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Jeff McClendon

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Jeff McClendon last won the day on June 4

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    Prospecting, Mineralogy, Metal Detecting, Railroads,
    Coaching HS Golf, Professional Musician
  • Gear Used:
    Minelab GPX 6000, Equinox 800, Vanquish 440, XP Deus Lite HF Coil, Garrett 24K, Nokta Makro Simplex, Tek-Point, XP MI-6, Gold Hog River Sluices Flow Pan Royal High Banker

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  1. The amount of inclusions and their size is one factor. Star sapphires have very tiny inclusions which are not visible to the naked eye. The ones in your specimen are very large. The gray color and very opaque condition is another factor. As you can see in the photo above, the basal and rhombic parting is clearly visible along with color zoning. Your specimen is too opaque to see those characteristics if they are present. If you want to perform a hardness test your easiest option is to try and scratch your specimen with a piece of known quartz. Quartz will scratch quartz. Quartz will not scratch corundum.
  2. The dark gray with a slight blueish tint and the tiny black inclusions are very characteristic of some industrial grade corundum. I would not be able to say your original photographed specimen is a sapphire (even if it is corundum)due to its poor quality. What I don’t see is any remaining crystal faces or any very characteristic basal parting. Corundum variety Sapphire is so hard that there are usually some remnants of its crystal faces and parting in most specimens. Instead I see a water worn, conchoidal fractured specimen with no hint of worn flat sides, with cracks running in several directions that do not exhibit basal or rhombic parting.
  3. The Apex is definitely a nice detector for the money. If it had a threshold based all metal mode or something similar I would totally prefer it to an AT Gold or AT Max. However, since the original poster (Welcome by the way!!!) is from New Zealand with a Minelab repair center close by, and at least four of us on this forum have had to contact Garrett about our APEX coils and/or control boxes and shipped them to Texas for repair…….I would highly recommend the OP get a Minelab Equinox 800. I completely agree with Steve H. I have said this repeatedly on this forum: I am not a fanboy, I didn’t jump on the “Equinox Wagon” because I was mesmerized by the hype, and I never offer an opinion about a detector that I haven’t owned or used extensively. The Equinox 800 is the most versatile VLF detector I have ever used. It can be used effectively in just about any soil conditions on any types of targets within range. It is ready to go right out of the box, it can be adjusted slightly or its settings can be ridiculously customized after several hours of getting acquainted (50 to 100 hours of just basic detecting in default Park 1 for a newbie). For me anyway, it is the detector I have waited for since I first began to understand what high mineralization can do to single frequency VLF detectors several years ago and how even Whites, Minelab and now Garrett’s simultaneous multi frequency offerings prior to the Equinox offered virtually NO advantage over a single frequency detector in higher iron mineralized dirt. SMF technology is definitely not the same from one detector model compared to another.
  4. As far as I know the coils and electronics in the control housing of the MX Sport/MX7 are the same as are the coils and electronics in the control housing of the original 24K/GMX. The battery systems are very different along with the weight and weight distribution. For me personally, I never enjoyed swinging the waterproofed MX Sport or the GMX. I was okay with the weather proofed MX7 and the 24K. Garrett’s version of the 24K feels even lighter to me and the coil knock problems/super sensitivity issues are fixed. The almost 1 pound difference between the weather proofed and waterproofed models makes one better than the other for me. Unless Garrett decides to produce the MX Sport/GMX, parts are going to get really hard to find.
  5. Minelab manufactured the X-Terra 50s and X-Terra 70s in Ireland. I owned both models and found them to be as good as any mid level detector made in 2005 to 2008. When the X-Terra 705, 305 and 505s came out in 2009 they were still made in Ireland I think. When the Codan/Minelab deal was signed, Plexus Manufacturing in Malaysia started making selected Minelab detectors in 2010, including some of the X-Terras. I also owned each model for awhile…..305, 505 and 705. They were all made in Malaysia. I did not see a difference in quality or performance. The 705’s prospecting mode was outstanding………buying different coils for changing frequencies and for waterproof/not waterproof along with its kind of nebulous discrimination mode was not so outstanding. I wish I still had my XT70 just for nostalgic reasons, but the Equinox and even the Vanquish to a lesser degree, will detect rings around the XTs from my experience. I think the facility in Cork, Ireland is for European repairs and sales now with no manufacturing.
  6. This is sort of good advice. I do not like the blanket statement that the Equinox 800 is too complex for a beginner however. For some beginners the Vanquish 540 might also be too complex. Some beginners might do much better inititially with a Vanquish 440 (only 3 tones to deal with). This is where the blanket statement that the Equinox 800 is too complex for a beginner starts to be fairly dumb. The Equinox 800 and the 600 can be setup as a simple to use 2-tone detector in Park, Field and Beach modes with a few button presses. A dealer or a friend that knows what they are doing or even a beginner that is willing to dig into the online manual, can set up an Equinox 800 in a 3 tone mode that mimics the Vanquish 440 fairly easily too. This adjustability is one reason that the Equinox 800 (and 600) is such a good detector. It can be setup for just about anyone to use who can physically swing it. The people I personally know who are experienced detector users that have switched from the AT Pro to the Equinox and had trouble adjusting easily were overwhelmed by 5 tones. I just showed them how to switch to 2 tones or did the 3 tone adjustment (if they had an 800) and they were much less overwhelmed. For a beginner, using the Equinox in 2 tones or in 5 tones if they can assimilate it, running in default Park1 or Beach 1 with sensitivity on 15 to 20 and learning how to noise cancel and use the horseshoe button is pretty much all they need for the first 50 hours or so if their ground conditions aren't too complicated. If they are I show them how to run in auto tracking or how to manual ground balance the Equinox. The only "complicated" standard beginner level function on the Equinox is the somewhat wonky pinpointing procedure. The Vanquish onboard pinpointing procedure and function is much easier to operate.
  7. I have a heel bone spur, had 3 months of planar fasciitis symptoms until about a month ago and still have partially torn tendons in my left ankle from straining it while trying to deal with the first two ailments.........I've been in a lower leg boot for almost 4 weeks and am trying to ween myself off of using it. I have had doctor prescribed, expensive orthotics for years. So, for me, getting the Covid 19 weight off (about 15 extra pounds) and staying on flat land only for a while longer (no mountain goat prospecting) is a must. Anyone suffering from any of these foot issues definitely has my sympathy.
  8. I have never broken any Nox stock 11” coil ears after owning and using five of them and I have used them in saltwater surf. I did break the ears on a CTX 3030 similar sized coil to the Nox stock coil. The CTX coils are very similar in outer design to the Nox coils, especially the coil ears. I did break the coil ears on a Nokta Makro Gold Racer coil too. At least the Simplex ears are very sturdy in appearance and I have not broken them or heard of any breaking so far. They are roughly three times the thickness of the Equinox Minelab coil ears.
  9. I like the user replaceable battery idea also. Dilek stated that the battery can be replaced “on the field” in her March video. I think she meant “in the field”. She did not say batteries by the way. This suggests a replaceable battery housing, a replaceable battery module or like the Equinox, a replaceable single 18650 type lithium battery with harness. Personally, I could replace the Equinox battery in the field with the battery and harness for sale from Minelab. I would not feel good about the waterproofing/O ring after doing it however. I believe you could make more finds with an Equinox 600 than you could with your AT Max also. By the way, the Equinox 600 new, costs less than the AT Max new. I actually own 2 Equinox and 1 Simplex. Personally, I enjoy swinging both brands and do not find them to be difficult to swing at all. I had a little wrist strain in the beginning time of using both, but after some grip adjustments, shaft adjustments and arm cuff adjustments I have had no problems. I eventually changed the shafts on my Equinox but not due to weight or shaft wobble. I wanted them to be collapsible. As for adding weight under the Equinox (or Simplex for that matter) arm cuff, especially “tons” of it like I read on another forum, I personally know 17 Equinox users in the Denver area. None of them have added any weight especially tons of it, under their arm cuffs and some of them have upgraded the stock shafts. Most of these people are older than me, I’m 65, and some of them are women. As for the Simplex weight versus the projected weight of the Lightening, Dilek said the Lightening would use the Simplex housing. By housing I am assuming she means the control box housing. When I look at the photos provided in this thread and a couple that are teasers and are backlit with no easy to see details, the Lightening does appear to have the Simplex housing and grip. All the rest looks different when compared to the Simplex I own so I will not buy into any of this site’s or other site’s pure conjecture about how the new Lightening will feel weight wise or balance wise by comparing it to what a Simplex might feel like if it was almost a pound heavier. Some of the people making this stuff up have never even swung a Simplex. I would put the price of the Lightening between the Equinox 600 and the Equinox 800. The Lightening will have some features that the Equinox doesn’t have for sure like the already mentioned stock carbon fiber lower shaft, lighted buttons (already on the Simplex) possibly NMs great vibration feature, maybe NMs LED flashlight feature (both already on the Simplex) and I really hope some kind of threshold based all metal mode even if it only works in single frequencies. It will likely lack some features that the Equinox has especially Multi IQ which is a big one.
  10. What the photo does show is a center mounted coil. As Dilek said in her March 2021 interview, the coil will be different from the Simplex and this new detector will have a carbon fiber lower shaft. The Simplex coils including the stock coil are not center mounted.
  11. Your percentages are troubling at least for the forum member owners. We are experienced detector users and are not likely to send a detector in for repair for no good reason. One of my sons is a lead mechanic at a really big General Motors dealership here in Denver. He gets most of the really hard repairs and the ones that involve electric and hybrid GM vehicles. We were talking about buying new cars and he sad absolutely do not buy a new car that was manufactured and came off the assembly line between March of 2020 and July of 2021. There is no way to know who was on the assembly line during that time range due to Covid 19, how experienced they were and if there were compromises made on parts quality due to shortages. If this also applies to metal detectors, especially Garrett metal detectors.........I am guilty. I bought 2 Garretts and a Minelab that were produced during that time. So far, only one has been a problem (APEX) which may be due more to it being a new model and less due to Covid 19 issues.
  12. So, are you hunting in plowed farm land, parks or other land that has or hasn't been heavily cultivated? Is there a lot of coke in the area? If so, you might want to hunt in the Field 1 mode in Multi. It is a great place to start for pastures and most of the coke will respond in the 0, +1 +2 area of Field 1. The default F2 iron bias setting is 6 which is plenty for identifying iron and the Recovery Speed (=reactivity on the Deus) is also 6 which is just right for nice audio responses and quick recovery (audio separation) between targets that are close together. Your Equinox may need to be manually set for Iron Bias (Deus does not need this setting so they can't help you). Your Nox has two different Iron Bias setting ranges....FE and F2 which are the last setting in the Settings Menu and they share that slot with Recovery Speed. You need to see F2 on the screen and leave it alone. You may have to toggle that setting to reach it if you instead see FE . FE will not help you much at all in thick iron since its default setting is a wimpy 0. Learn how to check and adjust those settings. They are important. So this is just a suggestion, if there is a lot of coke I would not hunt in Field 1 by just pressing the horseshoe button and accepting every target ID in that mode. You can compromise (and learn your detector) by using default Field 1 which has -9 to +2 rejected and add in some of the iron range like -8,-7, -6, -5, -4, -3, -2. You can also hunt in Field 1's default two tones which has one low tone for anything below +2 and one really high tone for anything above +2. You can adjust the tone's pitches and tone volume levels if you don't like the default presets. You might want to put this slightly customized Field 1 version in your User Profile slot so that you can also hunt in default Field 1 if the iron is overwhelming. You will end up with a custom Field 1 with gaps at -1,0,+1 and +2 to take care of most coke and possibly a gap at -9 if you choose to. Due to that gap around 0 you may hear some partial or broken up audio responses which will let you know you over over some coke, etc, but at least it won't be coming through as a good signal. Hunting in this customized form of 2 tone Field 1 with simplify the tone responses, let you hear some of the iron, and will help better identify those non-ferrous targets that might be really deep (8"+) from actual iron targets. I left out -9 in that customized pattern to give you the choice of adding it back in if you want. Sometimes the really tiny iron particles which are from disintegrating man-made iron or are natural to the soil will create a -9 "iron fog" of ground noise so you will get iron responses around non-ferrous targets with the whole iron range accepted. Make sure you noise cancel around your Deus friends and try not to run you Equinox at max sensitivity around them. They will hate you. Running your Equinox at 20 to 23 will still get you plenty of depth and it won't cause interference problems. Also make sure you do a proper manual ground balance over clean ground. You can check for clean ground by using your Equinox pinpoint function or by using any mode with the horseshoe button pressed. Hitting those deep, masked or poorly oriented non-ferrous targets will be enhanced by doing a good ground balance.
  13. Yes EMI is always an issue here in the Denver area from electric lines, Wifi, public safety, commercial and military air comms traffic not to mention just being at 5,500 feet altitude. Even some of the private and municipal sprinkler systems are wireless and create EMI.
  14. Yes, the low/medium and medium tone falsing with the APEX along with the 90% silver dime also having low/medium and medium tones instead of its normal high tone due to the iron nails dragging down the silver dime's target audio response and ID numbers would create some confusion for me too. I wish the dime's IDs were not lowered so much but this is an ACE upper entry level detector. I also wish that the number of tones and their pitch were selectable like the Deus and Equinox where I can use just 2 tones like I did for the Equinox nail board video: ferrous and non-ferrous and also adjust their pitches so that it is easier to hear the difference, but again, the APEX is an entry level detector. Garrett needs to save these advanced features for its higher end detectors. I do really wish the APEX relic mode was just 2 tones like the Simplex Field mode.......very low iron and very high non-ferrous with the tone break at 25 or so. It would make the APEX an even better relic hunter and saltwater beach detector.
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