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  1. 6 points
    This is my latest "Nugget Detector Guide", now published for over fifteen years, updated May 2020 with some of the latest model information. Each model has a short description, followed by a very PERSONAL OPINION. Copyright 2002-2020 Herschbach Enterprises - Please do not reuse or repost without my express permission. This is offered as a simple guide for those wanting a general comparison of the various nugget detectors available new with warranty, along with some kind of real opinion about them. That's all it is, folks, so take it or leave it for what it is worth. It's just that listing specs is of little help to people, and so I take my best stab at providing some guidance for those newer to detecting. These are only my opinions based on my experience with various detectors over the years. While I do have a lot of experience, I must throw in the caveat that I have not used all detectors under all conditions. What may be considered a good detector at one location may not be so good at another location due to differences in ground mineralization and the gold itself. Detector performance is site specific and so your mileage may vary. Never forget that when reading comparisons on the internet. Although many detectors sold today can potentially find gold nuggets, I've chosen to only list current models from major manufacturers that are sold and marketed primarily as prospecting detectors or that at least have a specific prospecting mode. I no longer list general purpose VLF detectors running under 18 khz because they are just too common and that being the case they offer nothing special to the potential gold prospector. If you are interested in other general purpose detectors that might make good prospecting machine but are not listed here, look at my more comprehensive reviews list. Many discontinued prospecting detectors are also listed there. The list below has over twenty models listed and still may be too much for some people. In recognition of this I have made my best shot at picking three possible options I am calling Steve's Picks. Click the link to jump there at the end of this page. Various popular VLF gold nugget prospecting metal detectors Please, if you own one of these detectors, and I call it like I see it, don't take offense. Any nugget detector made will find gold in capable hands, and the owner is far more important than the detector model. I'll put a good operator with almost any detector on this list up against a novice with whatever is deemed "best" and bet on the experienced operator every time. The person using the detector finds the gold. The detector is actually one of the less important factors in nugget detecting success or failure. A quick note to those who know nothing about these machines. These are metal detectors. There is no such thing as a "gold only" detector. These detectors will also find lead, copper, aluminum, and other metals. These units are best used to look for relatively larger pieces of gold at relatively shallow depths. Concentrations of gold dust are not detectable. Some of these units can hit gold that weighs as little as a grain (480 grains per ounce) or less but only at an inch or two. Only the larger nuggets can be found at depths exceeding a foot. Only world class nuggets weighing many ounces can be detected at over two feet. The vast majority of nuggets found are found at inches, not feet. About Long Range Locators (LRLs) WARNING ON COUNTERFEIT DETECTORS - The market for nugget detectors far outsells coin and relic detectors worldwide, with huge sales in third world countries. This has made many of the models below very popular with counterfeiters. Here are some Fisher and Minelab examples. If you shop these models there are two simple rules. First, you are safe if you stick with approved dealers. Second, if the price seems too good to be true, beware! All legitimate dealers have a limit on how low they can advertise, the Minimum Advertised Price (MAP). Review prices at the approved dealer list, and if you find the detector advertised as new at a significantly lower price by somebody not on the list, the odds are very high you are looking at a counterfeit detector. Legitimate dealers are prohibited from advertising at those kind of prices, and a price too good to be true is your number one warning you are about to be ripped off. The detectors are listed in order based on the lowest price normally advertised on the internet as of the date below. Steve's Guide to Gold Nugget Detectors - Updated May 2020 Fisher F19 ($449, 19 kHz) - This detector is a later, more advanced version of the Fisher Gold Bug Pro (see below), with added features. There is an excellent threshold based all metal mode plus a dual tone discrimination mode. The F19 has both ground grab and manual ground balance, plus adjustable tone break, just like the Gold Bug Pro. Extra features are added to enhance the coin, relic, and jewelry capability, such as notch discrimination with adjustable notch width, volume control, separate ferrous tone volume, and a LCD meter backlight. These extra features may even find use while gold prospecting. The Fisher F19 can use any Gold Bug compatible coils plus those made for the Teknetics G2 series, providing for a huge number of possible accessory coils. This detector can be had with several stock coil options, including a 7" x 11" DD coil, or 5" x 10" DD coil. Weight including a single 9V battery is 2.6 lbs Steve's Opinion - First Texas, the manufacturer of Bounty Hunter, Fisher, and Teknetics metal detectors, sells quite a few identical or near identical metal detectors under different brand names and model names. Due to oddities in their marketing scheme, some more powerful models are often available at lower prices than other less capable models. Currently the 19 kHz Gold Bug name carries a premium price, while other identical or more capable models sold under other names can often be had for less money. That is currently the case with the 19 kHz Fisher F19 models and the identical Bounty Hunter Time Ranger Pro model. The bottom line is this. If you can find a Fisher F19 with 5" x 10" elliptical coil for under $500 at a legitimate dealer (see counterfeit note above) it is easily my current recommendation for an extremely capable entry level VLF nugget detector with general purpose capabilities. I recommend this detector over the Fisher Gold Bug and Gold Bug Pro models below, not only because of the extra capability, but because it can be had stock with the 5" x 10" DD coil, the best general nugget hunting coil for the FT 19 kHz series. It can only be had as an accessory coil on the Gold Bug models, driving their out of pocket cost even higher. A Steve's Pick. If you want a real deluxe set of extra coin and jewelry detecting features, see the equally capable Minelab X-Terra 705 below for only $50 more. Fisher Gold Bug ($449, 19 kHz) - Not to be confused with the Gold Bug from the 1980's, this new model runs hotter than that old model, and offers full LCD target identification. The target ID makes the Gold Bug good for more than just nugget hunting, and it finds favor also with jewelry and relic hunters. This model normally comes with a 5" round DD coil to enhance the sensitivity to small gold but other stock coil options are available. The Gold Bug features an easy to use ground balance "Grab" function. Do not confuse this detector with the Gold Bug Pro (see below), a nearly identical detector that adds a manual ground balance control.Weight including a single 9V battery is 2.5 lbs. Many accessory coils are available for the Gold Bug. Steve's Opinion - It used to be that this basic 19 kHz model was desirable for it's low price. Now, you can get the Fisher F19 above with a better coil and far more capability for the same price. Pass. Minelab X-Terra 705 Gold ($499, 3, 7.5, 18.75 kHz) – This detector has a unique design feature. The standard unit comes with a 5" x 10" DD 18.75 kHz coil. Accessory coils are available not only at 18.75 kHz, but also at 3 kHz and 7.55 kHz. You can literally change the frequency of the detector by changing the coil! The X-Terra 705 has a large number of features and operating modes making it suitable for almost any type of metal detecting, be it for coins, jewelry, relics, or gold nuggets. Weight including four AA batteries 2.9 lbs. Over ten accessory coils are available for the X-Terra 705 (Minelab, Coiltek). Steve's Opinion - I like the X-Terra 705 very much indeed. It has a very powerful all-metal Prospecting Mode. The X-Terra 705 offers both ground tracking and manual ground balance; I like having both options. I particularly like its very compact and lightweight design. What really sets the X-Terra 705 apart however is all its other features. The X-Terra 705 is a good choice for somebody who wants all the coin and jewelry detecting options important to urban detectorists. It has discrimination and tone options equaling far more expensive detectors. This is the machine for somebody who really wants all the features a top end detector offers and still have a good prospecting detector. 2020 Note - a new lower internet price of $499 (down from $699) makes this detector an alternative to the Fisher F19 above. For $50 more the X-Terra adds quite a few extra bells and whistles for the coin, jewelry, and relic hunter, especially in the realm of target tone id options. It is likely this detector will be discontinued by Minelab when current stocks run low, replaced by the new Vanquish coin detectors. Nokta/Makro Gold Racer ($509, 56 kHz) - The Gold Racer is based on the original Racer model released in February 2015. The Gold Racer at 56 kHz was unique when released in having all the features normally associated with coin and relic detectors yet it's running at a very high nugget detecting frequency. This makes it more of a general purpose detector than a dedicated nugget detector. The Gold Racer comes with a 10" x 5" DD coil and has three accessory coil options. The weight including four AA batteries is 3.0 lbs. Steve's Opinion - I like the Nokta/Makro Gold Racer as it really is something new instead of just another mid-frequency do-it-all detector. The compact lightweight design appeals to me as does the high frequency sensitivity to small gold nuggets. It is the only machine in it's class that can run a large (15" x 13.5" DD) high frequency coil and as well as having a concentric coil option. Best of all it offers a full range of discrimination features not seen in other high frequency nugget detectors, all at a very aggressive price. Worth a very close look, especially if a large coil option is important. Fisher Gold Bug Pro ($549, 19 kHz) - Essentially the same as the Gold Bug above with the addition of manual ground balance. The target ID makes the Gold Bug Pro good for more than just nugget hunting, and it will find favor with jewelry and relic hunters. The manual ground balance gives expert operators the control they desire to get the best depth possible. This unit normally comes with a 5" round DD coil to enhance the sensitivity to small gold but other standard coil packages are available. Weight including a single 9V battery is 2.5 lbs. Many accessory coils are available for the Gold Bug Pro. Steve's Opinion - The Pro is the final version in this series which saw several early variations including the Gold Bug above. It is a excellent choice for prospecting, relic, or jewelry detecting and does fine as a coin detector also. However, you are now paying a premium for the Gold Bug name, and the more capable Fisher F19 at the top of this list can be had in a better configuration at a lower price. Unless you just want the name, pass. Nokta/Makro Gold Kruzer ($636, 61 kHz) - Nokta/Makro started shipping the new Gold Kruzer model in June 2018. The Nokta/Makro Gold Kruzer is a variant of the Nokta/Makro Gold Racer above that has been boosted to 61 kHz from 56 kHz and put in a waterproof housing good to 5 meters (16.4 ft). The Gold Kruzer comes with a 10" x 5" concentric coil and a 4" x 7.5" DD coil. The weight including LiPo batteries is 3.0 lbs. There are four coils available for the Gold Kruzer. Steve's Opinion - The Nokta/Makro Gold Racer has been one of my favorite detectors because until recently there was nothing running in this frequency class that had full target id and other options normally seen only in coin detectors. The Gold Kruzer takes it all to the next step by being waterproof in excess of ten feet. There are no other detectors running at a frequency this high that are fully submersible with built in wireless capability and therefore this detector may find favor with freshwater jewelry hunters as well as prospectors. The Gold Kruzer is worth keeping an eye on and is a better value than it appears at first glance due to the dual coil packaging. Note 2020: the Nokta/Makro Gold Kruzer package has been reduced from $749 to $636, dropping it just under the AT Gold in price. This aggressive price drop in a waterproof 61 kHz dual coil package makes this model very hard to resist. I would not even consider a Garrett AT Gold personally compared to the Gold Kruzer at this price. Garrett AT Gold ($638, 18 kHz) - A totally new concept in metal detecting from Garrett Electronics. This full featured detector has everything you would expect from a dry land detector - LCD display, full control set and functions, speaker, interchangeable coils, and light weight. But it is submersible to 10 feet! Even the speaker is waterproof. Note that the unit itself may be submerged but if you want to put your head underwater you will need optional submersible headphones. Weight including a four AA batteries is 3 lbs. The stock coil is a 5" x 8" DD elliptical. Many accessory coils are available for the AT Gold. Steve's Opinion - The Garrett AT Gold was an innovative option when it was introduced, and the only waterproof nugget detector option at the time. The industry has caught up and even surpassed Garrett now and unless the AT Gold comes down in price it's hard to recommend for somebody interested primarily in a nugget detecting VLF. Only for Garrett fans really, otherwise newer models like the Nokta/Makro Gold Kruzer above are better deals. ads by Amazon... Minelab SDC 2300 ($3799, Pulse) - This model is unique as Minelabs first waterproof pulse induction metal detector. A key feature is that the detector is physically packaged in the proven F3 Compact military housing that is waterproof to ten feet and folds down into an incredibly compact package only 15.7" long and weighing 5.7 pounds including four C cell batteries. Steve's Opinion - I have used the Minelab SDC 2300 for a over a year now and I must say I am very impressed. The waterproof compact design is perfect for hardcore backpack style prospecting. The main thing however is that the SDC 2300 comes as close to VLF type performance on small gold as you can get while being almost impervious to the ground mineralization and hot rock issues that plague said VLF detectors. In fact, the SDC 2300 will find gold nuggets smaller than most good VLF detectors can detect even under favorable conditions. The SDC 2300 is also one of the simplest detectors to use and master on the market. The main caveat is that the detector is optimized for small gold with the hardwired coil and so other ground balancing PI detectors are a better option for large nuggets at depth. It is also nearly twice the price of the Garrett ATX above and so you are paying quite a premium for a little better performance on small gold. Still, for novices in hot ground that can afford the price, the SDC 2300 is almost impossible to beat if the goal is just to go find some gold, any gold at all. Minelab GPX 5000 ($3999, Pulse) - This Pulse Induction (PI) unit essentially ignores ground mineralization and most hot rocks. The GPX 5000 is designed specifically for nugget detecting and so it has many adjustments for mineralized ground not available on other PI detectors. The GPX 5000 is the culmination of over 10 years of innovation in pulse induction technology. The GPX weighs 5.3 lbs. not including the harness mounted battery, which weighs another 1.7 lbs. The detector comes with both an 11" round mono coil and 11" round DD coil. Over 100 accessory coils are available for the GPX 5000 (Minelab, Coiltek, Nugget Finder)! And more coils are being released every year. Steve's Opinion - It is simple. The Minelab GPX 5000 is the safe choice for best all around pulse induction gold prospecting performance. It has been out for many years, is well proven and reliable, and has a vast selection of coils and accessories to cover almost any situation. Despite the new GPZ 7000 below this is still the unit most people should be looking at though the even lower price GPX 4500 above should also be considered. A Steve's Pick. Minelab GPZ 7000 ($7999, ZVT) - The new Zero Voltage Transmission technology from Minelab promises to take gold prospecting to the next level. The new platform represents a break from the past SD/GP/GPX series in more ways than one, with a new weatherproof housing design based on the Minelab CTX 3030. The GPZ 7000 weighs 7.32 lbs. and comes with a waterproof 14" x 13" coil. There is one accessory coil available at this time. Steve's Opinion - The GPZ 7000 represents the future and I am convinced it offers a performance edge when compared to the earlier Minelab PI detectors. For this reason I have sold my GPX 5000 and switched fully to the GPZ 7000. The only weakness the machine seems to have at this time is an inability to deal quietly with wet saturated salt or alkali ground and certain volcanic hot rocks. That said I have not regretted for one second selling my GPX 5000 due to the overall advantage I feel I get with the GPZ 7000 in my ground and on my gold. If I can offer one final word of advice, it would be to pay particular attention to what experienced nugget hunters are using in any particular region. Do not assume you are going to outsmart them and find some model they have not already tried and set aside as less than optimum. Serious prospectors in any particular location will end up focusing on certain units that do the job. In areas of extreme mineralization this is usually a PI detector. In areas with less mineralization and lots of ferrous trash VLF units often are preferred. If you can discover what models the locals prefer it will give you a head start in knowing what to use yourself. Above all, whatever detector you finally choose, dedicate yourself to mastering it. It takes at least 100 hours of detecting to become proficient with a detector model. Any less, and you are still practicing. Knowing your detector well is more important than what particular model of nugget detector you own. Steve's Picks I decided to add something new to this page. The list above has grown so much over the years that even it is really too long for some people. So I have decided to just pick my favorites in the three essential categories that I think every new prospector should consider: 1. The super hot VLF 2. The medium frequency VLF 3. The ground balancing pulse induction (GBPI). The explanation that follows gives some rationale for my picks, but a huge factor is a good proven history in the field by many people under a wide range of conditions. Just being the latest new thing does not do it for me as much as being tried and true when it comes to my recommendations for others. It is very wise to wait about 6 months to a year after any new detector is introduced to see how others fare with it in the field before committing your hard won dollars. Widespread dealer support and service options are also very important. Finally, and this is most important. This short list is aimed at beginners. I assume the more knowledgeable folks don't need this kind of guidance. I am specifically assuming the reader is a first time buyer looking for the best value in a proven nugget detector. Along with that I lean towards simplicity of operation and focus on the task at hand as opposed to overwhelming control options. So these machines are not a list of the three "best" machines but instead a list of what I think are solid options I would advise a person new to nugget detecting to consider. Category one is the hot induction balance detector for finding tiny gold nuggets no other detector can find. These would be detectors running over 30 kHz. Contenders are the Fisher Gold Bug 2 at 71 kHz, Makro Gold Racer at 56 kHz, Makro Gold Kruzer at 61 kHz, Minelab Gold Monster at 45 kHz, and White's GMT and Goldmaster 24K at 48 kHz. This is a tough one because so many of these detectors get the job done so well. My pick at this time is the new White's Goldmaster 24K. This new detector is easy for beginners but has room to grow with features professionals will appreciate, good ergonomics, and a great coil selection. I have one myself, so there you go. Category two is the medium frequency VLF. The main goal here is to have a detector that can punch deeper on large nuggets in bad ground than the super hot VLF detectors and do a good job of discriminating out ferrous trash. These would be the good detectors for working trashy campsites and tailing piles. They are also the detector for a person wanting more versatility for other detecting tasks than offered by the dedicated high frequency detectors. The potential contenders list is very long - see above. My pick at this point in time is the Fisher F19, a more capable Gold Bug Pro variant available stock with the 5" x 10" DD coil, and at a lower price now than the Gold Bugs, which carry a higher price simple due to the name. An excellent alternative for those wanting a truly deluxe do-it-all machine with all the bells and whistles is the Minelab X-Terra 705 for just $50 more. Category three is a detector to handle the worst hot rocks and bad ground. For many serious prospectors this will be the primary unit, the one to find gold with. The obvious choice here (for me anyway) is a Minelab GPX 5000. This detector is the culmination of years of development by Minelab and it has incredible aftermarket support in the form of coils and other accessories. For those with the money and a desire to be on the cutting edge of new technology the Minelab GPZ 7000 is an alternative but the GPX 5000 is a safer choice for a wider range of conditions. Those who want a GPX 5000 and who can't quite afford it should instead consider the GPX 4500 at half the price. If a GPX is too intimidating, then the Minelab SDC 2300 may be just the ticket. Steve's Short List of The Prospecting Metal Detectors May 2020 1. White's Goldmaster 24K (category 1, small gold sniper) 2. Fisher F19 (category 2, basic general purpose prospecting) 3. Minelab GPX 5000 (category 3, ground balancing pulse induction) In my opinion a well equipped prospector needs two detectors. One a high power GBPI for most nugget detecting and a VLF for trashy areas and as a backup. A GPX 5000 plus a F19 or Goldmaster 24K would be a hard combination to beat. A special note of the Minelab GPZ 7000. This detector represents a fourth category, the "hybrid" detector that uses continuous wave technology like a VLF but also employing time constants much like a PI detector. These detectors act like a "Super VLF" with the ability to detect gold missed by GBPI detectors but with the ability to get depths on par or exceeding those previously seen only with GBPI detectors. I hesitate recommending it over the GPX 5000 to just anyone because of the high price tag, weight, and lack of coil options. The GPX 5000 in my opinion is the safer choice for overall versatility, at half the price. So there you are. Hopefully this helps some people out. I can be found daily on the Detector Prospector Forums and would be pleased to answer any questions you have on metal detecting and prospecting. Also check out Steve's Guide to Metal Detecting for Gold Nuggets. Sincerely, ~ Steve Herschbach Steve's Mining Journal Copyright © 2002 - 2020 Herschbach Enterprises - Please do not reuse or repost without my express permission.
  2. 1 point
    The White's PulseScan TDI was released in 2008 and is still in production as the TDI SL. Prior versions have been discontinued. I was one of the original users of the TDI and still dabble with them to this day. See my story White's TDI at Moore Creek, Alaska for pictures of lots of TDI gold nugget finds. I also have extensive notes on using the TDI for coin detecting at Steve's Guide to White's TDI Coin Settings. The TDI is a unique detector and is seeing use in many applications unforeseen when it first came out. The TDI has been available in several versions but all are basically the same detector as far as how they work. October 2019 Note: White's has a model called the TDI Hi-Q, which is a TDI SL with straight rod, new coil, and tan or camo paint job. See the details here. I am a big fan of competition as I always want more and better detectors from the manufacturers personally, and I think competition is the best way to get better detectors. After Garrett got into the ground balancing pulse induction (GBPI) game with the Infinium people including myself were really after White's to make an entry into the field. I went so far as to visit White's Electronics personally to lobby for such a detector with suggestions on how to get there. In particular, I advised that rather than developing something from scratch, it might make more sense to license the existing Goldscan technology from Eric Foster, widely known as "the father of pulse technology" for his early work in the field. Eventually White's did decide to pursue the matter, and I was therefore aware early on that White's was working on a new detector, In 2007 I was sent a prototype unit to evaluate while I was on vacation in Hawaii. I was very impressed not only with the power of the detector but more importantly for me in Hawaii I was very impressed with how stable the detector was in salt water. It was also virtually immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI) issues that had dogged my use of other detectors in Hawaii. White's TDI SL with closeup of control panel (compare to original TDI controls below) My use of previous GBPI detectors, the Minelab models and the Garrett Infinium, made me familiar with how they respond to targets with various tones. Each target generates a dual tone that varies depending on whether the target is above or below the ground balance point that has been set. You will hear either a high tone followed immediately by a low tone (hi-lo), or a low tone followed immediately by a high tone (lo-hi). This dual tone system is effective for most uses but if you get into a target rich location it in effect doubles the number of audio signals coming from the detector. I also had an opportunity in Alaska to visit with Brent Weaver, the main engineer at Garrett responsible for the development of the Infinium. While testing a prototype Infinium I asked him about the dual tones (Garrett now refers to them as "echos") and whether they could be suppressed. He told me the dual tones were integral in how the Infinium worked and that it was not practical to produce a single tone result on the circuit they were working with. White's did end up working with Eric Foster on the development of the TDI. His method is one I like because instead of the dual tone responses generated by the Minelab and Garrett models (hi-lo or lo-hi) the TDI generates one of two tones, either a low tone, or a high tone. The tone depends on whether the target is above or below the current ground balance setting, and therefore there is only a tone difference when the ground balance system is engaged. The ground balance off, straight PI mode has monotone responses. Also, because the ground balance can be set manually on the TDI, this tone "breakpoint" can be shifted by the operator. This allows targets to be separated broadly into two distinct groups. On one hand there are high conductor type targets, like most coins and large steel items, that on the TDI produce a low tone response. The other group is comprised of low conductor type targets, and includes most gold items, US nickels, aluminum, and small ferrous trash. These all produce a high tone response on the TDI. There are far more high tone targets than low tone targets in most locations. I really liked the prototype TDI that I used in Hawaii, in particular the fact that it generated half the audio responses compared to a Garrett or a Minelab. Once again I wondered if one tone or the other could be suppressed. I sent an email to Eric Foster, and was surprised when he told me that not only could it be done, but it would be a very simple thing to implement with a basic toggle switch arrangement. This came about very late in the TDI development, and I lobbied hard for just such a feature to be added. A last second vote was taken by those involved, and probably the last major change on the TDI before it went into production was the Target Conductivity switch. There was no such switch on the tan prototype models. Prototype White's TDI Used by Steve Herschbach in Hawaii Now, I do not want to give the impression I was some kind of major player in the development of the TDI. I was just one of many voices pushing at White's for years to develop a ground balancing pulse induction (GBPI) detector. I am pretty sure though my last second inquiry and little push was what made the tipping point to getting the Target Conductivity switch included, and I think to this day it is one of the most useful and intriguing features on the TDI. It allows for a vast reduction in the number of audio responses in certain situations and in conjunction with the manual ground balance and pulse delay offers a degree of discrimination on the TDI not seen on any other pulse induction detector made today. This makes the TDI a pulse induction machine that can be used effectively for coin detecting, if the operator knows what they are doing and employs some smarts in site selection. I wrote an article entitled Steve's Guide to White's TDI Coin Settings on this very subject. I will not repeat the information here in the interest of keeping this page from getting too long so check out the link. Suffice it to say the TDI has the ability to play tricks and discern targets far beyond what most PI detectors can achieve. Another major feature on the TDI is the ability for the ground balance system to be shut off. The method used to ground balance the TDI in effect subtracts the ground reading from the total readings returned by the detector. This subtractive method does actually steal some depth, which is easily shown in air tests on targets with the ground balance turned on and the ground balance turned off. The closer the target is in relation to the ground balance setting, the more depth is lost. People find this very confusing, as the whole point of ground balancing a PI is to get better depth, right? Original White's TDI Control Panel The way it works is this. In low mineral ground a PI gets maximum depth without using any ground balancing. However, as mineralization increases, depth is affected. The more mineralization, the more depth is lost. Also, ground effects increase. In low mineral ground, the coil may be raised off the ground with little response. In highly mineralized ground, raising the coil even slightly off the ground produces a false signal. Nearly all PI detectors have an audio retune circuit that slowly retunes the audio response to keep it at the set threshold level. Otherwise circuit drift and minor ground variances would require constant retuning. In high mineral ground, the ground produces a response, but the detector compensates as long as the coil is kept at an exact height over or on the ground. If the coil is raised quickly, the audio overshoots when the ground signal is removed and a false signal occurs. This can be a real problem in even ground or in the water where it is difficult to maintain a steady distance above the ground or sea bottom. Hot rocks or wildly varying ground mineralization present an even greater issue. Again, the detector does well as long as the conditions are constant, but when a hot rock or mineralized ground condition like a clay seam enter the picture, a false signal is heard. In areas with lots of hot rocks PI detectors that cannot ground balance are almost useless due to the overwhelming number of false signals. So imagine a PI with no ground balance in low mineral soil. All is well, maximum depth is achieved. Pretend we have the ability via a magic dial to turn up the ground minerals and/or hot rocks in the ground. A point is reached where performance and efficiency is greatly impacted. It becomes impossible to discern good targets from ground signals and false hot rock signals. At such a point, engaging the ground balance circuit gains back the lost performance and efficiency. It does this by eliminating the ground signal and hot rock signals. White's search coils for TDI (from 2018 product catalog) This leads to situations occurring where people use a GBPI detector in low mineral ground and decide they are no better than a VLF. That actually often is true, in that a good VLF in all metal mode will do about as well as a Ground Balancing PI in low mineral ground, if both have similar coil sizes. A GBPI does not come into its own until the ground conditions or hot rocks are such that a VLF operator wants to toss the detector in a gully in frustration. This has been a very long lead explanation to the TDI secret weapon. In low mineral ground, turn the ground balance off! The detector will become extremely stable with a very smooth threshold and become more resistant to electrical interference. Gain may be boosted and a great deal of extra depth achieved in situations that allow for this type of operation, and they are actually very common. This would be the preferred beach mode on most beaches, the exception being beaches with a lot of black sands. The White's TDI in pure PI mode is one of the most powerful straight PI detectors available. The tone differences between targets disappear, and sometimes the ability to differentiate targets is more important than the depth gained by shutting the ground balance system off. But do not overlook this ability to run without ground balance in situations that warrant doing just that as it can really pay dividends to the knowledgeable operator. In 2018 White's responded to long standing demand from customers and released a version of the TDI that is waterproof to 25 feet - the TDI Beachhunter. This is basically a TDI SL in a Beachhunter ID control box. The model weighs more at 5.2 lbs for obvious reasons. The TDI Beachhunter has all the same controls as the TDI SL with the exception of the conductivity switch. This means the TDI Beachhunter signals on all targets, but the dual tone scheme remains to allow the operator to differentiate targets by the sounds. In order to help insure waterproof integrity the coil on the TDI Beachhunter (12" Dual Field coil) has been hardwired into the control box. Forum thread with more information on TDI Beachhunter. White's Electronics TDI Beachhunter - new for 2018 ~ Steve Herschbach Copyright © 2010 Herschbach Enterprises Official White's TDI SL Page White's TDI SL Data & Reviews White's TDI SL Instruction Manual White's TDI SL Special Edition Data & Reviews White's TDI BeachHunter Data & Reviews White's TDI Pro Instruction Manual White's Original TDI Instruction Manual White's TDI Field Manual Forum Threads Tagged "whites tdi" White's Metal Detector Forum Great Post on Batteries For the TDI SL White's TDI Coin Settings Some Commentary On TDI Tuning & Discrimination White's TDI Technical Specifications* Internet Price TDI SL $1189 (Special Edition $1049) (Beachhunter $1199) Technology Ground Balancing Pulse Induction (GBPI) Frequency 3250 - 3370 Pulses Per Second Autotune Mode(s) Slow Motion Ground Rejection Manual, one turn control Soil Adjust Ground Balance On or Off (two position switch) Discrimination Conductivity switch*, 10 - 25 Pulse Delay Volume Control No Threshold Control One turn control Tone Adjust No Audio Boost No Frequency Offset One turn control Pinpoint Mode No Audio Output Speaker, 1/4" headphone socket Hip Mount No (TDI Beachhunter - Yes) Standard Coil(s) 12" Round Dual Field Optional Search Coils Over 100 accessory coils available (TDI Beachhunter has hardwired coil) Battery Rechargeable NiMH & AA Operating Time Up to 6 hours Weight TDI SL 3.5 pounds ( TDI Beachhunter 5.2 lbs) Additional Technology The TDI was designed specifically to be able to use Minelab SD/GP compatible coils. However, performance can vary and the pulse delay may have to be advanced to compensate for coil differences that result in overload readings. TDI Beachhunter is waterproof to 25 feet. Notes *The TDI is unique in that it can suppress audio responses into two different classes. Targets have a high tone or low tone audio depending on how the target relates to the ground balance setting. In general high conductive targets give a low tone and low conductive targets a high tone. The TDI can be set to allow for one response or the other. See White's TDI Coin Settings for more details on this control. *Notes on Technical Specifications - Detailed notes about the specifications listed in this chart. White's TDI SL High-Q Tan metal detector
  3. 1 point
    This section focuses on gold prospecting for individuals and small time operators. Equipment used may include metal detectors, suction dredges, gold pans, and sluice boxes. You will find articles here to help you for both beginners and pros. There is location information, equipment reviews, and more. Steve's Mining Journal - Real life gold prospecting and metal detecting stories spanning over 40 years. Gold Prospecting & Metal Detecting Guides - Basic information to get you started. Recreational Mining Sites, Parks, Museums, etc. - Locations available to the public to look for gold and other rocks & minerals. State Specific Information - General gold locations, geology, and history. Mining Claims For Sale in Alaska - Mining claims and leases in Alaska that are being offered for sale. Gold Prospecting & Metal Detecting Library - Online books and other reference material about gold prospecting and metal detecting. Steve's Guide to Gold Nugget Detectors - updated now for over 20 years, Steve gives honest opinions regarding various metal detectors past and present. Steve's Reviews - Equipment reviews focused on metal detectors for gold prospecting, much more in depth than the previous summary. Detector Prospector Forums - Forums on metal detecting for gold, gold panning, rocks & minerals, gold dredging, geology, plus coin, relic, jewelry, and meteorite detecting. Links To Other Websites - Links to other websites and forums with relevant information. Metal Detector Database - Metal detector feature and specifications database with user reviews.
  4. 1 point
    I have added two new sections to the website that cross link to each other. The first is a Metal Detector Database with User Reviews. Most current name brand metal detectors are listed with basic specs like price, weight, water resistance, etc. You can sort the listing by these basic specifications and you can leave your own review of each detector. Discontinued models are now being added. The new area is accessed in the menu under "Reviews" The second area is a revamped Downloads Area. Various manufacturer catalogs are collected there for historical reference to models, specifications and prices. More importantly, each detector in the Reviews database has it's user guide listed for download plus any other pertinent documents like sales flyers. Basically the Reviews area links to the Downloads area and vice versa. This is all under construction still and will be for some time as regards discontinued models. I am adding cross links and new listings almost daily. Hopefully this will allow people easier access to information and manuals now scattered across the internet. Please do your part by leaving reviews of any metal detectors you have used. Thanks!
  5. 1 point
    I've been a longtime fan of the White's Goldmaster series, but I was really annoyed when White's put the machine into the XLT packaging. I like to keep weight off my arm, but more importantly I work some very steep hills where putting a machine down can be a problem. The unit will simply roll to the bottom of the hill. I also work in muddy conditions a lot and so I do not want to set my detector down in the soup. A little history. Prior to 1990 the White's Goldmaster was a simple T/R detector housed in a blue aluminum box. Those old obsolete models should be avoided by all but collectors because they could not ground balance. Around 1990 White's introduced the Goldmaster II, which featured a new black paint scheme. These black box models since 1990 are all quite capable 50 kHz nugget hunting detectors. The Goldmaster II used a S rod design that allowed the control box to be mounted in several locations on the rod, plus removed completely and either chest or hip mounted. This design was popular with prospectors. I still remember clearly the huge fuss when White's introduced the Goldmaster 4/B around 1998 and put it in the same one piece control box as was used in White's coin detecting models. This was no doubt partly a cost saving measure but also to accommodate a much larger circuit board as the Goldmaster series made the move from analog to digital. The Goldmaster 4/B was an hybrid analog/digital design that preceded the microprocessor based White's Goldmaster GMT. The dealer network raised a fuss and Jimmy Sierra in particular was incensed by the design change. He prevailed on White's to make a run of "chest mount only" models that basically took the handle and pod assembly and stuck it in the middle of the control box. A cumbersome design if there ever was one. It was also basically kept secret from anyone but Jimmy's dealers and so the chest mount only model is a rare Goldmaster indeed. This move coincided with Fisher introducing the Gold Bug 2, which at 71 kHz was hotter than the 50 kHz Goldmasters, plus had the hip and chest mount options with an even more compact design than the Goldmasters. Goldmaster sales plummeted and the Gold Bug 2 took over. The very unpopular Goldmaster 4/B was replaced by the 48 kHz GMT, a totally new microprocessor design. White's Goldmaster 3 (GM3) - last analog model, last with removeable control box Starting about 1990 the sequence was: White's Goldmaster II (1990) - new 50 kHz model, on S rod with removeable control box. White's Goldmaster V/SAT (1996) - added Variable Self Adjusting Threshold (V/SAT) control, on S rod with removeable control box. White's Goldmaster 3 (1997) - Added frequency offset, boost options, three piece rod standard (optional in previous two piece models), on S rod with removeable control box. Widely considered the best analog Goldmaster. White's Goldmaster 4/B (1998) - Added meter on a pod for iron discrimination, non-removable coin detecting type box design. White's GMT (2000) - Completely new 48 kHz microprocessor model, non-removable coin detecting type box design. White's Goldmaster 4/B with the new "coin detecting" control box design I really wanted a new White's GMT. The automatic ground balance and LCD iron readout are very good. So I thought about what I might do to get what I wanted. A GMT to chest or hip mount. White's makes a chest mount version, but it has the darn handle/pod sticking out the front where it blocks vision and is prone to getting hit while digging. And for hip mounting it bumps into things. White's Jimmy Sierra GMT chest mount I went ahead and bought the chest mount version, but the following conversion can be applied to the standard model as well. I went with the Jimmy Sierra special chest mount model as a starting place since the rod assembly is already a separate item. 2011 Update: White's does not make their chest mount version any longer. First step... take it apart! Here is the unit in parts, with a close up of the main board: White's GMT components disassembled White's GMT circuit board White's GMT pod contents The main board is clearly marked with what plugs where. Nice for reassembly. I took the pod apart, and ground the touchpad mounting down to just the pad itself as it was glued on too well to pry off. The LCD plugs into a mini circuit board in the pod, along with the trigger switch. Then a long cable runs through the handle and to a plug in the center of the main board. I wanted to chest mount the unit with the coil cable and headphones running out the right side. This meant the LCD would have to be mounted on one side. That particular side does not have enough room to flush mount the LCD into the case, so I decided to cut a hole in that side and mount the LCD on the outside of the case. This meant the mini circuit board would have to be mounted inside the case lid where the speaker resides. I am a headphones guy anyway, so out came the speaker. You could flush mount the LCD on the other side and retain the speaker, but then the coil cable will exit on the left. Good for lefties, however! You might even be able to do it the way I did and keep the speaker, but my fingers are not the most adept, and I figured I could use the extra work room. Mounting the pod circuit board The picture above shows the positioning of the mini circuit board inside the lid. The white ribbon cable runs out to the LCD. The green ribbon cable runs out through a hole I cut in the lid to the touchpad. I glued the touchpad on the outside of the case. More on that in a minute. The wires run to the new trigger switch location. I mounted the board on short spacer posts. Mounting the touchpad and LCD display The picture above shows you where we are heading. The LCD is mounted outside the case. The LCD was mounted using the hardware that originally mounted it to the mini circuit board. A D-Ring has been repositioned to the left. The touchpad is glued down partially covering the speaker holes. The rectangular hole in the case was left after removing the handle. You can see the new trigger switch location. I'm going to replace this switch with one of the rubber capped types. The touchpad covered the battery check/audio boost switch, so it was relocated to a position below the trigger switch. I had to lengthen the wires to do this, the only soldering involved. As I look down at the LCD, I can easily operate the switches and pad with my left hand. The switches are set so I can push down on them to activate the battery check or iron id accumulate mode. Relocated touchpad I cut an aluminum faceplate to cover all the leftover holes and glued it in place. Painted it all black so it would look halfway ok. If I had it to do over again, I would make the faceplate at the same time as I was mounting the touchpad. It was hard to make the faceplate after the fact, and I had to dismount and remount the mini circuit board to drill the bolts mounting it through the faceplate. Better to glue down the faceplate and pad as a unit, THEN drill the holes for mounting the mini circuit board. Relocated LCD display This turned out to be the hardest part. I originally figured I would be able to find some kind of clear plastic box to glue over the LCD to protect it. I cruised aisles in Lowes, Kmart, and Fred Meyer for hours looking for any kind of little box I could cut down and use. Finally I decided to make one. I got a piece of oak trim about 3/8" thick and made a bezel. I found a piece of thin plastic and made a window for it, and glued the window onto the bezel. I cut the original LCD stick-on window (the one that says "% probability of iron") down and glued it in place over my window. Finally, I glued the whole assembly over the LCD. Imagine my surprise when I tested it out after the glue had set up and the LCD was missing half its pixels! I was bummed. I took the case apart and wiggled everything. The unit was working fine, just the LCD was acting funny. Finally I pried my carefully placed cover off and looked the LCD over. No obvious problems. It was still just barely readable, however, so I figured the heck with it, and glued the cover back on. After it set up, I tried it again, and now the LCD was almost totally blank! I was using a glue called E6000 that bonds most anything. I decided that somehow the fumes from the glue had somehow "poisoned" the LCD. So I put a lamp on the unit and blew air in it periodically. And behold, the LCD slowly came back to life! Whew!! I cruised the net looking for info on this weird problem, but never did find anything. GMT conversion chest or hip mount So here is the final product. Actually, as you can see, I took these before I did the trim work. The chest mount is just for show. I need to rig up a full harness. But I'll tell you what... I really liked it. Everything right there where I need it, but well out of harms way. The alternative hip mount setup is better than the original by far, but I liked the chest mount so much I will only use it like this where there is no trash to deal with. I'm still looking for that spot! So there you go. This is not for the faint of heart. It was the first time I had done a mod this extensive, and it was a somewhat scary feeling to be tearing a brand new detector apart. Kiss that warranty goodbye! But now I have a unit I really like that will work well on steep slopes and other odd spots. Not to mention give my arm a break. The GMT is very well balanced, but every ounce counts when you are at it for 10 or 12 hours at a time. A final note. You could leave the pod on the handle and route a longer cable from it up the coil cable and to the control box. But I wanted the pod off the handle entirely, and adding more cables seems like a way to ask for more problems down the road. I know another guy that has now done this mod after seeing mine, and a third is at work on his. Maybe some people going to all this effort will tell White's that their old box design was better. Postscript: After the above post was made I took my new White's GMT chest mount to Ganes Creek, Alaska for a real world nugget hunt. The unit worked as I hoped and then some. Here is a picture of it and the 1.89 ounce gold nugget it found for me! 1.89 Oz nugget found with White's GMT chest mount conversion ~ Steve Herschbach Copyright © 2002 Herschbach Enterprises
  6. 1 point
    There are a few key things to know about headphones for use with metal detectors. The most important thing is to know that some detectors operate in mono, and some in stereo. If you mismatch headphones you can end up with audio in one ear only, or none at all. In fact, this has happened to me. I took my White's DFX out to do a little detecting, and grabbed an old pair of Fisher Phones I had around, and when I got out I found the phones would not work on the DFX. So most detector phones have a stereo/mono switch, or are specially wired to work either way. Make sure your headphones match your detector for stereo or mono operation. But best case is to only use headphones that can do both so you can use them with any detector. You never know when they might get put to use on a different machine. In a situation where you are determined to use a mono headset on a stereo detector or vice-versa plug in adapters can be purchased at most electronics supply houses. 99% of the detectors out there have a 1/4" headphone plug, but many generic headphones have a 1/8" plug. Sure, you can use an adapter, but it just adds a weak spot in the system. So get a 1/4" plug unless your detector is one of the rare 1/8" models. Again, pay attention to the mono versus stereo issue. The good news is that if you make a mistake there is almost always an adapter that will fix the problem but it is best to try and get the correct match. Does your detector have a volume control? Many do not. It is best to buy headphones that have their own volume controls, so you can use them with detectors that do not have a volume control. Again, you never know when you might switch detectors. Ohm matching can be important, and generally higher ohms is better. This is not always true however and some detectors do work better with lower ohm rated models. It is usually easy to determine what the headphone ohm is but almost impossible to know what the detector rating is. I therefore recommend that you should have your detector in hand and be trying the headphones before you buy them instead of going by specs on this point. Things to look for: 1. How do they sound? Are targets sharp and clear to your ear? If not, you can now pass on this set and try another. Different headphones match up with different machine and different ears in such a way that nothing short of trying them can sort this point out. They either sound good to you personally, or they do not. It does not matter what your friend likes. Some detectors allow you to change the pitch from high to low. Try different pitches with your detector to see what sounds best. How do faint targets sound to your ear? People have different frequency responses, some like low tones and some high, and the type of speaker wired into the headphone can make this sound vary a lot. Get a set of headphones that make faint signals as clear as possible to your particular ear. 2. Assuming they sound good, how adjustable is the volume? A good match will give you the ability to fine tune the sound with the volume control on the headphone. In other words, the volume control will have some range. If you have very high ohm headphones and use them on a high volume machine that has no volume control, the headphones may be so loud you have to set the volume on the headphone nearly off. And then tweak it within a fraction of a turn. Some headphones are too powerful for some detectors! The volume control should run from off at one end and too loud at the other, with lots of adjustment in between. 3. How many volume controls are there? Some people like two, one for each ear. This can be great if you have poor hearing in one ear and need to compensate. I personally prefer a single control that works both ears at the same time, so I do not need to fiddle two controls. So this is a personal preference thing, but your headphones should have one or two headphone volume controls. A note on setting your headphones. Turn the detector volume all the way up, if it has a volume control. Turn your headphones all the way down, then turn on your machine and wave it over a large metal item. Turn the headphones up until the loudest sound you will get over a large item is not so loud as to damage your hearing. Now, set the threshold sound on your detector for a faint buzz. You should now be able to hear faint variations in the threshold, but going over a 55 gallon drum will not damage your hearing. Metal detector headphones showing 1/4" 90 degree jack, coiled cord, padded muffs, and dual volume controls 4. How well do the phones exclude outside noises? Normally, get a set of headphones that will exclude outside noises like running water, wind in the trees, or anything else that might distract you from the detector sounds. Sometimes it may be advantageous to use phones that let you hear outside noises, like in bear or snake country. Or maybe in real hot climates bulky units get too warm. But from a pure detecting standpoint sound excluding headphones are best. Earbuds are perfectly acceptable however for quieter locations. 5. How well do the headphones fit and feel? Imagine they are going to be on your head for 12 hours. Something that feels good initially can feel pretty bad in a few hours. Beware of headphones that are too tight or that have too little padding. I prefer phones that completely cover my ear and seal to the side of my head. I do not like the kind that squash my ear but people's preferences vary. Make sure your headphones are comfortable for long hours of use. 6. How tough do the headphones appear to be? This can be hard to gauge sometimes, but in general avoid anything that looks to have cheap construction. The number one failure point is the cord, so make sure it is strong and well anchored so it cannot pull out. Headphones that feature a 90 degree plug are often desired to reduce strain and prevent the plug from pulling out due to a simple tug on the cord.Some top end models feature replaceable cords so you can carry a spare. I prefer to simply carry a complete spare set of headphones. 7. Finally, be aware that the newest metal detectors are coming equipped with built in wireless headphone capability. Early versions have either been standard Bluetooth, which is too slow, or some faster proprietary method. Standard Bluetooth has a significant lag between detecting a target and the actual audio response heard in the headphone which is bothersome to most people. The problem with proprietary is that you are stuck with very limited options as to headphones. The best option currently for most people is aptX Low Latency (aptX LL) Bluetooth, which is fast enough that most people are satisfied with the speed, and options abound in the choice and style of headphones. To sum up, if buying headphones at Big Box Inc. at the least you'd probably want a set with a stereo/mono switch, 1/4" jack, and volume control/controls just to make sure it will work on most any detector. But remember that headphones are like tires for an expensive sports car. They are one of the only important items on a detector you can customize for optimum performance, the other being search coils. Finding the set of headphones that is just right for you can make a real difference in detecting success, so it deserves some effort in getting the right set. This is where a local dealer with a good selection who is willing to let you try them all out on your detector can really help you out. ~ Steve Herschbach Copyright © 2009 Herschbach Enterprises
  7. 1 point
    This outing was part of my testing of the Minelab Gold Monster 1000, a new high frequency (45 kHz) VLF detector for gold nugget detecting. The Gold Monster 1000 was designed for use in Africa and other third world countries and therefore has some unique design features. The key design goal is ease of operation, and the control set is kept minimal, with everything possible done automatically. The GM1000 is the first nugget detector I have ever used that even has an automatic sensitivity tracking function. All this adds up to the Gold Monster 1000 being an extremely easy detector for beginners to learn. Yet the latest twist of high gain, high frequency circuitry means the Minelab Gold Monster 1000 has enough power to satisfy long-time detectorists like myself. Frankly, when I first saw the Gold Monster 1000 I thought it was an odd looking thing. The lack of normal threshold based operation in particular takes some getting used to for somebody who has an ear trained to listening to a threshold. The GM1000 is silent search, which is definitely disconcerting at first. However, the boosted audio and very good external speaker quickly won me over. The Gold Monster 1000 bangs out so loud on even the tiniest gold that this a machine you can use without headphones unless there is a lot of background noise. The near automatic operation makes the machine great for quick grab and go detecting. Between the automatic ground tracking and automatic sensitivity I found I could get the GM1000 to handle almost anything I threw at it, including some wet alkali ground that would quickly shut down most detectors of this type. I found I liked covering ground more quickly with the Gold Monster than would normally be the case with manual tune detectors. It is a terrific detector for quick and dirty scout work. Minelab Gold Monster 1000 on red Nevada soil dusted with salt particles - hot alkali ground! The problem with a silent search machine while in manual ground balance mode is that without a threshold you can end up leaving some performance on the table. If a setting of eight generates a little ground feedback, and you decide to go with 7 to make the machine completely silent, there is nothing wrong with that per se. However, if the ground changes and gets milder you may have the ability to run at a higher level of sensitivity, and without a change in the audio to alert you to a change in the ground, you will just leave the setting where it is. In my case if a setting of 7 is completely silent, I will bump to a setting of 8, and this almost always gives me that little ground feedback I want. If 7 is too noisy, I will drop to a setting of 6 and this will probably do the trick for me. The range between each setting seems about perfect for a person to settle on a range of three settings, too little, too much, and just right. For my areas 6 - 7 - 8 are the magic numbers. For worse ground the range may shift lower, to 5 - 6 - 7. Nugget embedded in lump of dirt excavated from ground while using Minelab Gold Monster 1000 Try and picture this. At sensitivity 7 I am just scanning along, coil lightly on the ground, with soft ground feedback, waiting for that hard little signal that even the tiniest target will generate. Then all the sudden the machine goes dead quiet. I have entered less mineralized ground. One thumb tap to sensitivity 8, and I get my "false threshold" back. Or, at a setting of 7 the machine gets noisier. Maybe a little alkali patch or more mineralized ground. A quick tap down to 6 reduces the feedback to my desired minimal level. What I am doing is letting the ground tracking do its job, and then just bumping the sensitivity up or down a notch to ride the ragged edge of best performance for the ground. Quick guide to Minelab Gold Monster 1000 functions / controls I for all intents and purposes always use the all metal deep seeking mode, and use the iron discrimination meter to decide whether the target is worth digging or not. The disc mode gives up significant depth, and items can be missed entirely whereas the all metal mode will always give a signal if at all possible. Personally I would only use the disc mode to shut down very troublesome hot rocks or for areas where the trash is so dense that analyzing each target would be too inefficient. I much prefer the 10" coil over the 5" coil for doing anything but chasing the tiniest bits. The 10" elliptical coil really will hit gold nearly as tiny as can be had with the 5" coil, but with double the ground coverage and much better depth on larger nuggets. To sum up, I will normally always run the Minelab Gold Monster 1000 in all metal mode, let the ground tracking handle the ground, and bump the sensitivity up or down within whatever three number range seems to work best in any given area. For me and northern Nevada 6 -7 - 8 does the trick very well. I have an article that explains the settings in much more detail here. Eleven gold nuggets found by Steve with GM1000 - 14.9 grains total, largest 4.4 grains, smallest at bottom 0.6 grain and 0.3 grain I found it deceptively easy to find some sub-grain bits of gold (480 grains per Troy ounce) in areas I have previously hunted. I went from skeptical about this funny looking little detector to being quite pleased with it, and currently it is one of my favorite detectors. A warning however. The Minelab Gold Monster 1000 handles ground as well as a hot VLF can, but it is in no way a substitute for a pulse induction detector in the worst ground and hot rocks. Anyone expecting that of an inexpensive little VLF is expecting too much. To sum up, I am having a terrific time with the GM1000 and am glad I got involved in the project. Thanks Minelab! This article started as a post on the DetectorProsepctor Forum. More information might be found there in follow up posts. ~ Steve Herschbach Copyright © 2017 Herschbach Enterprises
  8. 1 point
    Well, here is a report on my last visit to Ganes Creek, Alaska for the year. I set myself up for this visit this spring by saying I would go to the mine after everyone had been there this year and find gold, just to prove there was still some left to detect. To show that it just can't all be found... no matter how thorough the hunters. I also wanted an opportunity to work with some new machines, and so in addition to my White's GMT I brought along a new White's MXT and Garrett Infinium LS. Brian, Jeff, and I left Thursday morning for a five day visit. We got to Ganes and settled in, then decided what to do. Brian was set on doing some prospecting with the 5" dredge Doug had purchased for visitors to use, so he was off in search of places to use it. I grabbed my new Garrett Infinium LS detector to try out, and Jeff used my White's GMT. Jeff and I headed upstream to where most of the large nuggets have been found this summer, on the theory that more were waiting to be found in the area. We scanned an area that has been heavily hunted. Three nuggets over 5 ounces were detected in the area this year, and I found out it is the same area where the 122 ounce nugget and a 62 ounce nugget were found. Definitely the center of big gold on the creek. The Infinium ran smooth and clear, so much so that I found myself waving my ring over the coil to make sure it was really working. Absolutely no signals from rocks in the tailing piles. Very odd when you are used to constant background sounds back from a VLF detector. The Infinium is a ground balancing pulse induction (PI) detector and as such it excels at canceling out ground mineralization. I got a signal now and then, and dug either a shell casing, or an iron trash target. The discrimination on PI detectors is crude at best, and so iron targets that might be rejected with a VLF (Very Low Frequency) will often be signaled as "good" on a PI detector like the Infinium LS. The basic idea with PI detectors is to go ahead and dig everything, although this can be problematic at a place with so much junk as Ganes Creek. I found the shell casings encouraging however, as that meant that not everything had been detected. I figure if non-ferrous items like bullets and shell casings are being missed, then some gold has also been left behind. Still, the area had been well searched, and the finds were few. I finally located a 13.8 dwt (dwt = pennyweight) nugget, and then a 3.8 dwt nugget (20 pennyweight per ounce). Two very nice, relatively solid gold nuggets. The Infinium had done its job. Jeff, although he tried his darndest, came up with no nuggets. The area has been hammered pretty good. We also tried some old tailings upstream farther, but found no more gold that day. Gold nuggets found with Garrett Infinium at Ganes Creek Day Two dawned under rainy skies. We decided to stay near camp, and see if there were more nuggets waiting to found around the cabins. I grabbed the new White's MXT, while Jeff stuck with the GMT. The rain got going pretty good, but we stuck with it. Lots of bullets and shell casings were dug, again, a good sign. But by the end of the day we had no nuggets. We headed up to the bench deposits above camp and found some small nuggets, just so we could say we did not get skunked. Jeff found a nice little nugget over a pennyweight with the GMT, and I got a few tiny bits. The MXT is a brand new detector from White's Electronics. Steve Houston from White's had a prototype MXT along on his visit to Ganes Creek in the spring and I had a chance to use it then. We both agreed then it had all the right stuff for finding gold at Ganes Creek. We did not use it much, however, as time was limited and we stuck with more familiar detectors. I have to note that I was very impressed with the MXT around camp. I used the 6" elliptical coil, and ran the unit in the relic mode. This mode, when set up a certain way, gives a high tone on non-ferrous targets, and low tone on iron targets. A setting right at "2" seemed to be the point where ferrous and non-ferrous sorted out with low and high tones. It was easy and efficient around camp, and all I dug were non-ferrous items. It has very good trash separation with the small coil, and easy id with the dual tone system. Great for places where trash is literally inches apart. Brian had set up in the ditch near the big nugget area, but was plagued with start-up problems with the gear, especially a leaky pump intake hose. He spent most of his day just getting set up and getting the dredge operating. Brian running suction dredge at Ganes Creek The weather cleared up the third day. Jeff again ran the White's GMT, and I the MXT with small coil as I had been impressed with it the day before. We started in camp, and I found a small nugget just behind the cabins. Then we tried some of the dragline piles above camp near where I found my 4.95 ounce nugget last year. I switched the MXT to the 950 9.5" coil. Both Jeff and I came up with nuggets weighing several pennyweights each. So far we were not exactly knocking down the nuggets. Frankly, we were both both a bit puzzled, as our constant digging of bullets indicated nuggets were still to be found. You simply can't dig all the gold while leaving the bullets in the ground. But results were lean, and our enthusiasm was flagging. I'm a big fan of aerial photos, and had some new ones showing an area downstream opposite the old bucket line dredge machine shop. Long rows of old bucketline tailings ran far back away from the road, and so I suggested we go down and check them for a change of pace. Jeff was running the White's GMT with the Sierra Max 14" coil, and I ran the MXT with stock 950 coil. The more I used the MXT the more I liked it. On the cobble piles I ran in prospect mode, with full gain, minimum V/SAT setting, and in automatic ground balance. The 14 kHz frequency ran smoother on the mixed rocks of the the cobble piles than a higher frequency detector like the White's GMT or Fisher Gold Bug 2. They tend to get weak signals of rocks because of their higher operating frequencies. The MXT was definitely smoother in the cobble piles than the GMT. We followed an old trail we had followed last year. I concentrated on the edges, off the main trail in the edges of the cobble piles near and in the brush. I got a good, clean signal, and gave a couple digs with my pick. The moss and rocks flipped back, and there lay a large gold nugget! I did not get as excited over this one as my 4.95 ounce nugget last year, as I was not sure exactly how large it was. Jeff, however, knew immediately it was something to jump up and down over. And he was right, as upon weighing it came in at 6.85 ounces. My largest nugget ever, and the largest found at Ganes Creek by visitors with metal detectors this summer. Sorry guys, but you left a big one for me to find! 6.85 ounce "Ugly Nugget" gold specimen from Ganes Creek - found by Steve H with White's MXT The nugget is strange, with very dark, lustrous quartz encasing a solid gold core. The quartz is almost like agate. Fingers of dendritic (leaf) gold reach up from the gold core into the quartz shell. It's a very unique nugget, but I'm hard-pressed to say if I like the looks of it. It has more quartz showing than gold. Some people say it really looks good, others say it's ugly. Oh well, all I know is it weighs more than any other found this summer. And that's remarkable considering the number of people over the ground, proving you just can't get them all. Side view of "Ugly Nugget" showing wispy dendritic gold Brian's initial dredge hole in the ditch near the big nugget area did not get him excited. A bit of small gold, but no bedrock, and no large nuggets. So he decided to move to a point of bedrock sticking out into the current location of Ganes Creek. The creek has been moved to the north side of the valley, which is reputed to have poor gold, but Brian wanted to check it out. At least there was bedrock showing he could get at. The next day (Day Four) Jeff took the MXT, and I went back to the Garrett Infinium LS. I wanted to put its ground canceling capabilities to use on the cobble piles, and Jeff wanted to see why I had grown so infatuated with the MXT. What's not to like about a machine that had found me my largest nugget ever? We searched far into the edges of the cobble piles along the creek. Our search led us way out on the dredge cobbles as far from the road as we could get, opposite the old dredge machine shop. There were no signals for some time, as many of these old cobble piles are relatively trash free. I was ahead of Jeff a bit, and so sat down to wait while he scanned up to me. Then he gets a signal in the middle of the cobble piles. The MXT said only 10% chance it was iron. VDI number of 55, exactly what it called my large nugget. No signal for some time, in big cobble pile... man, this looked good. He dug and dug. Got to over a foot. All indications were still good. I was getting excited, and came up to take pictures of the big find. And literally cheer him on, as he was getting a bit grumpy about the depth of the hole. The cobbles kept caving in, which can be very frustrating. And I'd exclaim "But Jeff, this is just how digging the two-pounder will be"! Jeff excavating large "gold nugget" that turned out to be a rusty can So at two feet, there is the quart paint can. Oh well, such is nugget detecting. Those large steel targets at depth really baffle discrimination systems. What is interesting, however, is I tried the Infinium out on the can, and it did call it an iron target! It seems the PI discrimination system does work well on some items that have problems on the VLF systems. The thing about VLF discrimination is it will sometimes call ferrous items non-ferrous so you dig some junk. With PI discrimination the problem is more serious - a gold nugget can easily be identified as iron, especially the large nuggets, so it is dangerous to use PI discrimination where large nuggets lurk. In any case, I sure like to see other people find gold. I always get excited when anyone finds gold, because it tells me there is more for me to find also. It's when nobody is finding gold that I get worried, and today was turning into one of those days. One the other hand, if I go out with Jeff one more time and find a big nugget, I'd best not turn my back on him. I'm likely to get hit over the head with a detector! Since we were having no luck for the day so far we decided to switch gears. Back to the old reliable airstrip to find nuggets. I've found if I'm just patient, dig lots of bullets, I can always find gold on the airstrip or around camp. But since the Infinium has minimal discrimination, and digging the compacted airstrip material is a lot of work, I switched to the GMT. Jeff stuck with the MXT. Before an hour was up Jeff found a 12.2 dwt nugget. Shortly after I found a 2.7 dwt nugget with the GMT. We both had nuggets for the day. Jeff's was a very nice, nearly solid gold piece. Mine was a broken, very quartzy nugget. Still, that seemed to be it, although we dug a small pile of bullets and shell casings. We headed up to the bench deposits above camp once again to look for smaller gold. The MXT is a great detector, but the difference in operating frequencies was obvious. We scraped areas free of overburden over the bedrock, and checked them with the detectors. The White's GMT with it's 48 kHz operating frequency had an obvious edge over the 14 kHz White's MXT, even considering the fact that the MXT was using the more sensitive 6" elliptical coil versus the 10" elliptical coil on the GMT. We dug a couple pennyweight of small nuggets, but the GMT clearly got better signals on the small gold. Small gold nuggets found with White's GMT Brian again found little gold with the dredge, and decided to wrap it up for this trip. He had his work cut out for him pulling the dredge out of the creek and getting all the gear put away. Day Five dawned a bit cloudy and cool. The only real good thing about this time of then year is the lack of mosquitoes. The cool nights have driven them off, and so our days were relatively mosquito free. A few biting flies replaced them, but not so many that I ever had to use a head net this trip. Cold weather has it's advantages. Since we were leaving that afternoon, we made a short day of it. I had pulled my left arm out of joint, and so was down to digging only targets that gave perfect id. We did a little detecting in the pile of material near the ditch in front of camp. This pile has produced several nice nuggets, and been heavily detected. But Brian is short order found a nice weighing several pennyweight with the White's GMT. It ended up weighing more than all the gold he got dredging on the trip. The weather cleared as the day went on, and I decided to spend my last few hours up in the big nugget area near the ditch. I ran the GMT again while Jeff used the MXT. I hit the road itself real hard, as I saw no signs that it had been detected much. But Ganes had given us all the gold it was going to this trip, and we went in early to pack and clean up our cabins. It may be I missed out this last day simply because I passed up lots of targets I normally would have dug. Well, it was a fun trip, with over 9 ounces of gold found. Even discounting the big nugget I found over an ounce of nuggets, with the largest being 13.8 dwt. Jeff found about an ounce with his largest at 12.2 dwt. Good-sized nuggets remain to be found, and even a few clunkers. Still, the easy pickings are gone, and it will take patient detecting to get results at Ganes Creek now. There are actually many miles of undetected tailings running upstream above the more recent workings. The areas are generally lightly brushed over, with some large open areas. A few brief exploratory runs into these upper areas have produced no real finds, but the area is vast in extent, and worth attention in the future. A talk with Doug revealed that next season there will be a lot more work done with bulldozers to make areas "fresh" again. The good news is many worked areas will be rejuvenated in this way. The bad news is you guys that did not dispose of your trash properly... well, it's just going to be there to dig up again. The future at Ganes creek is more likely to be a mixture of working material freshly turned over, and then wandering off searching for those missed areas. Finally, the detectors themselves. I like the Garrett Infinium LS. It has great bang-for-the-buck in the PI department. Its current lack of accessory coils is the only thing really holding it back at the moment. I see the Infinium as being the machine I will turn to when my normal VLF detectors won't do the trick. Ganes Creek is really not the best area for PI detectors, as the low mineralization and lack of hot rocks means the PI units have no real edge over VLF detectors. The White's GMT is slowly becoming my primary nugget detector. I've favored the Fisher Gold Bug 2 the last few years, but the extra versatility of the GMT is causing me to use it more and more. The extra depth on large gold versus the Gold Bug 2 is the big plus at Ganes Creek. The machine that really wowed both Jeff and I was the White's MXT. It's the first detector I've ever used that I really think "does it all". Now, while it bench tests well on small gold, frankly it does not hold a candle to the GMT when it comes to very small gold under actual field conditions. If small gold is your bread and butter, the GMT or Gold Bug 2 are still the way to go. Not only do the higher frequency detectors have an innate edge, but the manual ground balance offers better control for small gold. The MXT must be auto ground balanced, then "locked". The GB point is then fixed, but it cannot be manually adjusted. The GMT has automatic and manual ground balance, while the Gold Bug 2 is manual only. Steve's Gold - 8.15 Ounces Total But the MXT does do very well on nuggets weighing a few grains or more, and the bigger the gold gets, the less difference there is between the MXT and GMT. Frankly, for nuggets weighing in pennyweights or more, I actually prefer the MXT. It operates smoother than the GMT in mineralized ground, and has depth as good as, and maybe under some circumstances better than, the GMT. It's a great machine for large nugget hunting. Combine that with the fact that it has a vastly superior id system, with both iron readout and conductivity measurement, and you can actually do things like tell most gold nuggets from a .22 shell casing. I actually used the relic mode with the small coil on the MXT to work extreme trash areas to good effect. This machine has lots of potential to explore, and yet is very easy to use. Add in the the fact that it has a 6.5" x 4" elliptical DD, 5.3" round concentric, and 10" x 5.5" elliptical DD coils available as options, and I think the MXT is now the machine to beat for all-around use. And despite it's wealth of features, it's list price is only $799.95. I think we will be hearing a lot more about the MXT in coming years. ~ Steve Herschbach Copyright 2002 Herschbach Enterprises
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