Over the years I have used almost every brand of detector, and assure you that I found lots of valuable things with all of them. I often relate many of my better finds to certain detectors, but then remember that the era I found them also had a lot to do with it. What I found in the eighties for example was surely the result of my being the first in my area to detect a given site, not so much the ability of the detector. I remember fondly the early Coinmasters, the Judge II, the Garrett Groundhog, the Fisher 500 series, and the White's 6000 series of detectors. All were terrific, and brought me a lot of joy.
I remember learning these early detectors intimately. I would sit hours on end at the dining room table, bench testing. Listening to the responses of various items, and watching the visual readouts. My wife thought I was crazy (and suspect she wasn't all wrong), but each time I did this I came away with something new to remember next time in the field. I kept notes on these sessions, and referred to them often.
The early models did not have visual indentification meters. At least not until later on. As a result you had to listen, and listen closely
to the various audio responses.....their tones, their sharpness or dullness, and you had to do your own discrimination analysis. Eventually
you became pretty sure that the target you were about to dig was a coin, based on it's audio response. Because there were no ID
meters I and most other detectorists back then found more. Decision making was difficult, and as a result we went for most everything
that "bonged" or "beeped".
Can't remember who first said this.... The best discriminator is your digging tool.
From metal/mineral detectors I went to VLF/TR. A real advancement back then, and my finds increased even more. VLF added extra depth, and being able to check your target in discriminate mode was high tech back then. Add in reverse discrimination (really neat) and I was in my glory. The 80's were real good to me, and my treasures grew significantly. Lots of silver, jewelry, etc.... Will never forget the fast swinging of the coil to verify a target. With the White's 6000D you listened for the bong. If it was there you were in the money.
Next came computerized detectors with LCD readouts. The White's Eagle was the first, and it again was high tech. Numerical readouts, target ID's spelled out....what more could you ask for. Then everyone jumped on the bandwagon, and with the computer age upon us, we were into new territory. Today? Pretty much every brand of detector is computerized, and yes we are the better for it, except for one thing. We have become lazy. We have become dependent on technology. We have become robots in the field, dependent on meters, touch pads, and other technological advances.
I know there are many of you who feel differently, and perhaps you are right. I could well be from the old school of thinking, and out of touch. I also do not want you think I don't take advantage of today's advances. I do. I want that extra edge, that extra inch or two, and I want that new and improved target identification. I just want them to be there for me when I turn on the detector. I have to also add that as I have grown older, I like to spend more of my in-the-field time digging targets as opposed to analyzing them.
I like finding that site I feel good about, turning on my detector, and getting after it. Give me a target, an audio response, some sort of metered readout, and I will take it from there. I also don't like feeling inadequate in that I cannot go into detail about all the various metal detector functions and features. Fiddling with things is not my cup of tea. I appreciate the technology that appears every day, and I try to understand it all, but what gets me more excited is finally knowing I've found that long sought after, never detected before, site. That is what keeps me going, and at that moment I will have fun with even the most basic detector.
Over the years I have become a stickler for not using too much discrimination. Used to be that I would set my disc to accept nickels (a notch below). Today I still do that when using the MXT. With the Spectra V3 I like the preset coin and jewelry program. Other adjustments I make are increased sensitivity when possible, and SAT. Sensitivity is called various things today, but basically it means increasing your depth capabilities up until your audio becomes erratic, and that of course depends a lot on the area you are searching, mineralization, and so on. With the Spectra you also have Rx Gain, Tx Boost and All Metal adjustments.
With the SAT (self adjusting theshold) setting I like to use the mid range (middle numbers) on the V3 because I like to scan at a moderate speed. Not too slow or too fast.
Other V3 features I like? The use of three different frequencies, and the ability to understand more about the target/signal. I concentrate on the 2.5 kHz readouts, as they are more apt to be coins. I go for the "green". If the green is predominant (on top), I go to the Active Analyze Screen, and double check that my target is indeed a coin based on the image size. I know all this seems to counter my claim that we are too dependent on computerized readouts, but with the V3 it's worked out extremely well. I also like the fact that the use of three frequencies helps a great deal when hunting in heavily mineralized ground
I also like the "Live Control" feature in that I can adjust the various settings (audio, sensitivity, discrmination, frequency and ground balance) on the fly, unlike before when I had to make adjustments, save them, and restart. Likewise if you feel you're lost with all your various adjustments, simply press enter, use your up or down arrows to highlight the program you are using, use the menu tab, highlight restore and press enter. Voila! Back to the factory preset.
Last but not least, the V3 wireless headphones are a godsend. Unless you've used wireless headphones while detecting you simply won't understand. It just makes it so much easier. Getting down to recover a target wth out tugging the wires, setting the detector down for a moment without having to unplug the headphones, etc.. Wireless headphones were long overdue,and I cannot imagine that the rest of industry won't be offering them real soon.
The MXT offers an audio response that I really like, and tend to use it more when I encounter a trashy area. The response is a little more staccato than the V3, and for whatever reason I feel I can isolate signals and targets better. I also love knobs.... Touch pads are nice, but I guess I am from the old school, and turning a knob seems so right. Okay, bash me for that comment. I can take it.
I am a very big fan of the smaller searchcoil. Again, it may be a throwback to my early days, but I also think it has something to do with my desire to be more precise. Larger coils cover larger areas, and tend to offer more to hear and more to analyze. Smaller coils offer a much narrower signal, and as a result offer a more defined response. Don't get me wrong, I love the larger coils, especially the new Super 12" coil for the Spectra and MXT. It works extremely well in those areas where targets are few and far between, and where a great many detectorists have come before. The shorter response from the smaller coils is just something I like working with. Give me an old site,a junk site, let me switch to the 5 inch or 4x6 shooter coil and I will be happy. Moving at a snails pace of course, but quite happy, separating out those keepers.
Speaking of a snails pace....shorten your stem or rod. It will naturally cause you to slow down and overlap more precisely.
When you have a few extra dollars, invest in a couple of extra lower stems so that when you change out coils you are not using valuable time taking off the knobs that hold your coil to your stem. With extra lower stems you just insert it into the upper stem and connect the cable to your detector.
Old recommendation, but be sure to keep your coil parallel to the ground. I STILL see detectorists lifting their coils on every sweep, and if they only knew how much ground they were not covering....?
Always have a threshold hum in your headphones. Finding deep targets is all about "slight" changes in the audio. Deep targets will not offer you much in the way of a signal, and as a result may not "push" your detector out of the silent mode, if that's what you are using. By utilizing a slight threshold sound or hum you will notice that minute fluctuation much more.
If your detector offers manual ground balancing, use it, but remember to check it as you continue to search. Ground conditions often change, and having your detector properly ground balanced is important.
What tool you use to recover targets is up to you. I am currently using a Lesche trowel only because the soil here in my area is the world's worse. When I began detecting I used a screwdriver with a blunted end, and it worked like a charm. Would probably still use it if I were back in the northeast where the soil was to my liking. Here in north central Texas the clay-like soil (or as they call it here, black gumbo) makes detecting miserable, and as a result I have to opt for a "mack truck" type of digging tool. Use whatever suits your fancy, as long as it does not do damange to the area you are detecting, and as long as it is not prone to damaging the item you are after.
When hunting a manicured lawn area be sure to use a probe. Once you locate a target, "touch it" with the tip of your probe. Then move slightly off the target and push your probe north and south. Then do the same thing, pushing your probe east and west. That leaves you with an X. Use your probe again and get "under" the target, and gently push the item to the surface. This certainly takes some practice, but once you've mastered it you will be the better for it.
I also find it interesting that pinpointers are now so popular. They were popular in the UK quite some time ago, but it has taken a while for them to become commonplace here in the US. I currently use the Bullseye II, and find it does indeed save a lot of time in recovering that "hard to locate" target.
Headphones are a must in order to hear the faint, deeper targets, and to keep outside noises from bothering you. Be sure to buy a pair with volume controls. Set your detectors volume control to the highest setting, and then adjust with the controls on your headphones for a comfortable and accurate signal response.
The most important part of your arsenal? Your dog. Take him along. That way if you come up empty handed he will be there share the sorrow with you, and will make your day because he's a real treasure, and the best friend you will ever have. If you don't have a dog, get one. You won't be sorry.
If you are ever in the UK, and looking for a detector or help with detecting, be sure to check out Regton, Ltd, in Birmingham. One of the best and most knowledgeable distributors/dealers I know. No matter the brand (they have them all). For more info go to Regton, Ltd. Tell Nigel I sent you.
Take an hour, day or week, and do nothing but search in the All Metal mode. Decide to learn more about this mode by listening carefully to the audio responses, and metered readouts. You will dig junk for sure, but I also suspect you will come home with a few surprises. Just do it, and stick with it....then let me know.
Because of it's features the Spectra V3i is as easy to use as you want, or as complicated as you want. The choice of course is yours. I have found it to be much easier to understand then the DFX mainly because of the "live control" feature. Now when I hunt I can scroll through my options at the bottom of the screen, highlight the one I want, hit enter and make my changes. Once I squeeze the triggger again those changes are working. It's a very quick and easy way to make "on the fly" adjustments.
The V3i offers a lot of pre-set programs, and of course you can design your own if you are so inclined. I am not! As I said above I mostly use the coin/jewlery setup because I am primarily a coin hunter, and it pretty much reflects my preferences with regards to discrmination. I have always been a "notch below nickel" guy, and this program offers that. It allows for all coins, and most jewelry. Likewise the three frequency feature is ideal for differentiating what my targets might be. Love that green!
Whenever I use the live controls it's usually to increase sensitivity. Needless to say, depending on the soil and trash factor, it is not always possible. Please also know that increasing Tx boost will reduce your battery life. I also adjust the target volume (again at bottom of screen) upward because I am hard of hearing, and I also like to fool around with the tone of the target. That is a personal thing....still have figured found that one sound that I will stick with.
The "active analyze" mode is great for further identifying the target. I flip the trigger switch forward, and look at both the size of the target, and the predominant fequency (usually on top), and decide whether or not to dig. Again I pretty much look for the 2.5 green. The target size area is at the bottom of the screen, and I have found that it's very accurate when I have a coin.
I still bench test the V3 every once in a while, and fool with the various settings, occassionally making notes, but I am not into the lengthy detailed experimental programs that I have seen on many of the detecting forums. Not that I don't believe they work. I just prefer to spend more time finding that old site before you do.
The V3i, in my mind, is the best detector on the market, and it offers everythng a detectorist could want. Add a 4x6 Eclipse coil, a bullseye pinpointer and you are ready for bear!
Carl Moreland, White's head of Engineering, recently put together an Advanced User's Guide for the V3i, and he has allowed me to share it with you here. The guide is a work in progress, and Carl will be adding to it as time goes on. Here are the first four chapters. Thanks Carl.
Stumbled across the following video on YouTube, and as a V3i user found it very informative. I was also amazed at the number of related videos this poster shared, all aimed at V3i and MXT user's (MXT is second unit). If you use either of these machines you will find these informative.