How Howland Sees It…

This time around John Howland talks Garrett, a Viking hoard and would you believe tuna? 

Son of ATPro – AT MAX International

John Howland

My crystal ball prediction wasn’t a million miles off target. The fruit of the ATPro and ATGold’s loins produced twins – AT MAX and AT Max International! They look a bonny pair but we need to know a bit more about their futures and with whom they’ll likely be rubbing shoulders as they grow up. But for our purposes we’ll be looking AT MAX International.

Among the countless ATPro (USA) and ATPro International (European) owners worldwide, many own dedicated after-market NEL coils of various sizes representing sizeable monetary investments to the users concerned. These excellent after-market coils are specially tuned to the frequencies of the machine on which they are intended. The ATPro models for example operates at 15kHz*; the ATGold at 18kHz* and the new AT Max models at 13.6kHz* though NEL have yet to produce a range of dedicated coils for these new kids on the block it’ll only be a matter of time I suspect.

Some of you will already have ‘sussed’ where I’m going with all this particularly if you’ve invested a sizeable wedge of your ‘hard-earned’ in after-market NEL coils. The big question is will they prove satisfactory on the new AT MAX if you’re thinking of upgrading? It’s a bit of a conundrum and no-one yet, has a definitive answer. I put the question to Steve Moore, Garrett’s Marketing Communications Director.

He tells me; “The frequency adjustments are very minor tweaks, not that big a jump. As far as I know, the NEL coils should work […].” adding that he was scheduled to be out in the field with the MAX and would consider the question in more detail. Though I’m unqualified to give an authoritative answer to such a technical question; what I can tell you is that when I’ve swapped Garrett-made coils between my ATGold and ATPro bearing in mind these two operate at different frequencies, the results were astonishingly good. Consequently, and based on this coil swap experience, the differential between the two operating frequencies – 15kHz and 18kHz – certainly seems to bear out Steve Moore’s assertion that in practical terms it’s “…not that big a jump.” The implication is that NELs should be okay.

Pressing on for clarity, I had a word with Nigel Ingram, Director of Garrett’s UK distributor, REGTON LTD, who reckons it’s; …too early to know what will work and what won’t sadly, my guess? Yes it will work fine, however, maybe not to the maximum potential as NEL are masters of making coils to exact frequencies enabling every last inch of performance.” So, it’s not all bad then.

Apart from being fully wireless, the MAX also sports a couple of great features lifted from the ATGold; an adjustable threshold tone and the more than useful Ground Cancelling ‘window’ allowing little or no change when say, moving from dry sand to saltwater soaked sand.

The Garrett blurbs have it thus: “Near-zero delay (17-milliseconds) from your detector to your headphones. Six times faster than Bluetooth speed, and up to four times faster than other wireless headphones.” I have absolutely no idea what 17-milliseconds is comparable to, except that it’s Speedy Gonzales’ “Ándale arriba” fast!

*Data source: – Garrett website (



£2,000,000 Treasure Payout for UK Detectorist

Metal detectorist Derek McLennan who uncovered a cache (in UK-speak, ‘hoard’) of more than 100 gold and silver items of Viking jewellery in the south-west Scotland in September 2014 – who at the time of finding the fabulous cache was accompanied by two detectorists; churchmen Rev Dr. David Bartholomew, and Pastor Mike Smith – is now well on track to receive, quite rightly, a £2,000,000 Treasure Trove reward. The find is described by distinguished experts as Scotland’s most significant find of the Viking era.

Derek McLennan

The fabulous cache, duly and correctly reported to Scotland’s Treasure Trove Unit initiated an excavation by county archaeologist, Andrew Nicholson, assisted by Derek McLennan. Digging deeper they discovered further items jewellery. Following the initial removal, Derek McLennan undertook a further search with his metal detector and discovered more treasure buried beneath the first items.


Sending Coins Abroad

Do you remember that Dupondius of Domitian that I wrote about some months ago? Well, it’s currently winging its way across ‘The Pond’ as a gift to a treasure hunting friend in Florida.

Dupondius of Domitian

If you ever send coins by post, anywhere and especially overseas, it helps to mark the envelope….’Numismatic Specimen’ rather than ‘roman coin’ thus helping to deflect the attention of prying eyes.


Marinated Tuna Steak

…in a mixture of orange juice, soy sauce, and garlic.

Chef John

Got this from a pal of mine and thought y’all might like to give it a go. It’s brilliant. It serves four.

60ml orange juice (Tropicana with juicy bits is great)
60ml soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (NOT the bottled cr*p)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Four tuna steaks weighing about 110g each

In a large ceramic dish, mix together the orange juice, soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, oregano and black pepper. Place the tuna steaks in the marinade and turn to coat. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat barbecue to high heat. Grill the tuna steaks for 5 to 6 minutes (in one of those square fish basket thingies), then turn and baste with the marinade. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or to your desire.

Ice cold beer goes well too!



For some the ‘YooToob’ generation of treasure hunters, this will doubtless fall on stony ground…

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”.….

Colin Powell




Filed under Metal Detecting

16 responses to “How Howland Sees It…

    • It’s better than ice cold Merlot!

    • Bob Sickler

      Hi John… The success of the Garrett AT-Pro is quite profound given past entries from Garrett. To see them re-engineer the Pro and Gold with significant subtle upgrades is quite attractive to me because they are building on something really popular and not abandoning it. In my opinion, these new features (especially the wireless) will make it a solid performer and competitor against everything out there. Garrett has always known how to produce a quality product since Charles started out making them in his own garage. They use quality components, have solid design and their QC is quite good…. Nobody is perfect. They have also been excellent at marketing their products for a very long time as well. What really attracts me about the AT series is the straightforward operation with all controls up front and easily worked. Performance… My own AT-Pro surprises me every time I get to use it. I started with a Garrett and find myself quite happy to be back using them again and nobody has paid me to say any of this.

      Searchcoil performance has always been optimum when the windings can be tuned to the actual circuit it is attached to. But no manufacturer has that luxury in the high-demand production speeds it has to contend with. Would an aftermarket coil outperform a manufacturer’s own searchcoil? Since most manufacturers make their own coils to a tolerance spec that makes them “plug and play” within the same model, I think only an aftermarket coil of a larger diameter would perform any different. Since an aftermarket coil has to be “plug and play” as well for a particular model, thus quite often works across a small frequency difference. So your aftermarket coil might still function well for you on the new AT-Max. I find it hard to believe though that any manufacturer would let an aftermarket manufacturer beat them at their own game.

      • “I find it hard to believe though that any manufacturer would let an aftermarket manufacturer beat them at their own game….”

        Thank you, thank you, thank you. Have been saying this for a long time but apparently it’s the need to have everything on the market and the ole “well it says right here…” Reminds me of the “hot head” coils which unbeknownst to the buyer were actually made by each manufacturer.

  1. Interesting subjects all John. We were posting in our club Facebook group and commented on how the detectorist who found the hoard in Scotland was treated with respect and amply rewarded for his historic find, while here in the ragged remains of the former U.S., he would have been considered a criminal and arrested. Good recoveries all…it is heartening to see at least somewhere exists a place where history and detecting DO mix! And by the way, i am looking into making a British recipe, but I have not the faintest idea what a “gammon rasher” is. I asked at my local supermarket meat department, but all I got was the “Deer Caught In The Headlights” look. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Yo Jim:
      A ‘Gammon Rasher’ is a slice from a Gammon (smoked or unsmoked) Bacon Joint – that’s joint as in ‘meat’ not as in, “Hey, man this is cool sh*t California grass.” A Gammon steak would also fit the bill. ‘Rasher’ is also a Limey term for a slice of bacon. If the recipe is predominantly pork/gammon then a cool glass of cider is an ideal accompaniment.


    • wintersen

      On the contrary, finding the Galloway Hoard wasn’t straightforward and if you read Derek’s account in The Searcher, you will know that it was a long frustrating political journey and very, very, complicated. For example, he and partner Sharon were not allowed to witness the emptying of the vessel they discovered … and so on.

      Reading media accounts might infer that they were treated with respect, but that was far from the truth. In a six page article Derek tells that they weren’t provided with much information.

      History and detecting don’t have such a cosy relationship in Scotland as you think – don’t believe everything you read in the press. Yes, he may be amply rewarded eventually … at least they got that right!

      • John Howland

        Hi John:
        Sorry mate, but I’m vehemently opposed. Why should ‘The Searcher’s’ account of the Galloway Hoard be any more accurate when by your own words you write, “don’t believe everything you read in the press”.

        Is that the ‘Searchers’s’ press, or, the general press?

        Therefore, who does the casual observer in this debate believe? ‘The Searcher,’ or, the national media? What for instance is ‘The Searcher’ stance on the CBA’s attendance at the archaeological conference aimed at controlling metal detecting rallies, or even banning them?

        The CBA has a bloody arrogant cheek – who does this wretched archaeological stir fry think it is? Why doesn’t ‘The Searcher tell ’em it go away in short, sharp, jerky movements? I don’t take any of the CBA’s bullshit, or, any of that ‘anti’ crap dished out by its Director, Mike Heyworth. Nothing has changed in over three decades with these irks – they hate and detest metal detectorists unless they control the activity.

        I’m rapidly coming to the belief that ‘The Searcher’ – like the NCMD – has all the potency of a harem guard when it comes to defending the hobby and countering the utter bullshit spewing forth from the old enemy.


  2. BigTony

    Thanks for these updates from your area. Interesting stuff for certain.
    I was wondering if anyone kept a list of which type of detectors found the most Hoards? But that question isn’t as important as COLD BEER these days, so no rush to answer.

    • Bob Sickler

      My guess is it would be the detector brand in the hands of the person most diligent in his /her research and most adept at using both!

      • wintersen

        Research has little to do with it. In my experience the most successful are the newbies wielding machines like the the Garrett 150/250. I have written many accounts of such people finding hoards. They are uninhibited, are unaware of any laws and search in places the established detectorist wouldn’t dream of going.

    • wintersen

      The Searcher’s exclusive account of the Galloway Hoard is more accurate because it was written by the finder himself.

      In this instance ‘don’t believe everything in the press’ was referring to national and local newspapers.

      Are you wanting a fight or something? What has the CBA to do with the present argument? Anyway, my Da’s bigger than yours.

      But congratulations are due because you haven’t mentioned Barford once in this or the previous two posts. Good Lad! 🙂

      • John Winter…..everybody’s Da’s are bigger than Howland’s. I talk to Margaret a lot.

        And when it comes to Barford John is going through withdrawal big time!

  3. John Howland

    Your congratulations are well received.

    Todays’ danger emanates as usual from the CBA who are trying their hardest to bring metal detecting under their control – thus sidelining the NCMD as the hobby’s representative body. Cynics might say that might not be a bad move!

    Who is this ‘Barford’ you mention? Is he a relic hunter/collector perchance?

    I knew your cousins, Mike and Bernie. What happened to Schnorbitz
    I wonder.


    • wintersen

      Thank you for your one positive sentence, John. You seem determined to change the tenor of the thread. Instead of Barford, the bogeymen are now the Mike Heyworth, the CBA and NCMD.

      As a past executive member of the NCMD, can you explain (briefly) what happened all those years ago and why you speak of them in such a disparaging way? You said, “I’m rapidly coming to the belief that … the NCMD – has all the potency of a harem guard when it comes to defending the hobby and countering the utter bullshit …”

      BTW, I am disgusted that you advocate a tuna dish when the slaughter of the fish continues unabated. The decimation of the species is emblematic of everything wrong with global fisheries today. I will not be partaking of your recipe. Shame on you!

      Incidentally, is anyone else interested in this sort of post … or are they all on Celia’s Cooking site hoping to catch a mention of Garrett’s latest wonder metal detector?

  4. This thread will be closed at the end of this day……the post has lost it’s way.

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