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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Things That Go Bump #2: Thomas House Edition

As I mentioned last week, I'll soon be taking a trip to the Thomas House in Tennessee, in hopes of recording some of the haunting activity frequently reported there.

I'll take a camera, of course, but my strategy is concentrate on capturing audio phenomena. To that end, I've collected my gear, and here's what I'll be taking:

* A homemade Velleman stereo super-ear amp, with digital recorder onboard.

* A homemade magnetic sensor. This device is extremely sensitive, and it transduces EM signals down to audio. Which means if everyone's K2 meters light up, I can stick my nosy 2-foot-long probe near the spot. If the source of the reading is, for example, common house electrical current, the mag box will retun the unmistakable sound of 60 Hz house current. It's also sensitive enough to pick up cell phone emissions, which I suspect are another common source of K2 readings. The mag box also has full-time digital recording (like the Velleman, by means of a small digital voice recorder Velcroed to the side.)

* A parabolic mic with full-time digital audio recording. The parabolic is too large and unwieldy to walk around with, so I'll just set it up in some lonely, out of the way spot, turn it on, and let it record. Maybe a ghost will get careless and complain about all the live people tramping around and I'll catch that.

* A so-called 'Tesla radio,' also equipped with a digital recorder. This is basically an untuned AM radio, with weird antennas Signals drift in and out willy-nilly, and since some researchers believe communication is possible with such a device, I'm bringing one. 

* Finally, my trusty Zoom H1 field mic, which is tough, sensitive, and capable of truly detailed recordings. 

Below are some snapshots of the gear.

Why yes, it is homemade. Since parabolics run 600 and higher even for small ones, I won't be buying one anytime soon. Recording is straight to a Dell netbook. This little rig works well, even if it is basically a squirrel-shield and leftover parts from other projects. Oh, and why does it having a blinking red LED? 

Clear disk. Dark, unfamiliar room. With the LED blinking away maybe I won't walk into it again.

Next up, the Tesla.

There's a story about Nikola Tesla building a very primitive radio in his laboratory and listening to it late in the night. The story goes that he heard things he couldn't explain, and since this took place well before the advent of commercial radio stations, and since Tesla invented basically every bit of electrical technology we enjoy today, a lot of people take the story seriously. 

Hey, it looks cool, it's sensitive to a broad spectrum of radio frequencies, and it cost me 13 bucks to build. You've got an old-school germanium diode, a tiny capacitor or two, and then I added a preamp and topped it off with a quarter-watt audio amp and a cheap digital voice recorder. So speak into the spiral antenna, Miss Ghost, and be heard.

Last, a couple of items. Pictured below are the Velleman super ear and its recorder, on the left. On the right of the Velleman is the mag box, also with its recorder. The small black box on the far right is a Ramsey Electronics Tri-Field recorder, which can reveal the presence of electric fields, magnetic fields, or RF fields. 

Also shown is a sonic screwdriver, because who goes ghost hunting without one, right?

The mag box has a two-foot-long probe. Here's a picture of the magnetic sensor at the end:

I hope it's safe to say I'll be able to cover the entire audio spectrum and a good wide swath of the EM spectrum, too. 

The downside of all this, of course, will be the mind-numbingly boring task of listening to each and every minute of everything recorded by all the recorders. 

That's the real glamor of engaging in paranormal research -- listening intently to fifteen hours of audio in hopes of catching a single muttered 'Hey.' 

Switching gears from ghost hunting to writing for a moment, noted book reviewer Big Al reviewed the latest Markhat novel, THE DARKER CARNIVAL.

You can read the review by clicking here. The reviewer liked the book -- always a nervous moment, believe me, reading a book review of your own book -- so I'm thrilled. 

Here's an excerpt from the review: "It is a rollercoaster ride of twists and dead-ends until puzzle pieces start falling into place. Then Markhat finds himself confronted with something he never imagined he would find himself doing or having the will to carry out."

Now that's what any writer wants to see!

If you're curious, you can still buy THE DARKER CARNIVAL from Amazon by clicking here.

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