially in low light conditions.
U.V TORCH – U.V light can help in making airborne dust particles visible in the dark. One paranormal based theory is that one can use UV light to “push” or “herd” spirits to/from a location to aid research photography, EVP, and contact. Ultraviolet light also reveals the security strips in monetary currency, watermarks hidden in bank notes and fluorescent ink and dyes used as anti-counterfeiting, check hand stamps at clubs, discover pet or other stains not visible tp the eye in carpet or upholstery, and scan a crime scene for foreign materials and body fluids. Handy when checking a hotel room for cleanliness! Very bright and can illuminate a wide area.
Motion and proximity detectors
These devices are good for sensing movement when there should be none. One sensor can easily monitor an entire hallway or room. Motion sensors are actually detecting heat signatures. When something enters its field of coverage that is above the ambient temperature (in this case, it is assuming that the ghost gives off heat, like a person), the sensor will sound an alarm. Some models are equipped with cameras and will snap a picture. These sensors are calibrated so that the object must be somewhat sizable to set it off — a mouse or a bug passing by won’t trigger it. We use a mix of sound, light and motion sensor video versions.
Vibration Sensor Lights
Vibration Sensor LED Lights are very handy within paranormal investigations and feature special motion sensor technology with a micro-vibration processing chip which automatically switches the light on when being triggered by the smallest of movement. We are currently experimenting using a few of these to detect any hallway movements or as an EVP communication device.
Parabolic Audio Receiver Dish
A Parabolic Microphone uses a parabolic reflector (or dish) to collect and focus sound waves onto a microphone receiver, in much the same way that a parabolic antenna (e.g. satellite dish) does with radio waves. Typical uses of this microphone, which has unusually focused front sensitivity, can pick up sounds from many meters away, include nature recordings, field audio for sports broadcasting, eavesdropping, law enforcement, and even espionage. The advantage of this device is to amplify the sound wave of where the EVP is being produced from and give one a clearer yet amplified sound. The disadvantage is that to get the perfect location sound wave of where the EVP is coming from, one must point the parabola in its direction.
A strobe light is a tool used in ghost investigating which simulates the shutter of a camera. The strobe light allows seeing things that usually would be moving too fast for the mind to perceive. Most believe manifesting apparitions function on a higher vibration than those on the physical plane. The faster the strobe light, the more effectively it works in ghost investigations. Researchers are leading toward the opinion that the strobe exercises the eyes and make them more capable of seeing an apparition. This is particularly true when seeing “shadow people” only seen with peripheral vision seen out of the corner of the eye.
We have both small and larger sized strobe lighting depending on the case location and situation.
If using cameras, either video or for images, tripods are a good idea to have. Tripods can help steady a camera and are needed to mount video cameras in various rooms or areas on a site being investigated.
Data loggers are becoming increasingly common as paranormal investigation equipment. A data logger is a device for collecting data over time from several channels simultaneously. If you are trying to monitor a haunted location to look for unusual environmental changes, particularly when they correspond to ghost sightings, data loggers are clearly worth considering.
Laser grids are used to more clearly detect when movement happens and help define its shape and whether it actually has some kind of mass to it. It’s best to place a laser grid in front of a running camera throughout the investigation. Upon review if movement happens it will be obviously apparent by the breaking of the laser pattern. You can from there go frame by frame in the video marking where the pattern shifts thereby drawing an outline shape of the entity itself. If the pattern moves a certain way you can even determine if the entity has 3-dimensional mass and map that as well. Even better results can be had when adding a fog machine to the set-up.
Infra-red Laser Thermometers and Standard Thermometers
Thermometers can be a great way to detect temperature changes which may signify a paranormal presence. Taking temperature readings can also be a great way to find sources for ‘cold spots’ to debunk or find logical reasons for claims of activity. If you intend to take temperature readings at an investigation, consider a digital thermometer. Not only do they keep a memory of the highest and lowest monitored temperatures, most come equipped with alarms and take measurements several times a minute. The alarm feature is especially helpful in letting you know when sudden and drastic changes occur and allows you the convenience to focus your attention elsewhere. A more expensive option for instant temperature measurements are the new infrared laser scanners. A point-and-shoot device that detects temperature differences using infrared technology. Ambient and Surface temperatures are noted at regular internals at every investigation.
TriField Meters – Digital and Analog
This meter offers magnetic, electric, and radio/microwave detection in one package. Includes an analog readout and an adjustable audio alert. This meter, however, focuses mainly on ‘AC’ or man-made electrical and magnetic fields. This meter is more so effective in detecting man-made currents to debunk claims of ‘being watched’ which can be caused by faulty wiring and/or electrical leakage.
A compass is not only very useful for navigation it is also great for picking up electromagnetic forces. A compass will react to any magnetic or electrical stimulus that may be out of the ordinary. For this reason it is probably better to avoid an electronic compass instead use the needle points north kind. It’s easy to measure the deflection of the needle from magnetic North at known distances with this nice 1-3/8 inch diameter compass to quantify and compare DC magnetic fields, track down magnetized components, or evaluate magnetic shielding performance. A handy tool for any initial evaluation or to check your equipment readings!
DVR – Digital Video Recording System
These devices allow investigators to strategically place cameras around an investigation to provide a continuous feed of live video, while simultaneously recording for later review. Many times these devices are placed in areas with reported activity in an effort to either document the activity, or to provide clients with an explanation as to the cause of their reported events. DVR systems see infrared light allowing them to be of use on night investigations. These devices are pretty much the same as a handheld device except that a DVR system uses static cameras, and are not portable.
We use two different systems, depending on the size or complexity of the required set-up. A 4 channel DVR system with infrared technology and an 8 camera wireless set-up. Camera’s are placed throughout the investigative site with the hopes of capturing any paranormal activity in reported known areas.
Try using trigger objects in areas where there has been reports of things being moved. Lay down a piece of paper, select an object (ornament, coin, wooden cross etc), lay the object on the piece of paper and accurately draw round it with a pen. Leave the area alone for a while and then return to see if the object has moved. Be sure to alert everyone on the investigation to the whereabouts of any trigger objects to avoid accidental movement of the object. You can also use an Infra Red Motion Sensor in conjunction with the trigger object, this will alert you to any movement. Try taking photographs of the object before you leave, and then again when you return. We use balloons, coins, Boggle letter dice (possibly useful with communication attempts) various toys, balls, crepe paper, magnets, large ball bearings……
Two Way Radios
Two Way Radios are recommended if the investigation involves splitting in to teams. This way you can easily communicate with the other team. Check that all radios are communicating on the same channel.
Audio and Photographic Analysis Software
We use many different levels of audio and video analysis equipment and software, depending on the case.
Audio; we experiment with everything from directional, to 360 degree microphones. Specialised contact mics, Geophones and underwater microphones are used where the cases require them. Various audio spectrum analysis software is also used (both live in the field and post investigation) to enhance and isolate any audio anomalies that may be captured.
We don’t use this as much as we would like to as the majority of the locations we investigate have smoke alarms which are easily set off by these machines.
However, in the past we have found them very useful in detecting any potential movement or air displacement in a room, when accompanied by a static laser grid or two. A fog machine can fill the room with thick mist in seconds. Also used to good effect are a stage flood lamp or par cans. The theory is that an entity in the room might just be able to break the beams of a laser grid during movement or cause a ‘shape’ in the lit-up mist as it moves around that, hopefully, can be documented on video as evidence.
This set up is best done in a lock-down situation. No team members in the room, all doors , windows and any drafts accounted for, creating a semi controlled situation. A DVR multicamera monitoring system alongside motion-triggered cams will hopefully capture any movement that might occur.
Magnetic and Electro-Magnetic field Generators
These field pumps produce a small magnetic field which is theorised can help spirits manifest, giving them extra strength to be able to communicate. We make and use our own magnetic pumps.
Infrared Illumination Lamps
These accessories are used as a way to see in the dark. Illuminators will usually be attached to the recording device by an arm or bracket and will provide a light source for the device’s eye. Usually an infrared light.
A must when moving about in the dark during an investigation! High intensity LED bulbs with low power consumption. Unique construction provides light that is super-bright to allow distant objects to be seen, while at the same time, maintains good lighting for close range work, or to move around in caves, camping, etc.
Military Grade Glow Sticks
Glow sticks are cheap, glow for several hours, and can be taped to objects to mark potential hazards. We use these for adding a little low ambient lighting when filming video with non infrared cameras.
EXPERIMENTAL EQUIPMENT / FAD GADGETS
There are many fads that come and go in this field. Equipment paraded around on U.S paranormal TV shows as being capable of actual spirit communicators, spirit capturing cameras or as accurate ghost detecting devices.
All being false and unverified information; lies and hype and should be used for fun and entertainment only. The shows target the easily excited, naïve and those that havent done any research and just blindly believe and accept everything they are being shown and told.
Spirit Boxes / Ghost boxes, Ovilus / Random word generators, Portals, Rem-Pods, SLS/Kinect Cameras, Ouija Boards, Phone apps….the list goes on. All these we’ve trialled at great length at numerous investigations; then either on-sold, given away to other teams to try, thrown into a box at home, or straight up chucked out.
However, as researchers and investigators, it is our duty to find answers and to look into all aspects of the field we are immersed in. It would be unethical for us to discard any theory, idea or piece of equipment that enters the field, without first giving it a good testing out in the field.
We have spent a lot of money purchasing equipment through the years. Testing and experimenting with them to see if there is any validity in the claims and to see first-hand whether they are a worthwhile purchase and a good piece of gear to keep in our research bags.
Having said that, we do keep a few pieces on-hand to bring along to public events. They may not be of any use within serious paranormal research situations but are great to use to generate some audience excitement. Again, entertainment only!
Do they really detect ghosts? Can they really communicate with the deceased?
We encourage those wanting to purchase ghost hunting equipment, to first read up about them. Learn what they are created to do. How they work. The accuracy rating of the gear. The level of possible false positives. The pros and cons. Also read the reviews and what other people have said about them.
Finding out about paranormal ghost hunting equipment beforehand, night save you a lot of time and finances!
Keeping it simple
Not everything in the investigator’s kit is high-tech or requires batteries. A simple pen and paper can be the most important piece of paranormal investigation equipment you carry! More specifically, you should have a small pad of paper or notebook and at least two reliable pens. You’ll need these to keep a log of what you’re doing, where and when. Your digital voice recorder can help noting the same information, but what if the batteries run out or there’s some other kind of malfunction? Keep notes about the readings of your other equipment, your experiences, and even your feelings.