Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Things That Go Bump 2014, #2: Vapor Interaction Observation Chamber (aka the Fogbox)

In keeping with my tradition of meddling with Things With Which Man Was Not Meant to Meddle, I've built a new ghost hunting tool. This new tool started out as the Vapor Interaction Observation Chamber, but from now on I'll be referring to it as the Fogbox.

Frank's neighbors express their approval of his paranormal endeavors.
That's exactly what a fogbox is -- a box full of fog. Why fog?

Because fog is a suspension of tiny water particles in air. Really tiny particles. Moving them around should be easy even if you're some sort of discorporeal energy entity (i.e., a ghost).

People I know and trust have told me they've been touched, had their hair pulled, felt cold little hands slip into theirs during paranormal investigations. Now, I've never experienced anything like that. A couple of years ago, I'd probably have dismissed their claims as imaginary or contrived. But then two things happened. One, I recorded my own EVP phenomena, which proved to me such events are neither always faked nor always imagined. Second, I got to know paranormal investigators who I trust. If they say they've had their hair pulled, they've had their hair pulled.

From their experiences, I can theorize that some agency (let's call it Agency X because I'm hesitant to use the g-word) is capable of infrequent, small-scale physical exertions on material objects. I don't know by what means Agency X exerts these forces, but let's assume they do.

My Fogbox is an effort to capture any small-scale physical effects photographically. Simply put, you fill the lighted chamber with fog. Then you wait for disturbances within the fog or upon the condensation on the inside pane of each of the chamber's sides.

Here's what the Fogbox looks like in action:

But let's back up a moment, and I'll describe its construction.

I took an 18 inch by 24 inch sheet of clear acrylic sheeting and cut it into two 12 by 18 sheets. I then separated these sheets with three-quarter inch pine stock. The top frame member is removable so the interior of each pane can be cleaned.

So what's all that tubing and the wires and the switch do?

The switch box controls two devices. One is the fan that sits atop the Fogbox. It draws artificial fog from the fog cylinder via the black hose and pumps the fog into the chamber.

The other powered item is the blue LED light strip that lines the sides and the bottom of the chamber. This serves two purposes -- one, to light the chamber, and make any motion or markings on the panes easily visible. Two, it looks really cool.

Fog usually occurs when the air temperature equals that of the dew point, but I'm a busy guy and I don't have time to go chasing fog around with my box so I make my own. You take one part pure glycerin to three parts distilled water. Mix well. Put that in a metal container and heat it. Draw off the resulting fog. Yes, it's harmless to breathe. I originally planned to use dry ice, but you can't get dry ice here in Oxford, so I had to drop back to the old Halloween glycerin-and-water recipe.

Here's what the Fogbox looks like with the fog not heated yet. The metal cylinder on the left, which looks suspiciously like an old coffee can, is an old coffee can in which a frame holds a small metal cup above four burning candles. The candles heat the mixture of water and glycerin. The fan and the tube draws this fog into the chamber.

Here's a shot of the Fogbox getting filled.

This is after about 10 minutes:

And here we are full of fog, and glowing!

A close up of the Chamber:

An even closer shot:

Total cost was about 30 bucks. I used an metal watch box as a switch box and the whole thing is powered by an old 12 volt wall transformer. The fan is a 12 volt PC fan of the 'squirrel cage' blower variety.

I just used what I had lying around; nothing about the parts or dimensions is special.

I think the Fogbox would be best used in a location known for high activity.

My hope is that one day a face will appear in a Fogbox and stick out its tongue before writing 867-5309 on the pane.

Markhat Release News

Brown River Queen will be released in print on Tuesday, March 4! So if you've been waiting for a print copy, your wait is nearly over. Of course the ebook version is available now. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention that a new Markhat book, The Five Faces, will be released in ebook format on June 17. You can pre-order now, unless you want to make me cry. You don't want that, do you? Of course not.

Meralda and Mug Update

The new Meralda and Mug book, All the Turns of Light, is proceeding quickly. Is it possible I'll be complete or nearly so with the rough draft by the end of the month?

Yes it is. I don't want to jinx it by saying too much, but it could happen. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

That's it for this edition of Mad Science. I would like to wish a final farewell to Harold Ramis, who brought Dr. Egon Spengler to life and inspired me to do inadvisable things to common household items in the name of Science. 

Don't cross the streams, buddy. See you around.

1 comment:

  1. But Frank, most ghosts avoid water! They can't cross bodies of water and most can't cross salt lines. I think you should leave cookies out. Everyone likes cookies, even ghosts.