By Steve Herschbach
I have done well in Hawaii with my Garrett ATX as told in my previous story at http://www.detectorprospector.com/forum/topic/102-garrett-atx-review-beach-detecting-in-hawaii/ Most of the details of where and what I am doing, detector settings, etc. are all covered there so I will not repeat it all here.
My wife only had a week off for spring break so I had half the time to work with this go round. Still, I think I did all right. Now that I have my system down less time was wasted figuring things out. I used the Garrett ATX exclusively with the 8" mono coil. Discrimination was 3 and Sensitivity 7-8 with unit ground balanced underwater over basalt rocks.
I only worked in the water with mask and snorkel. I work right in the trough at the base of the beach slope a lot in 2'-4' waves and so I use 40 lbs of lead weight to help stay in place. Working overweighted in surf like this can be very dangerous if you do not have a very high comfort level. I have multiple SCUBA certifications up to and including my instructors certificate. Official disclaimer - I do not recommend working like this unless you are trained and know what you are doing.
Just swimming trunks with tshirt. I use cheap knee brace pullovers you get in the pharmacy area in a general store as knee pads. Cheap rubber coated work gloves to protect my hands while digging. Surf shoes to protect my feet, and a good mask and snorkel. I hook the velcro strap on the ATX armrest around the handle of a clasp closure mesh goodie bag to hold stuff as I recover it. I bend bobby pins before dropping them in the bag or they slip through the mesh.
I hunt with mask and snorkel until I get a target. I look around for surfers and boogie boarders, evaluate the wave situation, and do a breath hold and duck to the bottom. I generally fan the bottom with my hand or excavate by hand to find the target, then stuff it in a goodie back hanging off my ATX armrest. Scoops are just one thing too many for me to handle in the surf and no good on hard surfaces anyway. I focus on the area where the sand is tapering into a hard coral or rock bottom that will catch and hold targets from sinking too deep.
My main change of strategy this trip was to not dig everything. The ATX makes a hi-lo tone or a lo-hi tone on targets. Lo-hi is high conductive stuff like copper pennies, dimes, quarters, and large iron junk. Or silver rings or very large mens gold rings. Hi-lo is almost all gold or platinum jewelry, zinc pennies, nickels, aluminum stuff, and small steel stuff like bobby pins and rusted bottle caps. I was getting lots of copper pennies, dimes and quarters plus some large junk the first couple days. Dimes and quarters may sound nice but when recovering them in surf at risk to life and limb they are a definite trash target as far as I am concerned, though I did get a large silver ring also. I decided that gold rings were the main goal and with the short week I had no time to waste, so switched to digging hi-lo tones only. I was happy with the results and would recommend this to anyone using an ATX who for similar reasons what to improve the dig to ring ratio. Be aware though certain high value targets like very large mens rings will be missed.
I recovered a couple earrings and that impressed me very much in an underwater scenario. The ATX hits gold about as small as is possible in salt water. There was one well made fake diamond ring in particular that would have been my best ever had it turned out real. I recover them underwater, can't really tell but they sure look good underwater, and do not know until I get back to my room and empty the goodie pouch if I have made a big find. I hope the whole rest of the hunt, only to be let down back at the room. Gold rings on the other hand I know immediately are good finds. I also found a couple more old Sheraton hotel big brass keys to add to my collection. These are rare now at the beach as they are large easy finds, but if the sand scours out one will still turn up now and then.
All the quarters, dimes, and copper pennies were recovered in the first two days. After that it was nickels and zinc pennies only and I toss the zincs in the garbage. Unless only a day or two old the salt water rots them away to junk. I had a nice pile of lead fishing weights I donated to the dive shop where I rented my weight belts. There was the usual junk as seen on the other page linked at the start of this post but this year I discarded it daily as I have done enough "here it all is" pictures.
All in all given that I had half the time to hunt my finds were on par with the last trip though the beach is depleting out. I considered going to other locations but by the time I drive somewhere else and back that is another hour or more that I could have been in the water. I do not hunt just Poipu beach but the next several beaches in a row so there is a large area I can walk to. There are always newer rings lost but it is the combination of many years of old rings and new rings that make it good, and as the old stuff depletes out then all there is to find is recent drops and the pickings get slimmer. Still, the location is far from worked out.
I only saw one other person with a detector, a local I saw last trip, who walks the beach at waters edge at low tide. He seems as concerned with being out for a walk as detecting as he covers ground real fast.
I like the ATX ability to easily adjust the rod length on the fly from very long to extra short. I did experience a little sand binding in the rods but took care to work the rods and flush them out before leaving the water each time and everything worked fine. I only charged batteries twice on the trip. The 8" mono with rod assembly is now my dedicated water coil, with the 12" x 10" used above water. The water use is rough on the rod and internal cable assembly and so I figure having a coil and rod just for that keeps the stock coil in better shape for normal use. I came away very happy once again with the Garrett ATX. It suits me very well for my style of water hunting.
The four 14K rings weighed in at 21.9 grams total. The silver colored 10K white gold ring with five small diamonds weighed 4.1 grams. The excellent gold smelt calculator at http://coinapps.com/gold/scrap/calculator/ reveals that to add up to 14.47 grams or nearly 1/2 oz of pure gold or about $500 bucks if sent to a smelter. I plan on refinishing and selling the rings in the future instead of having them smelted as I have in the past though so they should bring a bit better value that way.
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By Steve Herschbach
I have been out gold prospecting with the Garrett ATX recently and wanted to share my latest thoughts on the unit. That, and show off a particularly nice nugget I just found with the detector!
I got my ATX right at a year ago. The machine has easily paid for itself and remains one of my favorite detectors. With all the other new detectors I have been using lately I have not had it out enough however, and so I have made an effort to start using it again the last few weeks.
I guess my constant prospecting these days is making me tougher as I have no problem using the ATX for long hours with no extra support. Still, for long days I like to use a bungee support off the shoulder of my Camelback style rucksack. Garret was kind enough to send me a set of scuff covers for my coils, and I find the solid scuff cover for the stock coil to be very helpful. It prevents the coil from hanging up in stubble and in northern Nevada allows me to let the coil just ride on the ground. There usually is just a little grass or weeds that act as a buffer for smooth riding. If I get directly on hard rock surface I still pick up some coil falsing but not so much as when the bare coil edges would catch on rocks. The only issue with the solid cover is that it collects debris and must be shaken clean on occasion. I think I will get another scuff cover or even just a flat piece of plastic to fix in place over the top to prevent this from happening.
I have been using the headphone adapter so I can run the ATX with my Sun Ray Pro Gold headphones, which sound a bit better to my ear than the supplied headphones. The Garrett headphones are pretty good but I would rather keep them available for backup use. I have toyed with the idea of using my B&Z booster along with a shoulder mounted external speaker but have not quite got around to trying that yet. I think that would be preferable for long hours in very quiet locations. I like to hear what is going on around me.
Related to that, I normally run the ATX with a very faint threshold. I have also experimented a bit with running it set just barely quiet, and for patch hunting wandering around I am thinking I may do this more often. The performance edge lost is minimal, and I do enjoy the solitude and silence. Many days detecting for me is nothing more or less than a wonderful long hike over the hills in the middle of nowhere. No headphones and no threshold buzz just might be something I do more of in the future. I know, I should be preaching the opposite but my primary goal these days is enjoying myself and those little things make a difference. Being able to hear a wild horse in the distance or a coyote howl is important to me.
I usually dig it all but I do like the ferrous check function on the ATX. It can only be trusted on targets I really know to be junk anyway - nice loud surface signals. But maybe, just maybe that signal is a large shallow nugget! It is nice to push the button and get a solid ferrous indication from the ATX allowing me to work more efficiently in areas with lots of surface nails and other ferrous trash. I don't trust it on weak signals however, especially in very mineralized ground.
The waterproof part is nice but really not needed. What I do appreciate is being able to collapse the unit down into a compact package and toss it in my truck. That the ATX uses rechargeable AA batteries is also a bonus because I am starting to standardize on them. All other things being equal I try to get detectors or accessory items that use AA batteries, and I have a lot of AA batteries and chargers due to this. This makes having plenty of extras available for use in the ATX very simple and cost effective.
The bottom line is the Garrett ATX is a very capable nugget detector with good performance on a wide range of target sizes. I appreciate the solid, stable performance. I have got no problem going out and finding gold with the ATX. Better yet, I use the ATX for more than nugget detecting. It is my preferred water hunting detector and so in that regard a true bargain.
I was just out and hunting an area where I picked up a few nuggets with other detectors recently. I got the ATX out of the truck and wandered down to the wash. I had barely really got the unit ground balanced up and the soil I was walking on just looked like sandy mud with grass growing on it, so I decided to walk upstream a bit for a better location. I got a whisper of ground noise as I walked and a couple steps later stopped and thought "hmmmm... was that really a ground noise?" It had that little something and I was just assuming I did not have the ground balance spot on yet. I backed up and checked, and sure enough there was a soft signal in the grass. I gave a little dig and came up with a 0.7 gram nugget.
Well ok then, that was more like it. I started to work the immediate location and just six feet away got a largish signal, probably trash. I dug a bit and it was still in the hole. So I gave it a vigorous scoop and up pops a mud covered nugget. A large nugget! It later weighed in at 26.3 grams or 0.85 Troy ounces.
I was ecstatic. I have to tell you that nugget really means a lot to me. Why? Because the location I was hunting was nothing anyone pointed out to me. I was running around looking at some old prospects and had a theory going on the geology and where the gold was coming from. I decided the location would be good on my own just based on what I was seeing, and I scored a really great nugget. The satisfaction of figuring things out and making a good call means more to me than the nugget. It is what real prospecting is all about. The fact that it is also one of the nicest nuggets I have found so far in Nevada certainly does not hurt though. It is a beauty, solid and chunky with a nice kind of flat matte finish.
A bunch of hunting later and I scored another small 0.6 gram nugget, for a total of three nuggets and 27.6 grams with the Garrett ATX. I am sure there is more gold waiting out there to be found so can't wait to get back at it. Just a great time in great country, and I have to say I am not missing being in Alaska at all. This beats being in cold rain ate alive by bugs any time.
I am getting ready to have a major weeding out of detectors and accessories. My collection of gear has ballooned too far in excess of what I need, and in 2015 I want to just focus on detecting instead of detectors, if you catch my drift. I need a few good machines to cover the bases for my varied detecting needs, but all the rest need to go. I am not much on clutter. One thing I do know for sure though, and that is that the Garrett ATX has earned a permanent spot in my collection. In particular I plan on being on California storm watch this winter, and at the first sign of major beach action I am grabbing the ATX and heading for the coast. The California beach boys will be seeing a new face this winter. And I am very sure there are many more nugget hunts in the future for me and the Garrett ATX.
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I own both a Garrett Recon and an ATX, can someone remind me what was found to be best 10 x14 Infinium coil to be used on each?
I was thinking someone found the Infinium 10 x 14 mono coil was best for Recon
and Infinium 10 x 14 DD coil best for use on the ATX
Is this correct or are all interchangable?
I have the ATX with new DD enclosed coil. It's a killer on dry sand, wet sand, shoreline. But when I get into water more than a foot deep, it wants to float.
Question - which would be better water coil for Southern California beaches - 8" mono coil or 12 x 10 open DD coil?
I’m a new member from Wasilla, Alaska. I am new to detecting for gold and was hoping you can help me make a final decision on which P.I. detector I want to buy. The reason why I want to get a P.I. Detector is so that I don’t have to worry about hot rocks setting off my detector much like in Petersville, note I have been using a gold bug pro. Now saying that I live in wasilla and knowing that the majority of nuggets are small I will be mainly hunting in relatively close areas such as Hatcher Pass and Petersville. I know that VLF detectors are hard to use in Petersville due to the graphite slate hot rocks. The main reason I am looking towards an SDC 2300 and the ATX machines are because of there ability to be compact for hiking and waterproof which makes it easier to walk through the bushes following streams. Other wise I would love to save up for the relatively new gpz 7000 which I may consider later on down the line or maybe even get a gpx 5000. I like the fact that the 2 machines I am interested in are pretty good on small gold. I want to be able to detect mainly along streams with the thought that if I find a small nugget I would also be able to pan that same spot of a found nugget. The things keeping me from making a decision are the quirks of each machine. ATX can change coils and go deeper which I really like but also don’t like how I hear it can false on targets if bumped into a clump of grass or protruding rocks. I like how the SDC is hot on smaller gold and specimen gold since I think the reality of me finding big nuggets are slim, but I also don’t like the idea of it being a shallow detector and mainly for small gold. Do you think you can help me out on making a decision here?