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Tagging along with ghostbusters (photos)

When amateur ghost hunters investigate a haunted house, they bring along a bagful of consumer technology in hopes of capturing proof of spirits.

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John Lewinski
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1 of 8 John Scott Lewinski/CNET

Dining room at Tally Ho

ERIN, Wisc.--When investigators from Washington County Paranormal investigated alleged ghostly activity at the Tally Ho tavern about 30 minutes northwest of Milwaukee, they took along a collection of consumer gadgets to record the possible ghostly evidence.

A primary target for the ghost hunters' investigations was the main dining room at the Tally Ho. The lights were dimmed for the night vigil conducted by this group of average, working folks who share an interest in the paranormal.

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2 of 8 John Scott Lewinski/CNET

Tally Ho bar

Kitchen staff and bartenders at the Tally Ho tavern say bottles, cans, and knives fly off the shelves at the "haunted" bar and restaurant. Washington County Paranormal investigators used the bar as their HQ during their nighttime vigil (they kept it dry).
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Motion sensor camera

Motion sensor cameras like this one snap a brightly lit photo of whatever trips the invisible laser beam it projects. Unfortunately, it had the night off during the vigil I joined at the Tally Ho tavern.

This unit is set to look up the stairs toward the pub's upper living quarters, where the ghost of Emily--supposedly an ill-fated young lady who died under suspicious circumstances on the property during its days as a brothel and boarding house--is said to reside.

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Live surveillance camera

Ghost investigators can't be everywhere at once in a multiroom haunted house. So Washington County Paranormal spook hunters set up live security surveillance cameras--like this Clover standard-definition closed-circuit unit waiting to be deployed--to watch for odd activity in otherwise-empty rooms.
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Simple tech of ghost hunting

Some of the most common ghost-hunting tools include consumer-grade digital cameras; remote digital thermometers (to detect supernatural cold patches); digital voice recorders (to record electronic voice phenomena); and electromagnetic field detectors. On the night of the Tally Ho vigil, none of these gadgets captured proof of spirits.

There is no uniformity in brand name or technical specifications. The selection is what the members manage to cobble together, which limits some of the group's scientific capabilities.

Note: The glow in the bottom right is not a spirit orb. It's a result of taking photographs in absolute darkness while trying to suppress the flash.

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Watching a live video ghost vigil

Once ghost investigators set up their live surveillance camera and motion detectors, they feed all the images back to a multichannel video splitter to record everything those cameras see for review after the vigil is over. This monitor screen sits atop of the bar in the Tally Ho's main dining room--the center of activity (and, supposedly, spiritual energy) in the building.
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Burial cairn or pile of rocks?

This pile of rocks is said by some to be the basement grave of Emily, who, legend has it, was an ill-fated prostitute from the Tally Ho tavern's distant past. Sadly, the paranormal investigators had nothing capable of looking through stone and cement, and the Tally Ho's owners are reluctant to tear up their basement floor.
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Holy Hill looms over Tally Ho

A spooky castle (or church) helps lend a little atmosphere to the surrounding woods for any ghost-infested structure. Here, the Holy Hill shrine dominates the horizon as seen from the door of the "haunted" Tally Ho tavern. There's no gadget here, but it's a damn fine photograph.

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