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 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.
Can’t remember who first said this…. “The best discriminator is your digging tool”
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!
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.
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….?
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….?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Never leave home without a drop cloth!
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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….
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…