Montana Ghost Hunter

Tag: IR

Game Cameras | Trail Cameras – What to get?

by on Sep.09, 2011, under Equipment

Game Camera used in paranormal investigationIt was a while back when I watched Ghost Adventures, and I saw Zack with a Moultrie I-40 Game Spy camera. I picked one of those up and used them on various investigations. It’s a great game trail camera. I get a few emails asking about what is a good game camera to get for paranormal investigations. I think when you’re ready to purchase a trail camera you need to ask yourself a few questions.

– What are my features? (video, IR, water proof, storage capacity, ease of use, built in viewer, sound, etc).
– What is my quality requirements? (megapixel for example)
– What is my budget?

Once you have these defined, you can start shopping and looking around. For some of you that aren’t familiar with game cameras at all, then I’ll break down some of the features needed.

You should have a camera that IR (infrared). It needs to shoot in the dark as well as in the daylight. Video is nice to have as well, but not necessarily required. Video will use more of you SD card, etc so you need to plan ahead with that. Some cameras actually shoot HD video and record sound. This will definitely use more memory and you’ll need to consider that for long investigations. I purchased the Moultrie Game Camera because it records time and temperature as well as lunar cycle. I like the temperature, especially during investigations people will discuss how cold the room has gotten. With the game camera in the same room, you can verify temperature drops.

I would also look at the megapixel of the images. You want good quality images when reviewing evidence. The higher the better, but also understand the higher the megapixel or MP, the higher the cost of the unit.

Now-a-days cameras are getting smaller and smaller, which is great. If you’re team is wanting to cover a large area or multiple rooms, a trail camera is a great asset to have in the investigators toolbox. You should expect to pay between $100 – $200 for a quality camera. Obviously you can pay much more and get deals below $100, so like I mentioned above, first get your requirements in budget in place. That will help with your decision.

If you’re looking to purchase a game camera, check out GameCamerasOnSale.com which is a great place for locating deals as well as seeing images and video in the blog. It’s a great way to see what type of footage a camera is capable of. Note – most of these will be images of wildlife, but you should be able to get an idea of what the camera can and can’t do.

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Ghost Beacon Project

by on Oct.19, 2009, under Equipment

So I’ve been kicking around the idea of building a ‘ghost beacon‘. The concept is something that flashes in the IR and UV light spectrum, that might be able to attract some spirit activity. Does this work? Who knows, but it sounded fun and nerdy, so I’m all over it.

I was looking around for various schematics on how to do this, but I stumbled across a great kit at BG Micro, that I thought would be perfect. The kit was the Tiny Cylon kit. Normally, this uses 5 small red LEDs and a 555 IC chip pre-programmed to display various light patterns. I thought it would be cool to replace some of the LEDs with IR and UV LEDs.

The kit comes non-assembled (basically a circuit board, resister, switch, IC and 5 red LEDs). I also purchased a few 940nm/50 degree LEDs and a few T1-3/4 UV LEDs. The UVs are a bit pricey at $1.49 ea, but these IRs are on .20 ea. I would probably try ones with greater degree though. The 940nm make it completely invisible to the human eye though.

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The kit is very easy to assemble, just add the components and start soldering! The kit comes with a battery pack (3 AAA batteries) with postive/negative leads so you need to solder those as well.

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I initially had some trouble powering the unit. Doing a quick check with my volt meter, I noticed that something was ‘off’ with my incoming power supply. Re-seating the batteries in this case fixed the problem. You can use the switch to change light modes. I believe there are 5 or 6 different modes.

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I posted a small video at YouTube showing you how the lights work, etc. You can see it below:

Please let me know what you think, or if you have any suggestions, tips, etc. You can also get a hold of me on Twitter now as well!

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IR Flashlight Illuminator – Refraction Lens Modification

by on Oct.12, 2009, under Equipment

So a while ago, I posted a how-to on building a simple IR (infrared) illuminator using a flashlight and colored gels. This is a great, easy way to add additional infrared light to your night shot cameras.

Recently, I was at a investigation at Rankin Hall, and this was my first test of these IR illuminators. Overall, they worked great, but I felt that the light beam was too focused and it created a large spot on the wall when pointed to it. I wanted to ‘wash’ that out and cause more of a ‘flood’ effect. Doing some brainstorming and asking other nerdy friends, a friend came up with the idea of using a fluorescent light cover. I thought this was absolutely brilliant idea, since the flood lights had ‘nubbed’ surfaces causing the light to refract on multiple points on the surface.

I went to Ace hardware and picked up a 2×4 sheet of this material (approximately $7) and took it home. Here are the steps I took to complete this project (this is starting with a functional IR illuminator).

I laid the material on the floor and took apart my flashlight to use the reflector as a stencil.

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I used a utility knife to outline the reflector. There is a flat side and a nubby side. I scored the plastic on the flat side. Be careful with this material, it’s very brittle and can crack easily.

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Next, I used a Dremel tool with a cutting wheel to cut out a square around the circle. This will give you a more manageable piece to work with. Once that is out, you can cut on your score mark easier. Try not to damage the surface, and stay with in the outline. I used a sanding bit to smooth the edges, but a file would probably work as well.

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Next you lay the additional lens in the lens holder. It should be a sandwich. Refraction lens, gels and the actual lens. I kept the nubby side towards the light source.

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Here is what the light source looks like.. pretty cool!

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I wanted to show you the before and after conditions of the IR illuminator as well. These shots were taken with the IR converted digital camera, using the IR flashlight as the light source. Here is the shot without the refraction lense modification.

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As you can see, there is a intense center point. Sorry the photo is slightly blurry, the IR camera should have been on a tripod, since it’s still shooting in low light, but I just wanted to illustrate the ‘spot’. Next is with the modification.

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You lose a bit of distance, but the area is more covered with IR light. The beauty with this modification, if you need a beam, you just remove the refraction lense. Very quick.

Let me know what you think!

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PVC IR Illuminator!

by on May.23, 2009, under Equipment

p5220069So this was a fun project. Our paranormal group was looking for a way to get some more IR light for or our static video cameras and/or for our rooms that could use a bit more for the hand held cameras. We were trying to determine what would be more cost effective.. buying illuminators or building our own. I already played with converting a flashlight using gels with good success, but I wanted to give IR LEDs a shot.

Searching the internet I found a few IR kits, and settled on a kit with 36-850nm LEDs providing a viewing angle of 50 degrees.

I’m a nerd by nature, so the idea of soldering a bunch of LEDs to a circuit board.. is fun!

(continue reading…)

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Build a simple IR (infrared) illuminator

by on May.16, 2009, under Equipment

p5140010In a previous post I converted a digital camera to be a infrared digital camera. This allows you to take some very cool photos, and you can utilize ‘night shot’ can capture still images in the dark. To do this, you’ll need a IR light source, the built in flash will be useless.

Various video cameras have night shot IR and I was initially testing the ability of the digital camera to see in the dark using the beam from my video camera. You can purchase various IR illuminators, but I knew there had to be some simple DIY (Do It Yourself) techniques to do this.

After Googling for a bit I found various techniques where you can create a filter for a normal flashlight and create a large IR beam to illuminate a room.  I was able to create a very effective IR illuminator and I’m more than happy to demonstrate how I did it.

The entire project cost around $35 dollars including the purchase of gels and flashlight. I have enough gels to convert several flashlights as well as a few filters for another camera project I’m working on.

Okay, here is what you’ll need to get to convert a flashlight into a IR illuminator:

Flashlight – I used a Brinkmann 6 volt Krypton Lantern. You can purchase this for about $6 at Walmart, etc. I wanted something with a large beam. My goal is to fill a room with IR light.

Congo Blue Gel Lighting Filter (Rosco #382). You can purchase this at B&H here

Red Gel Lighting Filter (Rosco #27). You can purchase this at B&H here

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How to convert a Digital Concepts digital camera to be a IR camera.

by on May.11, 2009, under Equipment



First things first.

#1 This CANNOT be undone. By converting this camera, it will only shoot in infrared, it will NO longer be a normal digital camera

#2 I am NOT responsible if you ruin your camera. This is a ‘fun’ project, that can turn costly. I cannot determine how careful you are or how well you follow instructions.

You have been warned. If you don’t want to risk ruining this camera, STOP NOW!

Okay, for the people that want to have fun, let’s get started.

I’m using the Digital Concepts 7.1 megapixel (#87690). I purchased mine for about $60. Here is a link to the camera at Buy.com.

This is a decent camera, and at $60, it’s not too bad if you end up bricking it. If you follow the directions and go at a nice methodical pace, you should be fine.

p5110067Let’s begin. First we need to remove the screws from the unit. With the LCD facing you, there are two screws on the bottom, one screw towards the right, and two screws on the left (the second screw is under the USB flap). Here is a tip, I use a small precision electronics screw driver with a magnet to grab the screws easier. (continue reading…)

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Infrared digital photography for ghost hunting

by on May.09, 2009, under Equipment

On a recent ghost hunt, I was thinking it would be cool to use a IR digital camera. I’ve seen a few for sale on eBay, but thought it would be  a good project to modify an existing digital camera. The project was a success, and I’ll post a how-to in a later post.

One of the theories surrounding IR digital photography is that it will be possible to capture paranormal activity during daylight hours. This opens the possibility of more sites to investigate, and it provides a way to investigate in plain site.

You can view some image and more information here: http://www.ghostsrus.com/infrared.html

The idea of capturing orbs or anamolies within the IR spectrum can be performed with a digital camera is very interesting for me. After I made my modification I went to a old cemetery in my home town. I took photos with a tripod and took them in series. Meaning, I took three shots in sequence before picking a new shot. I particularily like this theory to see if you can catch something odd with one of the three shots. By taking the shots close together you can eliminate the possibility of someone walking into the shot, etc.

Below are some photos I took with my modified IR digital

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As you can see these images are quite cool. Unfortunately, I took many many photos, but nothing interesting came up. I know I’ll be using this for future sessions. Since the camera has been modified to be IR, it can also take night shots. It will need a IR light source to see in the dark. I did some initial testing using a nightshot enabled video camera. The range is very poor with that particular IR beam. I’ll be working on modifying a flashlight to be IR. I also have a LED brick on the project list, basically making a block of IR LEDs.

Let me know what you think!

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