The Spirit Box

Can 'modified' radios and other gadgets really allow the other side to communicate with us?

Date: 13th February 2019

“I have a Spirit Box and I have captured what I can only describe as voices from the other side!”

Don't jump to this conclusion... the jury is still out!


Where does one begin?

Well if you look back into history far enough and work your way forwards you may find that there are certain names keep cropping up in regards to who was the first person to have the idea behind trying to communicate with ghosts and the other side.

Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Attila von Szalay and Raymond Bayless, Friedrich Jürgenson...

Then in more modern times we have Sarah Estep, Frank Sumption, Bill Chappell and Gary Galka.

Thomas Edison comes to the forefront when speaking of designing and constructing devices of Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC) - although this term was not coined until the 1970's by Ernst Senkowski.

As the records state, in October 1920, Thomas was quoted as saying to the following publications:

The American Magazine: "I have been at work for some time building an apparatus to see if it is possible for personalities which have left this earth to communicate with us."

Scientific American: "I don't claim that our personalities pass on to another existence or sphere. I don't claim anything because I don't know anything about the subject. For that matter, no human being knows. But I do claim that it is possible to construct an apparatus which will be so delicate that if there are personalities in another existence or sphere who wish to get in touch with us in this existence or sphere, the apparatus will at least give them a better opportunity to express themselves than the tilting tables and raps and Ouija boards and mediums and the other crude methods now purported to be the only means of communication."

So did Edison actually build such a device? It is not known as there are no examples or documents or blueprints anywhere that depict his device... nor did he ever produce such a device. Having said this, one of Edison's employees died during 'construction' of a particular 'device'... and Edison was quoted to say: "...if the invention works then he ought to be the first to use it if he is able to do so".

Alas no such device had ever surfaced.

But there is a link from Edison to another well-known inventor in the electrical field...

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical and mechanical engineer and futurist.

If one were to believe history to its portrayed facts... Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio. But it is a current fact that even the American patents office now states that it was Tesla.

If this is true then one could also believe that he was an underrated inventor that perhaps should have had the better credit than he did obtain...

Tesla worked for the Edison whilst in Paris, France at the Continental Edison Company, but later moved to the US and continued his employment at the New York based Edison Machine Company.

Only working there for 6 months, Tesla quit due to Edison not putting into production his ideas of alternating current in favour of his own direct current... and also due to not being paid bonuses he claimed he had earned.

One thing to be certain, however, is that Tesla was also an avid fan of the paranormal and he did design a 'Spirit Radio' that he claimed he picked up strange voices. It was a simple design but was able to detect electromagnetic sources...

Quotes from Tesla:

"My first observations positively terrified me as there was present in them something mysterious, not to say supernatural, and I was alone in my laboratory at night."

"The sounds I am listening to every night at first appear to be human voices conversing back and forth in a language I cannot understand. I find it difficult to imagine that I am actually hearing real voices from people not of this planet. There must be a more simple explanation that has so far eluded me."

So was this paranormal? Perhaps not as around the time of Tesla's experiments with his spirit radio, Marconi was also transmitting radio waves from Europe. It is considered that what Tesla was picking up was these transmissions... but we can also keep an open mind that it was not just radio waves that were being transmitted as the Earth itself generates its own waves... and so could have been interfering with Tesla's spirit radio.

We'll leave Tesla with one last famous quote:

"The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence."

So what of the Spirit Box and EVP?

EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) was discovered back in the late 1950s. In modern times with the onslaught of TV programmes EVP has become the must-have evidence to try and provide evidence of the afterlife. Whilst the Digital Voice Recorder is the top-priority piece of equipment for capturing EVPs, there is the "real-time" capture of alleged spirit voices by the use of the Spirit Box.

A Spirit Box is a supposed two-way communication device that allows investigators to talk to the dead. It is the theory that this device scans through all radio frequencies rapidly and allows the spirits to manipulate into words that can be heard.

The 'Spiricom' - so-called as it was short for Spirit Communication - was a device designed by George Meek and Bill O'Neil between 1979 and 1982. In fact, Bill was stated to have claimed that spirits (deceased people - most notably NASA scientist Dr. George Jefferies Mueller) helped him create the device.

In 2002, a radio ham operator, Frank Sumption, was impressed and interested in articles regarding EVP in the EVP Magazine. After this he searched on the internet and found interesting articles from two ITC researchers - a Danish man named Stein and a German man named Steffan Bion.

Considered as the 'Father of the Spirit Box', Frank came about the idea and designed what was to become known as the 'Frank's Box'. It was most probably the Frank's Box that spawned the myriad of other designs that are available today.

How the 'Spirit Box' works...

Theory is that ghosts and spirits can influence the electromagnetic fields and thus use part of that spectrum - namely the radio waves - and communicate with the real world by using the white noise generated when the radio scans through those frequencies.

Just how is this possible?

So let's look at the evidence we have on these 'so-called' spirit boxes and radios.

A Radio Shack 12-469 Radio was opened up and the scanning part of the device was 'broken' so as to cause the frequency scan to continually sweep rapidly through the channels from anywhere around 50 milliseconds switching capability.

Now it is very safe to assume that whilst this radio scans through we would pick up micro-snippets of voices, songs, etc. from either DJs, Presenters and songs played. Now some claim that these snippets are actually ghosts and spirits talking to us. But with common sense and what we know to be factual, this claim has no valid proof.

One-way Radio...

Now the thing here to remember is that it is a radio - a device that can only receive signals and not transmit them. Whether it is Frank's Box, Spiricom, Shack Hack or SB7/11... they are not 2-way devices.

So if the theory is that ghosts and spirits can use this device then it holds no water as one would think that they could only hear us if we transmit our voice through a device in a similar fashion... and a standard radio would not do this... but a 2-way radio might...

Think about it logically, why is it that it is claimed that ghosts can do this, do that or do the other without any equipment - yet we can use equipment to hear and/or see them? Strange isn't it?

But then if one were to design a 2-way radio that continually scans through frequencies then it would be a huge given that somebody somewhere operating a 2-way radio would hear a snippet of communication and so try to contact accordingly... and then all and sundry would proclaim "I've caught a voice from the other side!"

So therein lies the problem...

Frank's Box

The original idea from Frank Sumption that was incarnated into various models over the years Frank designed them. Now Frank stated that he had help in the creation of his spirit box... from the spirit world!

A la Spiricom... sounds familiar doesn't it?

First created in 2002, it was criticised as being too subjective as it relies too heavily on radio noise... and that snippets of radio chatter would cause people to "fill in the blanks" as it were and state they are capturing voices from the dead.

But one thing to realise is that the Frank's Box is nothing more than just a noise generator.

How does it work? Well even Frank was stated saying that even he did not know! And also on one occasion he was stated to say "it does not work"!

So now we turn to the Radio Shack "Shack hack"...

Radio Shack Hack

The 12-469 is indeed a standard radio that was adapted (well... broken) to continually scan through the channels and frequencies once you press the scan button. It was believed that ghosts could chatter through the white noise of the channels.

This was quickly followed by others...

But who was the purportedly first person to 'break' the Radio Shack 12-469?

Apparently it was someone on Frank Sumption's Yahoo EVP/ITC group calling himself 'Sum Duc'. This occurred in November 2007... and as it turns out, Sum Duc was no other than Bill Chappell before he created his Digital Dowsing business.

The next person in line to create a spirit box device was Gary Galka...

Gary Galka

The PSB7 and PSB11 Spirit Boxes are possibly the most well-known and most productive of these radio systems.

They were the invention of Gary Galka (the one who invented the Mel Meter) under his DAS company.

These are not broken radios but they are in fact made to scan through the channels.

The SB7 is the most well-known from Ghost Adventures on TV. Zac Bagans was never without his attached to his hand using an external Altec Lansing speaker. But it was most unbelievable for Zac to offer up proof that it works by exclaiming "listen... no voices, nothing is coming through... not until I ask a question..."

The SB11 was the upgrade and was an improvement as it included a red torch, disconnection of the aerial, an Automatic Temperature Deviation Detector (ATDD)... and a twin tuner system so it could sweep both in AM and FM at the same time.

Nothing really different in the basic operation apart form a quicker 50ms sweep speed was added compared to its predecessors 100ms minimum.


So where does this leave us with proof of communication with the other side? Quite frankly (pardoning the pun) nowhere!

All these devices are just scanning rapidly through channels and frequencies... and that is all. Any available stations and channels, in those milliseconds they sweep through, can transmit any random voice, noise, song, etc. that can be heard. The radio was designed to pick up radio transmissions that are evidently being transmitted. The notion that ghosts and spirits... and demons for that matter... can produce the same radio waves and frequencies that are easily detectable by a radio is quite a far-out theory. It is something that can't be proven.

Similar with the notion of pareidolia (seeing thing in which there is nothing really there), there is also another term called apophenia. Apophenia is the tendency of mistakenly seeing connections and meanings in unrelated things. In this case we have hearing voices and words from milli-second snippets of audio information that can easily be transmitted from almost anywhere from anything that has the capability to transmit communication waves.

"But what of those supposed EVPs captured of ghosts swearing and dropping F-bombs, C-bombs and other disgusting language? I do not know of any radio station that allows the use of swearing live on air... so how can it be radio chatter that is captured?"

Well my response here would be that it is not only radio chatter that is captured. With the sheer amount of people using cell phones, 2-way radios, short-wave radios and other communications from airports, satellites, etc. then there is a distinct possibility that swearing is captured, but it is highly unlikely coming from ghosts, spirits or demons!

But one thing is certain... people in the paranormal field will still like their equipment and the Spirit Boxes are not going to go away anytime soon. That said we are all different and we have our own ways in delving into the paranormal...

I would more likely underline the Spirit Box, Radio, Device, etc. as a fun piece of kit that should be used sparingly and probably only when engaging with members of the public who pay to be entertained on a ghost hunt.

But for those who class themselves as Paranormal Investigators I would suggest using these devices under an objective test and see what you come up with...

...but do not jump to the illogical conclusion that you have made contact with ghosts. It is more than likely just random radio signal scatter snippets and nothing more.