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Spookover events at the Deering Estate (FL)

Florida delegate of the Paranormal Consortium

Ghost Lab

LPI's advanced equipment
Introduction:
Like most other groups in the field, the League of Paranormal Investigators uses "standard" or "regular" equipment during investigations. This common equipment consists of EMF sensors, IR contact thermometers, IR cameras, digital audio recorders, digital cameras and video cameras. The EMF sensors and IR contact thermometer are generally only used for measuring base line values of the location which will be investigated. Digital cameras, video cameras, audio recorders and IR cameras are used during the investigation.
 
Most of our equipment is used dynamically and only the IR cameras and sometimes the video cameras are used as static devices. The advantage of using this equipment dynamically is that the investigator has to be on the right spot at the right time to catch the evidence. Even the measurement registered has to be reported in order to have any scientific significance. From personal experience I have learned that this hardly happens during most investigations. By watching other groups it is clear that this is common practice for this type of equipment.
 
As mentioned earlier, to make the evidence worth anything we need to write down all the values during the whole investigation. This will be hard on the investigators. Having a background in analytical chemistry I personally know the importance of writing down any value of importance which might be needed when one writes a report. That was one of the two main reasons why I started looking into ways to automate this process.
 
This reason is also the fact that during one of my early investigations I noticed that I was attracted to detecting poltergeist activity. This is a lifelong passion which I first noticed when I was around six years old. During my first investigation we investigated a house where the owner died and the house was bought by a young couple. This couple reported many paranormal occurrences which scared them in their new home. One of the occurrences was a bronze statue on the porch, which according to the new owners always points in the same direction. Even when the statue changed, after a while it would be found pointing in the same position again. During this investigation the team leader moved the statue but nobody paid further attention to it that night. While analyzing the pictures I took during this investigation, I noticed that the statue did move but had no evidence that it did it by itself or an investigator "accidentally" moved it.
 
This incident is what got me thinking about how I could capture poltergeist activity during the many investigations to come.
 
LPI's advanced equipment
 
Ghost Lab™
It all started with a simple digital camera mounted on a tripod. By manually taking pictures with a regular interval of three minutes it was the start of a new program I named Ghost Lab™.
 
Ghost Lab™ is a .NET application specially developed to detect poltergeist activity by steering a digital camera and analyzing the pictures with a special motion detection algorithm.
 
The first phase was to connect a Canon A640 digital camera to Ghost Lab™. Ghost Lab™ steers the camera to take a picture and download this picture to the laptop where it can be analyzed.
 
In phase two some data logging capacities where added into Ghost Lab™ application by adding EMF, temperature and humidity sensors and a motion detector from the company Vernier. Ghost Lab™ collects this data during the whole investigation and stores it for further analyses.
 
Some sensors can directly attach through USB like the Go! Motion and Go! Temp and the other sensors need a Go! Link interface or Labpro interface. All data coming from each sensor and detector is printed in a graph and each device has a predefined threshold value set which is able to trigger the digital camera to take pictures of the area which is monitored by Ghost Lab™.
 
Vernier has a large amount of sensors but only a few are useable in the field of paranormal research so we had to look for other sources of sensors which could be connected to the computer through the USB interface. Vernier has a Software Development Kit (SDK) which made it possible to write an interface component which allowed Ghost Lab™ to collect the connected sensors and data with a regular interval of one second. Ghost Lab™ empties the buffer of each sensor, updates the graphs, and stores all values then checks if a preset threshold value is reached. All Vernier sensors are calibrated and only the humidity sensor needs to be adjusted with the temperature.
 
(C) 2009 League of Paranormal Investigators
(C) 2009 League of Paranormal Investigators
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For phase three we had to search the world for other data logging devices and we found a company called Phidgets which has several sensors. To make those sensors available to Ghost Lab™ a little bit more work was involved than with the Vernier sensors which are practically ready to use. Phidgets sensors are delivered on small circuit boards and need to be built into a compartment to keep them nice, neat and protected. They also require a Phidget InterfaceKit 8/8/8 component which allow us to connect up to eight sensors with a single USB connection.
 
Like Vernier, Phidgets provides a Software Development Kit (SDK) which made it possible to write an interface class which allowed Ghost Lab™ to collect data. At this moment we added an EMF, humidity, vibration, pressure and two temperature sensors. One of the temperature sensors comes with an additional humidity sensor.
 
In the latest phase we also start looking into data logging of sensors which are not intended to detect paranormal activity but to measure data which might cause paranormal experiences such as during Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Lascar electronics provides the EL-USB-CO Carbon Monoxide Data Logger which can be used to collect the Carbon Monoxide. Lascar does not provide a Software Development Kit (yet) like Vernier and Phidgets so with this sensor we need to analyze the sensors API before we can develop the Ghost Lab™ interface class. At this moment this Carbon Monoxide sensor is not connected to the Ghost Lab™ directly, instead we collect the data manually and import the data into Ghost Lab™ afterwards.
 
LPI's advanced equipment
 
Results
Ghost Lab™ is already used during several investigations and it turns out be very successful in several incidents. The first breakthrough came when we used Ghost Lab™ during an investigation where some activity was reported in the bunk bed of two small children. Ghost Lab™ did pick up that the comforter did move without anybody nearby other than the investigator operating Ghost Lab™. The client later confirmed that one of her children always complained that somebody was pulling the blankets off her bed at night.
 
In another investigation, the client reported unexplained noises and events in the hobby room of their home. Ghost Lab™ effectively detected and documented poltergeist activity that would have been too subtle to notice by an investigation team.
 
In another occasion, while all sensors and cameras were focusing on a chain hanging from the ceiling, we discovered that in a closet in the background some clothes moved around while no one was present around this closet. Some team psychics also sensed that some dark entities were using this closet as a hiding place. One of the team skeptics reported that he saw something moving, coming out of the closet, towards him while he was watching Ghost Lab™ in the dark. Further Ghost Lab™ did reacted when the chain started moving by itself but this cannot be used as real evidence because certain other events took place at that moment. There was also some suspicion of tampering.
 
Anti-tampering provisions have been put in place following this incident including one camera focused on the equipment itself.
 
The big question will be if Ghost Lab™ and any other form of computer aided investigation technology will always work during all investigations?
 
This answer might probably be no… Some psychics on our team reported that sometimes the spirits do not like this modern technology and are hiding from it. In a recent investigation a spirit tried to block the sensors by pushing one of our psychics towards the sensors. The psychic sensed that the entity did not like what we were doing. Due to the fact that the investigators interfered with all sensors running Ghost Lab™ by allowing the spirit to push towards them, it made data collected by the sensors useless. It was, however, interesting to see how spirits deal with this modern technology. The fact that the entity disliked modern technology during this investigation was also confirmed by other psychics on the team.
 
Future Development
The future of Ghost Lab™ is still looking very promising and the plan is to add more sensors to collect as much data as possible by using advanced data logging technologies. One of the plans is to build a grid of sensors which can be used to detect movement in an entire room instead of a focused area, but this might not always work because sometimes we have to work in narrow areas and of course share the area with other investigators.
 
As mentioned earlier, all data is stored and kept so we have the possibility to perform Meta Analyses at a later stage.