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Looking For Tips For Beach Detecting With Minelab Vanquish 540


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Hey everyone, so I received my shiny new Vanquish 540 at Christmas, and only had a couple chances to get out and do anything with it.

But I got out a couple times, and tried some things, this post is a mix of a bit of a log of my first activities/attempts, and what I experienced, what I think I learned, etc... As well as an ask for any tips/advice/help anyone has to add for my next couple outings (things to try, things to improve, etc)

First time out I went around my yard/lawn/gardens, and just got familiar with the machine, played with settings, got used to the tones, etc...

I found Jewelry Mode worked well initially (tried Coin mode, couldn't discern any real difference, and relic mode didn't seem like what I'd usually be using from the manual description). I started with max sensitivity which was a little chatty... Then turning it down 2-3 notches seemed to silence the machine completely, and it had no falses, but still clearly identified targets... Seemed pretty good 🙂 even found a couple coins along my driveway from long before I lived here (though modern spendies).

Anyway, then next up I got a whole bunch of household objects:

  • Modern coins of every denomination
  • Some jewelry (10K gold rings, 18K gold rings, 10K gold brooch, 10K gold necklace, silver necklace, silver brooch, pewter bracelet)
  • Assorted screws, bolts, etc
  • Some brass hardware
  • Misc Junk, aluminium etc

And proceeded to setup a test spot that there was nothing in the ground, laid a board out, and swung past the items, getting to know the IDs for each, how I detect them, differences with different orientations, etc... Also tried each of the junk items, and even tried masking (pairing up junk with good items) to see what that did... Overall this process took a couple hours of playing with the detector, and I thought I had a good handle on it...

So then I went to my first beach, saltwater beach, no black sand, fairly popular beach, went when it was quiet, about mid-tide. Powered up, let it do it's noise cancelling, and immediately it started chattering (still on max sensitivity) so turned it down 2-3 like I did at home, still chattery, so turned it down to 4-5 notches below max... Seemed quiet then... So then I started walking along the waterline about 1m away from where the top of the waves lapped at the sand (so sand was still "damp" but not "wet", just on the "water side" of the totally dry sand). And went along the water line at a slow pace, doing my best (and likely failing) to get a good swing technique (more on that later lol).

What I found was that it was very noisy, it was picking up little beeps and bloops (sometimes with no target id, sometimes with) and if I went back and swung around that spot to see what the beep was, it wouldn't be there, so inconsistent... Then I did find a target that was consistent, and pinpointed it, dug it up, and it was a pull-tab, ok no problem that was expected to dig a bunch of those up, and at least I was able to identify a target and recover it successfully...

Still had a lot of noise though, and tricky to decide what to dig and what not to. I was also noticing almost all the targets I got an ID for (including the inconsistent ones, and consistent ones) were at the max depth readout... 

Dug 3-4 more targets, ended up with a few pull-tabs, some can slaw, and a great big iron bolt rusted really badly, which for some reason was coming up as a high 20s on the target ID...

Had another target that was a consistent 33-35 on the target and very strong, and stable, but showing max depth... And I dug down probably 18" deep (and eventually a hole like 2 feet diameter lol). Kept re-checking still had same consistent signal... But was hitting hard-packed sand, and my digging tools weren't up to going deeper... So never recovered that one...

Once I went a couple hundred meters I turned around and went the other direction, as the tide had come in a bit by then... And when I turned I switched from Jewelry to Coin mode, and tried Coin mode on the return trip... Still had that noisy behavior, like I was picking up 1-2 beeps or bloops on every swing, but mostly tiny beeps (medium to high pitch, not iron tone) usually with no ID code. I did figure out around this time that the unstable hits I was getting at 14-15 id which seemed consistent enough to warrant double-checking, but weren't stable, if I turned on all metal mode, I immediately noticed a consistent iron tone, so thought those might be junk pretending to be something else... 

So in total I spent about 2 hours on the beach, found some trash, cleaned the beach up a bit, and had some fun. But clearly need to do some more learning to get better with the machine.

Another thing I learned is I suspect my form is off (ergonomics, swing technique, whatever). I was able to get a decent swing arc about 60-90 degree arc in front of me, and I think did an "ok" job of keeping the coil at a consistent flat height, but probably lifted it a bit at the end of the swing (did my best not to). Also beach was a bit rocky/shelly, mostly clean sand, but had "debris" and occasionally bumped some of that, or scuffed off a rock, etc... Again tried not to do that either lol... But the biggest thing that seemed to indicate I was doing something wrong is I was getting a fair bit of fatigue, which became pain, in my hand/wrist and running up my forearm. I suspected initially I was gripping the handgrip too tightly, tried to loosen off that, but while the detector seems super light and simple to swing at first, after a couple hours it quickly began to wear on me (and I'm a big guy, with a fair bit of upper body strength). After coming back and reading, I suspect my first mistake was over-reaching with the coil. I had it about 20+ inches in front of my feet when swinging, didn't realize I should have it much closer... Also as I said I was over-gripping the hand-grip. So I'll try adjusting some of that next time. But any other tips there would be appreciated.

Secondly, I was troubled by how "noisy" it was, and combined with all the targets I was seeing being at "max depth" indicator, was worried, that turning down sensitivity further might mean I'm missing things... I didn't seem to notice a main difference between the coin and jewelry mode, but probably don't have enough time on the machine to tell the subtle differences yet...

So, first off does anyone with experience think one mode is preferable over another for general beach hunting on the Vanquish 540?

Second, how should I be tuning the detector to optimize my experience? Should I be turning the sensitivity down further? Am I missing targets? (am I mis-reading the depth indicator) etc... 🙂

I didn't really experiment much with the Iron Bias setting (low vs the default of high), and I didn't play with Iron Volume at all.

Anyway, any advice or input/suggestions at all would be appreciated. I'm excited to get out and get more practice in, and learn some more, but always good to take what I've learned, and combine it with sound advice from those with the battle scars to know what they are talking about 😉

I know @phrunt has already given me a ton of good advice on the local NZ id codes to look for with commonly found coin types, etc... And those matched up perfectly with what I found in my little "test garden" experiment at home... And so Simon if you have any specific advice being as you've detected in some of the similar environments I'm in, and with the same detector, any additional "nuggets" that you're willing to share would be greatly appreciated (of the information kind I mean of course, though the other kind would be appreciated also lol)

Thanks! And happy hunting!

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I don’t have your detector but want to say you are learning and testing in a good way to get your 540 dialed in. Your experiences were very much the same as my first trips on a salt beach. I will say it helped me to bring some items to the beach, it is still an air test but you are checking on your beach soil with your beach EMI around. And for me, running with balanced settings is most important. With mine (NOX) , I noise cancel every time I change any setting including sensitivity(gain) and ground balance often as beach ground changes as you walk. My first beach hunt was in front of a beach club and I thought my machine was busted it was so noisy, turns out it was the club wifi signal. Walking away finally settled it down. 

When you bump shells you might get those blips but that will resolve when your coil technique settles in. The arm pain is a warning to change something. You are on the right track in physically balancing it. Try to get it physically balanced close to the hand grip if you hold it there with one finger. Also for me, whipping the coil back and forth too fast will cause some pain.

Sounds like you are on your way. Phrunt will help tremendously as he has helped me. Others have also helped me here. Great site. Have fun and remember this is a normal part of learning your machine. HH

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14 hours ago, phrunt said:

I will reply in about 6 days when I get home, I'm away at the moment and hate typing on my phone, hopefully someone helps in the mean time. If I forget just message me.  Your off to a good start. 

Hey Simon, thanks, no worries not in a huge rush, but will definitely appreciate anything you have to suggest when you're back 🙂

7 hours ago, FloridaSon said:

I don’t have your detector but want to say you are learning and testing in a good way to get your 540 dialed in. Your experiences were very much the same as my first trips on a salt beach. I will say it helped me to bring some items to the beach, it is still an air test but you are checking on your beach soil with your beach EMI around. And for me, running with balanced settings is most important. With mine (NOX) , I noise cancel every time I change any setting including sensitivity(gain) and ground balance often as beach ground changes as you walk. My first beach hunt was in front of a beach club and I thought my machine was busted it was so noisy, turns out it was the club wifi signal. Walking away finally settled it down. 

When you bump shells you might get those blips but that will resolve when your coil technique settles in. The arm pain is a warning to change something. You are on the right track in physically balancing it. Try to get it physically balanced close to the hand grip if you hold it there with one finger. Also for me, whipping the coil back and forth too fast will cause some pain.

Sounds like you are on your way. Phrunt will help tremendously as he has helped me. Others have also helped me here. Great site. Have fun and remember this is a normal part of learning your machine. HH

Thanks FloridaSon for the suggestions and encouragement, good to hear I'm essentially on the "Learning Path" lol. Yeah I'm aware it wouldn't be "easy" on first day out, and would have to learn. If the machine did ALL the work, it wouldn't be any fun (no skill required). 🙂

Yeah I did wonder about EMI, while I have a ton of technology in the house, I've gone to lengths to reduce EMI as it interferes with my Ham Radio activities significantly, so around home, there should have been minimal EMI, and at the beach, while it wasn't busy, there are houses right along the beach, I deliberately chose a section away from the sailing club, and the houses, where there is a small park behind the main dune, so that I had some "open space" around, but who knows, the environment is totally different.

For the Vanquish, it does do noise cancelling, but it does it on power-on (and from what I can tell, no way to re-run it during use), so I'd have to adjust the settings, and then power cycle the detector to re-run the noise detection (which is a good thing to consider, so I may do that for the next bit as I'm tweaking things). It unfortunately doesn't have a ground balance capability (I'm not sure if it's just fixed on a factory setting, or if it tries to auto-adjust). From what I understand the "brains" of a vanquish are very similar to an equinox, but it's "dumbed down" a bit with less options and more automation, and probably a few other cost cutting changes.

Also I hadn't thought of bringing along some items to test on at the beach... if I were thinking I could even make some simple burial packets from plastic and string or something so I could easily recover them, but bury them and test out various settings for detection depth and noise, etc... Doing that I could dial the settings to be quiet, but without being paranoid of missing targets (if I know I can detect a gold ring, and a coin at a reasonable depth, I can have confidence that I'm using the machine right, and it's quiet for a reason).

I agree, it's important to get the machine to a point where the hits are "decisive", or at least to learn how to effectively mentally filter the remaining noise (depending on the environment).

Hopefully will have a chance to head out again this weekend to another couple beaches, will attempt to adjust both my swing technique, and try bringing some sample targets along to do a quick test with in the saltwater beach environment... 

I think a few of these ideas might also help teaching my Wife to use the detector, she's shown some interest in learning to use it as well, she has a condition which is causing her vision to deteriorate, but her hearing is fantastic (far better than mine) so she was amused that hearing is a primary sense used for detecting...

Anyway if she's interested I thought that's something worth encouraging 🙂 (especially since if we're both into a hobby, it's much easier to justify spending money on things lol, though that means she'll also want her own detector and set of gear... Hmm...)

Anyway thanks! 

Any and all additional recommendations and suggestions are greatly appreciated 🙂 Many of you have been doing this a lot more than I have, for a lot longer, and I'm here to learn!

Cheers!

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I don't have a Vanquish but my Nox is fairly noisy in the wet sand so I usually opt for my pulse detectors at the beach. However, it sounds like you found a fair amount of targets so I think that you are learning how to pick out the good signals through the chatter. Don't forget that the beach conditions are always changing and even if you are doing everything right with the best equipment you may not find much on a particular hunt. 

I think it is great that your wife wants to try metal detecting and definitely worth encouraging for a number of reasons!

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If the machine is noisy it is the salt causing it to false out. Typically you need to ground balance the machine and work parallel to the shore line and re-ground balance as you get closer to the water. Often you may also need to drop the sensitivity so it doesn't pick up as much of the ground.

VLF's (induction balance) machines have a good advantage when working dry and damp sand because they have superior discrimination so you can dig less trash but they are sensitive to the salt as it too is a conductor.

Pulse induction machines are pretty much immune to the salt but lack discrimination. There are 2 kinds of Pi's ones without ground balance and ones with. Ones without you can only trim out some of the lower signals by changing the pulse delay and the machines have that as well as the ability to balance on a target range forcing targets below the balance to sound different than ones above based on conductivity.

With all that being said I would try dropping sensitivity a bit and maybe even discriminate out the lower end at iron to quiet it down some. I don't think you have a ground balance control on that machine so working parallel to the shore line it should settle down on it's own.

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41 minutes ago, kac said:

Typically you need to ground balance the machine and work parallel to the shore line and re-ground balance as you get closer to the water.

Unfortunately, Vanquish has a fixed GB.  One of the main reasons I parted with it.  Made it impossible to use with no disc if there was anything other than neutral soil conditions and I presume it would have trouble in variable salt such as in ocean surf.

Your recommendations to dial down sensitivity and dial in some disc while working parallel to the shore is good advice for the OP.

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On 1/14/2021 at 12:45 AM, Glasswalker said:

... But the biggest thing that seemed to indicate I was doing something wrong is I was getting a fair bit of fatigue, which became pain, in my hand/wrist and running up my forearm. I suspected initially I was gripping the handgrip too tightly, tried to loosen off that, but while the detector seems super light and simple to swing at first, after a couple hours it quickly began to wear on me (and I'm a big guy, with a fair bit of upper body strength). After coming back and reading, I suspect my first mistake was over-reaching with the coil. I had it about 20+ inches in front of my feet when swinging, didn't realize I should have it much closer... Also as I said I was over-gripping the hand-grip. So I'll try adjusting some of that next time. But any other tips there would be appreciated.

 

Hi ,

Concerning the balance, the Vanquish is front heavy with the V12 coil ( the V12 coil weights 440grams without coil cover ) .  I found a solution to this issue using the V10 which is an excellent coil , much lighter ( 360grams ) and almost as deep as the V12. Also I never use coil covers , this saves 60grams  this can help a little also ...  Front carbon shafts would also improve the balance 

Concerning the noisy audio, perhaps you could try your 540 inland in mild soil . Normally it should be quiet except on trashy sites,  if it is not the case may be there could be pb with the machine .. This would help to diag your pb anyway ... 

Hope that helps ... HH ...

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440grams isn't bad. If it puts too much presure on your elbow just shorten the shaft up a bit so it runs closer to your feet.

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Glass,

   Very basic questions,  given your background, but I'll ask anyway!

   Is your cellphone opposite your detector on your body, or off, to prevent interference? And, if wearing shoes, are there any metal bits in them? Also, if using a coil cover, do you clean it out between hunts? 

   All minor points, but worth ruling out! Your issues sound like what my AT Pro used to do, when i tried using it at the beach! I could still find targets, but it was mentally exhausting to listening to all the extra sounds!

    The Equinox is my main beach detector now, but i did just pick up a Vanquish 540 from Steve, and have been dying to try it out! So all your testing and issues are actually helping me a great deal! (among others here)!

   I'm also hoping the coil tabs hold up better than the Nox's! I'm about to send in my third broken coil to ML for replacement!

   Good Luck solving your issues!👍👍

 

 

 

 

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Sorry everyone for the delay in responding, had a busy few days. I'll do a big multi-quote and respond to everyone individually below:

On 1/16/2021 at 4:53 PM, Compass said:

I don't have a Vanquish but my Nox is fairly noisy in the wet sand so I usually opt for my pulse detectors at the beach. However, it sounds like you found a fair amount of targets so I think that you are learning how to pick out the good signals through the chatter. Don't forget that the beach conditions are always changing and even if you are doing everything right with the best equipment you may not find much on a particular hunt. 

I think it is great that your wife wants to try metal detecting and definitely worth encouraging for a number of reasons!

Thanks! Yeah I don't think the day/time was perfect, in reading a bit more about beach reading, I realized it's been calm lately so the wave action is mostly depositing sand, so the targets are all probably quite deep. That explains the number of light chirpy targets that were only "partially there" and the ones that were solid all being at max depth on the indicator (and the one I dug for ages to find and couldn't find)

Definitely eager to encourage her to get into it. Always good when you can share a hobby/interest. While she's expressed interest, it's not as strong as mine, so she hasn't felt up to going out the last couple times I wanted to go hunt. And she has less tolerance for "frustrating fiddly things" than I do, so probably best if I have a bit better handle on it before I try and teach her anyway, so I can smooth over some of the bumps. 

On 1/16/2021 at 5:09 PM, kac said:

If the machine is noisy it is the salt causing it to false out. Typically you need to ground balance the machine and work parallel to the shore line and re-ground balance as you get closer to the water. Often you may also need to drop the sensitivity so it doesn't pick up as much of the ground.

VLF's (induction balance) machines have a good advantage when working dry and damp sand because they have superior discrimination so you can dig less trash but they are sensitive to the salt as it too is a conductor.

Pulse induction machines are pretty much immune to the salt but lack discrimination. There are 2 kinds of Pi's ones without ground balance and ones with. Ones without you can only trim out some of the lower signals by changing the pulse delay and the machines have that as well as the ability to balance on a target range forcing targets below the balance to sound different than ones above based on conductivity.

With all that being said I would try dropping sensitivity a bit and maybe even discriminate out the lower end at iron to quiet it down some. I don't think you have a ground balance control on that machine so working parallel to the shore line it should settle down on it's own.

Hey, thanks for the feedback and suggestions! Yeah I'm pretty set on VLF for now, I may get a PI as a second detector at some point, but for now, discrimination is important to me I think. Multi-frequency seems to at least "help" with the difficult conditions, but not deal with it entirely, that's why I went with the Vanquish (hearing good things about salt beach performance of the Multi-IQ machines from Minelab, and couldn't really justify the jump straight to a Nox...)

Also in the mode I was in it discriminates out iron, but kept in mid-tones (gold/foil/etc). And as I said I'd go back over and re-check some targets (once I figured out there was something odd going on) with all-metal mode enabled which would then highlight if it was just iron impersonating a good target. 🙂

Yeah I think next time I'll definitely bring some example targets, bury them at various depths, and experiment with sensitivity. As long as I can find stuff at a reasonable depth, and get a strong signal, I can dial the sensitivity down a bunch, I suspect I'll be able to dial it down a couple more notches and still safely detect targets, but I was hesitant to do that on the previous visit because I was worried about missing valid targets (but I hadn't thought of bringing sample targets to the beach to bury and test) 🙂

On 1/16/2021 at 5:46 PM, Chase Goldman said:

Unfortunately, Vanquish has a fixed GB.  One of the main reasons I parted with it.  Made it impossible to use with no disc if there was anything other than neutral soil conditions and I presume it would have trouble in variable salt such as in ocean surf.

Your recommendations to dial down sensitivity and dial in some disc while working parallel to the shore is good advice for the OP.

Hey, thanks for the additional info. Yeah I wasn't sure if it was "fixed" or "automatic". It's unfortunate if it's "Fixed" as that's a bit less flexible, but it can be worked around. I know I've seen plenty of reviews/youtube videos of people successfully using the Vanquish on saltwater beaches, so it's certainly possible to work around the fixed balance, but just trying to see what levers we do have control over, and where I need to put them to optimize the experience (and then how much needs to be made up for with skill/brain power lol).

Yeah definitely think I'll try and find the "MVS" (Minimum Viable Sensitivity) for the beach, and that is perhaps variable depending on the beach, and where I'm at on the beach, but once I can get comfortable with determining quickly the minimum sensitivity, I think that's going to be pretty key.

Thanks!

On 1/16/2021 at 11:33 PM, palzynski said:

Hi ,

Concerning the balance, the Vanquish is front heavy with the V12 coil ( the V12 coil weights 440grams without coil cover ) .  I found a solution to this issue using the V10 which is an excellent coil , much lighter ( 360grams ) and almost as deep as the V12. Also I never use coil covers , this saves 60grams  this can help a little also ...  Front carbon shafts would also improve the balance 

Concerning the noisy audio, perhaps you could try your 540 inland in mild soil . Normally it should be quiet except on trashy sites,  if it is not the case may be there could be pb with the machine .. This would help to diag your pb anyway ... 

Hope that helps ... HH ...

Hey Palzynski, thanks, yeah I remember some of our prior discussions about adjusting balance, and I certainly see how pulling the balance back may help. Trying to focus on basic technique first though, and get that settled, then optimize from there (by doing things like possibly pulling weight back towards the elbow through one or more techniques as discussed in some other threads).

I did definitely test it inland, as I mentioned in my OP, that's why I was so surprised at how noisy it was on the beach. Inland, it was dead silent, and it found targets easily, and they were 100% clear when it was a target. There weren't so many "phantoms" floating around that I'm seeing on the beach. Definitely 2 very different experiences. Inland 2-3 notches below max sensitivity and I could swing 10-12 times with it entirely silent, then I'd hit a very clear loud tone, which had an ID. There seemed to be nothing in-between. But on the beach each swing almost had at least a tiny chirp or blip which came and went, and weren't consistant (I could swing over the exact same arc 10 times, and I'd get a blip on 5-6 of the swings but in totally different places). Sometimes I'd find a chirp which was in the same place, but it would not be consistant (if I swing over that exact space 10 times, it would chirp in that spot 4-8 times, but at varying intensities, and possibly with or without an ID etc... So the ratio of "noise" to "clear targets" was very high unfortunately.

Anyway I don't think there is anything wrong with the detector, I'm more just struggling past my inexperience trying to understand:

  1. What is the detector telling me, and what does it actually mean
  2. What dials should I be adjusting in which circumstances, etc... 

Just learning to use the machine better 🙂

On 1/17/2021 at 6:37 AM, kac said:

440grams isn't bad. If it puts too much presure on your elbow just shorten the shaft up a bit so it runs closer to your feet.

Yeah, that's some of the early feedback I got, is my technique appears to be not right (I'm definitely swinging way out in front, and should be swinging closer in for a more natural balance).

Also I opted not to use the strap on the arm brace... I have popeye arms (very large forearms) and the strap barely fits around, but it also makes it rather difficult to put the detector down etc... But after digging around for info on technique/ergonomics, it looks like using the strap to secure to the upper forearm is actually pretty critical to reducing arm strain (from gripping too tightly etc). So I'm working now on making a longer strap, which can easily be adjusted to be more comfortable, and easily opened/closed, and see if that helps 🙂

On 1/17/2021 at 7:55 AM, Joe D. said:

Glass,

   Very basic questions,  given your background, but I'll ask anyway!

   Is your cellphone opposite your detector on your body, or off, to prevent interference? And, if wearing shoes, are there any metal bits in them? Also, if using a coil cover, do you clean it out between hunts? 

   All minor points, but worth ruling out! Your issues sound like what my AT Pro used to do, when i tried using it at the beach! I could still find targets, but it was mentally exhausting to listening to all the extra sounds!

    The Equinox is my main beach detector now, but i did just pick up a Vanquish 540 from Steve, and have been dying to try it out! So all your testing and issues are actually helping me a great deal! (among others here)!

   I'm also hoping the coil tabs hold up better than the Nox's! I'm about to send in my third broken coil to ML for replacement!

   Good Luck solving your issues!👍👍

 

The Cellphone was in a breast pocket for the first bit, then upon digging the giant hole, I nearly dropped the phone into the hole (which by then was filling with water) lol... Phone is waterproof, but decided to move it to a leg pocket after that, it was on the opposite side as the detector. That said I had the phone on and nearby in similar positions when detecting in my "test garden" and didn't experience any noise then, but entirely possible this time when it did it's noise cancel it landed on different frequencies, etc...

Yeah that's a good way to put it, "Mentally Exhausting"... While I was able to successfully identify and recover targets, the amount of mental effort to do a couple hours on the beach was a bit intense. Ideally I want to maximize the amount of "information filtering" that's done by the machine, to reduce that "mental load" 🙂

Glad to hear my adventures are useful for others learning the same detector. One of the reasons I try to do this type of learning as a "group exercise" and do it publicly, everyone can potentially benefit from the mistakes made, and lessons learned (hopefully).

Again I want to thank everyone for the feedback/input so-far. Really appreciate it, and please keep it coming if there are more comments/suggestions, they are always welcome!

I'll post another update to this thread, once I've done another round of beach hunting, "real life" has gotten in the way of hunting last several days, but hopefully I can get out and test some of these suggestions and lessons learned at the beach, and report back on progress 🙂

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    • By Bayard
      I notice that RNB now has a lithium battery pack for the Vanquish priced around $60.
      I have been using RNB battery packs in my Etrac for years and probably will buy one of these Vanquish batteries, if there are no bugs needing to be worked out.  I intend to keep the Vanquish in my car trunk and will only use it sporadically.  Regular rechargeables don't seem to hold a charge if they are not used for a long time.  In contrast, the RNB batteries seem to hold a charge indefinitely.  I want to be confident that the detector is going to work even if it has been sitting unused in the car trunk for months.
    • By calabash digger
      I decided to go to my local dealer and buy them..... here is a look at all three...

    • By calabash digger
      Testing all three on some deep targets...
       
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