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Step-Sweep Rates of Shack Hack Ghost Boxes

Calculating the sweep rate and the amount of time spent on one frequency step

The following chart is designed to figure out how fast a hacked ghost box radio stays on any one frequency.  This chart is based upon the idea that Ghost Boxer Adriana P. came up with in her article on this site and it is the best method to calculate sweep rates for your shack-hack ghost box.

The formula is quite simple.  First, you have to figure out how many frequency steps are in your ghost box’s AM and FM bands.  A typical radio is receives the following bands:

  • AM Band  520 – 1710 = 120 frequency steps
  • FM Band 87.5 – 108.1 = 104 frequency steps

The goal is to figure out the time it takes your hacked ghost box radio to go through the entire band cycle. You time this with a stop watch.  If you do not own a stopwatch, there are several available online and most cell phones have one as well.  Record the time it takes to scan through the entire band several times and then average out this number (total number of seconds / number of passes recorded).

Once you have the amount of time the it takes to scan the frequencies, simply divide that number by the number of frequencies for the band you are using.  If you are doing this right, it should give you a time in the form of a decimal place (0.xx).   This will tell you the length of time your radio spends on any one frequency when scanning through the radio band.  For example, if you get a reading of .20, that means that in 1 second, your radio has passed over 5 frequencies.  Think of this number the next time you get a reply of many words, or a voice that lasts too long to be a radio fragment.

Once you get the number for your radio, please send it to itc@itcvoices.org to be added to this chart.  If the radio you have has already been calculated, please send in the number anyway so several results can be averaged together to get a more accurate sample size.

We are also seeking one minute audio clips from both the AM and FM bands of these hacked radio Ghost Boxes so everyone can hear what the scan sounds like on each particular radio.  So if you have any of the radios above, please send in one minute of AM and one minute of FM without you talking.  Several Ghost Boxers live in areas where good reception is lacking, so we are gathering all the audio we can to get the clearest representation of what the scan sounds like for each of these radios.  This chart will present the best audio sample received from any particular radio hack subjectively judged by audio quality, clarity of reception, and instances of communication from the Other Side.

Kiwi Jeff has put together a more expansive list of attributes than the ones presented here.  If you are more technically inclined, you will want to view his data recordings for the some of the hacked radios listed below.  You can download his PDF here.

Kiwi Jeff notes that: “In terms of defining these parameters, it is important to take into consideration the selectivity curve of the IF and the adjacent channel rejection performance, as these parameters vary widely between hack models, and therefore influence any measurements of speed verses channels scanned to produce a voice. Also the (audio) signal to noise ratio is important, as per my data.”

Upon taking all of these factors into consideration, Kiwi Jeff states that: “My inital conclusions from the data I collected showed the Sangean was far superior to any other hack I tried. I think due in part to its sharp sided IF filter characteristic. This gave it good chunking of snippets, and combined with a well behaved (designed) AGC system, provided chunked artifacts with minimal noise between segments….(the) second best was the 12-469 (headless – without the clicking).”

Hacked Ghost Box Radio Step Sweep Rates

Ghost Box Radio HackSeconds Per FrequencyAM Audio ClipFM Audio Clip
Radio Shack 12-469.16 seconds
Radio Shack 12-470
Radio Shack 20-125.10 seconds
Radio Shack 12-587.20 seconds12-587 AM Hack12-587 FM Hack
Radio Shack 12-588.20 seconds
- 12-588 Turbo Hacked.10 seconds12-588 FM Turbo Hack
Radio Shack 12-589
Radio Shack 12-820.20 seconds
- 12-820 Turbo Hacked.10 seconds
Jensen SAB-55
Sangean DT-200X.11 secondsDT-200X AM HackDT-200X FM Hack
Thomson RT222.21 seconds
- RT222 Turbo Hacked.12 seconds
A list of Ghost Box hacked radios sweep rates with AM/FM audio samples.

This data has been compiled from the data, intellectual, and audio contributions of Jaime CSteve HultayKiwi JeffAdriana P., and Tim Woolworth.  If you have additional data or audio that can help flesh out this chart for the benefit of all Ghost Boxers, please contact itc@itcvoices.org for posting information.



  1. […] is currently a working chart of this methodology located here.  If you have a hacked radio Ghost Box and wish to add data to this experiment, please email […]

  2. Ed says:

    Kudos Tim… Glad you decided to move this article over from the old site.This revolutionary article you wrote along with Adriana’s original article “Ghost Box Voices that Last too Long” are two of my all time favorite and most referenced GB articles I have ever read. Bar None!!! I can’t count the number of times over the past few years that I have explained, diagrammed and demonstrated this concept to skeptics. Shuts them up almost immediately. Great Article!!!

    • Tim says:

      Thanks Ed! Adriana’s breakthrough moment in calculating the step sweeps was a game changer for hacks. I am still hoping that some individuals will submit demo audio to fill the chart out completely, I also know that there have been several new hacks found that need to be added – maybe some day if other ghost boxers choose to participate this will become more representational of what gear people are actually using out there.

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