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Selectable Frequency And Multiple Frequency

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You may not call this a post; this is an excellent article! Thanks Steve.

Fully agree... this is why I am waiting for the next CTX 3040 / CTX 4040 or whatever it will be : )

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Good article...even the basics confuse me sometimes but I always try and get the main take home message  and do appreciate your taking all the time to write them. 


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16 hours ago, Steve Herschbach said:

The Vision/V3i upped the ante but while amazing on paper suffers from interface overload.... Feature overload is not a plus.... The V3i... needs a simplified interface....

(Fantastic article, BTW.  Hope I didn't distort what you said by cutting out some other included comments.  Just wanted to focus on this one issue.)  First off, I didn't notice you mention the VX3, which I guess is because it is such a close variant of the V3i, but I thought the interface was simpler.  Secondly, does a user need to wade through (either on setup or during use) all the features of the V3i, or can he just pick the ones important to him and leave the others alone?  That would effectively simplify things.

The fact that you didn't go into any of these things I just mentioned makes me think 1) I don't understand the concept/meaning of 'feature overload' and/or 2) my (simple) understanding of detectors doesn't come close to how the V3i works.  Please, someone out there clear up my confusion.

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Carl, I was wondering why the manufactures have not incorporated a sweep frequency from, let's say  0 to 100 kHz. Then us a version of a spectrum analyzer to read the incoming signal and then discriminate the info as target information. I used to work on equipment in the 70s that would do something similar to what I have described, just not for metal detecting. Back then the equipment was very large and required much power. With ICs getting more transistors in such small packages and the ability to incorporate computers, I would think this is possible today.

Just my two cents from a old retired electronics engineer who got thrown into management.

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Thanks Steve. Nicely written.

I'd feel like I'm three years old reading some of the various things posted by you and other members to this site... but that's why I keep coming back! I like learning.


Will the full article be posted here some day for those non-subscribers?

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The magazine article was sold to the ICMJ and is their copyrighted property now. So no, I will never post it. However, much of the information in the article is available on the forum already, just scattered here and there all about. It is not like there is much original writing  in the metal detecting world - like detectors stuff just repackage different ways. The article is original but not the information in it. Eventually all my posts will be collected, revised, updated, added to, and published as books.

It is a great article though, well written I think and packed with information not in this post. Just pull that wallet out and get the ICMJ digital subscription and get instant access to every article I ever wrote for them, plus years of full back issues. The best research money you will spend this year!

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15 hours ago, GB_Amateur said:

(Fantastic article, BTW.  Hope I didn't distort what you said by cutting out some other included comments.  Just wanted to focus on this one issue.)  First off, I didn't notice you mention the VX3, which I guess is because it is such a close variant of the V3i, but I thought the interface was simpler.  Secondly, does a user need to wade through (either on setup or during use) all the features of the V3i, or can he just pick the ones important to him and leave the others alone?  That would effectively simplify things.

The fact that you didn't go into any of these things I just mentioned makes me think 1) I don't understand the concept/meaning of 'feature overload' and/or 2) my (simple) understanding of detectors doesn't come close to how the V3i works.  Please, someone out there clear up my confusion.

The VX3 is a V3i with a limited menu. Exact same detector sold without rechargeable battery system and a 950 coil and not much price difference. The V3i eats batteries so may as well pay the little extra and get the V3i to get the rechargeable battery system. DFX vs VX3 vs V3 vs V3i

Certainly, you can pay your money for all those sub menus and settings and then ignore them. Just get a V3i and use the presets. Quite simple, easy to do.

The V3i is a detector nerds dream, and I say that because I are one!? It is like owning a build your own detector kit, with the ability to customize every conceivable part of the machine to a degree unheard of in any other detector. Not only can you customize the frequency used and how they are used but every other detecting parameter. The audio can be customized in any way you desire as well as the actual screen output. The machine is certainly powerful enough and can do most anything quite well and for most people would be the only detector ever needed. If you own one and actually learn what every control does and how they interact, you will by definition be a metal detecting expert. The interface exists on some other detectors and would be referred to as the "Engineers Menu" or something like that. This is how many detectors get programmed by engineers these days, and when it all gets set up just right, the program locked in, and the engineering interface hidden or removed from end users.

In theory the V3i is the ultimate detector and all other detectors are obsolete. On paper it does everything a detector can do. 2.5 kHz is a killer silver coin frequency. 7.5 kHz for general detecting. 22.5 kHz for nugget detecting. All three frequencies for incredible discrimination capability via innumerable target interrogation schemes. And multi frequency saltwater beach performance. It has very rare features like stereo mixed mode operation available almost nowhere else.

OK, so now maybe you are asking why does everyone just not own a V3i? Why is it not the worlds most popular, best selling detector? Why have I owned three, or was it four, now, and still ended up selling the last one again and going back to the DFX. Why is that story so very common?

My opinions rarely pop up out of thin air. I was one of the most successful metal detector retailers in the country for 35 years. As part of that I studied machines obsessively in order to decide what sells and what does not. Just do what I have done. Google V3i and VX3 and spend a couple days reading every post you can find by users about the machines.

First, yeah, fine they work, have a rabid fan club, etc. No surprise there, the same can be said of nearly every detector ever sold. There is still a rabid Compass detector fan base. Again, what we are trying to find out is why the V3i has not obsoleted all other detectors. Price used to be an excuse before Minelab proved you can price a machine at insane levels and still sell them by the truckload if they deliver on the horsepower.

What you will discover is simple. Your confusion is centered around how you see things and how your personality type reacts to a deep menu structure. Read hundreds of V3i posts however and you will see many people see it another way. They see all those adjustments and think they serve a purpose, right? I mean they do, don't they? Let's take a look at the ground filter setting:

Ground Filter -

• Filtering out ground minerals allows deeper penetration (detection depth) in mineralized grounds and also determines the ideal search coil or loop sweep for optimum performance. Less ground filtering in low ground mineral areas increases depth, however, doesn’t penetrate high mineral ground well. By adjusting ground filtering the Spectra can be optimized for the regional ground conditions and search coil sweep speed. Use ARROW Left & Right to select custom ground filtration. Lower filters (5.0 Hz Band) favor slower search coil sweep speeds. Higher frequency selections (12.5 Hz High) tend to favor faster search coil sweep speeds.

• Modern metal detector ground filtration, because it is no longer a specific set of components that equal a specific filter, has never been well described nor understood. Modern designs are better described by their speed (Hz) rather than their quantity or cycles. The ideal setting for your ground type is the one that offers the greatest depth penetration that also works best with your personal and typical search coil sweep speed.

• The ideal setting for your search coil sweep speed and habits may not be the best for another person in the same grounds.

• Typically the lower number Hz are better suited for slower search coil sweep speeds. The BAND (full- range version) of each filter speed works better for lower ground mineral conditions, and higher external electrical interference. The HIGH (high pass version) is better suited to higher ground mineral conditions, and lower electrical interfference.

5.0 Hz Band Pass – Slowest search coil sweeps and lowest ground mineral types.

5.0 Hz High (High Pass Filtering) - Slightly higher ground mineralization.

7.5 Hz Band Pass - Slow to medium search coil sweep speeds and low to medium ground mineralization.

7.5 High (High Pass Filtering) - Medium to high ground mineralization.

10.0 Hz Band Pass - Normal to brisker loop sweep speeds and high ground mineralization. (Preset for most factory programs)

10.0 Hz High (High Pass Filter) - Even higher ground mineralization.

12.5 Hz Band - Extreme ground mineralization with relatively quick loop sweeps.

12.5 High (High Pass Filter) - Even more extreme ground mineralization.

• A normal search coils sweep rate is 2 seconds from left to right, and two seconds returning from right to left, best suited to average ground mineralization and the 10.0 Hz settings.

Well, there you go, anyone can understand that and know which option is best, all set! So, you have your V3i that has all these useful settings you paid for, and remember, the ground filter is just one of very many. You can ignore them, but everyone says you won't get the best performance doing that. May as well have just got an MXT, right? So you fiddle around and find that when you change parameter A it may require that parameter B needs adjusting to offset an unintended consequence in parameter C. You study and struggle and try as you may, you just never ever feel like you have it set right, that you have it figured out, that you really know you have the ultimate machine figured out and can squeeze the last bit of world beating performance out of it.

And that buddy with the MXT keeps doing as well or better and laughs at you when you are not looking. Let's not even talk about the Minelab guys. You finally give up and go back to your old MXT or switch horses and get a Minelab.

That is all tongue in cheek but I think if you read enough posts by enough users on enough forums you will see it reflected there. Like it or not, the V3i frustrates and even intimidates people. Back in the day I sold literally hundreds of MXTs for every V3i sold. I was in gold country so the number was probably skewed, but I bet other dealers elsewhere see something similar. The problem is all the whiz bang does not translate into real world better results for the average Joe. I can't, as an honest sales person, look most people in the eye and swear, except for saltwater use, that they are better off with a V3i than an MXT.

There are some issues. The ground balance method used in the V3i is good enough for most use, but is not up to MXT/GMT standards and so the 22.5 kHz mode never really worked out as a superior prospecting mode. Yes, you can find nuggets with the V3i, I have seen it done. But the tracking does not work well in bad ground, and accessing and using the manual ground balance is far more cumbersome than the ground grab on the MXT. Bottom line is I think the MXT is a better prospecting machine.

For multi frequency coin detecting, it is all about the way the frequencies are employed to study target and ground results at those different frequencies and deliver a useable result to the operator. Despite the multiplicity of methods offered in the V3i, at the end of the day a zillion users have come to the conclusion that the Minelab BBS/FBS methodology offers as good or better results in a more useable way. It hardly matters what the details are - you simply have to look with clear eyes at the boots on the ground and who is using what.

It also hurt that for a long time the Vision, V3, V3i, and I assume VX3 all suffered from serious EMI issues in some places. I found the machine unusable in many places in Anchorage, Alaska, particularly around buried power lines. So much so I recommended a special anti-interference coil be wound for the machine. White's really should have listened to me but did not, and that turned a lot of people off the V3i. They did apparently finally get a handle on it however as my last one seemed to finally work well around EMI sources.

Finally, somebody did look at the V3i and decide to simplify the user interface and stick it in a lightweight package. The V3i surely never caught on in Europe. But I am betting it got studied. That ground filter thing? XP calls it reactivity. Having owned a V3i and now owning a DEUS, I can see a definite relationship between the two machines. The DEUS is what Whites could have done if they had a different vision (Vision, get it?) about what constitutes a high end detector. The DEUS in many ways is a V3i stripped to core functionality with a simplified menu stuck in a featherweight package. And in fact, the one thing left out of the DEUS but is in the V3i is the one thing DEUS users beg for. Many would love to see that multi frequency option for saltwater beaches. I ask you, who do you think is selling more? XP the DEUS or White's the V3i and VX3 combined? Night and day difference in how to design a machine interface and I would say XP won that one hands down.

Whites did get kicked in the nuts by Minelab at one point. The V3i was planned to have a dongle and a PC computer interface. I think things would have been different if that promise had been truly delivered on. The perfect PC interface for the V3i would allow the user to modify all the settings on their PC from a large master menu. It would include an emulator mode to test various settings and show how the screen would look in use. Programs could be stored and traded online with other users. I am not saying and frankly doubt Whites would have done this dreamed of interface right, but the possibility was there. It would have created a cottage industry of V3i programmers that would have provided the impetus to really develop the V3i to its full potential. Unfortunately Minelab threatened to sue over the same thing they are currently suing XP over as regards detector data transfer patents, and Whites folded without a fight. I think they may have won but lacked the vision to see the true potential and decided a fight was not worth the cost. The repercussions of that are still with us.

If I were White's right now I would publish or leak the details on how a user can access the V3i via a PC and just turn that information loose in the wild to see what happens. Somebody would create that PC interface if they just knew how to interface the unit. The power of open source has transformed the world, and at this point in the life of the V3i, what really does Whites have to lose? I am betting the machine would experience a renaissance as a nerd detectorists programmers/designers/armchair engineers dream machine. I would buy another one right now if they did that. I always liked the V3i as a concept and am continually tempted to get another one to play with. I will be surprised if I don't some day.

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Awesome post Steve!   I bought a used V3i last fall and after one evening on the couch clicking through the menus trying to set it up, I lost interest real fast. Being able to program it from a PC like the CTX would have changed my whole attitude.   My friend runs a V3i and does very well with it when it's dialed in.  When it's not dialed in to our location I can see his frustration and lack of confidence with it.  He needs to check the deep signals I find with my CTX to see if it's running properly.  I have seen him go on tare with it a few times when he's got it set up right.   I wanted to like it but didn't have the patience for it.  I can turn on my CTX in pretty much any program and go find coins without fear of screwing it up.  You mostly are just trying to squeeze the last inch or two out of it by changing up the settings. 


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In my opinion V3i is like Swiss Army Knife, you should learn how to use first. If you understand it, you are ready - prepared of each scenario. 

First you need to understand correlation between each option and what machine tell you. 

Is not easy and that is frustrating, but if you cross your frustration river you understand more and more than others. Simplicity is not always right tool.

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Well, I love playing with the toys as much as anyone. But when I am out detecting I want my detector to:

1. Detect any metal object as deep as can be detected. Example - prospecting.

2. As much as possible without sacrificing the depth from 1. above, I would like the detector to separate ferrous from non-ferrous targets. Example - relic or "old world" detecting.

3. As much as possible without sacrificing the depth from 1. and 2. above, I would like the detector to be able to identify certain coins and other known targets as accurately as possible while rejecting trash targets. Example - groomed park detecting.

If the machine had an auto ground system that really worked and delivered optimum performance by simply reading and eliminating ground and saltwater response on the fly, all I need is an on/off knob and a simple but accurate target id display. You can take all the rest of it and dump in the garbage. I like this Dave Johnson quote from TreasureNet

"For the last 33 years, I have been the engineering design philosophy behind the Fisher trademark. Things went to hell during my over 10 years furlough but the philosophy that kept the Fisher trademark alive during that hiatus is still here. I fight for every hour of battery life, I fight for the basics of detection technology, I fight for simplicity of user interfaces so the customer can actually deploy the benefits of the technology, and I fight for no piling on of expensive and mostly useless "features"."

There are many people for whom the technology itself is the plaything, and I get that, I really do. I write and post about it! But when I am out detecting I just want my detector to get the job done with as little fuss as possible. My GPZ these days 90% of the time I just turn it on and start swinging. My settings are set, the ground balance will tune up after a few minutes, I just don't worry about it. It goes beep, I dig it up. All I really want is accurate ferrous/non-ferrous discrimination added to my GPZ and four pounds knocked off along with $6000 dollars and I will be happy. That's not asking much, is it? :smile:

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