Montana Ghost Hunter

Tag: project

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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GeoPhone Sensor

by on Oct.09, 2009, under Equipment

Geophone Color SketchMy friend Andy commented on my GeoPhone project and mentioned that the sensor and kit are unavailable currently.  I’ve been curious how that sensor actually works. I knew there was a magnet and it felt ‘suspended’ since moving it makes a noticeable ‘clicking’ sound.

I found this cool diagram describing how that sensor works. Looks pretty simple, I wonder how hard it would be to make.. I’m guessing the tough part is getting the right frequency.

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