By Steve Herschbach
Well, it is one sweet detector! Check out my first Treasure Talk blog at http://www.minelab.com/emea/treasure-talk/the-minelab-sdc-2300-my-first-impression
Great things come in small packages! When a box showed up from Minelab recently the first thing that struck me was how small the box was. Like a kid at Christmas I tore the box open and lifted out my new toy – a Minelab SDC 2300 detector. There is not a box full of parts to assemble, just this little detector all folded up, and nothing quite prepares a person for just how small the SDC 2300 is the first time you see it.
It is also lighter than I thought it would be. Minelab has been listing it at 5.3 lbs without batteries but I did not believe that, so I ran down and tossed it on my postal scales. They came up with only 5 lb 1 oz or 2.294 kg without batteries. The pre-production unit I was sent came without batteries, so I inserted four NiMH C-cells of my own and weighed the detector again – only 5 lb 11.6 oz or 2.598 kg with batteries included. Let’s just call it 5.7 lbs with batteries, not exactly light but again, lighter than I expected.
I had watched the video (Click here to view) online and found folding the unit out for use to be very simple. The only thing to really pay attention to is that the handle needs to be firmly pushed forward to lock the shaft in place. When time comes to collapse the unit, a firm palm against front of the handle is the proper method to release the handle.
I was very pleased to find that although I am 5’ 11”, the SDC 2300 had more length than I needed. I advise those who like to run a coil way out front that when running slightly heavier detectors balance is very important, so keep the shaft as short as possible. At full extension the SDC is slightly nose heavy; pulling the lower shaft in about 4” will have the detector hang more naturally on your arm leading to less fatigue.
Finally, the narrow profile of the control housing and the small size of the handle mounted control panel are pleasantly surprising in actual use. The weight of the SDC is close to your side and with the shaft set properly the detector feels lighter than the weight would imply. My first impression of the overall ergonomics of the SDC 2300 was quite positive.
Unfortunately I had only a couple days to evaluate the unit before sending it back to Minelab leaving me with little time to get in much actual field use. I chose therefore to take it to the worst mineralized ground I knew of nearby, a place Chris Ralph (another Treasure Talk blogger) had recently shown me in the high Sierras of California. He had commented how his GP Extreme had struggled in the location so I figured it was a good place to test the SDC. Bench testing with a 1 grain (480 grains per ounce) nugget already told me the SDC 2300 was the hottest Pulse Induction detector on small gold I have used. That being the case, how would it handle bad ground?
My rechargeable batteries were still going strong at over 6 hours when I hung it up and headed home. Chris and others have pounded this location so I my hopes for finding gold were not all that high. I was pleased to find the SDC 2300 on the recommended setting of Normal Mode sensitivity “2” ran smooth as can be on this hot ground. Going to higher sensitivity levels just seemed to increase ground noise such that I did not feel it advantageous at this location, and when testing settings on the little bits of steel I found higher sensitivity did not really help. I recommend people resist the temptation to run the sensitivity up unless doing so retains a smooth threshold. A smooth threshold is very important to picking out those tiny targets and too much sensitivity resulting in ground noise defeats the purpose.
The SDC ran rock solid although the threshold is more reminiscent of the older GP detectors than the GPX series in that it has a slight wavering sound at some threshold settings.
The main thing I was happy to experience is that the coil is 100% impervious to being knocked around and with the included scuff cover can be allowed to ride along on the ground. The coil riding on the ground does not affect the threshold one bit, which is very important when chasing the tiniest nuggets (flakes) where even a fraction of an inch can make the difference.
I love running new detectors and so was just enjoying myself when a bonus came along in the form of a little ragged gold/quartz specimen. I’m not going to claim nothing else would have found it but this little 0.67 gram piece is the sort of gold the SDC was made for and it banged out loud and clear at a few inches.
Here’s the location where the nugget was found in the shadows of a tree.
The bottom line is Minelab seems to have made the SDC 2300 just for me. I admit I have a personal issue in that my mindset for certain detectors runs a certain way. When I run my GPX 5000 my coils, settings, and mindset are invariably aimed at finding larger nuggets. Jonathan Porter saw this when I visited him in Australia and preferred leaving an 18” mono coil on the GPX. I really, despite good intentions, have been unable to change gears mentally and use my GPX 5000 for looking for small gold. If I want to do that I normally will grab something like a Eureka Gold set up in 60 kHz mode.
The problem with a hot VLF is it also lights up hot rocks and bad ground. Now I can have my cake and eat it too! I will leave my GPX 5000 set up for large gold and continue to use it for that, and when I want to switch modes for hunting smaller prey I will grab the SDC 2300. It also solves an issue where I have seen many people trying to make GPX detectors into something like an SDC by adding external speakers and strap on batteries. This results in a heavy “franken-detector” but gets the job done. The SDC is far better suited for worming around in heavy brush where battery cables and headphone cords constantly hang up.
Finally, when I get my hands on my very own SDC 2300 I envision it folded up in a rucksack with a light sleeping bag and rations for some serious backpacking into areas that have never seen a detector before. Places only a person in good condition on foot can reach – the kind of places where undiscovered patches still lurk.
Good job Minelab, and thanks for the opportunity in running the SDC 2300 so early in the process. I can’t wait to get one of my own!
By Steve Herschbach
Another Treasure Talk blog I wrote was just posted on the Minelab website at Scrape and Detect – with the SDC 2300
The Minelab SDC 2300 is a remarkable metal detector, and more people are finally realizing it. The SDC 2300 has exceptional sensitivity to very small gold and even larger gold that other pulse induction detectors have difficulty with. Porous specimen gold is being found that is surprisingly large in mass but which due to the spongy nature of the gold has been missed by other detectors.
The SDC 2300 small gold capability rivals the best VLF detectors and exceeds their capability in highly mineralized ground. It is useful therefore to steal a page from the VLF playbook when it comes to detecting for small gold. The very first thing many people will find that have used other pulse induction detectors is that a nugget cup or scoop is a genuinely useful thing to have when running and SDC 2300. Some of the gold found is so small that is cannot be detected by grabbing a handful of soil and waving it over the coil.
The tiniest stuff is often found by scrubbing the ground and the smallest gold signals come from gold that is nearly touching the coil. Simply holding the soil in your hand keeps the gold too far from the coil to locate it. A plastic cup or stout plastic scoop allows you to shake the material to get it right to the bottom of the scoop, which can then be run over the coil. I let the scoop touch the top of the coil to get the gold as close as possible, and it helps to locate the hot spots around the edge of the coil when dealing with the tiniest bits.
It is this ability to hit very tiny gold but only at very short ranges that I want to discuss here. There are huge volumes of gold that can be detected by the SDC 2300 but at only a few inches at best. This means the SDC 2300 can be used to effectively work dry placer deposits of gold by carefully scraping and detecting them.
Before I go any further I want to point out that the method I am about to describe can mean moving large volumes of soil. Even working by hand the cumulative effect can be large and falls into the realm of regulated mining methods. In the United States the term used is “significant surface disturbance” and no doubt similar issues arise in Australia and elsewhere. All I can say is be sure to always minimize the surface disturbance with proper reclamation methods including backfilling holes and redistributing topsoil. Be sure to observe all applicable regulations and have any required permits.
Now, with that out of the way let’s get on with the fun! Whether by hand or with the aid of equipment the process is the same. It can be used in any dry placer location whether it is a patch on flat terrain or on a hillside, or a dry placer in a gully. First, have a plan. Decide where to start and where the material will go. The goal is to move the material as little as possible and if possible to reclaim the ground as you go.
The simplest scenario is the one I undertake most often – working a hillside location or a gully. I always try to locate the lowest location that has gold, then work forward and uphill. Material is worked in strips or patches, with each successive area pulled into the previous location worked. That way the ground reclaimed as you go.
In the simplest form I use a pick and a hoe or heavy duty rake. Material is loosened with the pick, then carefully raked and spread downhill. If you are dealing with very small gold that the SDC can detect at no more than two inches, and then the material must be worked about two inches at a time. Loose rock and rubble is raked into the previously worked excavation. The SDC 2300 is used to carefully detect exposed material, then the fines raked into the rubble pile. With careful methodical work a pick, rake, and SDC 2300 can substitute for a dry washer or other recovery method and leave very little gold behind. The goal at all times is to make sure every bit of material passes within an inch or two under the coil.
There certainly are situations where the dry washer or other method makes more sense. But for somebody who wants to keep the gear and the backpacking to a minimum the “scrape and detect” method is a 21st century twist on older hand mining methods. If done properly dry placers can be worked with fairly high recovery rates and with minimal ground disturbance. You will also discover you find a lot of larger gold that was hidden under large rocks or just too deep to detect before. Good luck!
By Steve Herschbach
Check out my latest Treasure Talk blog entry at http://www.minelab.com/usa/treasure-talk/the-minelab-sdc-2300-alaskan
I have been prospecting in Alaska for nearly 40 years and it is dramatically different than the prospecting I read about on the internet. Everyone else seems to be out detecting in desert locations, and I am always detecting in pouring down rain! Others are out detecting in wide open country, and I am detecting in brush so thick I can barely squeeze through it.
Needless to say Alaska is tough on metal detectors. This is compounded by the remote situations a prospector faces and the near impossible task of getting replacement parts should something fail. If you do not have a backup with you, getting communications to a dealer and then figuring out how to get the item shipped to you can be difficult at best. I have resorted to carrying not only spare parts but at least one complete backup detector on case of a failure.
The new Minelab SDC 2300 fits the bill for Alaska in many ways, and I am certain also for many other locations around the globe. Jungle locations come to mind or anywhere poor conditions and difficult access are issues. Downtime can be very expensive indeed in the prospecting world, especially for artisanal miners putting food on the table with their metal detector.
I rely on my Minelab GPX 5000 as my main prospecting tool. Yet there are times I would prefer to leave it in camp. The last three weeks my brother and I have been prospecting in a remote Alaska location. Unfortunately, instead of the sunny Interior Alaska summer days we were expecting we have been subjected to many days of rain. In Alaska, weather tends to set in, and it can rain not just for days but for weeks. I have spent stretches of up to two weeks detecting where it rained every day I was out. I did the best I could but the fact is most prospecting detectors are not made to run in pouring rain for days on end. My solution now is to simply grab the SDC 2300 instead, and all worries of getting my GPX 5000 wet go away!
The other situation I constantly face is hunting in old mining locations that have grown over. Alder, willow, and birch spring up like fast growing weeds during Alaska's long summer daylight hours. Wading into these with a GPX 5000 with harness, bungee, battery cable, and headphones can be an exercise in frustration. It can also lead to premature equipment failures, especially for stressed power and headphone cords. Yet these brushy areas can be prime hunting locations as old tailing piles are often covered with this kind of thick brush. Again my solution now is to grab the SDC 2300 and dive in. Using the external speaker and built in batteries there is nothing to hang up, and the extremely narrow body, plus small coil on the SDC, is perfect for this type of hunting.
The ultimate tough detecting situation? Hunting in thick brush in pouring down rain! Now you have not only rain but water knocked off little trees showering down on you and your detector while the brush is grabbing at cords. This is what my brother and I have been contending with lately, and we both have decided the SDC 2300 is absolutely perfect for these Alaskan type hunting conditions.
Despite what many people think most gold in Alaska is actually small stuff, with larger nuggets being very rare indeed. The SDC 2300 excels on the type of gold most Alaskans will find with a detector. (Gold below found by Tom Herschbach.)
The compact folding design is made for small backpacks or even day rucksacks and takes up minimal room and weight for the person hiking into remote locations. A full day operating on a battery set means a person can prospect several days with several sets of spare C-Cell batteries, or for longer trips employ a small solar charger system to keep going indefinitely.
For these reasons and more my brother and I have decided to make this Australian detector an honorary Alaskan and have nicknamed it the SDC 2300 "Alaskan". The Minelab SDC 2300 is one tough little detector and whether it is in Alaska or any other challenging location prospectors will undoubtedly appreciate this newest prospecting tool.
By Reno Chris
I took Steve out to the place where I'd been having some success with my SDC 2300, but the patch I had been working on was petering out. The first morning, I got three tiny nuggets. However there are loads of workings there and Steve headed up the hill and found some spots up there were he was getting some gold. After lunch we went up there and Steve took one small ridge and I took the other. Although we were only about 15 yards apart, there was no cross talk between the detectors. Turns out mine was the more productive of the two, but we didn't know that then, and Steve got some good gold too. Once I got started, it was just one little nugget after the other. I would only be searching a few minutes between finds, and there was very little trash. I think I got a couple square nails and a few bird shot - and 29 nuggets. One of them was a cool kind of arborecent shape that is unlike any nugget I have ever dug, but I have seen some photos of pieces like that. Today we went at it again, and I mostly just kept pounding that same ridge I was working on from one end to the other. Steve found another little slope that yielded some chunky nuggets. The weather was fantastic, just enough clouds to keep the temperature just right, great company, beautiful California scenery. Today I got another 23 nuggets and again just a small hand full of trash items.
The total weight for two days with the SDC was 8.8 grams, well over a quarter ounce, almost 6 pennyweight.
Hey Steve, that was a great short trip, we'll give it another try again soon.
Well, I received my 2300 Friday afternoon and, of course, charged the batteries right off. Then fired her up. All good!
After putting in my time on the "honey do" list on Saturday I was able to escape for about two hours to a near by gulch that has been prospected since the late 1800s. A buddy of mine does well there using the usual "wet" methods of recovery. My main concern was the proximity of some large power lines (100-150 yards). I knew that the GPX line would have fits there and wanted to see how the SDC would handle the emi.
I fired up the SDC, did a noise cancel and ground balance with the sensitivity set to 4, and was pleasantly surprised with a mild warble in the signal...still very hunt-able even at 4! The #2 setting was even more stable. Loving it so far! Hit some small trash items right off the bat...small pieces of wire that gave nice "dig me" signals. as I worked my way up the gulch I started hitting signals that "over loaded" the machine. The recovered targets that caused the over load were the ever annoying bits of flat, decaying, rusted iron the size of a finger nail or smaller. The stuff was every where . So, I started to ignore the over load signals. My question is... was I ignoring gold as well? Will the machine give "over load" on the usual small gold? I can imagine that if it were swung over a large shallow piece of gold it may over load (?).
I was in such a rush to get out and give the new SDC a swing that I forgot my .3 gram test nugget to test this for myself. I was getting these over load signals even on the #2 sensitivity setting. My conclusion was that there is a ton of trash in this spot and would be better suited to a VLF with discrimination capabilities if it could handle the ground (doubtful).
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the SDC! Handles the ground and emi incredibly well. Hopefully, I can get out this afternoon and give it a go. Thanks!