Evolution of a spirit box

4th July 2020. Reading Time: 11 minutes General, Paranormal Equipment, Paranormal Investigation. 4233 page views. 2 comments.

Ghost boxes or Spirit boxes as they are widely referred to, are one of the most controversial and polarising items which are used during paranormal investigations. How did research evolve to using a modified radio sweep to communicate with spirits? I look at the history and theory behind spirit boxes.

Ghost boxes or Spirit boxes as they are widely referred to, are one of the most controversial and polarizing items which are used during paranormal investigations.  You either love a spirit box, or you don't.  Very honestly, I used to be against them because I didn't quite understand why a broken radio could potentially pick up a spirit voice.  This is the problem with a lot of things in the paranormal.  We often do things that we learn from others or tv without a true understanding as to why.  So let's look into spirit boxes, the how and the why.

* This is a very brief retrospective with key points.  It is something I could literally write about if I wanted to go into enough detail.  You never know, one day I might just do that!

Friedrich Jürgenson 

I have written previously about Freidrich Jürgenson who was one of the pioneers when it comes to EVP research.  You can learn more about him here: https://llifs.com.au/blog/fredrich-jurgenson-evp-pioneer/
In 1960, one of the voices he captured regularly told him to use a radio to act as a medium, and this became his preferred method of contact for the rest of his life. He would connect a microphone and a radio receiver to the tape recorder. He would set the frequency for the radio reception to be in between frequencies as there was a variation of noises. He claimed to have a lot of success in between the frequencies of 1445-1500 kHz with 1485.0 kHz now known as the Jürgenson Frequency.  The reason that  Jürgenson worked with this particular kind of sound wave is that he believed a radio wave that is made to be manipulated so it can be transmitted by radio signal means that it could in theory also be manipulated by a spirit.  The theory was if a spirit supposedly can manipulate the electromagnetic field. using this field they could then possibly manipulate this wave to 'talk' to us.  It is essentially using a wave that was made to be changed.  This is called a carrier wave.

Image Source Sonoloco

Direct Radio Voice

In 1949, pioneer Marcello Bacci attended a medium sitting that would change his life and have a huge impact on a paranormal investigation.  Using similar methodologies that Jurgenson used, Bacci developed his own technique to retrieve spirit voices using a vacuum tube radio.  In 1960's using his radio, Bacci would tune the radio into the white noise which was band-free.  He would slowly adjust the knobs of the radio to reach the correct frequency which he found was between 7-9 megahertz.  Witnesses claimed to have heard loud and clear spirit voices that would often refer to the listeners by name and would communicate for a period of between 10 seconds to almost 4 minutes.  At the end of the session, the radio would return to simple white noise.  While Bacci's methods were being investigated, Professor Festa removed two of the valves from the vacuum tube radio meaning the radio should have been disabled.  The spirit voices supposedly still came through.  Many argued that it was Bacci's psychical ability rather than the radio itself that was responsible for the spirit voices.

Image Source Historydisclosure

Frank's box

In 2002, Frank Sumption created what would become the first 'spirit box'.  It was of course dubbed as 'Frank's box'.  In 1995, Sumption developed an interest in EVP research after reading an article about EVP in an electronics magazine.  He went on to conduct his own EVP sessions using the techniques listed in the article, however, he had no luck and put the idea aside.  In 2002, he came across the magazine on his shelf again.  He thought he would try his luck with EVP again, and he was surprised to learn that this time he had results.  He made the decision to further his research in this area. He used a program called EVP maker by Stefan Bion which would record audio and chop it up and play it back.  He claimed that some spirits were relaying messages for other spirits who were not able to use the technology to communicate.  He decided to come up with a way that would allow all spirits to communicate.

His original creator consisted of a white noise generator, a random voltage converter, an AM radio receiver, and a wooden echo box to house it.  Initially, the voltage converter would power the AM radio receiver to randomly move the tuner around depending on the voltage. It meant that the tuning was quite random.  The design was always evolving and he sold many variations including the addition of adding knobs onto the box so that a person could move the knobs to change the tuner themselves having more control.  In 2007, one of Sumption's followers suggested creating a linear sweep with a rate adjustment to control the tuner which became Sumption's trademark and one that inspired the creation of the Radio Shack Hack and the spirit boxes that followed.  It was Sumption's linear sweep that supposedly gave users the best results as it was a smooth transition between frequencies that allow a spirit to communicate properly without being cut off. 

Image Source ITC Voices

This was the catalyst to what we know of as Spirit boxes today.  It is Sumption that created the spirit box/ghost box as we know it.  He however wanted the field of ITC research to progress so did not mind that people used his technology to build different variations or builds.  He felt the more that was out there the better!

Radio Shack Hack

In 2007, famous paranormal equipment inventor Bill Chappell invented what is known as the 'Shack Hack'.  It is considered by many to be one of the most successful versions of spirit box technology.  Using Sumption's newest creation of using an automatic sweep, a common Radio Shack 12-469 was 'hacked' and it was designed to automatically scan through the radio stations.  It was from here that UFO researcher turned paranormal investigator Mike Colletta created a 'hack' for the Radio Shack 12-470 while creating YouTube videos which soon went viral causing Radio Shack to run out of stock of these popular boxes.  Suddenly the paranormal community had a way to make their very own spirit boxes.  

Image by Mike Colletta http://www.radioshackhack.com/

P-SB7 Spirit Box

One of the most well-known models of the spirit box is that of the SB7.  This model was designed by Gary Galka, the famous inventor of the Mel Meter which I have written about previously.  After receiving spiritual guidance from medium Chris Fleming, this was the first ghost box created specifically for paranormal investigation on a mass-production scale.  

The P-SB7 Spirit Box® utilizes a milli-second adjustable Forward or Reverse frequency "sweep" technique coupled with a proprietary high frequency synthetic noise or "white noise" distributed between frequency steps. The P-SB7 Spirit Box® utilizes an enhanced FM frequency sweep which includes an additional 119 new frequencies from 76MHz to 87.9MHz. No other Hack Box or Modified radio currently offers this. A seven step adjustable sweep rate provides user flexibility based on individual technique and session circumstances. There are two discreet audio outputs; (1) 15mW Earphone, and (1) 250mW Speaker. A bright EL back light display with manual ON/OFF select is ideal for viewing in the dark. The P-SB7 Spirit Box® uses three "AAA" batteries. The P-SB7 Spirit Box™ is intended to be used by professional investigators to help promote the field of Paranormal ITC Research.


While there are newer models such as the SB11 and SBox, the PSB-7 is probably the most well known and most used spirit box among modern-day paranormal investigators.

Image Source Oz Para Tech - Australian seller of Spirit Boxes

How could a spirit communicate via a 'broken radio'?

One of the biggest things I struggled with as a paranormal investigator was taking at face value why we do things the way we do. Often I would attend a tour and investigators would use a spirit box and cite that it was scanning through radio stations and that a spirit could communicate through the frequency.  I couldn't quite understand how that would be possible.  I thought that everything I was hearing was radio bleed or a random word from a radio station.   I have heard on many occasions words come through that were clearly a radio station.  I have even heard the music.  The thing is though, I have also heard words come through that didn't seem to be from any radio station.  There are many ways that you can use a spirit box to eliminate the radio stations coming through such as taking out the antenna or using a Faraday pouch to block the signal.  It essentially means you are just hearing white noise.  When I look at Jürgenson's theory of using a carrier wave, a wave that is specifically designed to be modified, in some ways it begins to make a little more sense how we got to the point of using a radio.  What about the voices? EVP Pioneer Konstantin Raudive used to face a lot of criticism when he used methods similar to Jürgenson's as it was argued that the spirit voices were just radio interference.  He claimed not to focus on the origin of the message, but the message itself.  So essentially he was saying that even if it was radio bleed, it is the message itself that we are supposed to hear.  I am not sure that I personally agree with that, however, I do know of many paranormal investigators who have told me the same thing - that they focus more on the message than its source.  It is up to you what your stance is on that.

The noise of a spirit box is in many ways quite loud and offensive.  We must also not discount the effect that white noise has on a person.  Our brain and our body quite literally reacts to white noise in many different ways, some of which can make a person think they are experiencing something paranormal.  I have even seen it make people feel physically ill.  In suburban built-up areas, it can be at times almost impossible to use a box without getting interference.  While there are ways around this, we must always be mindful of the fact that we are potentially just hearing radio chatter.  It is also important to note that a radio station comes through several channels, not just one.  You know how when you are tuning a radio and you will hear it faintly and then it becomes clearer as you tune it into the correct frequency?  So even though a spirit box is scanning through a frequency very quickly, it will still linger on a radio station for a couple of seconds which can be enough for a full word to come through.  Some investigators also argue that spirits do not like the loud sound of a spirit box and if this was indeed true, I can't say I blame them.   

I still remain skeptical of the spirit box, but now I do understand a little better the method to the madness so to speak.  I have heard some baffling things come through that others have heard as well very clearly that are hard to write off as auditory pareidolia.  I have heard what sounds like the same voice answer questions with answers that are relevant to the location.  I have heard swear words come through the box that would not be said on commercial radio stations so there are a few things that make me wonder. 

While many believe there is no place for a broken radio in the sphere of paranormal investigating, it really is just a form of evolution from EVP research.  I think it has found its place within the realm of ITC.  With no 'proof' of either spirit boxes or EVP being paranormal, I don't see how we can say one method is more valid than the other.  Regardless, however, if you are to use EVP or a spirit box, you need to have a solid understanding of how it works and why the equipment is used to be able to back up your research.  At the end of the day, you as a paranormal investigator know your thoughts, what you believe, and what works well for you.  If a spirit box is not for you then it is not for you.  If you do like using a spirit box, take the time to do the research to really understand how it works and look more into carrier waves.  By understanding it, you may even be able to take your research in a new direction.  Knowledge is power.  Another point to make is that in some cases, it has more to do with the user than the equipment itself - especially in Bacci's case.  Use it to your advantage!  Happy Hunting!

I want to hear from you!  Do you use a spirit box?  What are your thoughts?

If you would like to try different techniques with a spirit box, you can check out my article Spirit Box Experiments: https://llifs.com.au/blog/spirit-box-experiments/
If you want to know more about a faraday pouch as I mentioned above, you can check out my article Faraday Shields https://llifs.com.au/blog/faraday-shields/

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  • Bruce Halliday 4 months ago

    The article needs only one correction, Mike Colletta was not the first person to hack the Radio Shack 12-470, I was, Mike just happened to beat me to posting evidence derived from the new Radio Shack hack. To be totally honest I believe Mike had stumbled upon the hack maybe a day or two after I did. This has been an ongoing contention for many years now, the morning after the original RS 12-469 hack was announced I decided to go to Radio shack and buy up a few 469's and hack them just to have some back ups, while there I noticed that the 470 was hanging right next to the 469 on the wall, it looked the same except the 470 had a built in speaker that was absent in the 469, I decided to pick one up on the chance that it had the exact same curuitry as the 469 and could also be hacked to run as a ghost box, when I arrived home I was able to successfully hack the 470. This was less than 24 hours after the first radio Shack hack box was announced on a yahoo forum.

  • Tracy Simpson 2 years ago

    I do. I use a Radio Shack 12-587 that I've had a friend install a switch that keeps it continuously sweeping as it will stop after a few minutes even though its been hacked. A recent investigation gave me quite an exciting result when a relevant and unexpected answer came through to my question. I had been off investigating a particular location for about an hour and then left to go up to my campsite 20 minutes north. I had a great night and was packing up in the morning to continue on when I noticed my credit card missing. I looked everywhere and could only imagine that I had left it at the gas station near to the location I was investigating. I went back to the station but no luck.....so I went back to the location and it was sitting on the wall by the gate. Some kind person had found it and left it for me. I went back into the building and pulled out the 12-587. I asked if the "pickpocket" was intentional and if they had wanted me back...."perhaps" was heard. Ok. So I again asked if I was brought back to this location on purpose and this time, clear as day through the radio...."gotcha". Now as much as I make notes of what I hear in the field at the time there is a lot going on during an investigation so I make a video recording of all sessions. I investigate alone so there was no one else there. I have played this video for several other investigators without telling them what I hear but only telling them the backstory. They all can hear the "gotcha" clear and its very unexpected as I would never think to hear that over the radio let alone in response to my questions. Although I was slow to start with spirit box technology and I am still listening with a discerning ear I have to admit that I am using them now as one of my routine experiments.