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Created: May 20, 2009
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bridging science
and parascience

We define "Intermediate" tools as those which extend your ability to sense your surroundings by detecting known forces and energies which your normal senses do not perceive. Tools are listed by "value" in the text section, most vital equipment appearing first. The links to the left list the tools alphabetically.

All equipment should be kept together, whether or not you expect to be needing it for the particular claim you are investigating, and should be devoted to use for investigation only.

Intermediate Equipment



Aside from its obvious usefulness in identifying and maintaining geographic orientation during outdoor investigations, a compass is an extremely inexpensive way to identify certain aspects of magnetic fields stronger than the Earth's. Cheaper models need to be held level (parallel to the Earth's surface), but self-righting compasses are available for a modest price difference.

Night Vision

Night vision capabilities are very expensive alternatives to a simple flashlight, but, unlike flashlights, they don't necessarily alter the environment. There are two basic systems of night vision - image intensification, and spectrum broadening. Image intensification works along the same lines as high-power telescopes (without necessarily the magnification properties) in that it gathers light information from a larger lens area and focuses it. Spectrum broadening collects wave information from either or both the near-infrared and ultraviolet spectrums and adds it to the visible light spectrum. Night vision equipment varies in which technology it makes use of, and much uses more than one.

Further, there are both passive and active night vision systems. Passive systems only make use of environmental light. Active systems project lightwaves out and capture their reflections as well as ambient waves. Active systems do in fact alter the environment, but that alteration can only be detected by creatures / equipment that can see into the infrared / ultraviolet wave spectrums.

Infrared Cameras

Night vision is available for both direct (goggles and scopes) and indirect (photographic and video equipment) observation. Particularly with regard to direct observation equipment, be careful to read and thoroughly understand the instructions and warnings in the manuals that should accompany such equipment. Some models can potentially injure a person if improperly used. Everyone participating in an investigation in which night vision is used needs to be informed and properly cautioned. Improper use of indirect observation equipment can't damage your eyes, but the equipment may still be vulnerable. It may be best to save this tool for after you are regularly working with a specific tight group of co-investigators you know and trust, but it may be extremely useful in some situations (not necessarily ghost hunting), and newer equipment has better safeguards for both the operator and the equipment itself than it used to.

Infrared / Ultraviolet Film

Somewhere between Night Vision and Thermal Imaging lies infrared film. IR film, however, records only reflected and radiated infrared waves within a very narrow spectrum of wavelengths. The advantage is that if something is present but is only visible in the IR spectrum, it will be easy to identify by comparing IR photos with those taken with standard film. Digital equipment with infrared (Night Shot, etc.) capabilities are more truly "night vision" than IR, but can be converted easily by adding filters which block visible light. Always, when purchasing new video equipment, look for units which have night vision capability, as there should be little or no difference in price.

Ultraviolet digital equipment does not appear to exist at this point, but UV film does exist, along with an assortment of filters designed to eliminate all but UV light. Price and effectiveness, however, varies widely and are as yet untested by the KRI.

Motion Detector

Motion detectors may work on any of a number of priniciples, in both active and passive forms. Each variant has its own advantages and disadvantages which should be considered in conjunction with your investigative needs before selecting a particular type - check specifications and compare with your investigative needs carefully before purchasing. They are particularly useful with photo / video equipment (as an automatic trigger), and in maintaining site security (announcing the intrusion of potential hoaxers or other site contaminants).

Thermal Imaging

Thermal Imaging (Thermography)

Similar to Night Vision in that thermal imaging also collects wave information from the infrared spectrum, it instead collects in wavelength bands associated with heat radiation. According to the Black Body Radiation theory, all objects emit infrared radiation based on their temperatures. Thermal imaging collects that infrared radiation and converts it to wavelengths within the visible spectrum. Thermal imaging is exactly like IR film except that it converts a wider spectrum, representing temperature values from as low as -50°F to over 3,000°F. Although thermal imaging is an unreliable tool for determining specific temperatures accurately, it is extremely useful in graphically and instaneously showing relative temperatures and temperature gradients over a wide area and at range. Used in conjunction with an accurate thermometer, the combination is very helpful in any number of situations. Equipment prices are very high, starting from about $2,000, but lower end units are readily available through Sears' tool department.

Also, there exist Thermal Scanners (used by hunters, often called "game scans"), which can detect thermal frequencies of IR but not record them. The value of this tool is limited, but is so rarely used in investigations its potential has yet to be fully explored.

Trifield Meter

EM Meter / Trifield Meter

Although the usefulness of electromagnetic (EM) field meters in investigations of hauntings has been greatly exaggerated, they can still be helpful tools, and remain so in other fields of paranormal investigation. EM fields are rated in Gauss (milligauss), so they are sometimes called Gauss meters. There are many very inexpensive EM meters available, but low price usually means the meter's sensor reads along a single axis only. EM is a vectored field, so single axis meters can be a bit difficult to use properly, and are certainly more time-consuming. Recommended are three-axis meters (meaning they test three perpendicular axes simultaneously, automatically compute an accurate gauss rating, and display it as a single output figure). Some people advertise three-axis meters as trifield meters, but not all trifield meters have three-axis heads. Some read three different fields (on three different scales), using single axis sensors - which are no easier to use than a single axis gauss meter. Read the unit's specifications carefully before purchase and make sure it has a three-axis head, sensor, or pickup.


Magnetometers are similar to EMF detectors in that they detect a field related to electromagnetic energy. However, they are more specific in that they are designed to detect magnetic fields only. They're a little more "old school" than the EMF meters most investigators use, but are certainly an upgrade from using a compass to determine magnetic field vector.

Talc / Baby Powder

Talc, flour, baby powder - any can be used to identify whether or not a physical force can be associated with certain frequently claimed manifestations. Unscented talc is preferred as scented baby powder can mask other aromas (paranormal or otherwise), and flour will decay if not properly cleaned up after an investigation is over. By spreading the powder across an area of floor, it can be determined positively whether or not something physical crossed that floor by looking for tracks in the powder later. To prevent the powder from dropping out of sight into carpeting or to make the powder more visible (or even to prevent making a mess), black plastic is usually laid out first and the powder applied on top of that. The upside of this system is that it's very cheap and easy to do. The downside is that it can be messy, it doesn't always make the physical cause of the tracks obvious, and that you can perform the same function better by stationing a video camera to surveil the area.

This system, however, can also be used in sort of a reverse format: it can be used in conjunction with audio and video equipment to establish "ghost footsteps" (heard, but no known source) do indeed have no detectable cause. Should footprints appear in the powder but no cause can be filmed, this would be a very serious indicator of paranormal manifestation. Or, if a noise (footsteps) can be localized enough to show that they are occuring in a specific location (where the powder is set up) but no tracks occur, it can be stated that the noise of the footsteps is truly anomalous. To make this format work, however, an investigator should use multiple synchronized (or time-marked) audio recorders to be able to prove conclusively the area from which a sound originates.

Because of the mess, however, this use is recommended only as follow-up to previously recorded investigations, to support or refute other evidence. Further, as the powder can be easily disturbed by even slight air currents, caution should be used to guarantee the environment is sufficiently draft-free, and this system can't be reliably used outdoors at all.

Geiger Counter

Geiger counters detect penetrating EMF (photonic) particles such as x-rays, gamma rays, and sometimes other forms of (heavier particulate) radiation. In most cases it's only use is to eliminate possibilities rather than expose them, so they are of questionable value - except, perhaps, to UFO or Crop Circle investigators. Few amateur investigators use them, so there is insufficient data to accurately correlate any particular phenomenon with radioactivity. However, this does not mean such correlation does not exist, and it remains entirely possible that if more investigators used one relationships could be established.