Paranormal Research - Data Logging

Published in the May 2013 issue of The Paranormal Inquiry

Last month I introduced you to the Audio Data Collection System which consists of a four channel digital recorder with exterior mounted condenser microphones, an external dynamic microphone, an EMF sensor, and a sound level meter. This system is designed to capture audio, electromagnetic fluctuations and sound level data over a long period of time and sync the data to be examined in audio software to look for anomalies or EVPs. While I am still analyzing data from its’ overnight maiden voyage, it has already proven useful in separating the cacophony of abnormal sounds I make in my sleep from a few suspected paranormal sounds in the room. Here is a photo of the ADCS-1. It is a data logging audio system.

Data loggers have existed in the scientific world for some time. They are also used in the industrial world as well. But surprisingly, they have not been met with wide acceptance in the paranormal world. Data logging systems can collect multiple streams of data from many different sensors at the same time and display it all simultaneously for analysis. One inherent problem with a data logging system, and why I think they are not used more in the field, is that it usually requires connection to a computer. This means the system has to be set up in a single location with an electrical outlet nearby. The nature of paranormal investigation and research often requires the researchers to be mobile and sometimes work in areas with no electricity. Recognizing this, I set out on a quest to discover a way to create a data logging system that was powerful, yet completely portable.

 

After being introduced to the concept of data logging, my first priority was to assemble the audio system. This was relatively easy to do by communing with that Oracle of the Modern Age, the omnipotent Internet. One of my favorite haunts is the S.P.I.R.I.T. Paranormal Research Laboratory, a special place on Facebook for us science-minded para-geeks to freely exchange ideas and information. With the support and guidance of those who have gone before, the ADCS-1 was born.

 

With that accomplished I moved my sights to compiling an Environmental Data Collection system. For those who may not understand the purpose of using a system to log environmental data for paranormal research, I will elaborate. Even in the earliest days of exploring the possibility of ghostly encounters, it was found that there are commonly observed environmental changes associated with perceived paranormal events. Among these are changes in temperature, magnetism, light, sound, barometric pressure, and static electricity. In more recent times, researchers are also observing changes in electromagnetic fields, infrared and ultraviolet light, gamma radiation, and gravity. It quickly became apparent that I would need to establish certain criteria for my environmental data logging system.

 

First, I would need to find a data logger that would operate independent from, but could also interface with a computer. It would have to operate for several hours on battery power and must be rugged and small enough to be easily moved. These attributes would make it portable enough to be mobile and set up very quickly and operate in areas with no electricity. Next, the logger must be able to use several different sensors simultaneously and store each sensor’s data separately. Another equally important factor was, since there are no government grants to study the paranormal, it must be affordable. With these things in mind, my search began. After months of scouring all the sources and information about data loggers, I stumbled upon a few researchers who were using what seemed to be the ideal solution. This system is the MultiLog Pro by Fourier Education. The data logger was developed for classroom scientific experiments from the middle school through university levels. The logger can be hand-held and operates on batteries or AC electricity. It can use up to eight sensors simultaneously and can download the data into its’ own PC software for analysis. It is tough enough for field work and, although it is not what NASA would use, it offers very high sampling rates and highly accurate sensors. In fact, Fourier makes sixty-five different sensors and supports the use of other manufacturer’s sensors, so there are plenty of possibilities for use in the paranormal field. I was also lucky enough to find a MultiLog Pro setup on Ebay at a great deal so it was definitely affordable. The logger also came with a number of useful sensors so the EDCS-1 was beginning to take shape.

 

Although I’m still in the process of adding additional sensors, the current system has the ability to monitor changes in temperature, barometric pressure and light levels in a room, as well as detect motion. I also discovered that it is possible to connect external devices as sensors, so I modified a KII meter and Trifield Natural EM meter to interface with the logger to monitor a wide range of EMF levels with the system. I also modified a geophone to use with the logger to monitor infrasound (extremely low frequency sound) and vibrations. This data logging system can monitor an area for several hours on battery power and can run almost indefinitely when interfaced with a computer. When combined with the Audio Data Collection System, we can analyze a wide range of data, all time-synced, to get a very complete picture of the kind of environmental changes that may occur during a suspected paranormal event. Here is a photo of the current state of the EDCS-1. Although it looks like a jumbled mess of wires and gizmos right now, it will evolve into a lean, mean, data logging machine that has the capability of providing a much more reliable collection of data to support or disprove suspected paranormal events.

In future articles, I will show some of the results of data collected with the ADCS-1 and EDCS-1 loggers, as well as changes and modifications to the systems. Paranormal Research marches on.