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How to Use a Metal Detector

By Edited Mar 16, 2016 0 4

Equipment Requires Testing, Tuning

A metal detector is a popular device among treasure hunters for locating coins and other lost artifacts. But many novice hunters miss important finds because they don’t familiarize themselves with their equipment before taking it on a hunt.

A metal detector locates bits of metal by generating an electromagnetic field with the coil at the bottom of the detector. When certain metals cause disruptions in the field, the detector alerts the user by changing tone. More expensive and sophisticated metal detectors can sense a wider range of metals at a greater depth based on the settings that the user has programmed for the device.

When you first receive a new detector, it will be in pieces. New detectors typically come with assembly instructions and detailed information on how to program the device. If you buy your detector used, you can find a replacement operator’s manual online from the company that manufactured the detector. Most devices snap together or fit together using screws. Read the operator’s manual to familiarize yourself with the controls. The controls vary among devices.

You may wish to invest in a good pair of headphones to better hear your device. Headphones are especially important if you are operating your metal detector in a noisy area. If you are hard of hearing, lower the tones that your device produces so that you do not miss higher-pitched tones that can indicate a find. You can change your settings to filter out unwanted objects or change the types of metals that you want to detect.

Once your device is configured to your satisfaction, use it in your yard or garden to get a basic understanding of what the tones produced this particular device mean. Each metal detector will produce a unique set of tones based on the device’s sensitivity and your personal settings. Most treasure hunters say that it takes about 10 hours of operation for a hunter  to correctly interpret the tones that their device produces.

One good way to practice using your detector is to bury coins, nails, bottle tops, old cans, items made of gold, silver, copper, titanium and other metal objects in your own backyard. As you find the objects, you can note the sound that your detector makes at various settings and with various filters applied. Some ground that has natural minerals in it, such as sand, may interfere with the readings of your detector. This is especially true of unsophisticated and inexpensive detectors.

For the best result, walk slowly over the area that you are searching and sweep your detector from left to right in a slow fan. Slow sweeps with the coil held just a few inches above the soil will give you the best results. Advanced detectors will show you the depth at which the object is buried.



Aug 9, 2011 5:12am
This is a really interesting article. Many West Australians like prospecting through the outback as some big nuggets of gold have been found there. Thanks for the info.
Aug 11, 2011 3:59pm
When banks failed during the great depression in America, many people started hiding their valuables in old cans and jars in their yards. Growing up, I always heard stories of someone finding an old baseball card or a collection of valuable savings bonds buried in old coffee cans.
Nov 18, 2011 3:43pm
Neat. Sounds interesting. I always liked the Steve Martin comedy routine where he talked about metal detectors.
Nov 18, 2011 3:46pm
Makes me think of Nixon.
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