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A while back a good friend  and researcher colleague of mine (Kathy Caslin) approached me with a favor.  She had been hearing so many stories about people using the Ovilus I and having varying results and wanted a definitive answer on whether this digital dowsing device had any design merits.  Ultimately, she wanted to find out of this “gadget”could really do what the manufacturer claimed.  Having a long history in electronics engineering, and a curiosity about  this device myself, I happily agreed to help her find an answer, and so without  hesitation she sent me one of the devices to dissect for science. The first thing I noticed and something every Ovilus owner should remember is that the  device itself has written on the face (very clearly) “FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY”.  That alone should  be enough to make a decision as to the validity of this gadget, but there was  more to look at here. Regardless of the disclaimer on the face, the manufacturer still makes some claims that could be tested and substantiated. 

Yes it’s true the designer of the Ovilus didn’t promise this would contact the other side, but they did promise the machine was able to detect Electromagnetic fields. In fact there is a setting on the unit that transforms the Ovilus into a  talking EMF meter. They also claim that the device measures temperature and it is the combination of the changes in EMF and/or temperature that triggers the device to speak one of the 500 words stored in the Ovilus’ memory.   All of these claims were perfect for my testing.

The first thing I did was test the basic claims of the unit. Since it was a “talking EMF” meter this seemed like a great place to start. If it could indeed measure electro-magnetic fields how accurate is it?  The test hypothesis was simple. I would get a fixed electro-magentic source and compare the readings present by the Ovilus at the same distance and axis as my $300 EMF meter.  I know I can’t expect the performance of the Ovilus to equally match the meter, but their readings should be close.  

For the source I used an isolation transformer. For those who are unfamiliar, an isolation transformer is a device used to “isolate” an electronic device in repair or development from the wiring in the building. This is done in electronics engineering to allow the device to fail naturally and not blow the circuits in the shop. The transformer I used produced a 105 milligauss reading on my meter at 6 inches away on the x Axis.  Great that was my baseline.  Next was the  Ovilus’ turn.  My expectations of a good device would be a reading of 100mG or even in the 90’s but when I switched the Ovilus in to “EMF MODE” and placed it 6 inches from the transformer on the same Axis, the 1980’s sounding computer voice indicated it was reading 14 milligauss, very unacceptable. To make sure I had the right axis I moved the Ovilus around and angled in in every direction I could muster. I even tried it closer to the transformer, but not a single reading was even close to my meter reading which held fairly solid at 105 mG.  That to me was failure number 1.  

On to the temperature.  Since the Ovilus doesn’t have a traditional “temperature meter” that I can get a reading from, my only way of  testing this feature was to see if drastic changes in temperature indeed  triggered a response.  To do this I
left the Ovilus on for a five minute period before placing it in my  freezer. Going from 72 degrees to  25 degrees in a matter of seconds should certainly trigger a response  right? Wrong. I left the unit in the freezer for 5 minutes and got one random word  spoken the entire time.  
 
Next I figured that since  this device might be triggered by a combination of temperature AND electro-magnetic fields, I should probably add something to the freezer along  with the Ovilus. Something like an electric power drill.  The  drill I used produced a 300 milligauss EMF field and should certainly trigger  any device with the ability to measure EMF.  To properly conduct the test I  left the Ovilus out of the freezer for a couple of hours to warm up. To be fair I replaced the battery (even though it was brand new) before starting again.  

Into my freezer went the  spinning power drill with the trigger clamped in the on position and going full  speed.  Next went the Ovilus.  I closed the door almost all the way to  help facilitate the “chill”. After nearly three minutes, the Ovilus muttered the  word “soldier” and near the end of the test the word “stairs”, Hardly a  reliable response.  

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Isolation Transformer
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Click to Enlarge and See Component Diagram.
I was frustrated by the lack  of response I got from the Ovilus. Clearly it wasn’t doing what it was marketed to do.  It was time to kick it up another notch.  It was time to open it up and look inside. If the Ovilus contained the proper components to measure EMF and temperature, then perhaps it’s a simple design flaw on the part of the  manufacturer and their efforts were at least in the right place (even if the device didn’t work as expected).

With my screwdriver in hand I removed the cover. I was amazed at the simplicity of the circuit design.  There were only five microchips, two switches, a couple of wires and some other assorted innocuous components such as capacitors and resistors. Clearly all the work was being done by the chips. The first IC's I noticed were a matched pair of micro-processor chips. These chips can be programmed with functions (such as the talking EMF meter etc.) and could hold the 500 word data bank needed for the “Ovilus function”.  The next IC I noticed was a “Text to Speech”chip.  This component would take the chosen word that’s stored in the micro-processor and transform it into speech. Essentially this is the source of that robot sounding voice.  
 
The next chip is an LM386 which is basically an audio amplifier. This is used to amplify the output of the text to speech chip and  let you hear it through the headphones. The last IC is a voltage regulator that helps reduce the battery voltage for the other IC's on board. That’s it, just five IC's (Chips). So where is the EMF sensor? Where’s the temperature sensor? The bad news is it really doesn't have one. 
 
In order for a device to  “sense”electromagnetic fields it needs either a coil of coated copper wire or  what’s known as a “hall effect” transistor, neither of which is present here.  Not only that, it appears as though the only temperature sensing element in this device is contained in the micro-processor and is not an external temperature sensor. This temperature element is used to signal an alarm if the chip should overheat. So how do they trigger the voices you ask?  Well from what I could see there are two red wires that run to open analog inputs on one of the micro-processor chips. These function as small antenna that can be susceptible to some stray electric fields or passing high frequency radio waves. When the charged fields or radio waves come in contact with these wires it triggers the chip to play one of the 500 words. The logic behind what it picks exactly is unknown, but it is my opinion that these words are chosen at random since all of the words in the databank are written to fit into almost any situation of a haunted location. Words such as  “Stairs”, “Window”, “Bedroom”, “Murder” etc. Any one or combination of those words can be “backed “ in to about any paranormal situation.
 
I know what many people are saying that are reading this. “But I have one, and it’s answered some of my questions so accurately, it also said words that perfectly coincided to actions or people in the room.  How is that possible if this doesn’t work as expected?”

The answer to that is written in the mathematical laws of probability and averages. There is an absolute chance that all of the “matches”people have had were coincidental, after all the words are geared towards paranormal research so it’s not that far of a stretch.  I remember being in a casino one time standing near the Roulette table and witnessing a man accurately pick 6 winning numbers in a row.  I was amazed, as was the crowd around him. Granted it was very unusual and it hardly ever happens, but does he have a special gift for picking numbers? Not likely. All of his wins were well within the realm of chance and possibility as were the two dozens times after that when he lost.  People seem to only notice the hits and not the misses.  So when using a device like this we take a tally of how many times it was correct, but disregard how many times it was wrong.  My advice is keep an accurate score and if your hits well exceed 80% of all tries over time you may have broken the law of averages and quite possibly made a very significant discovery.

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Click to view IC Data Sheet
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Click to view IC Data Sheet
 


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