Ghost Gadget Guy
Unbiased Paranormal Gear Review
Rule #1 We have yet to prove ghosts exist
Rule #2 We have yet to find a device that proves ghosts exist
Rule #3 Debating Rule #2 without accepting Rule #1 is silly
Rule #4 Closed minded people suck
(Yes, this review is VERY late. Nobody told me being a Dad was this busy!!!!) Where were we??
Ahh yes, the full bodied apparition. The holy grail of ghost hunting. The pinnacle of paranormal research. It’s a very rare event. Alas, even I, your humble Ghost Gadget Guy have not seen one. But I have seen shadows, and lots of them. Maybe it’s a trick of the mind, as our mortal eyes try to see in dark rooms, but many of us have seen, and even captured shadow people. Some say they are inter-dimensional beings. Some say when a spirit manifests, it draws energy and sometimes that energy is light. Whatever the reason, shadow figures are a reoccurring phenomena in paranormal events. So, besides cameras and video, how do we capture these black masses?
Every so often a new piece of equipment comes out that gets me excited again about ghost gear. It’s great when it’s an everyday item we may use in our field. But when it’s a gadget specifically designed for paranormal research, it gives us another tool to try and validate the supernatural. Gary Galka is no stranger tool paranormal tools. He is the inventor of the MEL-8704, the most widely used EMF meter designed for ghost hunting. Well, Gary did it again with the SDD or Shadow Detection Device. Essentially, this device will detect any change in the ambient lighting at your location, or more specifically, between a light source and the meter. I tried making one of these two years ago using an infrared door chime kit, only resulting in solder burns on my pinky, and a kit that doesn’t work. I should have used my better judgment and left it up to the experts, again!
The Shadow Detection Device
The SDD comes in two models currently. The DAS-SDD-1Z, which is a self contained stand alone unit, or the MEL-8704R-SDD. As I have only tested the MEL version, my review will be based on that unit only, but the SDD portion works very similar between both devices. The unit is designed to detect very subtle changes in light in the location it is set. Those changes are then signaled by ascending (brighter) or descending (darker) tones, and via green or red LED (on the DAS-SDD only).
The MEL SDD is built into the latest incarnation of the MEL-8704 EMF meter. Without going into the specifics of the EMF portion of the meter, rest assured, it’s the great single axis meter we’ve come to know and rely on. For those that got the very first version of the MEL, this version has a few tweaks that are great, glowing buttons, red LED flashlight, etc.
The SDD device is built right into the MEL. The on off switch, which is separate from the EMF control is located on the back of the device below the stand. Once pushed, the unit will beep twice and default to the least sensitive range, of which there are 5. Sensitivity is controlled by a separate button on the side, and each push corresponds to an increase in sensitivity. At this point the device begins to level set, and now establish a “baseline” if you will. Any changes in luminescence will now trigger the device. Does this mean it will go off if a flashlight shines in the room, or a car drives by? Maybe.
The SDD self calibrates every 5 seconds. This is good for several reasons. First, after you set it up, you will more than likely trip the device as you go lights out, or leave the room. Rest assured in 5 seconds, the unit will reset itself to the new ambient light, or light source. This proves to be very handy because unless you are in a completely sterile environment, you are likely to get stray light contamination.
As either a light source is introduced, or is reduced in the case of a shadow, it will now trip the LED tones. The response time is posted as 250mS, with a light sensitivity of 400-600nM using a 12 bit processor and a hermetically sealed precision LDR. It operates on one 9v battery (8-10 hours reported).
Bench Tested- I did several separate test using the SDD. First using just the ambient light of a room only lit by a small safety light, the provided battery block illuminator, and a green laser grid.
Out of the box, the device is solid and well built. Gary recommends the use of a tripod, but I simply used existing furniture to set it on. Once turned on, the unit set itself. As I turned the lights off in the room, the unit immediately triggered, but within 5 seconds reset itself. The SDD is very sensitive right off the bat, and immediately triggers to anything walking in front of it, but this is dependent on the source.
Using only the safety light, the SDD sensitivity only needed to be increased one time to accurately capture movement. The SDD performed much better using the red LED block illuminator and the green laser grid, needing no adjustment at all. Simply waving your hand in front of the device triggered it. Conversely, adding light to the room, say a moving flashlight, did trigger the SDD. In the low ambient light of the safety light, this was easy to trigger, but with a direct light source like the LED or laser, the unit seemed to not get contaminated and set off. I also experimented with UV and IR lights. UV light only triggered the SDD when the UV source was pointed at the device, but bright IR from a flood triggered both directly and indirectly depending on the angle and reflective material across from the SDD. I left the unit on all night and it was still on in the morning, working fine. The source maybe as far as 75’ away to trigger the SDD.
Innovation= A+ Once again, Gary built the first such device of it’s kind out there. Some people are using light meters, but this is a more economical choice, and if you go with the MEL version, you have a great multi-tool.
Ease of use= A- First, the A is for the simple on/off and calibration of the device. It is a truly set it and forget it unit. The only caveat is you need to be aware that man made light sources may trigger the unit. Care needs to be exercised in rooms with windows, or in areas where investigators may be walking with flashlights, or IR/UV lights. I HIGHLY suggest using this in conjunction with a video camera so that you can document any light anomalies the SDD may capture, or validate false positives.
Quality=A+ This is a quality unit and Pro-measure makes their tools to last. I have dropped my old MEL quite a bit and it works like brand new. The electronics are well placed and protected.
Price= A $159 for the DAS-SDD and $189 for the MEL-SDD. Yes, there are cheaper light meters out there. But to use and monitor them, you need to use a camera. This is a well made stand alone device that will allow you to go about your investigation and signal you if you are out of the room.
Field Tested- I have used this unit on three investigations so far, and although it did not catch any paranormal anomalies, it worked flawlessly when the lighting changed in the room. This was great for debunking contamination from other investigators, such as their flashlight or camera, that may have caused shadows we may have taken for ghosts. Also, the unit even caught a person walking out of sight, but in-front of a bright light source. As mentioned, cared needed to be exercised as one room used got the occasional stray car light that triggered the device. Simply adding the direct LED block across from the SDD eliminated that trouble.
Bottom Line- Once again, a great innovative product from Gary Galka and Pro-Measure. This is an excellent gadget for you to have in your paranormal toolbox. If not for catching anomalous shadows, than definitely for capturing light variations that we may mistake for activity. Great job Gary!!