Do-it-yourself ghost hunting

If you're looking for ghosts this Halloween, you don't need a Proton pack. A professional ghost hunter takes us to the reportedly haunted Brookdale Lodge and shows us some easily accessible gadgets you can use to search for paranormal activity.

Kristina Rosa Associate Producer
Kristina Rosa, who started as an intern, edits and produces videos and contributes news stories as part of the CNET TV team.
Kristina Rosa
2 min read

Ghost hunters set up toys to try to lure spirits they believe haunt the abandoned Brookdale Lodge in California. Kristina Rosa

A tea set, dolls, and a teddy bear set up at a table for a little girl. It would be sweet, if it wasn't in a dark, abandoned lodge filled with spider webs where a little girl named Sarah drowned in the late 1800s.

The toys were presumably laid out by someone trying to contact Sarah's ghost, which reportedly haunts the now-condemned Brookdale Lodge in Northern California's Santa Cruz mountains. In its heyday, the Brookdale Lodge played host to celebrities like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe and was a popular getaway for mobsters with its secret rooms and tunnels.

Now when you go inside, it's dark, dank, rundown, and eerie, with a definite chill in the air. It's the perfect place to get a demonstration of the technology ghost hunters use. Gloria Young, a self-described paranormal researcher, is our guide to things that go bump in the night.

Watch this: Average tech to find the supernatural

"Throughout this particular building we know that people will hear glasses clink at night. There's always been voices," Young said. "In the bar, it's like a constant party."

Jared Kohler/CNET

Young uses a variety of electronics to hunt for evidence of paranormal activity.

"There are people trying to make equipment for ghost hunting, but because we don't know how to detect ghosts or how things work, they can only modify what we use and how we use it and what we can do with it," she said. "That's why we have such a vast array of stuff that is regular everyday stuff that you can buy on the shelf of your local electronics store."

Young showed off a so-called "spirit box," a modified AM/FM radio that quickly scans for radio frequencies. Young suggests asking questions and listening carefully for one-word answers amid the static. We gave it a try. See for yourself in this video.

Watch this: Ghost Hunting Tech: The Spirit Box

Young also uses a $20 Geiger counter, which measures radiation. It usually clicks at regular intervals. She says irregular or frequent clicks could be interpreted as ghosts answering your questions. During our taped interview, the Geiger counter interrupted Young as she described a previous ghostly encounter.

Watch this: Ghost hunting tech: The Geiger Counter

Jared Kohler/CNET

Jared Kohler/CNET

She also employs electromagnetic detectors like a trifield meter, a rem pod, and a K-II to detect any entity that may be nearby. For video, she has a full spectrum handheld camera that she says picks up things the naked eye can't see.

Ghost hunters also use different devices that measure temperature, like thermal imagery cameras and non-contact thermometers. In this video, Young is explaining the relevance of temperature fluctuations, when something a little unexpected happens.

Watch this: Ghost hunting tech: Thermal imagery cameras and thermometers

Maybe it's nothing. Maybe it's something. Maybe it's easy to believe in spooky things when you're in a creepy, deserted, dark place looking for them.

Happy hunting. Happy Halloween.