Believe It or Not, Howland Talks About Sensitivity…

Heavy rain, dreary day here in Texas but Digger Dog bravely charged out the back door, held two very quick ‘bidness’ meetings, had his morning chow and is now back in bed. What a guy!  Anyway today is perfect for an update from across the pond.  This from the Malamute Saloon and John Howland.

Sensitive souls

John Howland

You can almost always find John Howland on the beach (if not there check the closest pub)

John Howland

High ‘Sensitivity’ settings equate to deeper and increased finds? WRONG! BIG STYLE!

Of all a metal detector’s controls, proper understanding and dexterous handling of the ‘Sensitivity’ knob is crucial. This vital element to success is arguably the most widely misunderstood control of all. Trying to persuade a detectorist to ‘turn it down’ to usable levels, or, desensitizing the machine to make life easier, is harder than trying to nail jelly to the ceiling. It’s easier to get a treasure hunter into Heaven than to persuade one to turn it down or knock it back a few segments.

Here’s an analogy. If yours is an automobile sporting quartz-iodine or halogen type headlights, then you’ll know these state-of-the-art illuminators are absolutely piss poor on ‘main beam’ in heavy fog; reflecting a near-impenetrable wall of dazzling glare. However, drop the beam to ‘low’ and you’ll see further ahead. The same goes for lowering the ‘sensitivity’.

If you’re an experienced hand at the game, go and put the coffee pot on the stove and come back later while I try and convince the newbies.

Let’s take an actual machine – the Garrett ATPro. Mine is the International version. There are certain stretches of local coastline where old coins regularly put in an appearance but only when the Sensitivity control is knocked back three or four segments from ‘Max’. Such is the contamination and spurious electrical interference, that the ATPro starts chirping as soon as I take it out of my car’s trunk in the car-park!

First of all, ground balance the machine to the prevailing conditions then, if it’s still chirping away, lower the Sensitivity until the machine becomes stable. At this point you’re ready to go and the machine is correctly set up.

If your particular metal detector doesn’t sport a ground balancing facility, simply drop the Sensitivity if the detector ‘chirps’ or becomes ‘noisy’. Some time ago, I read a field test on the Garrett Ace 250; it was a serious contender for the Booker Prize for Fiction with the ‘advice’ not to use it anywhere near saltwater! The Field Test, so-called, said more about the reviewer’s shortcomings than those of the machine describing it as an entry level machine (read here, ‘not serious, for newbies only’).

The Ace 250

The Ace 250

In fact, the Ace 250 is probably one the finest medium-priced metal detectors on the market and in the right hands, will outperform any of the most expensive machines in a novice’s hands. Some years ago, Whites brought out a 4000D as I recall, and those in the know, realised it was huge value for money in performance terms. Nowadays, this niche, medium priced market has a choice of machines and nearly all of them are excellent buys proving high price tags are no guarantee of success.

Recently I met up with a beachcomber armed with two Grand’s worth of metal detector.

“How do you like it?” I asked.

“Yeah, brilliant,” he replied, “But this is a bad beach. Nearly unworkable. You won’t find much here. Lots of false signals.” We said our farewells and he headed off to an ‘easier’ beach.

Curiously, my finds pouch was stuffed with assorted spendable ‘shrapnel’.


Another one bites the dust


For some inexplicable reason the following story which has been in the national UK press for some weeks, has failed to make it to the pages of the smugger, holier-than-thou anti-detecting, anti-collecting blogs. Odd that, innit?

Under the headline, ‘Historian jailed for theft’ (page 17, Daily Telegraph 11 February) Alexander Bateman, 48, earned himself a two-year stay at one of Her Majesty’s hotels for stealing a ‘treasured document’ – an aircrew log-book – from the widow of airman, F/Sgt John Fraser, who was a bomb-aimer with the RAF’s 617 Squadron and who took part in the famous World War Two ‘Dambusters Raid. John Fraser died in Canada in 1962.

Shere Lowe, John Fraser’s daughter, flew in from Washington State to attend Bateman’s trial at Wood Green Crown Court and saw him sentenced. Bateman has steadfastly refused to reveal the whereabouts of the log-book which has yet come to light.

Sentencing Bateman, the Telegraph quoted the Judge: –

“It is in my view this offence is so serious as to call for a term of imprisonment […] It will, be plain to you that I consider this a despicable offence […] abusing the trust placed in you presenting yourself as a genuine historian by the widow of a war hero. You decided to keep the log-book, misleading the family when they sought for its return. It remains a mystery as to what you did with that log-book.” 

More proof then, if proof were needed and regardless of the despots’ lies to the contrary, this particular criminal case shows yet again that detectorists and treasure hunters don’t have the monopoly of the heritage villainy.



Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.  Sam Vaknin

I’ll see y’all in the bar



Filed under Metal Detecting, UK

5 responses to “Believe It or Not, Howland Talks About Sensitivity…

  1. DougF

    You have to watch out for those “historians”. There was one here in the US whose racket was doing research in historical society libraries and smuggling out valuable documents for resale. He was caught at the Maryland Historical Society. On “Strange Inheritances” (TV show) they had a episode about a guy claiming to be an agent for a museum who approached a woman who had inherited some valuable papers . After buying the papers, he resold them to the museum for a huge profit.

  2. Hi DougF
    What amazes me about the heritage circus is that when that Loyola professor appeared in court and found guilty of thieving Native American artefacts, almost everyone in archaeology queued up, not to condemn his actions as they would have done had he been a detectorist, but to make excuses for him.

    Though I stand to be corrected, I’m given to understand that he kept his job at Loyola. What sort of message does it send out? That thieving is not a serious career obstacle? That theft by academics is acceptable?



  3. Hi Doug:
    I forgot to mention that the kind of people waging a jihad against our pastime includes a minority of foul-mouthed slobs and ivory tower dwelling prejudiced ‘academics’, who have no compunction in exploiting the more vulnerable of their own kind, who, if you read the content of their blogs, you will see are completely off their trollies – or put another way, are more than a few coins short of hoard – in common parlance; ‘nutters.’

    These barmy buggers are best ignored, to be pitied even, owing to of thier inability to grasp any sense of reality. What disturbs me though, are those other academics and archaeologists who use these poor weak-minds souls to fire the bullets they themselves are shit-scared to do. These ‘abusers’ – for that is what they – are readily identifiable, and a stain on the those who accuse us of all the heritage ills.

    When it comes to using mental cripples to promote one’s advocacy, then the lowest depths have been plumbed.

    Hoiker H

  4. John Cummings

    Err, Hoiker H…. what are you talking about?

    • He’s talking about nutcase “archaeological” bloggers who spend most of their time spouting written venom at anyone who metal detects, collects or searches for historic artifacts within the boundaries of England’s Portable Antiquities Scheme.

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