Interview with Ghost Box Researcher Steve Hultay
Annette: Steve, I have been looking forward to this for quite some time now. Thanks for making some time for me. I appreciate it. I think I have some good questions for you :) Iíd like to start off by asking about the history of the Ghost Box, the different kinds of boxes, and what types you use.
Steve: The Spiritcom came out in the late 70ís to early 80ís. A bunch of scientists working on that were able to communicate with the other side using audible tones coming through some type of device that they were using and had developed. It lasted for a few years, but everyone started fighting and it never amounted to anything.
Then Frank Sumption got a hold of a Popular Science magazine from I believe it was 1995, and it was basically an article saying ďHow do we speak to the dead?Ē and ďCould we speak to the dead?,Ē based off an idea that Edison came up with originally back in the 20ís. I canít verify any of that as I wasnít around in the 20ís, (laughs) this is just the story that I hear. Frank started building his boxes back in 2002, and gave them to Chris Moon, and he started using them out in the field. I didnít get involved in this until 2007. It was only last year. My sister knew I was big into EVPís so she e-mailed me an article about Frankís Box. I saw that Chris Moon was using it and immediately signed up for one of his ghost hunter universities because I wanted to see the box in action.
In the meantime I started to go nuts looking for an idea of my own, since Frankís boxes were not available, only Frank made them, and he gave them out, and there was only very few. So I ran rampant on the internet trying to find an engineer to build one for me. I ran across Joe Cioppi, who lives in Pennsylvania, heís a nice guy and a retired engineer, and he said he was working on an FM version of a Frankís Box in his own design. He said if I was interested in that, I could buy the parts and he would build it. So we started there.
He built the first device. I got it and I was not overly thrilled, it seemed to sweep very slowly. The whole idea and premise behind the box is that you have a nice fast sweep rate going through the stations grabbing only small bits and pieces of the fragments that they (spirits) utilize to form words and sentences, whatever the case may be. So it was a little slow, we went back and did this a few times until we finally got it right. I went over and sat on his couch and we went over ideas, what I wanted to hear and how we could go about building it. We finally designed a product that I started getting results with. So being that Frank Sumption called his design the Frankís Box, I decided to call what we made the Joeís Box.
We collaborated on different ideas over the course of the past year, and Iíll have 4 Joeís boxes as of next week, and theyíre all unique, theyíre all different. What happened was I started using the Joeís Box, and I found Frankís message board and started posting my files the way I knew how. I didnít have any direction at all, I just started doing my own thing. (laughs) Frank saw what I was doing. I wasnít using a Frankís box, but I was still getting communication. He had just got two boxes from Chris Moon that were not working. He fixed them and then he offered me one of those boxes which was #13.
I never asked him for the Frankís Box, he had offered it to me. So I got it and used it for awhile, I never really got a whole lot out of it to be honest with you. Then I ended up sending it back because it just didnít work. So he built me a new one which was #27. I do get good stuff from that one.
I use so many different methods. When the Radio Shack Hack came out, somebody got the idea and posted it on the internet that you could pull a pin off a radio and the thing constantly sweeps and is like an instant Frankís Box for about $25.00. So what I did with that is the person said they had this idea but didnít say how to do it. So I was at home, it was raining, I didnít have anything to do so I e-mailed this person and said that if he knew how to do it, but wasnít ready to post it yet, could he please tell me because there is a Radio Shack across the street and Iím ready to get jumping and get involved with it. So he e-mailed me back about what model it was and such. I went right across the street, grabbed it and within a half an hour, I already posted a couple of files from it.
He is actually Bill Chappell, who has now developed the Paranormal Puck and the Ovlilus. He was under an assumed name. After he came out with the Radio Shack Hack, I used it and got some great stuff with it. Iím always up for something new. I sent my files to him and he e-mailed me back and said he had this website called ghostboxhacks.com., and he says can I use your files on the site? I said, ďyes, sure, why not?Ē So he did that and everything went rampant.
The 470 is another model that was able to be hacked right after that which is the same as the 12-469, which incorporated a speaker, and is the only basic difference, plus it didnít have the annoying click. So that was the one that really took off with a lot of people because it was small and portable with a speaker built into it and you could take 5 minutes to modify it and be up and running.
Since then I found two of my own Radio Shack models that were able to be modified. On a whim, I was walking around in Radio Shack and grabbed a 20-125, which is another radio that incorporates a speaker and also has a shortwave, and is the first one that brought the shortwave into the research. I figured I had to modify that and put that up on my website allowing everybody to go out and buy that and use it if they wanted to.
Soon after I found another one which is the 12-820 model. Itís an armband radio, it costs $29.99, and I did that one at the pizza parlor at work. Thereís a Radio Shack next to the pizza parlor, and while I was waiting for my food, I took it apart and I actually modified it right then and there on the table (laughs.) So I got that one out into the public too.
Thereís also other methods. I have a Sony Walkman radio (model #SRF-M37V) that needs no hacking at all. All you do is hold the scan button down and it automatically sweeps, never stops, that one you can buy anywhere itís $30.00. So I try to get these ideas out to the other people who are trying to get this research going.
Since then thereís been so many other modifications to the boxes. Frank is on box #38 now, I believe, I have #27 so he has made 11 more boxes since he gave mine to me. As far as the boxes are concerned LC Duplatt developed a Joeís Box type that sweeps the FM band, but he modified his to scan and sweep a little differently than the rest. He gets really good stuff with that. Iím always complimenting him on his files. I think they are excellent. I think he is going to start producing them.
Stefan Bion, from Denmark, developed an EVP Maker, if you actually go back a little ways. EVP maker, according to Frank Sumption is what he was using, and spirits were taking that program and telling him how to build a Frankís Box before it was called a Frankís Box. Now basically what EVP Maker does is you take a piece of audio put it in there, and it mixes it up, jumbles it, and spits it out. Kind of randomly grabbing words from whatever file you put in. He used that and thatís how he came up with the design for the Frankís Box, which is the story that I have been told. I used it several times and never got anything from the EVP Maker.
A couple of months ago Stefan came out with this Allophone File which is based off of 72 audible tones, no words at all, just the audible tones. Itís very robotic sounding. You use the EVP Maker software, and you put it in there and it mixes up the 72 tones. I gave that a shot and all of a sudden I was getting full sentence answers that I have never gotten with any box. This was the first time I got full sentences from anything I have done research with. So I was pretty intrigued with that. What I did was, I decided to take his file and use a program called Sound Soap, which is a software program used to edit and take the noise out of files and stuff like that. It has a bar on the bottom you could actually manually sweep it yourself. So I put the 72 allophone tones as my program and I started just manually sweeping it myself and I started getting answers to my questions.
What I feel is that they (spirits) use what we use. It doesnít really matter. I think it is more based on the person who is doing the research. I seem to be able to, whatever I turn on, get something. So Iím using the Sound Soap and the EVP Maker and all of a sudden the Speakjet comes into the picture.
Rob Fitzgerald from deadscience.com put together a Speakjet Box, which is basically the 72 allophone tones in a chip format and it sounds like a Speak and Spell. He put it into a box and he based it out of energy fields so when it detects an energy field it randomly jumbles the 72 tones and spits stuff out. Now I could understand if it says ďhello,Ē that I get, but if it says ďhello Steve how are you?Ē the chances of it actually jumbling audio together to say things like that is significant enough that itís not a coincidence to me.
Then the Paranormal Puck came out, which is Bill Chappell as I said before. Thatís about energy fields, heís all about environmental readings. Energy fields, voltage, heís really into the data and that kind of stuff. I was one of the beta testers for original Paranormal Puck that started in February and I used it until recently then he sent me a brand new one; a finished product of it. I use that.
It has a thing called phenomes, and what that is, is bits and pieces of human speech. Itís not words and itís not tones, itís actually human vocal speech patterns. Now if you run that into his program, you can change the speed of it, and it randomly jumbles it up and spits out human speech giving a nice clear communication. A lot of things can be caught in a real time format. Some things you canít which is why I record everything and go over it later, put the headphones on and I have some incredible files from that.
And that brings us up to date on all the boxes that are out there, except for one more which is the Mini-Box. That one came out in December. I got that one in December and the first time I used that I went to my motherís for dinner. I was using it and there was a grounded spirit that was at my motherís house and he kept saying ďWhy canít you see me I am staring right at you, why canít you see me?Ē It was really creepy (laughs.)
The way the Mini-Box was working that night was that I heard the radio and this voice was coming on top of the radio, using the audio from the radio, to make his presence known, and he was not happy. We fought with him for awhile and then finally convinced him to move on and he said okay. Then all of a sudden all I heard was radio and he was gone. My mom hasnít had any problems with her house since. She had people singing in the middle of the night coming from her closet and people walking around in her room; all kinds of stuff before, and after that night she hasnít had those problems since. So does the Ghost Box work? I think it does. Can people say itís radio? Of course. Most people will. I donít believe that. I have gotten stuff beyond what I believe to be radio. I just think this stuff works.
Annette: That was a very good detailed answer. I would like to talk about the Box itself for a few minutes. Iíd like to ask you about the uses for it as well as the limitations in your opinion.
Steve: Boxes are very useful. Iíve taken them out on location and Iíve gotten some really interesting stuff. LC Duplatt has also touched on this recently also. Bringing it to a supposed haunted location seems to fire it up and makes it a lot more active. I found that in a lot of situations.
There was a girl that lived up the road from me that needed help. I went over there and used the Joeís Box that I was currently using at the time, and got a lot of answers to questions; things I did not know, and I went to school with her, but thatís pretty much it. Up until recently, I didnít know anything about her history. Her boyfriend was living with her. I kept getting this name Ed coming through, and he was really nasty, cursing, and doing a lot of stuff that was just not nice. Come to find out the boyfriendís fatherís name was Ed, and he had a falling out with his father, and ended up putting his father in jail. His father died in jail. I didnít know any of these things when I went in there. All I did was just repeat what I was hearing and they were blown away that I was getting answers, and this is like the first month I was using this box, so I was pretty intrigued that I was getting anything like this also.
Up until that point, I was sitting at home doing research and I was getting minimal stuff. When I went over there where they actually had activity, I was getting stuff that was pretty close to their situation. So I found that to be pretty good. Now as to the limitations of the box, radio method boxes are limited to the location you are in. Youíre not always going to be able to get a good signal. Say for example, if you are in a basement. So if youíre in the basement where the activity is and you turn the box on and you donít have a radio signal, then you donít have anything (laughs.) Itís definitely a downfall. Thatís my big problem and why I am moving forward into the Speakjet boxes and to more of the Allophone tones.
I mix and match. I do a little bit of everything just to keep it fresh in my mind. I want to stay current with all of it. I donít want to stick with one option. I think I will bounce around until I find the one that best works for me and then maybe stick with that.
Annette: It seems that there are some other limitations in regards to what kind of information they will pass on. They donít like to predict the future, they donít like to try to give too much detailed information as to what itís like on the other side, have you run across any of those things?
Steve: I actually have gotten a lot of files that pertain to the other side. Theyíre pretty willing to talk about that. As for predicting the future, if anyone wants the lottery numbers theyíre probably not going to get them (laughs.) I think from what I have learned doing this, is that they have limited predicting ability. I have that file that you heard that said I have company and right then the phone rang. So they know things that are current and going to happen in the immediate future. As for the distant future, Iím not really too sure that they know any of that. I actually had a prediction tonight through the Joeís Box and it was very specific as to what I am doing tomorrow night. So I am interested in seeing how that pans out because it didnít seem to be a good message (laughs.) I donít know if anything they say is actually going to happen and is true.
Annette: Bruce Halliday had posted some files that may be about the recent earthquake that happened in China, and I thought that was really interesting.
Steve: Yeah a few months ago we were getting a lot of earthquake messages. All of us. It got to the point of yeah earthquake message and I just started deleting them. For like two weeks straight I got nothing but earthquake warnings and I didnít think anything of it. I never got China, and then Frank was sending me seismograph maps showing me that there are always earthquakes going on and not to take it seriously. So I didnít.
Annette: There is another researcher, and Iím not going to mention his name, because Iím not sure he would want me to, who had a particular spirit that he was talking with. He started asking questions about when that person was alive and trying to research him. His communication got cut off. He heard other voices in the background saying ďdonítĒ and ďstopĒ and things like that and he actually lost contact with that spirit and never heard from him again. Have you ever tried to use the box to research anyone in particular? You know try to find out someoneís personal details; where they lived, when they died etc?
Steve: I have tried to do that in the past but never got anything. They donít like to answer those sorts of questions. I shy away from doing it now because I know they donít like it. Iíve had problems and been cut off at different points in my communication also.
Annette: That person lives in a haunted house and was trying to investigate the spirits that remain there.
Steve: Which is a great idea but can we say on the other hand that we are talking to spirits for sure? Can we say that they are who they say they are? If I were them, and wanted to have a good time, I could say I am so and so and let you run to the library looking up all sorts of records (laugh.) I donít know where they are. Are they on a parallel universe to us? Itís possible. Are there different levels? Iím sure there are. Iíve gotten that several times where they say they are on different levels. The longer you are gone the more you move up on the levels. Sometimes I ask for someone, and it takes a long time like they have to go searchingÖ I canít say if itís spirits or ghosts that weíre talking to, or if it is always earthbound spirits that we are talking to. Is it aliens (laugh) I honestly donít know. All I know is I ask questions and I get answers.
Annette: Itís a fascinating thing. I think I have been privileged in a lot of ways to be able to listen to so many files. I am amazed all the time at the questions and the answers that are coming through; people actually getting in touch with their loved ones, and people doing spirit rescue. Itís kind of mind boggling, it really is.
Steve: Iím actually going over a session I did today. I went to Monmouth Battlefield Park, here in New Jersey. Itís where they fought one of the big battles of the Revolutionary War. George Washington was there. So I went over there today and sat in the middle of the battlefield and I did a session. This is the second time I have done this at this location. Both times that I went there I got British speaking people coming through the Box. Which is bizarre, because there are no British speaking people on any of the radio stations around here that I know of. Now considering that this was a war between America and Britain, getting British speaking voices is really interesting.
Now today I went over the file and I believe I crossed over five spirits today while I was there. They were speaking to me and were willing. I asked them if they could see the light and told them to go to the light. This isnít the first time. I actually enjoy doing this. I feel like I am serving a purpose at that point. What I did was simply convince them. If you see the light, your family friends and loved ones are all over there, and they want you over there. Trust me. And then I hear people in the background saying ďyeah Steve said it is okayĒ I think I have built up enough clientŤle over there that they seem to know who I am now (laughs.) So when I said it, they were like hesitant, and then I kept saying ďitís okay goĒ and I keep hearing some Spanish radio station and then they were gone. Did I help cross them over? I might have. They said there were five of them. I didnít hear anything after that so if there was five, I may have crossed all five over. I had that happen quite a few times.
Annette: Iíd like to ask about your research in particular, what your hopes are for the future, as opposed to other researchers out there. What are you looking for? What are you hoping for?
Steve: Basically I do what I do every day, I think the skill is in the editing process; going over the file and being able to capture it with your ear. You develop an ear for it over time. Being able to isolate it and get it out into the public is a great thing. Iíve never done this for a cent. Iíve given boxes away. Iíve offered tons and tons of time. Iíve gone over files for people and worked on stuff for them. What I like to do, what I feel is my portion, is teaching and helping others. Thatís what I really like to do. Thatís what my research is about. What I hope will come out in the future is to eventually get a device where we could actually sit there and no matter who you are you could sit with me and hear what is being said. I think weíre a ways off from that, but itís coming.
I started this back in early 2007, and itís light years away from when I started. When I started, it was just Frank Sumption, Chris Moon and me. Those were the only people doing Box research at that time, and I was the only one using the Joeís Box because I co-created Joeís Box. Joe was an engineer. He knew how to build devices but he didnít know what this research was about. He built it, we learned together, so it truly was a collaboration between us. We have a good working relationship that way. When I go to visit, his wife brings out coffee and cookies and I stay and talk for like three or four hours (laughs.) We have so much stuff to talk about. I always have ideas. Heís constantly trying to put things into motion. Heís now talking about working with the Speakjet chip and trying to do something with that. You never know what will happen next. It seems to change all the time.
Annette: Yes it certainly does. Itís out there and people are thinking about it. Thereís this idea and that idea and itís kind of like a think tank situation in a way. You have a bunch of very sharp minds all focused on the same sort of a goal.
Steve: Well the thing is people see your ideas and see what youíre doing, and sometimes it sets something off in somebody. You know, basically, what I did when the Radio Shack Hack first came out, I saw the idea of what was going on and I just kind of ran away with the idea. I saw what he did with that design and I thought any radio with a similar pattern, set up and circuit board inside it, could be done the same way. It could also be done in different ways and people are just kind of all over the place doing stuff now.
Thereís not a whole lot in the development. It seems like everybody just currently is using what everyone else is using. Me, personally, I am trying to do new things all the time to keep it new. I kind of throw it out there and try to keep myself slightly ahead of the pack. People see me using things and want to give it a try. I have gone pretty far with this. I am trying to keep myself a little bit distanced so people look to me and say, well he gets good stuff, heís gotten a lot of answers and I am willing to give it a shot because he did it. Itís kind of like follow the leader, not that I am a leader, because we are all working together on this, but I think that we should all keep moving forward.
Annette: Well, I think you are a leader, and I think that your curiosity, imagination, and enthusiasm has effected a lot of people Steve.
Steve: I get a lot of e-mails. Itís almost impossible to help everybody. I do reply, but when it gets more and more in depth I send them to my Yahoo Group where I can, or somebody else can answer it. Thatís kind of the whole point of having a group and we have everybody working together on it.
Annette: Steve thank you so much. It was all very informative and interesting. Iím glad we finally got together to do this. I appreciate your time. Iím going to close with some tips from Steve on editing.
Steve Hultay on Editing
This is a style that I do. Basic scenario for me is if I get a 5 second piece of audio that, for example, says ďSteve, I (er-ee-oo) love (ir ikk) youĒ. Granted, you can share that to the group and it would sound like a mess. I simply highlight the nothing worded area and I amplify it, slow it down, and also reverse it. At that point, if I get nothing by those 3 methods, in that highlighted area, it gets deleted and Iíll move on to the next section.
I go over all my files in the exact order that I get it originally, but I try to keep the crap in the middle to a minimum, so others can hear the message clearly. I canít personally listen to a 35 second audio clip that sayís ďHiĒ. ďHiĒ takes up a half a second and the rest is just random audio nonsense, so why not just highlight the ďHiĒ and make it a 2 or 3 second file? And to add more to the editing process, sometimes a word during that sentence doesnít fit and sounds like gibberish. At that point, I do the 3 methods and in doing that I reverse it and it actually is a word that fits in the same sentence. Now, I didnít do anything but reverse a piece of nothing fragment that became something usable, which is still in the same exact section of the original audio file. Editing for me is very hard and takes a long time, but we have to grab every section that could possibly be something and utilize it.
Remember that whoever we are speaking with is mostly likely not a professional at communicating either. We canít expect that whatever device we turn on, that itís going to be full word clear sentences, itís not possible. If we do not edit to get the full message clearly, they will eventually just give up on us because we are expecting them to do all the work and for us to do minimal at best.
Common sense has to come into play, if a section doesnít belong, and is obvious itís a fragment or piece of white noise just get rid of it. As long as you keep the file moving in the same direction without cutting and pasting words to fit your situation, it only makes sense to make senseÖ?ÖRight?
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I do feel that I do not want to really use these things. LOL Personally I do not want to upset spirit or I do not want them comming home with me. I think it is awesome how some people do use them to help the spirits find their way home though. VERY COOL!
Well I take what I said about me using them back. Bob one of our ivestigators loves this box, he brought it along when we went to Villisca and WOW it was really active there and the box really worked good. He read this and your other artical you wrote and he is very cautious when he does use this box. It was saying names of the children, the spirit was whistling like Bob was and it said all of our names in the group except for Herb. One spirit was obviously mad at us because he was saying BAD words, and called one of our investigators and idiot! I do feel though that you do need to be careful with this box, but WOW it is crazy how good it can work.