By Jeff McClendon
I have really been enjoying using the Whites DFX for the last month. Mine came with the stock 9.5" coil and I bought a used Detech 8X6" SEF for it too, all of which cost way less than half the original retail price. It won't get much depth in my area, but it is a very feature rich detector with a ton of information using all of the display functions and full tone ID. It almost IDs 4" low to mid conductor targets (don't laugh) with good numbers in the moderate to highly mineralized dirt in my area as well as the Equinox and Vanquish, although they will give correct numerical IDs down to 8 to 10" targets easily. I love the full tone ID, Signagraph display and the excellent ergonomics of the DFX. I do not like the lack of depth and the feeling that I am walking over good targets mostly caused by the limitations put on the DFX with how it was engineered......Salt compensation is always on, underpowered single frequency operation, EMI susceptibility and nebulous ground tracking.
So, I started looking at Whites other multi frequency VLF: the Vision, VX3, V3 V3i series. Why have I never been interested in these detectors before??? There was a fully equipped, well taken care of V3i for sale in my area with multiple coils and other extras for about half or the original retail price plus I knew the original owner who is now deceased. I picked it up for even less than the asking price.
When Steve says there has never been any detector like the V3i he is making a gross understatement. This detector is incredible. It is definitely not perfect. I may eventually not keep it and I may grow to dislike it BUT, what a fine detector. No denying that. If you have never owned/used one and you are even slightly interested, I would get one before they are really hard to find. Yes, it is a complicated, highly detailed jumble of possible combination of settings, but for the most part I think I can handle them eventually.
I probably would not use it for prospecting or for iron trash infested sites but for everything else it would be like driving a well made luxury car that actually performs as well as its luxury price tag. It is a bit heavier than the DFX but it has even more features, adjustability, and power than the DFX. In my area, the V3i handles EMI as well or better than my DFX.
I actually dug a 6" nickel yesterday in pretty bad dirt with the V3i. That is not a big deal except that the DFX (which I had with me too) totally missed it in modified coin and jewelry mode (I mean silence over the target) and the V3i with similar settings and the same Detech coil hit on the target AND identified it well enough that I knew it was probably a nickel before I dug it. Up until now, only simultaneous multi frequency detectors made in Australia/Malaysia can do that in my area.
Looking at Uber expensive detectors. As we all know White's is on the way out and the V3i will not be available long. This may be the last chance to get hands on a factory new unit. In light of that it has crossed my mind to get one as a historical investment. Now with all that out of the way, we know it is heavy and that it loves batteries but can use Ni-MH batteries in the pack. Weight, nothing we can do about that. My mind is more about the longevity of the V3i, is it a very durable detector? I know all about the multitude of settings, and that is one thing that draws me to it. A Tinkerer's dream, more like a computer than a detector. Bottom line, is it worth the price?
XP Deus. Had an ORX a while and loved the weight and ease of use. Hated the wireless headphones and they dug into my ear but I tell ya when it is hot weather that would sure be better on you. The ORX was somewhat crippled compared in settings, only giving 3 tone audio. It also had higher frequencies than the X35 coils do. The model I am looking at is the one with WS4 headphones and 9" round X35 coil.
Between those 2, which is worth the bucks??
By ☠ Cipher
Maybe it's just in my neck of the woods, but I'm seeing Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Treasure Classifieds, and EBay with more of these for sale than I've ever seen before. I have to believe it's due to the past and present releases of waterproof and multifrequency models. That and what seems to be a discontinuation of the VX3 for a dwindling supply of certain components. Just a note to anyone who might've wanted one to keep your eye out. Some pretty good deals to be had. To me it's still a relevant and awesome platform. The V3i remains my number 1 go-to even after having machines like the XP Deus and presently having machines like the Equinox 800 and CTX-3030. Aside from the CTX you're really not going to get as much target information from any other machine. For those that hunt in places where there are a lot of deeper isolated targets that warrant some interrogation it's hard to imagine a better machine at the moment. I've seen some sales that include the wireless headphone and several coils like the Ultimate 13 go for $500.
By Steve Herschbach
Here are three detectors that offer three different ways to do multi-frequency.
First up, the detector on the right, the XP DEUS. This detector allows you to choose from one of four different frequencies, and run any single one at a time. You can choose from 4, 8, 12, or 18 kHz.
Second, we have the detector on the far left, the Minelab CTX 3030. This detector looks at a range of frequencies and analyzes several at once. Transmitted frequencies is a bit of marketing magic; all that matters is what a detector processes. The CTX 3030 processes two or three frequencies simultaneously, comparing the results with advanced algorithms to deliver target information. There is no option to process single frequencies.
Finally, the detector in the middle, the White's V3i. This detector employs three frequencies, and is unique in that it can process and compare results from all three simultaneously, or run any one single frequency. The choices are 2.5, 7.5, and 22.5 kHz.
In a nutshell low frequencies are less reactive to ground minerals and produce cleaner signals on coin size high conductive targets. Low frequencies also better discern ferrous from non-ferrous items. High frequencies are more reactive to ground mineralization and have more issues identifying ferrous trash, but respond better to small low conductive items. Frequencies under 10 kHz tend to be "coin frequencies", 10 kHz to 15 kHz is a good "all around frequency range", and over 15 kHz tends to be the realm of prospecting detectors, though higher frequencies are seeing more use now with others attempting to pull small non-ferrous items out of ferrous trash. European hunters looking for small coins and relic hunters looking for bullets and other items are leaning higher frequency these days.
Usually choosing a single frequency will deliver the most power and depth. That is why you do not see multi-frequency nugget detectors, and why out of the three detectors discussed here the Deus with its 18 kHz mode and V3i with its 22.5 kHz mode offer better potential as prospecting units than the CTX 3030. Detectors that process multiple frequencies have a clear edge when running on mineralized salt water beaches. A single frequency can handle the mineralization, or the salt effect, but not both at once. Multi-frequency detectors are the preferred solution for salt water beach applications (not counting PI detectors), and so the CTX 3030 and V3i have a clear edge over the Deus in this regard.
Multiple frequency analysis can offer superb discrimination capabilities. When people talk about depth on multi-frequency detectors what they are really talking about is accurate target identification at depth. Many detectors will detect deeper than the multi-frequency units, but not while delivering accurate target id results. The Minelab Explorers and CTX are generally acknowledged as being on the forefront in this regard, no doubt due to the highly secret algorithms they employ to deliver target id results.
Anyway, the three detectors here have three different ways of handling the options. In theory the V3i offers the best of both worlds - the ability to run any one frequency or three at once. In practice the V3i is so complex few people ever fully master its capabilities but I do think they have the right idea. A much requested idea for the XP Deus, which is updateable via software, is the ability to run multiple frequencies. On salt water beaches at least this offers an indisputable advantage. Presumably an update to the CTX could offer the ability to run a single frequency, but so far Minelab has shown no interest in such options. It does appear that is where we are heading though - detectors that through proper design and software can become most anything the operator desires.
By Steve Herschbach
This should be interesting.
The reality these days is that when it comes to nugget detecting I am very much a pulse induction kind of guy. I also go out of my way to point out the problems with using VLF detectors and discrimination while nugget detecting.
Yet at the same time I have very much been a proponent of using VLF detectors and discrimination where it may offer some sort of advantage. Ganes Creek, Alaska was the best example of a location with large nuggets and tons of ferrous junk to contend with. A good discriminating VLF detector made sense there and the vast majority of the gold found at Ganes Creek was found with VLF detectors.
I am seeing similar situations here down south, especially in California. Places where 150 years of mining has left ferrous trash galore. What I am looking for is a way to narrow things down a bit in some situations. The idea in some places with unknown potential is to scout first with the VLF, and then, if any gold is found, to switch to a PI and hammer the spot.
There are the big cobble piles, that may have a big cobble shot full of gold, but which are more likely to contain a rusted can. A big coil on a VLF could be handy for scouting those.
Finally, I want to do some honest blue sky prospecting where I put myself in gold country but not specifically on a proven location and go looking for a patch. A lot of this would be in logging country and steel wire and other ferrous trash can be common. I can deal with the bullets but may want to weed out the ferrous.
I ended up by chance with a Nokta FORS Gold that came with a 13.5" x 15.5" DD coil. This machine has a great two tone mode where all targets signal, but ferrous with a low tone, and non-ferrous with a high tone. My preferred mode for scouting trashy terrain. I hear all targets so nothing gets passed without thought. I may investigate some ferrous signals further if I am suspicious.
I have a new Fisher F75SE coming, a model without the latest updates. I may end up also with an updated version but got tired of waiting on that so bought this one to use for now. It also gives me a baseline to compare to should I ever lay hands on a newer unit. Or one I can upgrade later if I wish. To compare apples and apples I have a new DeTech 12" x 15" DD coil on the way for the F75 to use versus the Nokta with similar coil.
I have a friend who did very well at Ganes Creek in the 22.5 kHz dedicated frequency prospecting mode, and his main claim was that it had killer discrimination. So just to make life interesting I have another DeTech 12" x 15" DD coil on the way to use on the V3i versus the other two detectors.
Finally, I will toss my CTX 3030 with 13" x 17" coil in on this little competition though it is a slightly different coil. Close enough though and should be interesting. There is already a huge thread going on the CTX and gold at http://www.detectorprospector.com/forum/topic/361-minelab-ctx-3030-for-gold-nuggets/
I honestly look at this as more a shootout between the F75 and the Nokta more because I see them more as get down and play in the mud prospecting detectors. The CTX and V3i are more my in town units. But maybe that is just a perception thing on my part and since I own both anyway - why not? Looked at another way these do represent some company flagship units, say what else you may about them. Maybe there will be surprises and no matter what, I have a lot to learn here. And that, my friends, I do enjoy!
OK, now the bad news. I am not much for contrived testing so I will need favorable weather to get these detectors out of town into real field conditions to give this all a try. And I do not want to rush to judgement in any case. Eventually it will all sort out and I will report along the way if anything of interest develops. Until then, you will have to be patient.
Again, lest anyone think I am believing this all to be some kind of magic gold getting idea, it is not at all. I will be using a PI detector for most of my nugget detecting in 2015 and basically digging everything I come across. This is actually part of my weeding down detectors process with the main goal being to let either the F75 or FORS Gold go away. I have other reasons for keeping the CTX and V3i so they are just going along for the ride and the potential for extra knowledge. When I go out this summer I want to be packing both a PI and a VLF. The intent is to use the PI and have the VLF more for backup or for getting into a real trashy location. This shootout will determine just what VLF gets to go with me this summer.
The photo below shows all four coils side by side with weights as weighed on my postal scale with scuff covers. The dimensions are width by length at longest point with the third dimension being the length of the actual middle DD overlap working area. The two DeTech coils are 12.75" in this regard versus 14.25" for the Nokta and 15.5" for the CTX 3030. This would be the nominal length to shoot for on each coil sweep if you figure no overlap (which would not be wise). The Nokta is the lightest coil so in theory combining weight with area covered it has the best overall specs as regards area covered for weight handled. The angle of the picture and coil placing tends to make the Nokta coil look smaller than the DeTech coils but it is in fact slightly larger.
Last funny note. I would normally complain about putting coils this size on VLF detectors because in the past it made them nose heavy and had me whining about the weight. However, world class lead weight PI detectors have made it so I have gotten used to using machines far heavier than these beasts, even with their larger coils. Go figure.