The P.K.E. Meter (also known as Aurascope) was one of the Ghostbusters' tools invented by Dr. Egon Spengler that enabled them to track ghosts and other entities.
The P.K.E. Meter in the Primary Canon is developed from Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife. In Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Realistic Versions), a Secondary Canon, Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II pre-date the game, Ghostbusters: Afterlife conflicts with the game. The P.K.E. Meter (prime) appears in the IDW Comic Series, a Secondary Canon, which follows Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II, also includes some elements from Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Realistic Versions) and Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Stylized Versions); as well as being canon to Tobin's Spirit Guide (Insight Editions). P.K.E. Meter appears in Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime video game, deemed a Tertiary Canon, follows Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II. 88MPH Comics and Ghost Busted Manga are also each deemed Tertiary Canon, both follows Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II. Ghostbusters: The Board Game, deemed a Tertiary Canon, loosely follows the events of IDW Comics.
Primary Canon History
The P.K.E. Meter was one of the oldest inventions and piece of equipment used by the Ghostbusters. It was built before the formation of the Ghostbusters and used by Egon, Dr. Stantz, and Dr. Venkman while they were employed by Columbia University. Egon and Ray responded to a call from the New York City Public Library and investigated. Egon took took P.K.E. valances and it went right off the top of the scale. Ray emphasized to Peter it buried the needle and they were close to finding a real ghost. After Ray returned with Peter, Egon continued taking reads and informed them the ghost was on the move. They went into the stacks. Egon took readings off the Symmetrical Stacking and told them it was "hot" then after the slimed card catalog, he picked up stronger readings. Soon, the P.K.E. Meter lit up. They went down the next aisle. The arms on the P.K.E. Meter rose up and Egon held out his hand to the others to stop. They found the Library ghost. Egon used the readings to run calculations on his PC-4 Calculator and verified their theory they could catch a ghost and hold it indefinitely. Egon swept the halls of the 22nd floor of the Sedgewick Hotel with the P.K.E. Meter after the Ghostbusters split up to find Slimer. Egon later scanned Louis Tully/Vinz Clortho with the P.K.E. Meter and watched as the readings quickly surged. Egon turned it off and turned to the Police Sergeant and suggested they better bring him into the Firehouse.
By the time of the Vigo Incident of 1989, Egon developed a new meter to specifically read psychomagnotheric energy, unceremoniously dubbed the "Giga meter." The others like Ray continued to use the P.K.E. Meter. It was one of the devices confiscated by the police and displayed as one of the exhibits during the Ghostbusters' trial. After they went back into business, Ray kept using the P.K.E. Meter such as investigating Dana's bathroom after the Slime in Bathtub Attack.
In summer 2021, Egon ran into the Farmhouse and dug a P.K.E. Meter out of a drawer. It detected Zuul. He sat down on an armchair. He tapped his foot. An ominous smoke billowed into the room behind him. A vague Terror Dog form manifested in the smoke right behind him. He pressed a button and the P.K.E. Meter arms rose up into a taser setting. Several arm manifestations burst out of the chair and grabbed Egon. Zuul yowled and shot out of the house in the form of a pink P.K.E. wisp. Egon passed away and his body sat lifeless on the armchair. The P.K.E. Meter, now under the chair, registered a reading. Several days later, Phoebe noticed the P.K.E. Meter under the ripped up armchair and picked it up. She had no idea what it was. Trevor grabbed at the top of the meter but Phoebe pulled it out his grasp and kept it in her bedroom. That night, the P.K.E. Meter activated but she never noticed. Egon, as a formless and invisible entity, pushed her chess board and the pieces onto the floor.
The next night, they played chess against each other. She noticed the P.K.E. Meter was registering an entity. She tried to communicate with a "Hello?" She figured out the difference between a strong and weak reading on the meter and went in the direction of the former. One by one, the hall lights turned on as she stepped forward. She followed the lights and meter reading downstairs. On the first floor, a light turned on behind her. She turned around and the meter registered. The armchair suddenly slid forward and scooped her up then spun around. Phoebe looked down and noticed an odd pattern in the floor. She solved the floor puzzle and picked up the Trap containing Vinz Clortho. The next day, Phoebe was led by Egon to a shack on the property. She tucked the P.K.E. Meter away and slid down a fire pole down and explored an underground laboratory. Callie later found the P.K.E. Meter in Phoebe's bedroom and followed a signal to the underground laboratory. Trevor noticed the P.K.E. Meter register an entity in the study when the kids met Zuul. He picked it up and it suddenly switched to taser. Zuul quickly reacted and took cover behind the armchair. After Zuul left, Phoebe took the P.K.E. Meter and went outside. During the battle at the Farmhouse, Podcast found it inside Ecto-1 and used the taser to destroy Mini-Pufts.
Secondary Canon History
Ghostbusters: The Video Game
The P.K.E. Meter was still in use during the events of Shandor Incident of 1991. Just like in previous years, it is used to detect ghosts and other paranormal items. New features were added to detect and identify Cursed Artifacts, scan entities to add their paranormal information to an electronic Tobin's Spirit Guide, and work in conjunction with Ecto Goggles.
Egon invented the P.K.E. Meter to aid him in his search for the Rauoskinna during a study abroad in his college years. It would later be known as the first piece of proprietary equipment built that was used by the Ghostbusters. In 1984, Egon and Ray went to the New York City Public Library after Roger Delacorte called them about an incident. Egon tested his P.K.E. Meter for the first time outside a laboratory setting in the Reading Room and successfully picked up the Library ghost's P.K.E. reading. About two days after Winston was hired, Egon informed him that he added a vibration function to the P.K.E. Meter handle to direct him and the arms raised higher when an entity was in close proximity.. Egon also warned him to never push a certain two buttons at the same time. Winston asked if he would be electrocuted. Egon went with that as the consequence.
During one Christmas holiday, Ray and Egon invented the Ectoplasmic Glasses which could also scan for entities. Upon the manifestation of the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Glasses detected a P.K.E. surge and Egon reported the Glasses may have been broken. When the team went on vacation and attended the Independence Day Con, Egon still brought along his P.K.E. Meter which was a violation of the vacation rules. However, since he had the Meter, Egon was able to confirm the presence of two actual entities, Frank Bancroft and D'Orka.
During the Tiamat incident, Kylie was tasked with using a P.K.E. Meter to observe Egon's extraction of Mot from Louis Tully and Aetil from Dana Barrett. Since the frequencies between the possessing entity and the human soul differed, the meter could detect when all traces of the aberrant frequency were gone. When the Ghostbusters were accidentally cast into Hell with a spell from the Rauoskinna, Kylie tried to take a reading but her meter was overloaded and started smoking.
Tertiary Canon History
Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime
Gabriel Sitter, of the junior team, uses a P.K.E. Meter as he is the technical genius of the group.
Primary Canon Function
Ghostbusters (1984) Function
The full name of the device is a Psychokinetic Energy Meter, so named because its function is to detect the amounts of said energy and to direct the user to its location.
The design of the device is a small screen, mounted on a handle, which has a pair of sensor 'wings' protruding from either side. These wings have lights along their length, and will flash and extend as the meter closes in on the source of a P.K.E. signature. Much like a metaphysical Dowsing Rod, the meter will begin to buzz more and more in response to approaching a source of P.K. Energy. Once at the source of the energy, the wings will extend to their fullest length and the meter will buzz noticeably at a higher pitch.
Ghostbusters II Function
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Function
A red button on the back of the meter switched it from detection to a taser setting. On a corporeal entity like the Terror Dog, the shock was enough to make it run away. Direct application to the Mini-Puft causes it to explode.
Secondary Canon Function
Ghostbusters The Video Game Function
The P.K.E. Meter has three different colors which it will display to let the user know what is near.
The three colors are:
- Detection of ghosts or other entities
- Detection of a paranormal substance
- Detection of a Cursed Artifact
The P.K.E. Meter also functions as a PDA with a built in copy of Tobin's Spirit Guide and scans entities, substances, and artifacts found.
For more information see: P.K.E. Meter & Paragoggles (realistic version)
IDW Comics Function
The P.K.E. Meter's original configuration allowed the Ghostbusters to find a ghost at its active manifestation point or measure the general collection of P.K.E. in a given area. The meter's reception was later adjusted to account for spectral frequencies and thus, more accurately track specific entities.
Ghostbusters (1984) Trivia
- An early concept by Stephen Dane was a device that resembled a metal detector.
- During production of the first movie, only Harold Ramis knew how to use the P.K.E. Meter prop.
- In Ghostbusters: The Supernatural Spectacular the P.K.E. meter is referred to as a "Aurascope".
- In the August 5, September 30, and October 7 drafts, Egon uses his P.K.E. Meter after Gozer vanishes whereas in the movie, he uses the Gamma Rate Meter.
Ghostbusters II Trivia
- In the September 29, 1988 (and further) drafts of Ghostbusters II, on page 20, Ray gets no trace on the P.K.E. Meter on Sixth Avenue and the Giga meter does get a reading.
- In the scene in the actual movie, the P.K.E. Meter does get a reading of 1118 and is the only time a numerical reading is stated.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trivia
- The P.K.E. Meter props in Afterlife were worked on by ISS.
- The hero prop was fabricated by Studio Art & Technology.
- The original P.K.E. Meter props from the 1984 movie were 3-D scanned and the props used in Afterlife were made from those scans.
- Buttons on the P.K.E. Meter props in Afterlife can control the brightness and dimness of the lights and the animation on the screen.
- The arms on the P.K.E. Meter prop with the taser function swing up when the red button on the back is engaged.
- The P.K.E. Meter in the shot when Phoebe finds the Trap in the floor was digitally erased in Trailer #1.
- Logan Kim lost his voice after filming the scene where he has to scream and taser Mini-Pufts in Ecto-1. Some marshmallow got flung into his eye.
IDW Comics Trivia
- In Issue #1 of IDW's ongoing series, the ghost sprite on the P.K.E. Meter is from the Kenner Proton Pack toy, seen on the boy's Meter.
- On the Regular Cover of Ghostbusters 101 #3, Egon has a P.K.E. Meter.
- The P.K.E. Meter was mentioned in Ray's bio on the 41st Crossing Over Virtual Trading Card, posted on July 10, 2018.
- On page 21 of Ghostbusters Crossing Over Issue #6, Bridget Gibbons's biography mentions she scored high in standardized psychic ability tests and is almost as accurate as a P.K.E. Meter.
- On page 11 of Ghostbusters Year One Issue #1, in panel 2, Egon notes a vibration function. Incidentally, that function was incorporated in Ghostbusters: The Video Game in which the player's controller vibrates.
- On Cover B of Ghostbusters Year One Issue #2, on the bottom right is a P.K.E. Meter.
- On page 6 of Ghostbusters Year One Issue #2, Ray reveals he suggested a few tweaks to the P.K.E. Meter during graduate school.
- On Cover RI of Ghostbusters Year One Issue #4, there is a P.K.E. Meter next to Egon on the seat.
Primary Canon Appearances
- Ghostbusters II
- Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Expanded Universe Appearances
- Ghostbusters II
Secondary Canon Appearances
- Ghostbusters: The Video Game
- IDW Comics
- "The Other Side 1"
- "Displaced Aggression 1"
- "Displaced Aggression 4"
- "Tainted Love"
- "What in Samhain Just Happened?"
- "Guess What's Coming to Dinner?
- "Ghostbusters: Infestation 1"
- "Ghostbusters: Infestation 2"
- Volume 1
- Volume 2
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ghostbusters
- Ghostbusters Get Real
- Ghostbusters Annual 2015
- "Daydreams and Nightmares!"
- Volume 3
- Ghostbusters Annual 2017
- Haunted America: A Prairie Hell Companion
- Second City Ghostbusters
- Ghostbusters 101 Prelude
- The Origins of Slimer
- Answering The Call
- Ghostbusters 101
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters Volume 2
- Ghostbusters Annual 2018
- Ghostbusters Crossing Over
- Ghostbusters IDW 20/20
- IDW 20/20 (Dimension 50-S version only)
- Down The Basement Stairs (Dimension 50-S version only)
- 35th Anniversary: Ghostbusters
- Transformers/Ghostbusters: Ghosts of Cybertron
- Ghostbusters Year One
- Insight Editions
Tertiary Canon Appearances
- 88MPH Studios
- Ghost Busted (manga)
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 6
- IDW Comics
- Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime
- Cryptozoic Entertainment
Appearances in Non-Ghostbusters Media
- One of the P.K.E. Meter props was reused in the films They Live (1988) and Suburban Commando (1991), and a second season episode of Knight Rider. It appeared in animated form in the Family Guy episode "Spies Reminiscent of Us".
- Mueller, Richard (August 1985). Ghostbusters: The Supernatural Spectacular, p. 29. Tor Books, New York NY USA, ISBN 0812585984. "Spengler pocketed the plasmatometer and held up a black teardrop-shaped device with wings. He called in an aurascope."
- Egon Spengler (2016). IDW Comics- "Ghostbusters International #5" (2016) (Comic p.6). Egon Spengler says: "I admit, I was fascinated by the Rauoskinna - this is what I invented the PKE Meter to help me find - but during the course of my search, I came to believe that maybe, just this once, it would be better to leave well enough alone."
- TomWaltz Tweet 7/10/18Virtual Trading Card reads: "Together, the two men conceived of and built all of the Ghostbusting equipment, starting with the PKE meter."
- Egon Spengler (2020). IDW Comics- "Ghostbusters Year One Issue #1" (2020) (Comic p.11). Egon Spengler says: "I've added a vibration function to the PKE Meter handle to direct you, and its arms will raise higher the closer you get to an entity. It should be foolproof. Just... don't press these two buttons at the same time."
- Ray Stantz (1999). Ghostbusters II, Chapter 5: Investigating Oscar (1989) (DVD ts. 20:39-20:41). Columbia Pictures. Ray Stantz says: "I've got 1-1-1-8 on the PKE!"
- Ghostbusters 101 Class Notes (2017). IDW Comics- "Ghostbusters 101 #4" (2017) (Comic p.24). Ghostbusters 101 Class Notes reads: "It can be used as a high-tech divining rod, following a spectral trail to an active manifestation point - tracking down a ghost -- or it can be used to measure the general collection of PKE in a given area to help decide on an appropriate response (additional ghostbusters, specialized equipment). Adjustments have been made to account for spectral frequencies, allowing to more accurately track specific entities by fine-tuning the meter's reception."
- Wallace, Daniel (2015). Ghostbusters The Ultimate Visual History, p. 59. Insight Editions, San Rafael CA USA, ISBN 9781608875108. Line reads: "Stephen Dane's concept sketch for a metal detector-style ghost-detecting device."
- Ivan Reitman (2005). Ghostbusters- Commentary (2005) (DVD ts. 08:31-08:40). Columbia TriStar Home Video. Ivan Reitman says: "This piece of equipment, only Harold got to learn how to use it. He had sort of had a secret way to use the three buttons that were on it that made the little wings rise and fall. "
- Aykroyd, Dan & Ramis, Harold (1983). Ghostbusters (First Draft August 5, 1983) (Script p. 125). Line reads: "He scans the temple with his PKE meter, not at all convinced the danger has passed.""
- Tested YouTube "Adam Savage Inspects Ghostbusters: Afterlife's Hero Props!" 6:18-6:22 10/18/2021 Ben Eadie says: "So that was done by ISS and I believe they did chrome paint."'
- Inguanzo, Ozzy (2021). Ghostbusters: Afterlife The Art and Making of the Movie, p. 72. Titan Books, London UK, ISBN 1789096529. Caption reads: "Prop PKE meter inner workings and fabrication, plus timeworn hero prop by Studio Art & Technology."
- dredmakerroberts Tik Tok "Were original shoe polishers used for the PKE meters?" 00:25-00:27 12/11/2021 Ben Eadie says: "The originals were used. They were 3-D scanned."
- Tested YouTube "Adam Savage Inspects Ghostbusters: Afterlife's Hero Props!" 7:15-7:24 10/18/2021 Ben Eadie says: "And you can change the brightness and dimness of the lights -- is handled by some of the buttons here. That shifts the animation."'
- Tested YouTube "Adam Savage Inspects Ghostbusters: Afterlife's Hero Props!" 7:29-7:38 10/18/2021 Ben Eadie says: "And then you will handle how bright it is so if you're in a dim-lit area and it's overpowering and things, you can bring down the lights a little bit."'
- Tested YouTube "Adam Savage Inspects Ghostbusters: Afterlife's Hero Props!" 8:16-8:25 10/18/2021 Ben Eadie says: "Now the red button on the bottom. Of course, it's a dummy one but just giver her a little nudge and then you have the arcs."'
- Yes Have Some YouTube "Ghostbusters: Afterlife - Logan Kim Interview - YHS Podcast" 25:28-25:41 12/1/2021 Logan Kim says: " I lost my voice after that scene. I screamed. Oh yeah. They like flung marshmallow at me One just got in my eye but I kind of "Ahhh!" It was a lot of fun."'
- TomWaltz Tweet 7/10/18
- 50-S Memo (2018). IDW Comics- "Ghostbusters Crossing Over Issue #6" (2018) (Comic p.21). 50-S reads: "Bridget Gibbons; an energetic young woman who scores high on standardized psychic tests, and whose vibes are almost as accurate as a PKE Meter."
- Ray Stantz (2020). IDW Comics- "Ghostbusters Year One Issue #2" (2020) (Comic p.6). Ray Stantz says: "That said, I did suggest a few tweaks during grad school."
- 68-R Memo (2018). IDW Comics- "Ghostbusters Crossing Over Issue #2" (2018) (Comic p.21). Memo reads: "The echoes will appear in the background, barely registering on the PKE meter, before vanishing."
- Narrator (2016). Insight Editions- "Tobin's Spirit Guide" (2016) (Book p.71). Paragraph reads: "Cathulhu, for example, does exist and is a massively powerful entity---the act of trying to register its P.K.E. signature actually burnt out our reader."
- Narrator (2016). Insight Editions- "Tobin's Spirit Guide" (2016) (Book p.73). Paragraph reads: "Its P.K.E. reading was well within range of a dormant entity, but in the interests of safety, we left behind a P.K.E. meter with remote transmission capability to give us some forewarning should the entity begin to stir."