The PKE Meter is a piece of equipment created at the Paranormal Lab at Columbia University . It was used to track ghosts and give readings of Psycho Kinetic Energy. The PKE Meter is what helped Egon to develop the theory of catching ghosts. It has antennas with lights that raise up and down tracing the level of PKE (Psycho Kinetic Energy).
The original prop used in the films was a rented piece supplied by a company by the name of Modern Props. It had been discovered that the main shell of the prop was in fact a hand held Iona Shoe Polisher, an SP-1 model more specifically, that was gutted and redressed with lights and other electronics to give the prop better effects. Iona shoe polishers tend to pop up on eBay sparsely due to their rare nature and vintage quality.
Mattel PKE Meter
Mattel's first 1:1 scale Ghostbusters item is the PKE Meter. It was first announced that it would be available at San Diego Comic Con in the Summer of 2010, and began to sell exclusively on Mattycollector.com on December 1, 2010. They sold for $60 each and were limited to ten per customer. Due to shipping and warehousing delays, the products were not shipped out until over two weeks later.
The Mattel PKE Meter functions much like the prop used in the movies. The wings can be put in lowered, fully-raised, and halfway-raised positions. The screen features a green light moving across it, and can be set to two different settings, in addition to the blank screen mode. The lights on the screen and the wings can be slowed down or sped up with the use of a roller on the back of the handle, located where the user's forefinger sets. This also changes the speed of a beeping sound on the meter, which is about the only thing about this product that differs from the movie prop. The light patterns can be changed from Ghostbusters to Ghostbuster II mode, and back again. The patterns only subtly change, but it's a cool little detail to have.
The PKE Meter arrives in a box designed to look like a crate with warning labels and Ghostbusters logos all over it. Once opened, packing peanuts hide the meter, also giving the illusion that this is a real piece of equipment. However, the meter is securely fit into a plastic mold inside the box to keep it from sliding around during shipment.
Mattel was unable to ship PKE Meters to Europe because of an issue with warning labels.
Mattel has said that the success (or lack thereof) of the sales of the PKE Meter will play a big role in determining if they decide to create more 1:1 scale toys/props for the Ghostbusters line.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game
In the 2009 "Ghostbusters The Video Game" the PKE meter has many functions. Through scanning, it can find hidden ghosts and objects, and tell you the exact make up of a ghost with the help of the Ecto-Goggles. The PKE meter is also used for buying upgrades, reading up on Ghosts in Tobin's Spirit Guide, and to change settings for the game. The PKE in the game is also larger and hangs from the belt and makes noises to alert a player if a ghost is nearby.
Originally the PKE was going to be used to connect to the internet (in game) for all info on ghosts and saving data. However the plan was basically thrown out the window, and in its place now rests Tobin's Spirit Guide.
The Real Ghostbusters PKE Meter
The visual design of the PKE meter in The Real Ghostbusters differs substantially from the original Ghostbusters movies.
The Real Ghostbusters PKE meter appears to use an industrial design similar to a Hammond Project box and utilizes a much larger screen. There are knobs on the sides and center of the RGB PKE, allowing for sensitivity, range, and other settings to be modified. There were also episodes in which Egon uses a screwdriver to change the frequency range on the device.
The "wings" are not present on the sides of the PKE Meter and are instead included in a retractable antenna array in the top of the device. The antennae-style wings have single LEDs on their ends and move up and down, and sometimes erratically when a high enough spectral reading is present. The RGB PKE was also vulnerable to shorting out when extreme PKE levels were present.
The RGB PKE meter could be connected to the Proton Pack with a connector wire of some sort, perhaps for powering the device.
Extreme Ghostbusters PKE Meter
The PKE Meter in Extreme Ghostbusters is very similar in design to the RGB design. The main differences are in the patterns displayed on the screen and the fact that instead of a retractable antenna array, there are 2 sensor antennae on the top of the device.
PKE Meter in Other Films
The PKE meter was also seen in the movie "Suburban Commando" and offered a much better view of what the PKE Meter's face plate and wings looked like. It also appeared in the movie "They Live", an episode of The Fall Guy, and a few episodes of Knight Rider. It can also be seen in an animated form in the Family Guy episode of "Spies Reminiscent of Us" which also guest starred Dan Aykroyd.