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COMMUNICATIONS

You would be surprised how often a walkie-talkie set comes in handy, even when investigating an area as small as a home. Invariably someone is up in the attic and maybe another group is scoping things outside. You can correlate readings, track people down, and ask others to bring equipment left in the car. This is a pair from Audiovox, Model GMRS-1525. I shopped long and hard for a good setup and I feel this was a best buy as of Summer 2001.

But keep in mind that FRS (Family Radio System) is not the same as GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service), which requires an FCC license because of the increased power output. You will need to file FCC Forms 159 & 605 which can be found at http://www.fcc.gov/formpage.html or you can call 1.800.418.3676.

This model has high power (2 watts as opposed to the normal 0.5 watts of most units) and 15 channels instead of the usual 14. What use is an extra channel? In busy areas, it's like having your own private band sitting on top of everything else. Good for relative privacy and signal clarity. The downside is that they don't make this particular model anymore; the GMRS-1535/1545's are the new ones, but I don't like the style as much and they seem a little flimsier. The 1525's heft well and feel solid. But there is a Cobra model PR-900 DX that I'm pretty sure is the same thing still being sold in Best Buy for around $60, two for $100 or thereabouts. Otherwise, take a look at eBay. 

Five mile models are becoming more common for GMRS radios, but now Audiovox has a model # GMRS-7000 that can supposedly hit SEVEN miles for around $90-100. I can't vouch for it as of yet, and some may ask, why get something that powerful when most sites are no more than a fraction of a mile across? (a half mile is unusually large) Well, keep in mind that range can be greatly reduced by being inside a building and local interference. Plus, it comes in handy when a team caravans in different vehicles. 

One of the most common problems in using FRS radios is interference from other parties on the same channel. Be prepared to ask everyone to go to a new channel in this eventuality. Try using less crowded channels in the first place instead of 1, 7 or 14 and if possible, use a subchannel CTCSS (Coded Tone Controlled Squelch System) Mode, though these are no guarantee of privacy. Channel 10 is supposed to be for emergency use, but it is not officially monitored per se. At any rate, be careful what you say on the air.

 

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And for an external microphone/speaker for the FRS, I recommend the Radio Shack CAT # 21-1834 for $20. I've played around with several telemarketer headphone looking rigs and either they work poorly or not at all. The RS model is lightweight but quite sturdy feeling with a handy clip to attach to your jacket so you can use it cop style while the unit stays on your belt. But I had one go out after six months, so perhaps it is not so great after all. I'll let you know if the second one craps out. 

As a final note on FRS radios, be aware that the subchannel frequency settings between different manufacturers can vary - I think it's Radio Shack that's one of the oddballs. What this means is that you can have a Cobra on Channel 4 subchannel 8 and the matching channel for a Radio Shack will be offset by 1 or so. There used to be charts on the Internet that would give exact details, but I've had trouble finding them. 

Here is an FRS subchannel chart that I found recently. Main channel frequencies 1 -15 run from 462.5625 MHz - 462.7250 MHz

http://www.gmrsweb.com/codetable.html

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This ultrasonic distance measurer is also about the best consumer model I could find. I chose it because it has such a good, broad range (from 2-60 feet), reads in tenths of a unit and can store measurements for calculation. The only thing which bugs me is why it doesn't convert (e.g. 24.5 feet to 24 feet 6 inches), and it always starts in metric mode.  If you are into documenting a site and getting room measurements quickly, this is a real nice toy.

 

OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT - OUTDOORS

Binoculars

For outdoor areas, this may come in handy for scouting out terrain, spotting other members (in large cemeteries, it can be easy to lose people) and if you have a model with large secondary lenses, light gathering ability is greatly enhanced. Prices vary from $30 to over $1000 for exotic models. You need to choose which works best for you, but remember that zoom isn't everything - in the paranormal, light gathering ability and a wide field of view is more important. The downside of carrying these is that it is yet another heavy (and potentially expensive) piece of optics to carry around. Some of the newer models also allow you to capture images and download them to a computer.

GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) Receiver

This is getting towards the upper end of optional equipment. There are a LOT of other things you should consider purchasing for ghost hunting before you think about diving into one of these. But if you are already a hiker or you do a lot of hunting in very rural or large areas, this may come in handy to mark areas of activity  (say on a battlefield) for future study and relay to other groups. Range widely in price from $100 for simple models with no memory, to elaborate paired setups for two people to track one another. Some come with electronic compass, altimeter, route memory, maps, etc. Bear in mind that they only work outdoors.

Adventure Paper

Sold by National Geographic, this is tear resistant, waterproof paper that you can print out on for your next dangerous mission. Can be found in some outdoor stores.

http://www.trailsillustrated.com/acb/showdetl.cfm?&DID=15&Product_ID=1082&CATID=35