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  • Writer's pictureIvy Boyd

Ghost Hunting on a Budget

The world of ghost hunting isn't that cheap. Due to a rise in popularity, haunted locations and ghost hunting groups sometimes charging $100+ per person to investigate at well-known haunts. As for the gadgets you see on all of the ghost hunting TV shows, those can also come with a HEFTY price tag. As a ghost hunter who's been on a budget, I put together a list of my most affordable go-to's while investigating the paranormal for myself.

Cell Phones

With the ability to take photos, video, and audio recordings, you already have a wide range of useful investigative methods right at your finger tips. Some of my most compelling EVPs weren't caught on my nice digital voice recorder, rather they came from the audio in videos I took on my own cell phone, or through my phones voice memo app which makes recording and playing audio back a breeze. Beyond your phones basic functions, ghost hunting apps have been popping up over the years as well...


The first app I fell in love with to use while investigating is RedVox. This app measures the sound around you to show whether infrasound is present. Some studies have shown that infrasound, which is sound that is below our level of hearing, can cause "haunting-like" symptoms, including paranoia/the feeling of being watched, headaches, nausea, and even visual and auditory hallucinations. Infrasound can be produced by the HVAC in a home, industrial fans, subwoofers in cars, large speakers, and other large pieces of equipment. Ruling out infrasound as being the cause of these symptoms in a haunted location can help you determine if they are being caused by something truly paranormal. The best part about this app is that it's also free!

Tip: I use the Spectro Linear setting in this app, photographed above. I find it the easiest to read: you want to look for bright yellow or white colors that shows up under 20 Hz.


Next up is a newer staple for me, called Ghostalker. This app functions like an Ovilus: a popular (but pricey) ghost hunting device that generates words on a small screen based on fluctuations in the environment, the theory being that spirits can manipulate temperature, electromagnetic fields, and more to produce the word they desire. Ghostalker works by using your cell phones built-in sensors to measure a variety of environmental fluctuations, including the following:

- Movement Sensor

- GPS Sensor

- Gyroscope

- Light Sensor

- Magnetic Sensor

- Proximity Sensor

- Rotation Sensor

Changes in these measurements influence words that are produced by the apps pre-loaded word bank. Something I appreciate about this app in particular is that it shows the live readings while you run the app, which seem to be pretty accurate. (It also offers easy recalibration.) There are other apps that also measure environmental fluctuations to produce words, but it is difficult to verify if they are actually functioning this way. The free version of Ghostalker (Lite) suits my needs, but the paid version ($2.99) does allow you to record and save the environmental readings and words that are produced.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that the environment around us naturally fluctuates, so most words which come through this app, the Ovilus, or similar devices are not paranormally produced. Use discretion to determine if the responses are normal, or paranormal.


I have not personally downloaded this app for myself yet. At the cost of $9.99, it is up there in price compared to most other apps used for spirit communication, but still considerably cheaper than other ghost hunting devices. Necrophonic works by scanning through pre-loaded word banks, producing audible sounds similar to what you would hear from a $70 Spirit Box. (Essentially a radio which scans stations rapidly, theoretically allowing spirits to speak through the radio wave lengths.) I have my own SB7 Spirit Box and have not needed an app like Necrophonic, but I have attended many ghost hunts where others have used this app and had good results when utilizing the Estes Method with this app.

A bonus about this app, compared to the average spirit box, is that is has a reverb setting. Some ghost hunters prefer this and find it easier to understand words coming through the device. Personally, I find that the reverb makes it harder to understand and also created more room my my mind to hear what it wants to hear.

Pro tip: Spirit boxes (and similar functioning apps like Necrophonic) will generate sounds from radios or their word banks regardless of whether a spirit is present. As mentioned earlier, use your best discretion to determine if a sound or word that comes through may be from a spirit, or was just radio songs/chatter, or the app scanning through it's word bank as it does.

EMF Analysis

A standard EMF (electromagnetic field) meter can cost $30 on the lower end, and up to $100 if you want something a bit more reliable. The EMF Analysis app has a free version with the occasional ad (what I have been using) and appears to do a decent job at using your phones built-in sensors to read EMF levels. You can also pay $4.99 for a full version of the app, ad-free. I downloaded this app for myself and held it next to my computer, wifi router, and other areas of guaranteed EMF in my home. Although it did pick up the EMF readings, they did very when compared to the more accurate readings on my K-II EMF meter. There can also be a slight delay in the app when picking up on high EMF, but it is certainly better than having no means of measuring EMF at all. This makes it fairly useful for ruling out the presence of high EMF while investigating at haunted locations, seeing has high EMF can also cause haunting-like symptoms of irritability, depression, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and anxiety, which can come across as paranoia, or that feeling of being watched.

Motion-Sensor Cat Toys

These light-up motion-sensor cat toys have become a staple for many ghost hunters as they are small, cheap, and easy to scatter while investigating a haunting. Although they aren't perfect and can sometimes be easily set off by cars passing by, (living) people walking around, and other causes of vibrations, they can still act as a useful ghost hunting tool when used correctly. A pack of four can be purchased online from sites like Amazon at a cost of $11. There is an added bonus if you are like me and have a few kitties at home, who quickly kidnapped one for themselves...

Pro tip: Set them down on a surface and test them first by walking around the surrounding area. Getting the motion sensor balls in a good, stable position can help you minimize the chances of you or someone in your ghost hunting group setting them off.

Don't Be Afraid to Get Creative!

Today, you can find a plethora of divination tools on sites like Amazon. I have a pair of retractable dowsing rods I purchased from the site for about $13. But if you are in a pinch or live where delivery can be more expensive or slow, items like dowsing rods, pendulums, and spirit boards can easily be made out of things you probably already have at home.

DIY Spirit Board: For a spirit board, any paper or cardboard will do. Just cut out a planchette (the arrow shaped piece with a hole in the center to select letters/numbers) and use a writing utensil to write out the alphabet on another sheet of paper or cardboard. You don't need anything fancy or branded when ghost hunting: YOU are the most important tool, these items just give us some aid!

DIY Dowsing Rods: Any bendable and easy-to-cut wires can be used to form your own L-shaped dowsing rods. I personally know people who made their own using wire from old wire hangers. If you have never used them before, its fairly simple: just hold the shorter end of the L-shape in your hand so the longer side points straight forward ahead of you. Don't hold them too tight, and remain as still as possible so they can gently sway side to side. Next, ask away! Some ghost hunters ask spirits to make the rods point to where they are at, or cross the rods for yes/no questions. Be mindful that it's impossible to remain 100% still, and some movements may be from you and not a spirit responding.

Pro tip: Try using an app like Ghosttalker alongside the rods and see if you get similar responses on both.

DIY Pendulums: Any necklace with a heavier charm can also be used on whim as a pendulum, or a thread with something heavier, like a metal washer, tied to the end: just hold the top of the chain/thread and let the charm/washer hang down, as steady as possible. Next, ask the spirit(s) to spin it clockwise for yes, or counterclockwise for no.

Pro tip: As with dowsing rods, it is also impossible to remain completely still, so some swaying or spinning of the pendulum may be from your own micro-movements.

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