The Paranormal Multimeter

I’m considering going into a DIY project to build my own multimeter designed to detect phenomenon commonly associated with the paranormal. This is in-line with my OPAR project and, hopefully, will be the first of a series of articles on the subject.

I don’t really believe in this stuff, but I do have friends that do. Occasionally they would ask me to build something similar so they can take one on their “ghost hunts”.  I used to live next door to a cemetery for many years and never once saw a ghost. But in the interest of science, I’m willing to suspend disbelief and wade in with an open mind.

I’ve seen similar devices being sold for ungodly amounts of money. If you’re going to blow that amount of cash on something like this, you might as well put one together yourself. Rather than let everyone get ripped off, I thought I’d look into how these things actually work so everyone can build one of their own (far superior) device using publicily available schematics and easily obtainable parts. I’m not going to get all super fancy with this, but it will be a decent effort to build a functional yet semi-sophisticated device.

Think bar graphs, not digital readouts.

So what is it that we should be detecting?
Since this will be a “multimeter” for paranormal investigations, it should incorporate more than one type of sensor. For this device, there should be an EMF detector, Ion meter(+/-), air pressure/sound meter, and temprature gauge.

Electromagnetic Fields

Ah yes! What ghost hunt wouldn’t be complete without the proverbial EMF detector? Well the (in)famous K-II meter you see being sold everywhere is just that. An EMF detector inside a cheesey plastic case.

Behold! The bane of poltergeists everywhere...

Behold! The bane of poltergeists everywhere!

Why is it so popular?
It’s supposed to be idiot-proof. Also a ghost from the 1800 or so may find it easy to use as well. Just by walking (or floating) up to it, the LED’s will light up giving a clear reaction to its actions. With the LED’s lighting up clearly, there’s little doubt there is a presence in the vicinity.

And that’s about it… There’s no other benefit in using the K-II vs any other garden variety EMF detector. In fact, you may be better off using a garden variety one as those tend to be much cheaper, more precise in indications and generally feature better construction. But that’s your call.

Sound/Air Pressure

One of the often mentioned symptoms of a paranormal event is the feeling of stuffy or heavy air. I figured if the air pressure actually rises or fluctuates, it can be measured to some degree. It can also double as a sound meter as Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) events tend to be present in recording devices, but not heard by the investigators. If this is the case, then a sound level meter can pinpoint the exact moment such an event takes place.

For the sake of simplicity, I won’t be incorporating a recording mechanism to the sound. Merely a sound level meter.

Ions

I’m sure you’ve seen the “Ionic Breeze” commecials all over the place. Well, it does generate ions, but this is a side-effect of the high voltage grid used to trap debris and pollution. The difference in voltage causes the air to ionise in the process as well.

Negative ions are supposed to be good for you and positive ions detrimental. I don’t know how much of this is hype and how much real science, but for paranormal purposes, both should be monitored… apparently. Seriously, I’m just repeating what I’ve been told by my ghost hunting friends.

Of course, if you do have one of these ionic filters at home or have a purpose built negative ion generator for health reasons, you should turn it off and wait a while before embarking on your investigation.

Temprature

COLD SPOTS are what every ghost hunter should be conscious of whenever embarking on an investigation.

Apparently, a ghost or spirit will “darw energy from the surrounding environment trying to manifest itself, thereby reducing the temprature”. Or there may be a breeze which would have the same effect, but that’s why you shouldn’t rely on gadgets alone.


Construction…

I’ll need to place all the components in something. The obvious choice is a project box.

I chose the Hammond 1593Y(PDF) series because it has a nice flat top to work with as well as standoffs for dual circuit boards. I’m thinking of placing all the displays on the upper circuit board and instrument components in the lower one. The battery compartment is also a nice plus so you don’t have to take it apart to change the cell.

Now I’m off to hunt down some schematics and components… Wish me luck!

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Open Paranormal Association for Research (OPAR)

I’m officially announcing the start of a new paranormal research organization… Yes, I’m totally serious.

The Open Paranormal Association for Research or OPAR.
I had another name in mind:
Open Paranormal Research Association for Hunters or OPRAH, but that may cause some issues…

So why this one when there are already countless other paranormal this and that organizations out there?
I don’t believe in ghosts or the supernatural. I’ve lived, literally, next door to a cemetery for many years and never once encountered anything paranormal. So I want to approach this from a perspective of someone who’s never experienced any of this. Perhaps that would give me some perspective on what’s really going on.

Are these things real or just figments of a collective imagination? Can so many people be hallucinating or making up stories or are there actual phenomenon that could be construed as paranormal?

I want to see what all the hubbub is about.

And what’s with the name?

Open

All research and investigations conducted within the organization will be available for public review. This includes logs, video and audio (when available) and other records collected during the course of the affair. Furthermore, every effort will be made to ensure the majority, if not all, the content of the research will be available outright in the public domain or at least free (under “fair use” in copyright law if external material is involved) whenever possible.

Paranormal

Or as the good folks at TAPS would elaborate “above-normal”. Floating balls of dust, your strap or finger caught on camera, and fog, do not constitute a “paranormal” event. Neither do “feelings of discomfort or paranoia” which could easily be caused by food poisoning or inhaling chemicals or dust from a particular structure, as much a ghost.

Association

So this won’t be a party of one, obviously. I’ll need some volunteers at some point. Also it’s good to have more than one perspective on anything as you’re likely to observe the non-existent or miss the existent if you only have one set of eyes and ears. And good ideas are always more likely to come by in groups.

Research

We’re actually going to be finding stuff and documenting everything. Even if we find nothing, documentation will still exist. More importantly, if what’s found is nothing, what’s shown will be nothing along with the data showing nothing. Everything will fall within objective and unbiased scrutiny.

The subjects of research will be ghosts, mainly, and hauntings as well as poltergeist activity. No UFOs, extraterrestrials kryptids or other such things. I want to stick to things that are actually feasible for testing purposes. Challenging the government to declassify documents and going into the woods looking for Bigfoot is a no-go.

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And so… Onward and upward!