Starting a Paranormal Group- By Vinny, with input from around the paranormal community
So you want to start a group and don't know where to get your equipment for the best price? So you ask around and you get only one answer eBay. Well yes you can do that and probably get some great deal with a lot of searching or a lot of luck. But some times those great deals are not there.
And what if you're like a lot of people and don't have a PayPal account? Not to worry this section is for you.
Whether you are starting out and need equipment or already in a group and looking for more or newer products, this is the section that I hope can help you. And for those that have better suggestions for sites feel free to write to me at email@example.com for you suggestions. And please go into detail on what is good and bad about the site. Leave your name and if you are in a group leave that too I will post it along with your information here on www.windycityparanormal.com
www.amazon.com - You can type in ghost equipment for a basic selection of products or type digital voice recorder for one of the largest varieties of recorders you can find on one site. And if your night shot camera is not giving you enough light? Then you can find IR spotlights for a decent price, although some things on Amazon are very price, like the ghost hunting vest. You can go to a local fishing supply or army/navy store and get a similar vest for under $40.
It's good to know what you want because then you can type in the name of the product exactly and be able to find a supplier and some times cheaper.
Also don't be afraid to get refurbished, usually they are up to factory specs so its like new but the out side may look a bit used, or you could purchase used equipment, but remember you get what you pay for. I've gotten used digital voice recorders from one of Amazon's suppliers and I was very satisfied. They came in the original packaging and one look like it was never used and the other looked very used but both worked great.
Another place to look for great deal on audio recorders comes from Brittnie founder of PACT She told me about www.frys.com's great deals on audio recorders and other equipment. So I checked it out and they have better prices than Amazon on most items I looked at, but like Amazon its good to know what you are looking for.
Aaron WCP's audio guru- likes www.ghost-mart.com. I find this site one of the easiest to navigate out of all the ghost hunting equipment sites. And for some things like equipment cases and EMF meters and thermometers the prices are good to comparable to most sites.
Their cctv equipment is a little on the pricy side there are other sites that are better but I'll get into that a little later on. And once again if there is something you like but the price may seem high. Write down the name and equipment type and go back to amazon.com or eBay and see what you can find using specific item information.
But Ghost-mart has one thing that makes it easy to do and that's build your own kit section. And for those people that is looking for the perfect gift for your favorite paranormal investigator, but doesn't know what to buy them? Ghost-mart.com offers gift certificates starting at $10-$200 this is as easy as it comes with one stop shopping. But remember if price is a factor shop around.
There have been problems with Ghost-Mart as of late and those are filling and shipping orders plus refunding of money in a reasonable amount of time. I've had my won team member and other teams complain about everything from shipping the wrong product, to taking weeks for shipping, to having orders being cancelled after the card has been charged and no refund for several weeks and in some cases a month or more.
One of the best places I've found to get K-II meters for good prices is www.ghosthunterstore.com. They have affordable K-II meters and K-II meters with a built in hard switch. Their over all price level for there equipment has improved by a lot. DVR and other equipment that was more on the expesive side are now competitive with hugh security stores.
There is another site for good prices on equipment. But hard to navigate so I'll give you the direct links to the pages of interest.
This part of the website offers EMF meters and a relatively new product that came out a little while back...Mel-8704 it's a paranormal research instrument with EMF, ambient temperature, light source all in one instrument. Model type number two is Mel-8704-ProNavigator this version has EMF and "cold spot" research validation with built in red flashlight.
This site offers a package deal of the Mel, K-II, digital voice recorder as well as other type of equipment packages.
This section give an easy to read chart on what kind of electrical field your average household electronics put out.
The IR-956 meter is one of the lowest prices of their thermometers and like the other temperature meters and thermometers but these are high quality equipment but all happen to be a high cost as well. If you like the equipment but not the price once again check around for the same equipment and see if you can get a better deal.
For a full list of the Mel-8704 meter Melissa from TnT Paranormal recommends Professional Measurement at http://www.pro-measure.com/ You can find a complete list of all models of Mel meters plus, IR, Humidity, Light, pH, Sound level, Temperature, Weather meters ect...
There prices are good and Melissa said the service is great. This site sells to the professional but does not jack up the prices for us Ghost Hunters.
http://www.ghostgadgets.com/home.html. Is a great site to tell you how and why things work the way they do like EMF meters and photo analysis and even the truth about orbs. Let me give you a hint they are NOT "spirits" they explain in easy to understand details with diagrams to boot.
http://www.ghostgadgets.com/_knowledge/emfmeters.html. This part of the site has a great section on EMF meter comparisons and I don"t just mean price but capabilities as well.
Emf sensitivity is real and if you don't believe me read this article: http://www.aehf.com/articles/em_sensitive.html
Now see what the CDC has to say: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/emf/
Another place to get great Hand held devices is. http://www.lessemf.com/emf-mete.html I bought my EMF meters through them and now get a catalog twice a year Its like a wish list for all my EMF needs.
They know their major business is electricians and contractors, but they don't neglect us paranormal investigators as you can see on the EMF detector page.
Just click on Ghost Hunting Equipment. You will find a wide variety of hand held equipment. They even offer a thermal imaging camera for under $2500, it takes stills photos not video. But hey you can still look through the viewer and see hot or cold spots before you take the picture. They also have EVP listeners so you can hear your EVPs in real time.
What is really cool is that they don't over inflate the price for us Ghost hunters. And they even offer starter kits; Case included. The kits start at $89.75 - $810.00.
They offer ghost hunting gadget guidebooks and all types of information about EMFs and the harm they can do.
Now for the stationary equipment, DVR, IR cameras, and accessories. Cables, connectors ect...
http://www.cctvfactory.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=SFNT&Store_Code=cmctech this is a site I came across when I was with another group. That group ordered their DVR through them; we were so pleased by the equipment and experience that when I left to start Windy City Paranormal, I too purchased my DVR through this company. Made in the U.S.A. or at lest assembled, this is a friendly and helpful company that explained everything to me step by step. They told me they try to keep there overhead low so they can offer the best deals they can. DVRs are what I want to point out and may be the best value for the money you can get short of a bargain on eBay.
They also offer package deals from 4 cameras to 16 cameras with DVR. And when they have sale on their DVRs it's worth looking at.
What's not looking into is the hard drives, you are better off going to www.tigerdirect.com like I did or some other computer store to get your hard drive Don't worry www.cctvfactory.com will tell you what kind of hard drive you need if you just call and ask. But some times they offer sales on hard drives too so if you don't feel like you can handle the install let them do it.
Now I've never installed a hard drive before so I called cctvfactory for help and they walked me through it step by step.
They also have high quality night vision cameras and cable. The cameras are comparably priced, but we have some sites to find better deals I'll go into that later. The cables are good deals, whether it was BNC pre-fitted cables or raw cable with no connectors and the connectors are sold on the site as well for all of you do-it-yourselfers out there.
Ed WCP Team member has worked in the security field for years and has a couple of sites the first is for the money is no object person. http://www.mace.com/ They offer complete security and surveillance needs. Although like I said earlier the equipment is a bit on the prices side.
The second is good for the package deals or individual cameras especially when they go on sale. http://www.swannstore.com/store/ If you are looking for good cameras at a decent price or complete systems or wireless systems. http://www.swannstore.com/store/ is the place they also offer refurbished, open box, and end of the line (discontinued) products.
Ed also found this site http://www.shoppingcctv.com/ The Prices are great and the sales are even better, some of the best prices I've seen for 520 plus TV lines of resolutions plus the DVR prices are very good and Cables and accessories are very competitive.
A site that I found and got 2 of our cameras from http://www.watchdogsuperstore.com/ they have good sales and competitive prices for high quality cameras. They have competitive deals on cables as well, fitted or raw. Watch dog super store does not offer the best prices of DVRs but they are complete with hard drives included. And for the do-it-yourselfers, they have raw RG59 cables ranging from 500ft to 1000ft, with connectors sold separately. They have DVR cards to either build your own or go from a 4 camera to an 8 or 16 camera system.
I also like this site http://www.amasecurity.com/. They offer good competitive sales on their IR cameras, wires, and connectors. Their DVRs are completive but offer only 80 to 250gb hard drives standard. They are at least worth checking into.
This tip comes from Dustin a member of http://www.mtprs.org/ Montana paranormal research society. http://www.gadspot.com/index.php Has IR cameras for your DVRs or other recording devices. The cameras range in price of $45 to $100 in price and have a good video range, anywhere from 30ft to over 400ft.
http://www.gadspot.com/index.php also has DVRs at great prices. And if you have you want to upgrade your hard drive and don't like their prices then go to www.tigerdirect.com and buy one cheaper and install it your self. The gadspot website tell you what type of hard drive it takes.
Our next tip comes from Dwayne and Diana founders of Central Indiana Paranormal, aka, CIP, http://www.ciparanormal.com/. Aaron, Brian, and myself had the pleasure to work with CIP's Diana and Josh and Kristy on a joint investigation in Indianapolis. They were great and we found them very easy to work with and would do it again in a heartbeat
. Their tip takes us to the IR camera area. http://www.cctvhotdeals.com. This site offers IR cameras as low as $40 for Sony or Sharp as well as no name brand cameras with ranges of 35 to 75 foot average range for some of the lowest prices you will find anywhere on the web. They even offer a 100meter range camera (that's just over 300ft) for just over $100.
http://www.cctvhotdeals.com/ also offers some great deals on cable. Although they are not the heavy-duty RG59, they do have good quality of reception. Another group ordered their cables through them but off of their eBay site http://coolpodz.com/ they offer deals on both cables and cameras. They are very happy with the product.
Their DVRs and DVR complete system packages are great deals and defiantly worth your time in checking out.
If anyone has been watching Ghost Hunters International (GHI) you see full spectrum cameras getting interesting results. What is a full spectrum camera? Some newbie's to the field may ask. Well it's a camera with the IR (infra red) and UV (ultra violet) filters on the lens of the camera have been removed. It not only sees in visible light spectrum but IR and UV. Simply put it takes pictures of things we are not able to see with the naked eye.
There was a site called lifepixel.com. Where you can send your still camera into there workshop and turn it into a IR camera. They also sell cameras now.
The Southwest Ghost Hunters Association has a section on their site for converting your digital camera into a full spectrum camera. Just a reminder for the do-it-yourselfers out there, that doing this voids any warranties. http://www.sgha.net/articles/modify_camera.html. If you take their warning of not doing this unless you knave some knowledge of doing this kind of work, take your camera to a professional and see how much they charge.
There is another ghost hunting team that has step-by-step instructions on converting digital camera to IR and that is the Montana Ghost Hunters. And it is also a very easy to follow. http://www.mtghosthunter.com/2009/05/11/how-to-convert-a-digital-concepts-digital-camera-to-be-a-ir-camera/
These IR still cameras are popping up all over the web cheaper and cheaper. So keep looking.
Paul from http://www.creepyhollowgear.com/ read my article and emailed me his link because most the equipment he sells I had no site for. Sorry Paul. (See, that is why I ask for your suggestions.)
Now for http://www.creepyhollowgear.com/ it is a simple to navigate site just click on store. And there you will see some of the new cutting edge equipment some investigation teams are starting to use, including geophone/seismic detection, IR flood lamps, I like this site it does have some cutting edge and practical equipment, as well as experimental type of devices. This site also offers reviews and articles. Check it out you will probably like it, I know I did. Since Paul builds all the gear himself and has no help from anyone. He has told me that he has to occasionally take some products off the site due to volume of orders until he gets caught up so please be patient.
Paul Bradford from GHI fame emailed me this:
Vinny, My IR Illuminatiors are now available at the Creepy Hollow store: Thanks for your patience. Paul Bradford Ghost hunters Internations (GHI). Paul Bradford Creepy Hollow Gear.
If you are looking for cables RG59 with power for IR cameras, this site has best deal that I've found so far although it is raw cable, so you have to add the connectors on yourself. The IR cameras have good prices and the DVRs are competitively priced too and its defiantly worth checking out. http://1800securitycamera.com/
This next site has some good equipment that you can't get too many places plus an IR camcorder for under $150 there is a down side it looks like you need a pay pal account to order, but I could be wrong and If I am email me and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. http://ghosthuntingtools.net/index.php
**** HOW DO I PROTECT MY STUFF? ****
If Thermal imaging cameras are the holy grail of this field equipment wise, then the Ark of the Covenant is equipment cases. I know corny reference but it works.
Good equipment cases are hard to find for a good price, (and for the umpteenth time, Yes I know you can look on E-bay, but that's not what this article is about.) This article is about avoiding E-bay. The first tip I can give you is for your hand held equipment cases. You should always check local, you may find some place that has what you want. Like in the local hardware stores. Around the upper Midwest we have a mega home improvement and hardware chain called Menards (think Loews or Home Depot's local competition) that sell hard side cases with pluck and pull foam for around $19.99. You can also try national places like Loews and Home Depot or even Ace hardware similar cases can be found for a little over or the same price. Bass Pro or Cabela's 2 national camping and outdoors supply stores sell those types of cases too. For around the same price $20-$35 dollar range.
These cases make for good protection at a minimal cost. Dustin a member of http://www.mtprs.org/ Montana Paranormal Research Society suggests if you can't find those types of cases in places like I just mentioned or live in an area without those types of mega stores. (Heck my hometown back in PA just got a Home Depot and a Loews only a few years back, so I know some places in the country are still without.) Or if you live in the heart of a major city you some times have to go to the burbs for those types of stores and that may not be too convenient for you. Dustin says you should try http://www.harborfreight.com, now I'll give the direct link for the section you want. I had to shorten the link name to fit it all on our website but you can bookmark it once you click on the link.http://search.harborfreight.com/CASES , It shows three case sizes that may work for you and their prices.
Now for Higher quality hard side case we have a tip from www.scpir.com/ Southern Cross Paranormal Investigation and Research suggests http://www.casesbysource.com/category/clearance-cases I have look over this site and found it very Impressive. With over hundreds pages of cases from wood to plastic to metal, with custom made case with custom made foam inserts to pluck and pull or egg carton type foam. To just standard type of case in every form from I pods to Notebook style laptops or PDA cases as well as for electronic equipment and tools.
Like I said, I am impressed. The prices range from excellent for the smaller cases to competitive on the larger cases. Although some cases seem to be a bit pricey on any level this site seems to deal with direct from the manufacturers overstock or discontinued items. It's defiantly worth checking out. With more than 10 different companies providing product I'm sure you will find something you are looking for.
From myself I found a few sites worth taking a peek at the first is http://warrior-gear.com/store/pc/viewCategories.asp?idcategory=54 I gave the direct link for the cases. Its an outdoorsman store website. How would you like to save over $100 off some of the larger cases and over $50 off of the smaller ones? These are Hardigg Storm cases. Very high quality and durable cases for a good price it's worth checking out, the selection however is not as good as other sites but the prices are very good.
The second site I found is this one www.plasticase.com they sell Nanuk cases in 3 categories, 1 light+ medium duty, 2 Extreme duty light to medium, and 3 Extreme duty large to over size. Now the light to medium duty cases do have great prices but you may have to buy the foam inserts as an option for most if not all of them.
The extreme duty light to medium and the large to over size are not the best prices out there but they do have quite a few options. They also offer custom cases design foam interiors custom or standard and 2 features I found cool, first silk screen printing of your logo or name also they offer a free sample I don't what the catch is if there is any, but I'm going to order it and let you know.
BUT I'M TOO BUSY TO LOOK AROUND
If you think all of this is too much work for your busy schedule you can always go to Costco or Sam's club or other big wholesale stores or some place like Fry's and look for complete packages DVR, IR cameras, and cables all in one, some with monitors, some you will have to buy separately. For an equivalent amount as getting the equipment at separate locations.
Some of you are already saying why didn't you tell that to us in the first place? Well this is the easy way to get your equipment, but, most packages at places like that only have a 35ft IR camera range and a limited amount of cable anywhere from 50ft. to 150ft. although 150ft is nothing to sneeze at most packages at those types of stores donŐt offer more than 50ft per cord.
Now that you have your stationary equipment how do you view it? Most DVRs offer built in software so you can view from your laptop or computer remotely. But what if you don't have those with you or don't want them with you. A monitor is your best alternative. Flat screens are getting less expensive I've noticed some at target the other day for $120 to $160 not to mentioning the HDTVs that all have computer hookups on them. But they get a little pricey.
Lets say you just dropped $500 plus dollars down on your equipment and don't want to spend more. Ok, I have a very easy solution; go to your local thrift store. See if they have old computer monitors, yes they are bulky but if they are 10 years old or newer they will work great. Most thrift stores sell them for $3 to $10 range. So you see you can get a monitor for just a few bucks if you care to look.
I hope this area of www.windycityparanormal.com helps you in anyway. And if you have any advice or suggestions of good sites or tips on where to get equipment anywhere e-mail me at email@example.com.
Thanks for your time and Happy Hunting.
VINNY MORGAN, Founder of WINDY CITY PARANORMAL