Cases of General Strangeness - Obtaining Equipment
One of the first considerations new investigators have is what equipment they will need. There are certain things that simply go without saying you will need for all investigations. We'll simply list them here first; the only qualification is to use good quality models where applicable. A cheap flashlight that falls apart the first time it is used does no one any good! That said, all investigators should carry:
- A good, bright flashlight ("D" Cell type, for extended use.)
- Notepad and two or three sharpened pencils.
- Cellphone or two-way radio to keep in touch.
- Basic First Aid kit, just in case.
- Small folding knife.
- Tape measure.
- Spare Batteries for whatever other equipment you use. (including your flashlight)
- Plaster of Paris - Taking any impressions of tracks or imprints.
- Clean/Sealable containers - Collecting samples if any exist.
- Latex surgical gloves - Collecting and handling samples
- Camera - (We'll discuss this in detail shortly)
- Audio Recorder - (We'll also cover more on the recorder later.)
- Forms - (It is helpful to have report forms printed up and ready to go.)
- Professional Contacts - Experts in various fields you may consult as needed.
The previous topic covered finding a group or investigator. The pointers there were general in that they applied to any aspect of the paranormal and strange events. From here on, because of the wide range of reported phenomena, things become more specialized. Consequently I have broken the topic into several various types of phenomena that have been reported. Beginning here I will outline what is needed when investigating each and where the emphasis should fall. The outline pattern will continue through the remainder of the Investigating discussion.
Booms and Explosive Sounds
From time to time people report loud booms in their area. These usually occur spontaneously and seldom repeat. There is really little to collect except the witness statement. As a result no equipment is needed besides possibly a digital voice recorder to take the witness's comments. There are a couple cases where a camera might be useful. One would be if the witness reports any physical effects or damage as a result of the boom. Another might be the unlikely possibility that the witness is able to identify a source then it may be necessary to photograph the scene.
But should the event be repetitive in nature you may want to attempt to record it. This would involve the use of a high quality audio recorder, not a voice recorder since it is likely the sound consists of low frequency components. Voice recorders do not have the frequency response to capture audio at these low frequencies. You may even need to obtain a recorder or even a data logger capable of doing infrasound recording. That would depend on the characteristics of the case itself.
Material From The Sky and Blue Ice
If the case involves any recovered artifacts then it becomes important to preserve that evidence. You will take the witness statement so the voice recorder is helpful here. Also any evidence recovered will need photographed so you'll need a camera. This camera should also be capable of shooting close up images since details of whatever the items are may reveal much about their composition. You will need collection materials as well. These would be sterile, sealed containers sufficiently large to place any recovered materials. And depending on the nature of the material you will possibly need some means of gathering it. For instance a small plastic spoon for any powder, or swabs if it is a sticky substance. For a liquid a syringe is useful. In all cases you should wear latex gloves to prevent contamination of either the specimen or yourself. Consider all specimens as hazardous material until proven otherwise.
Rocks From The Sky
Rocks falling from the sky would be treated very similar to any other material as stated above. You will need the voice recorder to take the witness statement, the camera to photograph the material, and a sterile, sealed container in which to place the rock. You should also wear the latex gloves when handling the specimen. Special consideration should also be made since it is possible such objects could be radioactive. A Geiger counter or radiation meter would be useful to determine if this hazard is present.
Howls and Screams
How you handle these cases depends on the nature of the sound. Was it heard just once or is it ongoing? If it was heard just one time then the only equipment you will need is the voice recorder for the witness statement. However if it is an ongoing phenomena you will likely be doing a field investigation. For that you will need a means of recording the sound as evidence. That requires a good stereo recorder. Either digital or analog tape is acceptable provided the recorder covers the frequency range from 30 Hz to 12 kHz. It is also advisable to record in a nonlossy format and use a recorder which utilizes a PCM , not CELP, recording algorithm. This will allow any evidence to be fully analyzed using the full audio spectrum.
If the sound is faint it is also advisable to use an external high gain amplifier to boost the level at the time of recording. If the sound originates outdoors, the use of a parabolic or shotgun microphone is also advised to improve the directivity of the system. This minimizes interference from extraneous noise.
Finally you may want to have a camera in the event you locate the source. Photographic evidence would support any audio evidence you may have captured.
Probably a report of voices indicates an ongoing phenomena since a one time hearing of a voice would simply be indicative someone was talking nearby. These are dealt with in much the same manner as the Howls and Screams outlined above. You'll need the voice recorder, and stereo recorder for the interview and evidence. Possibly you will also want the high gain amplifier and parabolic microphone.
One more item is sometimes indicated. That is the use of an RF detector in conjunction with the high gain amplifier. This would be used to isolate the possibility the voices originate from a strong EM Field such as a radio transmission.
Hums and Low Frequency Sounds
Again these are audible evidence. You will want the voice recorder and camera for recording the interview and any physical evidence recovered. If this is ongoing you may want to record the actual sound. Since many recorders are lacking in their low frequency response it is important to use one that has a frequency response well below the lowest frequency your case reports. If it is around 30 Hz or above any good quality digital recorder will suffice. You may also want to use a high gain amplifier to boost the signal level before recording. Stereo is not essential for low frequencies since the sound generally loses its directional characteristics unless very sophisticated methods are employed.
You will also need to make sure the microphone you use will pick up at those lower frequencies. Like other audio equipment, unless you move up to a better quality, much of the regular consumer grade gear is not very efficient below 30 Hz.
If the frequency is very low, or infrasound, a different method will be needed to record it. For that you would need a portable oscilloscope and special low frequency audio detectors. We'll cover how to use these in the next section.
Frogs and Other Animal Falls
These are really no different from an equipment perspective than any other type of fall from the sky. You simply need the voice recorder for witness testimony or event logging and a camera to record the actual evidence before removing it. You also need a sterile sealed collection container to hold your recovered evidence. One exception would be in the case of animal recovery if the animal is still alive. You should provide a container that would not suffocate the creature while you recovered it. Latex gloves for handling evidence are also required to prevent contamination.
This is another type of physical evidence. Of course one cannot collect the circle but cirtainly you will want photographic evidence. These may place special demands on the camera due to the size of these circles. You will need a wide angle lens to get the entire circle in a single frame. And while not actually equipment you carry, it may be helpful if you are able to obtain a plane and pilot to get you overhead for a few arial photographs that encompass the entire field. Once back on the ground, an on site visit should also include a check for any radiation or residual magnetic fields as these have been reported on a few cases. Thus an EMF meter and radiation meter should also be included in your kit if you intend to do these cases.
As I stated at the outset, this area covers everything not considered a ghost, UFO, or Creature sighting. As such just when you think you have heard everything something else will come along. So it's just not possible to list everything in a summary essay. For this you will need to get creative! Look at the evidence and the claim. From that you may need to devise some new method of gathering the evidence. And if you find something that works, let me know! Pass it along to help future investigators if they should encounter a similar phenomena.
I will also include parapsychology studies in the category although they are not actual investigations. Most of these are conducted in a laboratory or under controlled conditions. Areas such as ESP, remote viewing, psychokinesis, telepathy,and related mental activities fall into this category. It is not neccesary to make recommendations regarding equipment since those involved with such research have likely already esablished a protocol for their particular experiments or projects. Equipment needs will be determined by the project and could involve a wide variety of specialized medical equipment. The researcher will determine this for his own project.