Equipment

Over the years I have used almost every brand of detector, and assure you that I found lots of valuable things with all of them.  I often relate many of my better finds to certain detectors, but then remember that the era I found them also had a lot to do with it.  What I found in the 70’s and 80’s for example was surely the result of my being the first in my area to detect a given site, not so much the ability of the detector.  I remember fondly the early Coinmasters, the Judge II, the Garrett Groundhog, the Fisher 500 series, and the White’s 6000 series.  All excellent detectors that added a lot of coins to my collection.

I still have my Garrett Groundhog

I still have my Garrett Groundhog

I remember learning these early detectors intimately.  I would sit hours on end at the dining room table, bench testing,  listening to the responses of various items, and watching the visual readouts.  My wife thought I was crazy (suspect she’s right), but each time I did this I came away with something new to remember next time I went out in the field.  I kept notes on these dining room sessions and referred to them often.

The early models of course did not have visual ID meters.  As a result you had to listen closely to the various audio responses…their tones, their sharpness or dullness, and as a result YOU became the discriminator.  Eventually I became pretty confident that the target I was about to dig was a coin based on its audio response. I also dug a lot of those “questionable” responses, resulting in a better ratio of good to bad items, and an uptick in gold jewelry.

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Can’t remember who first said this….  “The best discriminator is your digging tool”

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From metal/mineral detectors I went to VLF/TR.  A real advancement back then and my finds increased even more.  VLF added extra depth, and being able to check your target in discriminate mode was high-tech back then.  Add in reverse discrimination and I was a happy hunter.  The 80’s were good to me, and my finds/treasures grew significantly.  Lots of silver, jewelry, etc….  Will never forget the fast swinging of the coil to verify a target.  With the White’s 6000D you listened for the bong (don’t get excited).  If it was there you were “in the money”.

Next came computerized detectors with LCD readouts.  Numerical readouts, target ID’s spelled out….what  more could you ask for.  The computer age was upon us we tekkies were in new territory.  Today pretty much every detector is computerized and yes we are the better for it, except of course we’ve become lazy and dependent.  We have become robots in the field,  dependent on LCD readouts, numbers, touch pads, and other technological advances.  If it the machine doesn’t like it you don’t either.

I know there are many of you who feel differently, and perhaps you are right. I could well be from the old school of thinking and out of touch. I also do not want you think I don’t take advantage of today’s advances.  I do.  I want that extra edge, that extra inch or two, and  I want that new and improved target identification, however I want them to be there for me when I turn on the detector.  I don’t want to have to program anything, or go through a series of up and down, plus and minus, on or off touchpads.  I am older now and prefer to spend my in-the-field time finding treasure, NOT playing computer games!

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I like finding that site I feel good about, turning on my detector, and getting after it.  Give me a target, an audio response, some sort of metered readout, and I will take it from there.  Fiddling with controls/touchpads is not my cup of tea.  I appreciate the technology and I try to  understand it all, but what gets me more excited is finally knowing I’ve found that long sought after, never detected before, site. That is what keeps me going, and at that moment I will have fun with even the most basic detector.

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The MXT Pro offers an audio response that I really like, and I tend to use it more when I encounter a trashy area.  The response is a little more staccato than the V3i, and for whatever reason I feel I can isolate signals and targets better.  I also love knobs…. Touch pads are nice, but I am from the old school, and turning a knob or switch just seems so right. If I look down at my detector and see where a knob or switch is set I have no doubts but if I look down at touch pads….?

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SEARCHCOILS

I am a very big fan of the smaller searchcoil. Again, it may be a throwback to my early days, but I also think it has something to do with my desire to be more precise. Larger coils cover larger areas, and tend to offer more to hear and more to analyze. Smaller coils offer a much narrower signal, resulting in a more defined response. Don’t get me wrong, I love the larger coils, especially the new Super 12″ coil for the Spectra and MXT.  It works extremely well in those areas where targets are few and far between, and where a great many detectorists have come before. The shorter response from the smaller coils is just something I like working with. Give me an old site, a junk site, let me switch to the 5 inch or 4×6 shooter coil and I will be happy. Moving at a snail’s pace of course, but quite happy, separating out those keepers.

Speaking of a snail’s pace….shorten your shaft.  It will naturally cause you to slow down and overlap more precisely.

When you have a few extra dollars, invest in a couple of extra lower stems so that when you change out coils you are not wasting valuable time taking off the nuts that hold your coil to your stem.

Old and repeated often but be sure to keep your coil parallel to the ground. I STILL see detectorists lifting their coils on every sweep, and if they only knew how much ground they were NOT covering….?

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Always have a threshold hum in your headphones. Finding deep targets is all about “slight” changes in the audio. Deep targets will not offer you much in the way of a signal, and as a result may not “push” your detector out of the silent mode, if that’s what you are using. By utilizing a slight threshold sound or hum you will notice that minute fluctuation much more.

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If your detector offers manual ground balancing, use it, but remember to check it as you continue to search. Ground conditions often change, and having your detector properly ground balanced is important.

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DIGGING TOOLS

What tool you use to recover targets is up to you. I am currently using a Lesche trowel only because the soil here in my area is the world’s worse. When I began detecting I used a screwdriver with a blunted end, and it worked like a charm. Would probably still use it if I were back in the northeast where the soil was to my liking. Here in north central Texas the clay-like soil (or as they call it here, black gumbo) makes detecting miserable, and as a result I have to opt for a “Mack truck” type of digging tool. Use whatever suits your fancy, as long as it does not do damage to the area you are detecting, and as long as it is not prone to damaging the item you are after.

When hunting a manicured lawn area be sure to use a probe. Once you locate a target, “touch it” with the tip of your probe. Then move slightly off the target and push your probe north and south. Then do the same thing, pushing your probe east and west. That leaves you with an X. Use your probe again and get “under” the target, and gently push the item to the surface. This certainly takes some practice, but once you’ve mastered it you will be the better for it.

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I also find it interesting that pinpointers are now so popular. They were popular in the UK quite some time ago, but it has taken a while for them to become commonplace here in the US.  I tried using one found it was just one more thing to carry and honestly I’ve never had much of a problem pinpointing or locating my target.

Headphones are a must in order to hear the faint, deeper targets, and to keep outside noises from bothering you. Be sure to buy a pair with volume controls. Set your detectors volume control to the highest setting, and then adjust with the controls on your headphones for a comfortable and accurate signal response.

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Never leave home without a drop cloth!

A dropcloth will help keep your recovery area neat and clean….

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The most important part of your arsenal? Your dog. Take him along. That way if you come up empty-handed he will be there share the sorrow with you, and will make your day because he’s a real treasure, and the best friend you will ever have. If you don’t have a dog, get one. You won’t be sorry.

Say what?

My current partner in crime “Digger”…

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Take an hour, day or week, and do nothing but search in the All Metal mode. Decide to learn more about this mode by listening carefully to the audio responses, and metered readouts. You will dig junk for sure, but I also suspect you will come home with a few surprises. Just do it, and stick with it….then let me know.

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UPDATE..December 2016

My current arsenal….

1. White’s MXT Pro, with stock 12 inch and Eclipse 5.3 coils

2. White’ MX Sport with ten inch coil, water proof headphones

2. White’s 6000 Di, Series 2, hip-mount, circa mid-80’s

3. Lesche Digger and White’s probe

4. Pro Star Headphones

5. Carpenter’s apron and drop cloth

Dat’s it folks…sorry, no pin-pointer, shovel or video camera and definitely no camo

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AFTER MARKET COILS

I know I will take some flak for this but I think the many of the after market coils are more “feel good” than anything else.  By that I mean it’s easy to make a coil more sensitive (chatty if you like), but I prefer stability and I think that whoever manufacturers your detector offers the best possible options when it comes searchcoils.  Why wouldn’t they want you to have the advantage?

Offer a lot of hype, charge a lot of money, and it “has to be better”….right?

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VIDEO CAMERAS

Everybody is now a Cecile B. Demille, and I find it amusing that detectorists are so vain.  Using a camera to teach a technique is fine….filming yourself seems rather pretentious, but that’s MY opinion and I know I am in the minority.  I also think many of you who are into this are looking for a TV show, and nothing wrong with that at all…  Good luck.

I wonder too if all of you camera buffs are more interested in coming home with an award-winning video than you are in coming home with something valuable. 

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An Update from January 2015 post….

No matter that I don’t get out detecting much any more, I still get questions from tekkies about which detector I use, and why. Likewise they ask what detector I would recommend for their given situation, or which model should they buy for their child or spouse. I always respond but have the feeling they are disappointed because my answers aren’t technical enough or more specific. That’s because I am not a technical guy and right now, I am a pretty damn easy guy to please.

Anyway, I use the MXT Pro and have for some time. It’s just the right machine for ‘me’, and because my explanation why might not satisfy you, I’ve asked three very successful tekkies why they use the MXT Pro and they kindly responded as follows….

DAVE WISE

My MXT All-Pro is a great coin & relic machine and very user-friendly. I hunt in the Relic mode in 2 tone ID. Most iron grunts read as low and non ferrous targets give a nice high tone. The MXT All-Pro excels in the iron areas and is able to pick out the non ferrous targets with ease. Of course some iron will give off a high tone due to its size and shape, but at colonial sites it’s good to dig the iron, not only to get it out-of-the-way, but because sometimes it ends up being a nice hand forged colonial relic, like a horse shoe, axe head or strap hinge.

One of Dave's most recent finds...

One of Dave’s most recent finds…

I have to admit after having used my XLT for many years and after have become accustomed to its tones and how well it treated me, I was very apprehensive about trying the MXT All-Pro. After a few outings that uneasiness quickly disappeared because of the coins & relics I was finding. Sad to say but my poor XLT now sits in the corner and has dust on it.

TODD HILTZ

Ok, so with cellar hole hunting…

I hunt in Relic Mode and in only two tones so I hear whether the target is Ferrous or Non-ferrous. In my opinion, this is the perfect setting for cellar holes because they are usually iron infested. These sites are also highly mineralized and we often times have to deal with “hot rocks”. That is where the double D coils come into play. I have found that the 10″ & 6″ DD coils really shine in these instances…..

Todd started off 2015 with Spanish silver....

Todd started off 2015 with Spanish silver….

With this set up and the extremely fast processing ability of the MXT Pro (one of it’s best attributes), I am able to dive into these difficult areas and isolate non-ferrous targets amongst the hundreds of square nails and iron scrap. The Relic Mode also allows the MXT Pro to run much smoother, without a lot of unstable chatter. When I do hear a non-ferrous signal I hold the “ground grab” button to isolate it.

So to sum it all up… two-tone, relic Mode, DD coils, ground tracking, along with the MXT Pro’s exceptional recovery time makes this machine a BEAST. I would guess that 95-99% of these sites have already been hammered, yet we always seem to pull out a pouch full of keepers. Don’t forget too that the most important thing is a level and slow swing speed, otherwise you are not going to find much.

There’s a lot more I could say about the MXT Pro but then I would be giving away all my secrets….

 

Todd Hiltz and Dave Wise, the cellar dwellers!

Todd Hiltz and Dave Wise, the cellar dwellers!

YOU CAN KEEP UP WITH DAVE AND TODD BY LIKING THEIR Facebook page and checking out Todd’s YouTube videos

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D.J. YOST

My go to machine will always be my whites MXT! The MXT is a simple yet powerful detector, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. Simply choose between one of the three modes, turn the machine on, pump up and down a few times for a good ground balance and you’re off and running! You can choose between beach, relic, or coin and jewelry mode. I prefer and usually hunt in relic mode. I believe relic goes a little deeper and you will still hit on those small deep coins. When in relic mode, this thing is a metal magnet! I enjoy setting my discrimination right above iron and digging away. I also feel this will help you eventually get those deeper targets that might have been previously masked out.

With the new MXT All Pro you can hunt in one or two-tone ID. I prefer two-tone ID so that way I am digging mostly off sound. I have also come to the conclusion that the MXT loves the 10 inch D2 coil. I think that they were secretly made for each other… haha. The d2 will give you the best average depth with great separation on trash. One thing you might experience with this coil is sometimes it’s a little sensitive to EMI but can easily be tuned out.

In my general opinion the MXT is a great all around metal detector. Once you get to know it, it really is like having three machines in one! I always said that I consider myself a coin shooter but hunt with a relic machine, so I get to experience the best of both worlds….

D.J. Yost

D.J. Yost

BE SURE TO SIGN UP FOR D.J.’s BLOG, AND IF YOU NEED EVEN MORE INSPIRATION, CHECK OUT HIS VIDEOS HERE

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BUBBA (SOMEWHERE IN TEXAS)

I like the MXT Pro because it’s an excellent coin machine with great depth. I primarily hunt in the preset coin and jewelry mode, and use the Eclipse 6×6 inch coil most of the time (bring back the old standard 7 please). Adjustments or secret settings? None really. I will however always set the gain as high as possible. Likewise if I get a whisper response and no readout I will take the threshold down below audible and crank up the gain in hopes that I can get some sort of “positive” readout (numerical). This does not work in every instance but when it does its well worth the effort.

Bubba, somewhere in Texas....

Bubba, somewhere in Texas….

Next I like the audio options on the MXT Pro. I know it’s the lazy man’s way out but that would be me today. Bending down is not what it used to be…. Oh, and did I tell you about the knobs and switches? Love em. Old school I know but you can have your push pads.

Let me also refer you to my earlier explanation from 2013

WHY THE MXT PRO

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FINALLY…If you are a newcomer to the pastime, buy a detector that is affordable. Don’t go into debt. It will not matter what detector you have in your hands if you are not hunting in the right places. Spend your time researching and not obsessing over which detector to buy. That goes as well for the seasoned detectorist. If you want to spend $2,500 on that top of the line model, have at it. Go into debt if that makes you happy. I will still put my money on the guy with the ‘cheapie’ detector who has spent his time at the library and is cock sure about where he’s heading….

UPDATE 2016

As I’ve aged arthritis and neuropathy has taken its toll on me, and it’s hard to get out with my detector. It’s painful to get down and up, and with summer temps in the 100 degree range, it’s a no brainer. Hoping that meds and cooler temps will help but only time will tell.

I mention this because as I was going through a lot of this I found I didn’t want to deal with complicated detector settings, programs, etc..  I set my MXT Pro to the presets and became very selective as to what I actually tried to recover (as in coins only). I am also learning the nuances and abilities of the MX Sport and I think I am in love. Great machine.

Still waiting for that one knob detector that does it all.  It will happen someday…

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5 responses to “Equipment

  1. A man who shares my thoughts! I can’t believe it. Although I must admit that I am still in love with my XLT & Surfmaster PI. Plus the Hays for cache hunting. May the gold be with you. Frankn

  2. Info as good today as it ever was! Thanks for sharing with us!

  3. Thanks for the kind words Rob…

  4. You Said “Using a camera to teach a technique is fine….filming yourself seems rather pretentious but that’s MY opinion and I know I am in the minority. ”

    I Agree. I do video some hunts but my finds are the star of the show. That is, if I can find something to star hahaha

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