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Steve Herschbach

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  1. Well, as an ATV dealer for many years, I can attest to what Dick has said. Unfortunately, even name brand models have service and parts availability issues. The problem has actually gotten worse in recent years as manufacturers buy into the "just in time" theory of parts management. Too often not enough field testing is done and the consumer is the guinea pig to see what works and what does not. This applies to most everything, not just ATVs. The best advice I can offer is to never buy models in the first year. The best solution is to buy very popular and common models that have the bugs worked out and which have widespread parts availability due to their popularity.
  2. "Posted 07 June 2014 - 08:42 AM Actually it is a bit early as I need more time to use both the ATX and SDC together the next two months in order to give a more comprehensive and definitive reply." Well, I had that couple months. Does the SDC blow the ATX away? No, not really. The ATX is a capable machine and in proficient hands gives the SDC a run for the money. The ATX delivers the bang for the buck. But the bottom line remains that with both sitting in front of me, and a day of nugget hunting ahead of me, I want to grab the SDC. The ATX makes me work harder. To keep up with the SDC the ATX needs to be run maxed out at sensitivity 13, and at that level the coil is sensitive to being knocked about. This forces the operator to exercise an extreme control over the coil, basically trying to stay within 1mm of the ground while not actually touching it. The SDC is very resistant to coil falsing and so the operator can scrub the ground. Add in that the SDC is over a pound lighter and it boils down to the SDC being easier to use, less work and wear on the operator. I also like that although the ATX folds up nicely the SDC goes to the next level in compact design. The ATX can be had for a far lower cost and features interchangeable coils. While the SDC has the edge for small gold the ATX has the edge for larger gold due to the larger coil size. The ATX also has a fairly decent iron disc ability for a PI, something the SDC lacks entirely. If water detecting is the goal I have more faith in the waterproof integrity of the ATX based on two weeks of hard use in the Hawaiian surf. I think on features offered and pricing a very strong case can be made for both detectors. If I simply could not afford the SDC I could prospect with the ATX and be satisfied. Yet the fact remains, owning both, the SDC is what I will grab next time I head out prospecting. The ATX is going to serve me more as a beach detector than prospecting detector going forward. I have to sum up by applauding both Garrett and Minelab for a job well done with both these detectors. I really like both units and I am happy to see some real advances made in what constitutes a metal detector. Box on a stick ruled for far too long and out of box thinking is what we need from the manufacturers. Good work guys and gals! More information on Garrett ATX More information on Minelab SDC 2300
  3. I am fairly sure they are Chinese clones made by a company named Hisun http://www.mckinneyedc.com/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/98
  4. The SDC 2300 has actually surprised me in that I am finding it to have somehow turned into my favorite prospecting machine. If I have to head cold into a new area and have to take one detector, it is now the one I will grab. I know it will handle most any mineralization better than a VLF and hit small gold as well as most VLF detectors. And as much as we all want to find those huge nuggets down deep the fact is it is the smaller stuff that makes up the vast majority of the finds and ultimately the weight. The bread and butter little nuggets add up. What has really sold me though is the extremely compact design. Here is my nearly complete SDC 2300 day trip kit. It is housed in an old plain looking rucksack I have owned forever. Nothing special to attract attention - I could be just anybody out for a hike. Inside is everything I need for a long day with only the amount of water changing depending on the heat. Total weight as pictured is only 18 pounds. There is the SDC 2300 with headphones (headphones can be left behind in many cases but do extend battery life). Two sets of spare batteries which along with set in detector give 20 plus hours detecting time. Small pick with magnet. Trash pouch with scoop. Gloves. Small emergency kit and phone/GPS not pictured. I have a bit larger pack that allows for a bivvy bag, rations, and more water for 2-3 day trips. I really like hiking and I really like detecting and the SDC is perfect for combining both. That's why I need the SDC 2300! More Information and Specifications on the Minelab SDC 2300
  5. The ATX with 8" mono coil and scuff cover weigh in at 6 lbs 8.5 oz just weighed on my digital postal scale.
  6. Post Game Analysis I left Reno for Alaska on June 9th and by chance pulled back into my driveway in Reno on August 9th. That is the longest I have ever been away from my wife and home in a single shot, and I have no wish to ever break that record. I pulled into my driveway having logged 11,519 miles in the last couple months. The total cost for the trip for gas, food, supplies, accommodations and misc was about $4000. Considering that a couple weeks at Ganes Creek would have cost more I consider that a real bargain for two months. If I sell the gold right I should more or less break even on the trip. Last year a month of detecting in the same area netted me 12.25 ounces of gold, including a 6.5 oz nugget and a 2.3 oz specimen. This year I just cleared two ounces at 2.07 oz total, well below the 4 ounces I was hoping for. Despite some pretty extreme effort what was lacking was a nugget over an ounce or even just a few more quarter to half ounce chunks. The trip reminds me a bit of my trip to Australia. In both cases I was trophy hunting and spent nearly all my time focused on looking for the big one. In both cases I can safely say had I instead focused more on known patches (bedrock areas) I would certainly have found more gold. "Go big or go home" can often mean actually getting less than going for smaller but steadier returns. There is also some irony in that I told JP at the end of the Australia trip that I enjoyed it all but that I did not need to spend so much money and fly halfway around the world to find a couple ounces of gold. That same comment can now be made about driving to Alaska. I do not think I need to drive that far or spend that much money to find a couple ounces of gold. I am sure I can do better within a few hours of Reno. That said, I would not have changed the way I went about things in either case. When hunting for the large nuggets you need to A. put yourself where they can be found and B. look for them. There is no promise of finding nuggets weighing over an ounce but to find them you do have to be looking for them. They rarely just happen. Sometimes you score, like I did last year, and sometimes you do not, like this year. However, I think we did see an extension of a basic truth about detecting tailing piles occur. The big gold tends to be on top and thus easy to skim off. Going back later and hunting harder and deeper usually has diminishing returns. I saw this enough at Ganes Creek and Moore Creek to consider it established fact on bucketline tailings and dragline tailings, and I do now believe the same holds true in general on bulldozer stacked tailings. Everything about tailing piles has exceptions but in general the richest material in each cut gets processed last and so the best stuff tends to end up on top of the tailing piles. My friends and I skimmed the cream from Jack Wade last summer and going back and digging huge volumes of deeper targets did not produce nuggets nearly as well as the stuff nearly sitting on top. Being first is a huge advantage. Any regrets? None at all. For me the test of anything is once it is all said and done, knowing everything, would I go back and do it again to have exactly the same thing happen. In both Australia and this trip to Alaska the answer is a resounding YES! The Australia Adventure was one of the best and most memorable times of my life. This Alaska adventure was maybe not in the same league as after all I have spent a lifetime in Alaska. Yet the fact I got to spend more time with my brother, who I actually like, than I have been able to do total in the last 30 years made all the difference in the world. I would not trade anything for that, and Chris' visit plus seeing Alaska friends like the Hammonds and Buzbys was just icing on the cake. So this officially ends the 2014 Alaska Adventure. It sets the stage for me to finally tell the story of the 2013 Alaska Adventure. I kept a daily journal last year (I let the forum serve that function this year) and took tons of photos also. I will write it all up and publish on at Steve's Mining Journal and let you all know when it is ready. Right now you really only know half the story. One last look at my take from the trip:
  7. I think the SDC gets good depth on all target sizes including large nuggets. The problem is that there is a tendency to compare it to the GPX 5000 and the GPX clearly gets better depth on larger nuggets, even when the GPX is sporting the 8" Commander mono coil. Unfortunately this may be giving people the impression if they use the SDC 2300 they are not going to get the big stuff and that just does not follow. Anyone with a VLF detector looking to upgrade to a PI detector can rest assured the SDC is going to punch deeper in mineralized ground on large gold than whatever VLF they are currently using. The real question is not whether GPX owners need the SDC 2300. The main issue is what detector should a person with a VLF purchase if they are looking at getting their first prospecting PI detector? If price is no object I have a knee jerk tendency to recommend the GPX 5000. But the fact is the SDC 2300 may well suit many people better as a first PI not only because it costs less than a GPX 5000 but because it is so ridiculously easy to operate. I can say this for sure. The SDC 2300 is now my main reconnaissance detector. If I am prospecting new locations that I know little or nothing about and can only take one detector it is going to be the SDC 2300. I find the compact grab and go nature of the machine to be very compelling. I think Chris proved very well that you can take the SDC into a new area as a primary detector and do very well on a mix of both small and large nuggets. The SDC 2300 in my rucksack along with a small pick, water, and some energy bars is going to see me prospecting far and wide in the very near future.
  8. Hi Jeffrey, Welcome to the forum, and congratulations on some very nice gold! Thanks for posting the photos.
  9. Various gold nuggets found in Alaska with the Minelab SDC 2300. First photo are some nuggets my brother Tom found with my SDC. The other two photos are gold nuggets I found. Chris Ralph used the SDC 2300 exclusively and perhaps Tom and I should have done the same, since the last photo is all gold Chris found with the SDC 2300, including a really nice 3/4 oz slug. All told a couple ounces of gold found with the Minelab SDC 2300 in Alaska.
  10. Looks to be the AKAU pay-to-mine at Nome, Alaska. Been very tempted to go there myself but have not bit the bullet. http://akaugold.com Dave, you really should submit a couple paragraphs and a couple photos to Garrett's Find of the Month contest at http://www.garrett.com/hobbysite/hbby_favoirite_find_2014_us.aspx You will at minimum get a patch and decal but also a pretty good chance at a free Garrett AT Gold; one given away every month. The AT Gold would be a perfect complement to your ATX. I think your story and photos would have a good shot at winning. More ATX gold - here are the last three nuggets I found with my ATX, also in Alaska. Right now the ATX is the bang-for-buck solution for PI metal detecting.
  11. I responded to a question about the SDC 2300 on another forum and my answer pretty much summed up how I feel about the detector. So I decided to post it here also. Originally Posted by DDancer: Thanks for that input Steve. If you don't mind I'd like to also ask you how you feel about its ground balance, threshold stability and performance when other PI detectors are in the area. Any problems with emi interference from aircraft or metal structures? The SD series had a lot of difficulty in the area of emi and GB with the 2200 was never really stellar in my opinion. The ground balance is almost a non-issue. In many areas the SDC 2300 simply ignores the ground right out of the box and there is no ground balance procedure. In more mineralized ground, holding the ground balance button causes a quick ground balance to occur. The SDC 2300 is always automatically ground tracking at a medium-slow rate to maintain the best possible balance, so it is impossible for a novice operator to mess it up. I had no issues with it tracking out targets. I did encounter hot rocks the SDC would not balance out, the very same types my GPX 5000 would not balance out. Overall the SDC handles ground as well if not better than the GPX because it is running a variation of the fine gold timing and the small coil "sees" less ground than the stock coil on the GPX 5000 therefore there is less ground for it to balance out. I can get my GPX 5000 to make a threshold that is perfect with no waver. The SDC 2300 has a less stable threshold more reminiscent of other SD series detectors at higher sensitivity settings. It is pretty stable at the stock "2" sensitivity setting but still not as solid as my GPX. The SDC 2300 is quite a bit more EMI resistant than the GPX 5000 and plays well with other detectors as long as reasonable spacing is kept. When my brother fired up the SD2200v2 I could get within about 50 feet of him unless he ran a larger coil, then I needed a bit more space. The bottom line is the SDC 2300 is perhaps the most user friendly nugget detector you can buy. Anyone can run it. It really is normally a turn on and go detector. The only option normally to consider is the sensitivity setting, which gives a balance between a bit more depth but more threshold noise. We were in mild ground and I could run it maxed out but that did make for a less stable threshold. Once you find the sensitivity setting you like in an area you just leave it alone; the ground balance setting is retained when the detector is turned off. So for me operating the SDC 2300 boiled down to turning it on or turning it off. Batteries lasted a good seven hours plus. It seemed just right for most days, never quite running dead by the end if the day except for rare occasions. If I have to complain about the unit I could complain about the armrest folding up every time I pull my arm out and the lack of volume control. The headphones I received are wired on the left and the cord runs across your chest. You either wear the headphones backwards, or in my case run the cord behind my back. I need a headphone adapter to run optional phones with volume controls. But these really are minor niggles. The waterproof, compact folding design is extremely compelling and easily offsets these minor complaints. The SDC 2300 except for the cost is a perfect detector for many more casual nugget hunters who would never, ever learn what all the settings on a GPX 5000 do. It is far easier to operate in bad ground than a VLF. I can hand one to anybody, tell them to turn it on, keep the coil on the ground, and dig everything that goes beep. If it were not for the high price I would flat out just tell everyone to go buy one. It is practically impossible to be unhappy with the SDC 2300. Picture below of SDC and some other small nuggets I found with it I have not posted previously. The little black rock specimen in particular is an example of the type of gold the GPX has issues with and in fact this little piece came from an area I had previously hit with the GPX. There is but little gold mixed in with the rock in the tiny specimen.
  12. Excellent! That is nice, solid, chunky gold. Congratulations! And thanks for sharing.
  13. Hi Jim, I will have to come back someday for the Jasper area tour. Too much beautiful country to see all at once and I have been gone from home long enough on this trip. Lots of smoke in the Peace River area so I drove late last night and made it most of the way to Prince George, where I am right now. I will head for Hope, BC just north of the border to spend the night before crossing the border tomorrow morning. I will visit family in the Olympia area a couple days before heading home to Reno this weekend. It will be really great to get home to my wonderful wife and the wiener dogs!
  14. What an awesome 48 hours! No hurry for once so took my time, and got lucky with the weather. I camped out just north of Watson Lake where the Cassiar Route meets the main Alaska Highway route. Then a leisurely drive to Laird Hot Springs, which I have wanted to stop at last few trips but always was at the wrong time. Got there at 11am so checked in for an overnight stay and just plain relaxed. Took a couple good soaks in the hot springs - perfect for wore out prospecting muscles! Sat in the sun and read my book. Nice to not have an agenda for a day. Then up next morning and on a photo tour. I must have stopped 50 times and took a couple hundred photos. Good thing I was alone because it would have driven a passenger nuts unless they wanted to take photos also. If you catch it right the scenery between Watson Lake and Fort Nelson is really world class, and the wildlife viewing opportunities superb. 9pm at Fort St. John as I post this, going to go on a few hours. Not much to see really after Ft. Nelson but got some great grizzly shots I will post tomorrow. Have to load them to my iPad and did not do it before I got into McDonalds but the following from the last couple days will suffice for now I think. Click on the images below for larger versions Little Blackie Little Brownie Whirlpool Canyon Laird Hot Springs Wood Bison Muncho Lake Folded Mountain and Toad River Stone Sheep
  15. Welcome to the forum! Coil depth is more closely related to coil width than length. A 12x16 will cover more ground in a sweep than a 12" round but any depth gain will be negligible. There are no "best" coils, only different coils for different jobs. Sometimes big coils are best, sometimes small coils are best. Some people like elliptical coils, some prefer round.
  16. Hi Gary, I just run my batteries in a detector until they go dead, put backup set in detector, and charge depleted set. One of the supposed benefits of NiMH batteries is you are not supposed to have to baby them and I do not. The Tenergy batteries charge faster than the Minelab supplied batteries.
  17. Spent the night just shy of the border sacked out in the front seat of my truck. Up early and cleared customs and typing this at the Whitehorse McDonalds. Here are a couple parting shots of Chicken and a photo of Kluane Lake in Canada a few hours ago.
  18. Yeah Chris, as you know it is the best bet when time is limited. Good luck in Sierra City. Glad you guys enjoyed the trip - nice having you all along!
  19. From my perspective the X-Terra and SDC are different tools for different tasks. Neither is better than the other - it simply depends on the specific circumstances as to which I might prefer to use. In extreme low mineral ground the SDC has no real advantage and in high mineral ground the SDC has a clear advantage. Somewhere in the middle they meet. Be nice if the answer was black or white but it is numerous shades of gray. The truth is it all depends on the nature of the gold itself and the ground mineralization where you hunt and any tests I might do would not necessarily apply to your situation. I can contrive circumstances to make either detector look good. After having one in the field for over a month now all I can say with certainty is that the SDC really suits me very well for a lot of what I intend to be doing in the immediate future.
  20. Thanks Jim. It was a worthwhile detour. Hit a bedrock area and attacked it with pick and hoe and SDC 2300. Got 4.2 dwt putting me solidly over two ounces. Weather is headed downhill so time to head south. Just got a shower in Chicken and posting this, now off into the sunset I go! Photos when I get to Whitehorse.
  21. All I can say is the whole battery issue has been somewhat of a non-issue for me. Been car charging for over a month now and I tried my new solar charger this morning. Worked like a champ on a somewhat overcast day, bring close to dead batteries to full charge in less than 3 hours. I am very pleased with that, looks like I have my super remote location solution.
  22. The main issue would be enhanced sensitivity to ground minerals and hot rocks, which Minelab appears to be handling somewhat by using a lower power circuit than that on the GPX 5000 and using a version of Fine Gold / Enhance timings. The SDC does not have near the punch on larger targets as my GPX 5000 with 8" Commander coil especially when run in Normal or Sharp timings.
  23. Got to love Alaska weather forecasts. They change by the hour and the Chicken area forecast has gone downhill significantly since yesterday. I am in Tok now and heading in but looks like for two or three days max. Day at a time thing though so all I can say is hope to report back in a few days. Thanks for being such a great group that I do not have to worry about being offline a short time!
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