Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Things That Go Bump, Mad Science Edition #2

Yes, that's cardboard and aluminum foil. Can I please get a research grant?

As you may recall from last week's blog, we were delving into what serious paranormal researchers call 'spooky stuff.'

Because A) it's cheap fun, and B) even I get tired of listening to me rattle on about writing.

So this week, we'll continue with the spooky stuff. First of all, I promised you a video of my experiment with ITC (Instrumental Trans Communications), and I'll (finally) post the link below. But first, a brief introduction, for any newcomers.

ITC is the practice of aiming a video camera at a video monitor and then feeding the camera's output right into the monitor. You get video feedback, which looks weird. Some people claim you can also capture images from the Great Beyond. 

Below is a photo of the setup I used:

Oops, no, that's what the neighbors do when they hear I've been messing with ghosts again. Wait, here's the ITC rig:

Simple, right? A humble video camera aimed at an old CRT television (with no antenna or other inputs).

Now, the question you're probably asking is this -- did you capture any ghostly faces? Apparitions? Free-form non-terminating repeating spectral vapors? Gozer the Gozerian?

Nah. Feel free to watch the video, but if you see any faces in that mess you've got better eyes than me. 

Here it is, in all its barely-edited glory:

And here are a couple of typical screen-shots.

The Afterlife is NOT in HD.

Green is the new ectoplasm.

Meet Mister Screamy Face.

I do see why people believe they can see images in the visual noise. Heck, sitting down here alone in the middle of the night, I thought I saw things too.

But they vanished on playback. 

I certainly didn't capture anything like the image captured by the Scole Group, which I call Bubble Man.

But I'll keep trying.

Which brings us to the EVP portion of our program. I built two brand new toys to play with, both designed to capture EVPs. 

One is a Raudive microphone in a box with a built in audio amp. That's the first image I used, and yes, it is a box covered in aluminum foil. Because I didn't have a metal box handy, and the foil will act as an RF shield.

It works, too. I recorded a long session with it today, and got nothing but static. 

Now, if you'll look below the foil-covered box, you'll see an odd-looking dingus with a coil on one end.

What is that, you ask?

This is a germanium EMF mic. You need not Google it, because I made that up. 

I took a metal shaft and ran a length of copper wire through it. Insulation keeps the copper away from the steel. The business end of the copper wire sticks out, and is soldered to a 1N34A Germanium diode. The other end of the diode is soldered to the copper coil thingy, which returns to the steel casing and winds up soldered to that.

At the other end, a pair of wire leads connect to the steel shaft and the back end of the copper wire. The leads connect to a mono mic jack. That gets plugged into my voice recorder, or into the small battery-powered 200 milliwatt audio amp (the white box in one of the pics above).

Why the tube and the copper wire and the coil and so forth?

I wish I could say the design came to me in a mystical dream, but honestly those were the first things I grabbed in my junk drawer.

Look, that would be a Bad Idea if I was trying to build a working FM radio. But when one is building a microphone suited for use by ghosts or extradimensional entities, there is no design book. I figure random junk has as much chance to work as carefully-designed circuitry, because nobody has any idea how we might communicate with ghosts anyway, if they even exist.

Also, I thought it looked cool in an old-school B movie sort of way.

Why germanium? Why a 1N34A diode? Why not a Zener or a switching diode?

I don't have any of those.

I wasn't expecting much out of this, um, device. 

I waved it around at Karen. It picked up our cells phones buzzing and clicking.

I plugged it into my recorder, and then went to help feed Max and Fletcher. Fletcher is our diabetic dog, and he likes it when we both feed him. 

So the EMF mic and the recorder were out here in an empty room. 

I got two pretty good EVPs. The first says, at least to me, 'It's a trick.'

It sounds best with headphones, but here it is, looped so you can hear it better. Foljks, please, max out your volume on this one. Not joking, and I promise this isn't a prank!

And here's the second one. I cannot make out the words, but I hear what sounds like a male voice mumble, and a female voice respond.

Reduce your volume to normal for this one!

Again, there was no one here when those voices were recorded.

I can't wait to take my EMF mic to a couple of the places I've gotten EVPs before. Maybe this week I'll have time.

By the way, if you want to try the EMF mic trick yourself, 1N34A germanium diodes can be had from Amazon for a buck. The mono mic jack is a Radio Shack product, which will set you back $3.19. The shaft and the copper coil is more decorative than anything; the diode is the heart of the thing.


The new Markhat novel, THE FIVE FACES, went off to Samhain for their consideration last week. 

Which is big news, to me at least. 

I'll be perfectly honest with you. Every time I finish a book, I'm surprised. 

I am the laziest person alive. I kid you not. There are slime molds with more influential work ethics than me. My base state of being is that of reclining, preferably on a bed, while True TV airs another episode of 'World's Dumbest' and I watch by snoring my way through it.

But another novel has appeared. It's a good one, too. Markhat doesn't just get lucky this time. He fights his way through, and --

-- well, you'll have to wait for the book.

If there is a book, of course. The publisher might say no. It's always possible I've written a stinker and just don't know it.

I can't entertain that line of thought. Instead, I've started the new Mug and Meralda book, which will be entitled ALL THE TURNS OF LIGHT.

And I have a surprise for all you Meralda and Mug fans out there -- THEY LEAVE TIRLIN!

That's right, no more puttering around in the Royal Laboratory with holdstones and calculus. Meralda is on the road, baby, and hating every minute of it....

My plan it to get this one done and out before Christmas. If my courage holds, next week I will start posting weekly word counts, so that you, my friends, can brow-beat and guilt me into actually doing some work.


If I counted up the hours of my day and what I do with them, pounding away at a keyboard would doubtlessly marshal the majority of my time. 

The PC at which I work was built in late 2010, which means it's beginning to show its age. I've been collecting parts to build a new rig for months now, and I'm nearly done acquiring components.

When I am done, I'm going to build the new machine, piece by piece, in front of a camera. Karen has graciously agreed to film the build, and we hope that watching me build a new PC from scratch might help anyone else out there who wants a solid machine at a bargain-basement price. I'll post parts lists, suppliers, and technical notes, of course.

Building a machine isn't as hard as you might think. And oh, the money you can save! 

I'll make sure everyone gets a heads-up before we post that.

Okay, it's almost time for FALLING SKIES. And I need to get in my word count. Enjoy the voices, people!

And check under your beds...bwahahahaha....

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