Sources of EMF Readings at Skinwalker Ranch

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Skinwalker Ranch is popular both in the UFO and the Paranormal communities as a place where supposed strange things happen - things that might be attributed to ghosts, aliens, tran-dimensional beings, or just something in the geology.

None of this is backed up by hard science, but one thing that is rolled out with some frequency is the presence of supposedly anomalous readings of EMF radiation. This comes up often in the History Channel's show The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch where they use a Trifield brand RF meter to show a variety of random readings.


About 25 minutes into Episode 1, Travis Taylor says:
Metabunk 2020-04-12 08-20-35.jpg
The highest reading I saw was 18.919 mW/m2. Current WHO exposure limits are 9,000 mW/m2.

So, where might this radiation be coming from? There's a number of possible sources to consider
  1. Their own cell-phones
  2. Wireless microphones (they are all wired for sound with lavalier microphones )
  3. Walkie-talkies
  4. Nearby radio stations
  5. Nearby airports (and airplanes)
  6. Nearby cell-phone towers
For 1 & 2, here's a shot of Travis with a cell phone and a wireless microphone transmitter (note the wires and antenna poking out)
Metabunk 2020-04-12 08-50-38.jpg

The closest radio station is KNEU, 4 miles away. broadcasting at 1250kHz, kw. 88 meter antenna. https://www.fccinfo.com/CMDProEngin...bSearchType=Appl&sAppIDNumber=310936&sHours=D
KNEUtower.jpg

There are a few airports. The closest is Roosevelt, 8.5 miles away, and a larger one at Vernal, but that's 23 miles away. (airports will be important for other things too, like lights in the sky)

The closest cell-phone towers I could find were two about 3 miles away to the north on Rt 40/Hwy 191
Metabunk 2020-04-12 09-55-49.jpg

Metabunk 2020-04-12 09-20-08.jpg

There does not seem to be a direct line of sight to these antennae from the location on the mesa where they were doing their readings, which has a viewshed mostly to the south.
Metabunk 2020-04-12 10-03-59.jpg

Any other suggestions?
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
https://www.prosoundweb.com/understanding-wireless-rf-output-power/

CellphonePower.png
http://www.mobileworld.org/gsm_about_06.html
I would expect the phone to use a high output power level especially when the reception is bad; if you compared it to what it uses normally, it could be a lot more. The cellphone would send particularly strongly if there are no cell towers nearby, and if it had an internet connection, might be active without the user being aware.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_band_radio#Current_use
Though you'd hope they'd notice if one of the crew is using their walkie-talkie while they're taking measurements.

I don't think any external transmitters matter, the distance should attenuate the signal a lot. As you know, these transmitters are already at safe levels when you are nearby, and then diminish with the square of distance.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
https://www.prosoundweb.com/understanding-wireless-rf-output-power/

So what would this actually result in? I'd imagine it's more complicated, but let's say that's the maximum 250 mW at the antenna, then at a distance that has a surface area of 1 square meter, would that measure 250 mW/m2?

Sphere area formula = 4πr^2
Radius for and area of 1m2 = sqrt(1/(4π)) = 0.28m

At one meter away, about 3 feet, the surface area is 4πr^2, or about 12.5.

The maximum power of a lav mic transmitter is 250mW, so at 1 meter that would be 20mW/m2, which is the maximum reading on the meter.

However it seems like 50mW is the most you can do without a license. A simple surface area reduction to 20mW would happen at sqrt(20/50/4/π) = 0.18m (0.6 feet)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think any external transmitters matter, the distance should attenuate the signal a lot. As you know, these transmitters are already at safe levels when you are nearby, and then diminish with the square of the distance.
For a ballpark, let's take KNEU, 4 miles away 5kW nondirection. A 4 mile radius sphere has a surface area of 4*π*4828^2 square meters

So power in mw = 5000000/(4*π*4828^2) = 0.017mW/m2

So yeah, that does not seem like something that would be a factor here.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Radar Altimeter
On a commercial aircraft, the radar altimeter sends predominantly straight down.
https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/compendium/4200.00-4400.00_01MAR14.pdf
The gain of 10 dBi is a property of the the antenna systems and means the radiated power in the main direction (down) is 10dB more (times 10) than the power for a theoretical isotropic antenna (generating a uniform spherical field), like the one you assumed in your computation above.
However, due to planes being fast and helicopters being loud, such an influence should be either transient or very noticeable.

For the wireless microphone transmitter, antenna gain plays a role as well, as does the fact that the body shields the back pocket from the radiation meter. Reflections could cause changes as they move around. Is the Trifield operator the only person wired for sound? Do they use a drone?
I did try to find the actual power of these systems, but the spec sheets I saw didn't have that information.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
For the wireless microphone transmitter, antenna gain plays a role as well, as does the fact that the body shields the back pocket from the radiation meter. Reflections could cause changes as they move around. Is the Trifield operator the only person wired for sound?
I did try to find the actual power of these systems, but the spec sheets I saw didn't have that information.
They seem to commonly be in power setting of 50, 100, and 250mw, and the more professional models are switchable between the levels. Example:
https://www.performanceaudio.com/le...ck-transmitter-block-470-470-1-495-6-mhz.html
Metabunk 2020-04-13 10-39-27.jpg
Note the antenna here seems somewhat similar to Taylor's.
Metabunk 2020-04-13 10-47-32.jpg
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
While it's unlikely to be an issue, I think it's worth pointing out the long-distance power-lines that run just under a mile to the north in an east-west direction. You can see them in this drone shot
Metabunk 2020-04-13 11-01-28.jpg
Metabunk 2020-04-13 11-12-55.jpg
Metabunk 2020-04-13 11-11-28.jpg

They make some EMF, but probably not a mile away?
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
ADS-B
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijno/2011/973656/
Because the antenna is mounted vertically, the radiation is directed mostly sideways and not straight down.

I looked for airports nearby; the closest is a Navajo airstrip that I couldn't actually recognize on Google Earth; all other airports are more than 10 miles away. That should rule out aircraft being nearby routinely.wrong state
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
https://ec.europa.eu/health/scienti...romagnetic-fields07/l-2/7-power-lines-elf.htm
The issue with these is that the wavelength is on the order of 3000 miles -- a handheld device or the human body is a very ineffective antenna for this kind of radiation (as is the powerline).
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Metabunk 2020-04-13 11-31-14.jpg

Metabunk 2020-04-13 11-30-46.jpgMetabunk 2020-04-13 11-39-19.jpg
The meter shows 1385.080 - but perhaps that's just editing (audio and video are often different with close-ups)

https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/compendium/1240.00-1300.00_01MAR14.pdf
So possibly a blip from being swept by ATC radar.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
In Episode 3 they are seen with what looks like a wireless weather station. Metabunk 2020-04-15 08-35-48.jpg

The weather station itself is an Ambient Weather WS-2902A Osprey, which uses a 915Mhz connection to the base station. 300 foot range.
Metabunk 2020-04-15 08-50-31.jpg

Then there's a white dome next to this with an antenna. I don't know what this is. Maybe a WiFi extender.


Metabunk 2020-04-15 09-15-27.jpg
Later they take so readings of mysterious RF, quite close to this transmitter. This might account for some of their readings
Metabunk 2020-04-15 08-39-28.jpg
 
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Leifer

Senior Member.
Camera operators working in difficult areas like this, would likely be equipped with an additional 1 or 2 transmitting signals.

One would be an separate audio intercom directly to the director and producers sitting at a nearby "base camp", wearing headsets..
Another transmission would be a wireless video signal from the camera(s) to the base camp video monitors.... so the recorded footage can be viewed "live" ...and where extremely long cables are not practical.

Systems like this.....
https://www.filmtools.com/cameradep...mo-600-wireless-hdmi-sdi-system-l-series.html
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Another possible source is the Wifi cameras and access point set up on the cattle pen used to lure trans-dimensional werewolves.
Location of tower near pad.jpgCameras on tower wifi annotated.jpg
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I bought a TriField TF2, and after some short experimenting, I think the most likely source of the RF is something very local to them as I suggested in the first post.

At my house, anywhere more than ten feet away from a WiFi hotspot gives a reading of less than 0.100, and outdoors this rapidly drops down to 0.002 or lower. My phone was in full airplane mode for the photos.

The highest reading at a spot away from the house I could find (without going for a drive) was 3 miles away from a cellphone tower. 0.030 mW/m2Metabunk 2020-04-25 16-07-02.jpg

My smart meter had momentary peaks above 20, but basically broadcast at 0.5 (1 foot away) for a second every minute.
Metabunk 2020-04-25 16-08-37.jpg

Highest readings were from my 4G-LTE hotspot antennas. 16 at about 2 feet
Metabunk 2020-04-25 16-10-27.jpg

I was also above to get reading around 10 with my iPhone on a skype video call, at about 2 feet.

Metabunk 2020-04-25 16-16-02.jpg

So I'd go with wireless microphones as the #1 possible source here.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
So I'd go with wireless microphones as the #1 possible source here.
I'm curious how much your phone gives off if you use it in an area with poor reception, when it adapts the signal strength to compensate. Maybe something to try when not sheltering-in-place.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I'm curious how much your phone gives off if you use it in an area with poor reception, when it adapts the signal strength to compensate. Maybe something to try when not sheltering-in-place.
I tried experimenting with inside vs. outside - where outside normally give significantly better reception. I put my phone and the meter in a box to maintain constant spacing, with my phone on a Skype video call.
Metabunk 2020-04-25 22-14-28.jpg

Indoors it seems very high at 14.5+. I took it outside and it dropped to 1.3
Metabunk 2020-04-25 22-15-42.jpg

But then I came back inside, and it was just as low!

So it seems there are multiple factors at play.
 
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