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Tools of the ghost hunting trade

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Paranormal researchers rely on technology and instinct to find answers. On every case, the Paranormal Research Association of Boston arrives carrying silver suitcases containing recording equipment, both modern and old-fashioned: from digital video and audio devices to 35mm film cameras. Each tool is used to measure aspects of the environment from electrical frequencies to carbon monoxide. The data are gathered and tallied in the final report, which is given to the client. Here’s what the specialists use when confronting potential paranormal activity.

Electromagnetic field meter: The EMF meter measures fluctuations in electromagnetic fields. It could point to potential paranormal activity (some paranormalists believe spirits emit their own frequencies) or it could reveal old wiring. According to PRAB, the meter can be affected by anything emitting an electrical or magnetic field such as cellphones.


Cameras: PRAB uses several types of cameras including infrared, digital, 35mm film, and video cameras connected to digital video recorders.

Audio recorders: To capture sound from a scene, the team uses digital audio recorders. Part of this analysis also includes ultra-low frequency sounds, too low to be detected by the human ear.

Night vision cameras: Seeing in the dark is necessary when working in gloomy halls and corridors. “Traditionally, spirits are usually seen in the dark, as people’s senses are heightened to small changes they may not perceive with the other distractions during the day,” according to PRAB.

Multisystem detector: The name says it all. Multisystem detectors are used by PRAB to look at high ranges of EMF as well as high alternating currents.

Environmental indicators: Investigators check temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and ion levels.

Eight wired infrared cameras: Placed throughout the building being investigated, the cameras allow for real-time monitoring and recording of video at night from an outside command center.

Eight-channel digital video recorder: This is the main storage component for all recordings from digital cameras. Video and still images are saved on the 500 GB hard drive.


Communications: While investigating, PRAB team members use ultra-high frequency radios that they say do not interfere with other equipment readings.

Radiation detector: PRAB says it rarely finds radiation and is often crossed off the list of potential anomalies in the building.

Mel-8704-ProNavigator: This tool, used specifically by paranormal investigators is said to measure temperature and electromagnetic fields simultaneously. Its purpose is to “locate the source of electromagnetic fields and has a rapid temperature probe to locate hot and cold spots.”

UEi CO71 carbon monoxide detector: As with EMF readings, knowing a building’s carbon monoxide levels can help investigators provide a scientific alternative to perceived paranormal activity. High CO levels can cause hallucinations and dizziness.
Cristela Guerra

Cristela Guerra can be reached at cristela.guerra@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.