Over the years, many people have written to us in order to find out what kind of equipment we use on our investigations. Through doing this, they hope to build up their own equipment list for investigating haunted locations themselves. Here, we will provide the amateur ghost hunter with a list of professional equipment that we use, along with simple (and cheap) devices that work on the same principles. This way, you will be able to build your very own ghost hunting kit from cheap, easily accessible items to use until you can save up for the more expensive versions.
Notebook: This piece of equipment is by far the most important item that we take into the field with us. Everything that occurs during an investigation is documented for future reference and study of any given site. Upon arriving at a haunted site, all details of the layout are noted. This includes the conditions present at the site, such as the weather (rainy, foggy, overcast etc), temperature (cold, hot, humid etc), background noises (birds, flying foxes, dogs, traffic etc), and lighting (artificial, full moon etc). Once this information has been noted, the investigation can proceed. The location of every photograph that is taken is noted, any strange occurences are noted with their location and the general progression of the investigation is carefully detailed. This information can then be used once the investigation team has returned home in order to compile an in-depth report on the location in question and the outcome of the investigation.
Camera: Probably the second most important piece of equipment. Members of the Brisbane Ghost Hunters do not rely heavily on photographs, as do other ghost societies, however a 'positive' photograph at a haunted location can be used as a jumping off point for further investigations. In this day and age of digital technology and photo editing software, photographs are no longer 100% proof of ghost existence, however they can be used as background evidence. Many groups will back the use of the most expensive equipment money can buy, however any camera will do...it is really the film that is of importance. We use any film that is of 400 speed or higher, as these films are great for low-light conditions and fast motion. Therefore, a basic happy-snap camera loaded with 400 speed film is as good as a $1000 camera loaded with the same speed film.
Tape Recorder: Another very important piece of equipment, the tape recorder can be used to detect what is known as EVP's, or Electronic Voice Phenomena. We choose to use small, microcassette recorders which are compact and do not hinder the movement of the ghost hunter during the investigation. An external microphone is also handy to have, and tends to cut down on background white noise such as wind etc. Your tape recorder can also be used to take verball notes while in the field if light conditions are too poor for writing in your notebook or information needs to be taken in quickly, such as during an interview with a witness.
EMF Detector: This is one of our main devices for detecting the presence of ghosts. It is believed that when a ghost is nearby or begins to manifest (become visible), an electromagnetic field is created. This device detects these fields...the closer the ghost or anomoly, the higher the reading. The optimum reading for ghosts seems to be between 2.0 and 7.0...anything below 2.0 tends to be from a background source, while anything above 7.0 tends to be from an artificial source (TV-30+, Microwave-50+). Also, be wary of using these devices within houses or buildings, as electrical cabling will create electromagnetic fields, as will waterpipes. For those of you who do not wish to purchase one of these semi-expensive gadgets, there is a far cheaper tool that accomplishes the same task...a compass! As the magnetic needle is affected by the magnetic pull of the earth, so is it affected by any electromagnetic field. If you are out on an investigation and the needle of your compass begins to spin in circles, chances are you have walked into an electromagnetic field, and hence ghostly presences may be nearby.
Infra-red Thermal Scanner: This is a pretty expensive device for measuring temperatures. It works through the use of an infra-red laser beam, that is fired from the device. When this beam hits an object (or a ghost), the beam is bounced back to the instrument giving a very accurate temperature of that object. This device is fantastic for use in large open areas, as the beam can be fired at any distance. For example, if you know the ambient temperature of a courtyard is 22°C, however you find one corner of the yard is giving a reading of 8°C, then you may be experiencing a paranormal event. Many believe that when a ghost is present, the surrounding air becomes far colder than the norm, and this device can be used to track these 'coldspots'. The only problem with this device is that the beam must be pointed at some kind of object in order to be returned to the instrument for a reading. For instance, if the gadget was pointed at the sky, a reading of -200°C may be given due to the fact that the beam has not been bounced back to the scanner. For a cheaper alternative, mercury thermometers can be used, as can the 'indoor/outdoor' style digital thermometers that retail for around $10 at discount stores around Australia.
2-way Radios: These instruments are not terribly necessary when undertaking an investigation, however we choose to use them when investigating large areas like cemeteries. Radios allow us to keep in contact while in the field, such that we are able to relay data to each other as the investigation proceeds. However, be careful in areas with an obvious haunted atmosphere, as this kind of electrical equipment has trouble functioning where electromagnetic fields are present...reception is lost and all that can be heard is white noise or static. As a starter, look around in the flea markets and second hand stores for 1970's-1980's children's walkie-talkies...these will work quite well until you are ready to spend more money on the higher range 2-way radios.
Torch: This one is pretty obvious. While walking around in the dark, some form of light is necessary in order to dodge and avoid hazards in the field. This is especially the case when investigating cemeteries, as open or sunken graves and collapsed monumental masonry can cause severe injuries if not detected ahead of time. Any torch will do, however we choose to carry both a 'Dolphin'TM Torch for geberal lighting, as well as a small MagliteTM for illuminating objects close up, or when alot of light is not necessary. Your preference of torch is really up to you.
And for those of you who are very serious...
"The reader may be interested to know what a ghost-hunter's kit consists of. My bag contained: pair of soft velvet overshoes; steel measuring tape; screw-eyes; lead seals and sealing tool; white tape; toot-pad and nails; hank of flex; small electric bells; dry batteries and swithces (for sercret electrical contacts); camera; films and flashbulbs; notebook; red, blue and black pencils; sketching block and case of drawing instruments; bandages, iodine and surgical adhesive tape; ball of string, stick of chalk, matches, electric torch and candle; flask of brandy; bowl of mercury to detect tremors in room or passage; cinematograph camera with electrical release. For a long stay in a house with a supply of electricity, I would take with me infra-red filters, lamps, and cine films sensitive to infra-red rays, so that I could photograph objects in almost complete darkness."
From: 'Confessions of a Ghost Hunter' by Harry Price...one of the most brilliant parapsychologists to walk this earth!