I’ve been waiting 7 years for an elliptical coil for the Deus. Ever since I first tried the Deus on iron-infested ground, and realised its potential to open up these sites, I have longed for XP to take it one step further with a smaller coil. The small footprint of the new 9.5” x 5” coil combined with the higher frequency choice of 14/30/80khz meant I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one.
After a few weeks of experimentation with the new coil, the combines finally started to roll and some of our favourite sites were becoming available. The elliptical had already proven itself useful, searching amongst the oilseed rape stubble and pulling out tiny finds that we had missed on previous searches, but now was the time to really put it to work on a contaminated site.
Our venue for the day was a large wheat field, the stubble had been harrowed down and conditions were near perfect. Last year we had discovered a small Roman site, field-walking had revealed an abundance of Roman pottery and an area of occupation approximately 100m x 100m. The soil was black here, littered with iron targets both large and small and the good finds were mainly small Roman coins, a perfect challenge for the new elliptical coil.
I started detecting around the edge of the main area using my 2 tone HF program, 30khz and reactivity 2.5. I really like the new 2.5 setting of V4, it is fast enough to get amongst the iron but still gives good depth on targets. Detecting in a straight line, my first pass of the site produced a few small pieces of lead before I hit the first Roman coin, a small bronze of the Emperor Gratian (AD 367 – 383). The HF coils really boost the signal from small items and this sounded much larger than it actually was. A few more bronze coins followed as I continued my line and then a much larger signal produced the first artefact of the day, a lovely 1st century Roman brooch from around 6” deep.
When searching a productive site I always detect up and down in parallel lines to ensure thorough coverage. Eventually my search pattern took me to the edge of the most iron-infested and mineralised area of the site and it was here that I switched programs. I chose a customised version of the HOT program, running at 75khz, that I have been using recently with great success. The HF coils do not have the ID NORM feature of the standard coils, which means that at higher frequencies the numerical ID of a target is greatly increased. For instance: a medieval cut quarter coin typically registers around 45 at 18khz, but at 75khz it is around 85. When using a full tones program such as HOT, this means that the tone from a low-conductive item is much higher and stands out much more clearly. Combining this with the new negative discrimination of -6.4 meant that I was able to hear the full range of large and small iron in the ground whilst easily recognising the small non-ferrous targets lying within. The GB was set to 75 in manual, quite a difficult setting for general detecting but the HF coils are more stable than the standard coils at low GB and using full tones helped here. In full tones the good targets are clearly distinguishable from any ground noise and the new X/Y screen profile is another useful aid to target identification.
I set to work on the busy area and many more Roman coins followed. The elliptical coil is so precise amongst the iron and, searching slowly, it was possible to pick out the high tones right on the edge of iron signals. One of these signals produced my best find of the day, an Anglo-Saxon penny of King Cnut (1016 – 1035), a real surprise as this was my first hammered silver from this site. A second hammered, a small silver Venetian Soldino turned up shortly afterwards.
The elliptical coil is really well suited to sites such as this and the higher frequencies enable the Deus to see through difficult ground, to find the tiny items and also larger targets that are being partially masked by iron or heavy mineralisation. The slim design makes it ideal for use when conditions are difficult either above or below the ground. Not only does this coil excel on contaminated soil, it’s also a very useful tool for searching amongst vegetation, stubble or on rough ploughed fields. This coil is only tiny but has had a big impact on my detecting, I finished the day with over 200 non-ferrous targets including 45 Roman bronze coins, two Roman brooches, a Medieval ring and two hammered silvers… my best day ever on this site.
The Garrett Team visits a Civil War site and offers several of their fellow hunters the chance to try the NEW Pro-Pointer AT in the field. During the 1 1/2 day hunt they ran their new pinpointers through the mud and water and generally checked out the new features. Each person was then asked their opinion of how the Pro-Pointer AT performed.
To pre-order your New Pro-Pointer AT call Regton on 0121 359 2379
I heard that a new Garrett PI detector was coming out so I headed straight for the website to check it out. What I seen I was not expecting…wow it looked military and very well made.
I was on the e-mail to Nigel to ask if I could test it, This is something I never do but having owned three Garrett Infiniums, Whites TDI, TDI Slimline, Surfmaster, Goldscan and GPX 5000 since around 2005 and felt I had the experience and I wanted to see how it would handle the iron! I do not get over technical about metal detectors as I have found this to be of no use to me in my twenty five year detecting career. I deal with the facts and can it do what is advertised ? which is either YES or NO I don’t care for graphs and charts or what if’s.
I first started looking at pulse induction as I said above around eight years ago. I had some cracking sites but the detectors I was using year in and year out just where not getting through the mineralisation. I tried every combination I could but could not get the edge I was looking for over my detecting mates. I am always looking for the upper hand or to be ahead of the game as detecting is getting more popular so if I can get extra depth over the next guy that will do me!
I was in search of something and did not know what but while browsing through some Garrett brochures I noticed the Infinium Land and Sea (LS). Regton never stocked them so me being me imported one from the USA as I had to try it. I went out my first day with it with my pals Rab and Bobby to an old medieval site. I remember digging nail after nail after nail and getting a lot of stick from my mates but at the end of the day I got a cut half of William I, I was over the moon as my hunch was correct I could find the stuff with a PI. Over the next month or two I compared signals with my mates who had Multi Frequency detectors with 14″ coils on them. On one eye opening occasion I tested a signal with Rab who could not hear the target, I dug it out and it was a Scottish copper turner….yes I was over the moon I was now digging less iron and now getting better depth than my mates. I continued to use the LS on land and with great success and in the surf on my holidays to the USA. I used a number of Pulses since then and I know the merits of certain PI’s on land.
Pulse detectors on Mineralised soil will penetrate deeper than a VLF or Multi Frequency detector that I have proven on hundreds of occasions BUT on soil that is not mineralised the depth advantage gets a lot less if any
Now you know my history on why I was very keen to try out the new pulse. I stayed away from the US forums as I like to judge a detector on my own land sites here in the UK which are a far cry from parks in America. This is in no way an insult to the guys in the US as I respect a lot of these guys knowledge on pulse detectors but it’s a different ball game over here looking for cut half’s and quarters on iron laden sites.
I received the Garrett ATX metal detector and as soon as I got it I opened it and to say it’s different is an understatement, it comes in a fancy wee holdall with all the bits inside. I immediately lifted it out and my it felt bloody heavy and I did say about being well made. I have never felt a detector this sturdy and when I set it for my size it was perfectly balanced and I never felt it heavy but how would I be after eight hours on a mucky field.
I was desperate to test the discrimination function and iron check so cleared the kitchen work top as this is my usual air test bench. I had a quick scan of the manual which is very easy to understand when I came up against a function I needed I had a read on that section in the manual and honestly I found the settings very easy to understand. I also like the interface everything is in reach of your thumb and you don’t lose grip when you go to use any of the buttons.
My BIG question was will the discrimination and iron check feature work? Will it cut out iron and still get hammered coins I had lots of doubts but I had good reason to as pulse induction detectors detect all metals and they don’t discriminate BUT the high end ones do like the GPX 5000 and this is why I use one. In my experience all the other Pulse’s I have used like the Whites TDI, Infinium can be tweaked to eliminate some iron by using the pulse delay in combination with the ground control by this is a tedious process if your site has a lot of iron on it.
I set Rambo up and started to set it up for testing indoors, simply reduce the gain and frequency scan it and it will be very stable.
Build Quality Is of top quality and everything is easily adjusted. My concern with the coil constantly needing pushed back down was confirmed but I just started to do it automatically after a while. The top stem keeps going back up the shaft if any weight is applied even when fully tightened but being waterproof far makes up for any wee niggles if any I had.
ControlsAll the controls are very easily found with your thumb.
Weight when lifted in the non-detecting position is heavy but it seems to balance out well and I never felt any fatigue when detecting all day with it but you must get the stem length correct. You must set it so that you don’t have it too long or it will put strain on your shoulder and back.
Sensitivity : Directly up or down, I had mine set at 10 on my mineralised sites and it was rock solid stable. If you increase it and it starts to give phantom signals you just reduce it.
Ground Balance : SHIFT= Press and hold the Ground Balance button until it bleeps twice then start pumping the coil 6″ to 1″ from the ground until the Threshold sound levels out then release. This feature is very easy to get used to and important as an improperly balanced detector will lose depth if set to positive or if set to negative give more depth but give a noisier operation.
EMF Scan: You can call it what you want but it is very effective at selecting a quite operating channel. I can work under power lines and next to (Near) other pulses without getting my ears blew off. Easy to access to just press the Frequency scan once while holding the detector waste height.
Ground Tracking has four different levels so how do you choose? An important thing I learned from my time using the Whites MXT is that when you go over a target whether it be ferrous or nonferrous the detector the detector tracks the target and this changes the ground balance and then once it passes the target it tracks the ground and changes back. If you are on a site with a lot of targets it would be best to ground balance then leave it at (1). As this puts the ground balance off.
Pinpoint : Bang on accurate in the centre of the coil.
Discrimination Feature I would probably never use as on land it was immediately evident that I was losing depth and sensitivity to cut half’s. The hammered where getting cut out before the iron on all occasions so unless I needed it for my beach detecting I would leave it at (1) light on.
Iron Check : This is where I was pinning all my hopes! Will it work or is it a gimmick? WellI was surprised by this wee feature and in my air test worked perfectly. What the feature does is if you get a target for example a low conductor like hammered Edward penny it will give a “high followed by low tone” just like the Infinium, then you press and hold the Iron Check button and hold until it bleeps twice then rescan your target while holding the button down, If the tone stays high/low or changes to a low/high or you get no sound then you dig BUT if it’s got a buzz in with it then it’s iron.
If you went over a target and it gave a “low tone followed by a high tone” that would indicate a high conductor like a thick silver (Florin) type target again press the Iron check button and hold while rescanning your target, If it stays a low/high or changes to a high low or you get no sound then you dig but if you get a buzz in with it then leave it as its iron. Would this work in the soil now that’s the next part.
I took the ATX to a couple of my sites that are and have been worked hard by others and myself over the last 10 years so ideal testing sites for a PI…why? Well if I am getting lots of small stuff it confirms that the Multi’s and Single frequency detectors could not see them due to the mineralisation but the PI is doing its job.
Garrett ATX metal detector on Field Use
1: Turn On
2. Set the Threshold to
3: Put Sensitivity to 5 just to keep the detector stable while air and ground balancing.
4: Hold the detector waist height and press the Frequency Scan button once. Keep the detector still and let it go through the motions until finished.
5: Put the coil to the ground and find a clear area free from iron (stable threshold while scanning the soil)
6: Put the coil on the ground press the Shift button and while it’s still active (read light on) press and hold the Frequency Scan/Ground Balance button while raising and lowering the coil from 6″ to 1″ continually until the threshold levels out and release the button. You have completed the ground balance
7. Now you have set the detector you need to set the gain/sensitivity and to do this go over your clean area sweeping the coil from side to side while upping the Sensitivity one notch at a time. Your aim is to increase it as high as you can while maintaining a VERY stable threshold. If you run it high you WILL get false signals from the soil and you will not be able to distinguish a real signal from a false signal. We call them false but they are real only you are getting it from the soil and not a piece of metal. The stable operation is crucial as you need to listen for very faint signals.
At the time of writing I have fifteen hours use of the ATX. I have the advantage of having used the Garrett Infinium LS which is Identical “Target” sounds wise to the ATX. On a recent few hours on one of my sites I test all my detectors on a was really tuned in to the detector and had was getting some very good High/Low signals which gave no iron grunt while iron checking them so unearthing the target and getting iron of various sizes was quite disheartening. This theme carried on throughout the day and I went home with one Edward I penny, half of a Denarius, 23 non ferrous targets and 19 iron targets. I am no stranger to pulse detectors on land and know they like iron but I was determined to re test the iron I had dug to see if I could educate my hearing on the sharpness or non sharpness of the signal.
Once home I tested the iron targets I had found and could hear a very very slight buzzing while iron checking them, I had heard this sound before digging them but assumed it was a good target sound (non ferrous)? Honestly this is so faint my microphone for my video camera can’t pick it up while inside my ear phones. I wish Garrett would amplify the output for headphones as they are extremely quiet. I requested a headphone adapter from Nigel but it broke after a day’s use. The big positive is that most of the nineteen bits of iron gave this very faint “zzzz” sound what you need to do is train your hearing to recognise it. I will certainly be putting it to the test over the festive holidays.
Well I had two weeks off work and used the ATX exclusively and with some success…”yes thought so” I hear you thinking another field test that sits on the fence !! well anyone that knows me knows that’s not my style. My two main hopes for the ATX was that it was deeper than a Top VLV or Multi Frequency detector on mineralized soil and that the iron check feature would be effective and here are my findings.
Depth on my site where I test any new detector I own or coil has pylons on it and is detected to death by two other Top PI users and know how hard this site needs to be worked. Initially I was getting concerned about the depth as I wasn’t getting any medium or large size targets at any depths I would expect from a pulse on land. This was to come but during my holidays I got a target on my test field and it signalled high/low and when I probed it in the hole it was a copper ring type item from around 12″. This honestly gave me a big smile as it gave me a big leap of confidence in the ATX as I said this site is notoriously mineralised.
Let me explain my in the field experience of pulse induction detectors since 2005 as you see I highlighted “In the field experience” week in and out for years. I do not care to baffle people with far to technical field tests. You can write as much mumbo jumbo as you like but the detector has got to perform to the HYPE or INSINUATION that it can do a certain thing which then triggers the visions in your head of new treasure jumping out of your best done to death field !!
What sold the ATX to me was that it had an iron check!! I never got excited about this or posted any questions on any forums regarding this as I would need to test it on my sites. This feature would make or break the ATX for me so I tested it to death. The best way to explain in my experience is with a discriminating pulse when you start to use it you will dig about 75% iron until you start to train your ear to the sounds and this takes time not days but lots and lots of patience and use. The ATX was no different to me I was digging 75% iron and that was because I had to learn what the ATX was telling me its certainly like learning a language. After around 32 + hours use I had reduced this to 50% and this is what I would expect even from the Top PI which I currently have used for over a year. The iron check feature once engaged you will start to learn what targets slip through the net and make you dig ..only to be iron. I have no doubt in my mind if I owned this detector for as long as my current discriminating PI the ATX would not be far off its ability to discriminate.
If you are looking to GENUINLY make your dead mineralised field come alive with small low conducting targets I will guarantee you that the ATX has this ability.
I run www.toddys-digs.co.uk which is a detecting club in Scotland where you will see me using PI’s week in and out.
Part two coming soon ….THE BEACH which I know it’s wee brother the Infinium excelled in so I expect good things.
The buying of a detector has always been down to either having heard about it through the grape vine, or reading the reports when a new detector hits the market. Once purchased, a read through the manual, a quick tryout of the machine with a few objects and then out on the fields. Only then will you start finding the faults and experience difficulties with the detector, some just requiring another read of the manual, others an inbuilt characteristic that hadn’t been mentioned with all the hype. This report will have a different format, instead of the usual copying out of the manual to give a description of the different functions of the detector; I will be testing those functions at home and in the field, giving an assessment, by seeing it through the eyes of a new owner and what he will come up against. All machines find, it’s how good and the ease with which they do it that counts. Nigel at Regton asked me to test the new chipped GoldMaxx version and allowed me plenty of time to do so. Tone i.d. has always had problems on this type of mineralised ground, so it would prove interesting. I don’t think I need to go into the assembling of the GoldMaxx, suffice to say it was easy and build quality is first rate, with attention paid to the known fault areas with detectors. The machine is well balanced and light enough to use all day. Running at 18KHz and powered by 8 X 1.5 volts batteries in two drop in pods. These have a working life of 70 hours, the nimh rechargeables drop to 30hours. I do think that there could be some improvement with the instruction manual, parts of it need to be updated to correct English with a little more in depth explanations to be fully understood.
A cautionary tale
After reading the manual, I spent a couple of hours in my home trying out numerous objects and settings to familiarise myself with the controls. Having got what I thought was an understanding; I took it out to the back garden. Mine is a relatively new house with a great deal of the builders rubbish beneath the lawn, at pre-set positions the detector was going absolutely bananas. With the amount of tones coming from the machine,
there were kids in the street looking for the ice cream van! Turning the sensitivity right back quietened things considerably, not a very auspicious start! Having recovered from this, it became a question of taking it to any spare patch of land and spending a great deal of time trying to get to grips with the detector, understanding was the issue, finding was secondary. Eventually as more of my land became available, I was able to try out the detector over a period of a couple of months, the results of which are as follows. The GoldMaxx can be run using tone i.d. or standard motion discrimination, these work independently of each other. As mentioned earlier, tone i.d. has never worked properly on my fields because of the heavy mineralisation. I have to say that the GoldMaxx is the first to do so with no problems. On the tone i.d. controls, Double or triple tones. A two-way switch enables double or triple tones, with the double tone, small iron will be low, with a clear high tone for the good stuff; there is no mistaking a good target, the deeper the coins, the higher the pitch they develop: even when close to any nails. Worked in conjunction with the silencer on 0 or 1 and sweeping slower in bad areas, target separation has been bordering on exceptional. The triple tone will give a higher pitch than the double on coins, with a medium tone for less conductive metals, but early during the test period I did find it confusing using either of the tones over the deeper medium size iron where they gave out a medley of tones (Could it be a coin near iron?) This however was down to me and my learning curve of the GoldMaxx. Approaching the target from a different direction helped with identification. One area where the triple tone scored better was on coke, the bane of many detectorists. With the note coke gives in double tone, it’s very hard to distinguish from that of a coin. Using the triple tone, a silver coin
signal is markedly higher than the coke, but a roman bronze minim isn’t. (See conventional disc.). I also found that by switching from one tone to the other over iffy signals helped with identification. Whilst on the subject of tones, the higher pitch of the innovative headphones supplied, gave a far superior signal for this machine than my more expensive ones. Very light and cool in the summer months too! I don’t believe that they will stand up to a lot of misuse though. The GoldMaxx can also be used as a conventional silent-search discriminating detector. When using the Discrimination, the tones, silencer and iron volume will be de-activated. With this system the iron discrimination is spread over a wide band starting from all metal on 0, nails are lost between 5 or 6, with full discrimination still being able to pull a cut half of Henry 2nd with very slight depth loss. This enables a lot more user control than many other detectors. Larger Iron will come through and if at depth, is hard at times to differentiate from a good signal. Changing to tone i.d. with the iron level will verify it is iron. Conversely it is very easy when in tone i.d. to switch to discrimination to verify signals. On full discrimination coke is lost whilst still being able to pull hammered and roman minims. Normal disc. is without doubt the quieter of the two sets of discrimination with no discernable differences in depth ability.
The wording is misleading in the manual when it talks of false signals caused by iron, although this quite rightly implies some inbuilt discrimination. I have come to the conclusion that the silencer with its 3-position switch, works on the same discrimination principal as bottle cap reject. This is for nails and small iron only, the larger the iron, the less the effect. (This is where the iron volume level takes over.) Running the coil over a 2-inch nail, in the 0 position, will give a certain amount of discrimination amounting to a broken signal. Switching to positions 1 then 2 will increase the rejection to “lose” the nail, albeit at the expense of losing a little of the response speed, at which this detector is now the fastest I have come across. Depth loss even on 2 is negligible. In use on 0, small iron will give an easy identifiable “spit” or a very brief chopped signal. Switching first to 1, then if necessary 2 will eradicate this smaller stuff; also by using 1 or 2, Tone i.d. is improved on the worst sites. Do not be confused by people saying that the silencer gets rid of ground chatter, it doesn’t, the only thing to get rid of ground chatter is a more positive ground balance! Which leads me nicely to ground balance. “Its ground balance Jim, but not as we know it”. The pre-set mark will eliminate hot rocks and other mineralised objects such as certain pottery. Holding the coil for 5 seconds in the air, away from the ground when first switching on, ground balances the detector correctly. On other detectors with a 10-turn ground adjust set correctly; to eliminate hot rocks requires a further turn to a turn and a half more positive with an ensuing loss of depth. So for those people where hot rocks aren’t a problem, by turning the control to the left of pre-set, this will gain more depth. For my land, I found this to be where the red segment starts, about the 11o’clock position, (mineralisation allowing). Bear in mind however, too far left of the pre-set will result in loss of discrimination and false signals caused by negative ground balance. Even further will lead to the detector sounding off if the coil scuffs the ground. If hot rocks do become too annoying, run one over the coil and turn the ground balance to the right until the sound disappears. Too far right will result in loss of depth. After saying all that, for those new to the machine, stay at the pre-set mark, it will be more stable and give better discrimination. Keep to this, even with a change of coils.
The Iron Volume
To begin with I was bemoaning the fact that the GoldMaxx didn’t have a constant threshold and an All-metal mode to suss iron quickly. Large deep iron was coming through and to my ears as a good signal, but after awhile the more I used the Iron volume and understood it better, the quicker and easier it became. Without the volume control, iron in the first few inches below the surface will give a low pitch, however, the deeper or larger it is, and the tone changes to a higher single or double pitch. With the iron volume in use, anything ferrous gives a distinctive low buzz, the deeper or larger the object, the more you need to increase the iron volume level to the right to identify it. I found that on large pieces such as horseshoes, if the coil was about a foot away it would give a good signal, then the volume control kicked in gradually became worse the closer it went to the iron. Eventually I came to understand that the size of the target had overpowered the detector and not a good and a bad signal in close proximity. If the ground is very mineralised and lots of iron, having too high a sensitivity setting will cause the iron volume to sound out (slightly) on a good signal. I did try the ground balance a little more positive and this helped but only partially. Reducing the sensitivity will cure this. Some detectorists will have the iron volume control at their preferred settings as soon as they start detecting, but I found that if the control box was hip-mounted for ease of access, I could run the iron volume on zero and then use it to check out the individual “not sure’s”. With more ferrous debris I found a setting about 9 or 10 0’clock worked well, then turning it higher on the individual larger pieces when necessary. The use of the volume control does not affect depth capabilities.
With the amount of mineralisation in the ground around here, the higher kHz machines (17,18and19) cry out for a DD widescan coil. This is a really good one, with very little “side-loss” to nearly maximum depth, robust, but light enough to swing all day. It combines the handling of mineralisation with good depths and obviously with this type of coil, target acquisition doesn’t have to rely on just the coil centre.There is no pinpoint mode, so sweeping the coil at 90 degrees to the target is necessary. By lifting the coil and just getting a signal, placed the object dead centre each time.
What do we all want from detectors, depth? Of course, without the need to dig a lot of iron. Also the ability to find the tiny stuff amongst iron, whilst handling bad mineralisation. Until now I’ve had to use more than one machine to accomplish this. So it’s a tall order for one, but I have found that used correctly, this detector has those capabilities. To be honest the first few days I used the GoldMaxx I didn’t like it because I didn’t understand it. In my ignorance I thought it was “gimmicky”, information was at times misleading, add to that alien words like “silencer” and “iron volume”; it was a new ball game. However after understanding the capacities of every control and how they worked in conjunction with each other, it not only became a lot clearer, but also left me admiring the thinking behind it. It reached the stage where I was going out not to find, but seeing just what else the detector could do. To achieve the results that this machine is capable of, will require time and more than a little patience; but then isn’t that the case with all good detectors? For those dyed in the wool, switch on and go, silent search merchants, this detector will not be for them. Using the tone i.d. system, everything will be heard, apart from small ferrous, yes it does have a perfectly good normal disc system, but it’s not half as interesting! (Or as informative) To get the very best results out of the detector, a slower sweep speed is needed; I don’t recommend using this to go belting across the fields. One of the areas where the GoldMaxx impressed me most has been the response speed and target separation, it really is exceptional. Normally to achieve results this good would be at the expense of depth. Not so in this case, I noticed a marked improvement in depths over my other detectors, even on the likes of cut halves and quarters. With such good results obtained from the standard widescan coil on mineralised and ferrous areas, I can imagine that the addition of the elliptical would be of real benefit on the roman sites etc. Iron, deep or otherwise was identified with the tone i.d. controls, even some iron washers. To begin with though, I did have difficulties at times “sussing” out signals. Coke problems should be a thing of the past by using the discrimination, without loss of coinage. I found the double tone easier to use and when over the target, if necessary, checking the signal with the triple, then if needed on occasions the discrimination mode. Differences in depth between the two discriminating modes were negligible. Whether hip-mounted or not, the detector has perfect balance and is Very light. I was able to use it for up to 10 hours at a time without the feeling that my arm was dropping off. From dislike, to like? If I have given the impression that this machine has “grabbed” me your right, would I recommend it?
I now own one! ‘Nuff said.
Reproduced with the kind permission of Treasure Hunting Magazine. John Lynn
I once used to sell Mazda cars and on one occasion a prospective customer came into the showroom and asked me what they were like. I replied that even if they were rubbish or had faults, did he really think I was going to tell him? My job was to convince him that what he was purchasing was the best his money could buy and if the situation arose, try to steer him into the car with the most profit for me. That’s sales the world over, whether it be a car, a washing machine or a detector. Most detectorists who have been around for a while are by now aware of this fact and that the machine they read about and subsequently buy has the good points extolled, but no mention is made of it’s limitations or drawbacks. As a completely independent, over the coming months I will be field testing different models and describing not only how they work under differing conditions but also the drawbacks, and if possible how to overcome these. The new models Ace 150 and 250 that Garrett have brought out for 2005, supersedes the previous Ace 100 and 300. It hasn’t just been a quick makeover with a different badge slapped on the side, but a completely new detector from the coil upwards. The standard green livery of Garrett has been replaced by a new bright hamburger cheese yellow for the control box and the armrest cup, this contrasts with the black stem and the all new 6.5″ x 9″ Rhino elliptical coil and which runs at 7.2KHz It loses none of the excellent build quality that Garrett is renowned for and was very quickly assembled. As opposed to the original switch on and go format, the Ace 150 control box now boasts 3 touch buttons that controls the Power, Sensitivity and Discriminating modes. An LCD screen with graphic target I.D. cursor on a 5- segmented horizontal scale, giving a probable target readout. Also three different discriminating modes of operation, All-Metal, Jewellery and coins, the sensitivity is adjusted incrementally in four stages. A coin depth gauge (2”, 4” or 6+inches) is situated to the right-hand side of the control box and there is also a low battery indicator. The headphone jack is placed conveniently under the control housing, so allowing no moisture ingress to the control-box. Replacing the 4xAA batteries is a simple matter of sliding the front cover off the control box. An adjustment to the arm-cup is simply a case of undoing one screw, and the whole lot weighs in at a mere 2.7lbs. The handy pocket size manual is easily understood with plenty of illustrations to get you on your way and able to refer back to it in the field.
The people that I showed it to gave a condescending smile, this reminded me of way back, when the Silver Sabre first came on the scene and because of it’s size it too was regarded as a mere toy, — until people actually used it.
I thought that I would take it easy and give it a run out on one of my lesser-mineralised sites, bearing in mind that most of it had already been covered with more upmarket machines. Deciding to use only the all-metal and jewellery modes; as in the coin mode pull-tabs are notched out and this I feel is intended more for beaches and parks. Working over the stubble using full sensitivity the Ace 150 was behaving itself with no false signalling and even beneath power lines, by dropping the Sens. down a notch it remained stable. Running at 7.2KHz it surprised me with the ease it was able to find the inner cores of cartridges. Okay they aren’t bright hammered coins, but to have this ability over 6inch high stubble and finding the small objects in the ground a further couple of inches is not to be sneezed at by any detectors standards. With buttons and pieces of lead and suchlike coming to light, my confidence in the machine grew, (No longer a condescending smile!)
On a Roman site
It wasn’t so much the heavier mineralisation but more the large amount of ferrous material, that decided me to work in all –metal. The lower 7.2 KHz meant that the response speed would be slower and I would need to hear all signals to adjust my sweep speed accordingly. Nails would register with a low tone with small bronzes and silver (think big!) with higher tones. Straightaway the Sens.needed dropping a notch and then once more in the more contaminated areas, because of the concentration of ferrous giving out unreliable readings and sounding off. The coinage and artefacts as expected in these conditions weren’t coming up at any great depths, but the Ace 150 definitely had the ability to pull stuff, small bronzes and other finds under these conditions. Moving away from the area it was then possible to switch to Jewellery mode and up the Sens. another notch and still remain perfectly stable. Running at full sens. was out of the question, just as it would have been using other machines.
Taking it on the dry sand isn’t really a test, as all detectors will perform well in these conditions, but I wanted to see how well the Coin Mode worked and just what coinage would be lost. Well, the Ace will ignore all types of pull-tabs, ring-pulls and bottle caps, plus iron and foil, whilst retaining all pre-decimal coinage and also £2 and £1 coins, 5p’s and the older 1 and 2p’s. Sensitivity could be left on full. Going further down the beach to the damp sand I switched back to jewellery mode, the Sens. needed dropping because of some false signalling. Trying it over water that was laying about was a complete no, no. Although not absolutely 100% stable over the damp sand, I was still able to pull some coinage and at reasonably good depths. All the false signals were of the high bell-tone type, so it was just a question of ignoring these and digging everything else.
In the jewellery mode small ferrous (Nails etc,) will be discriminated out with no sound, but still showing iron on the readout. The larger pieces of iron are easy to distinguish, although sounding out, these will give a broader low signal and will not give a steady reading.
Once again in the Jewellery mode, coke is lost whilst still retaining the ability to pull “ hammered” cut quarters let alone halves..
No problems whatsoever, I wasn’t troubled once, the ground tracking is decidedly on the positive side to overcome these.
As to be expected with the lower KHz detectors, the ability to recover from an unwanted target to respond to a good one will be slower than that of a detector running at the higher KHz ratings. By working slower in the “naily” areas, this will help somewhat in overcoming the problem.
Obviously the Ace 150 is not marketed for those detectorists who already have, or want to own, a high octane machine; this will be more for the first time buyer who requires a sophisticated machine that won’t damage either the pocket or the brain cells. It’s ultra light and effective under most of the conditions where the new owner will want to use it, whether it be the beach or on a Roman site; it has the capabilities to produce, right down to a cut quarter, all at reasonably good depths. The ability to find these and ignore coke and hot-rocks is a much-needed bonus for a detector of any price. After a while and seeing for myself what it achieved, at no time during the testing did I hanker after one of my own machines. Simple to use and versatile, with a price tag of under £170 and a 2year warranty, plus a host of dedicated extras and the name of Garrett, you will get an awful lot of “bangs for your bucks.” I’ve now got used to the colour as well!
Before you lot start saying “oh no, not another Garrett” (not that there is anything wrong with them), I would like to explain that I am having a few difficulties in obtaining other detectors to test. The manufacturers and distributors have been approached, but some are a little slow in putting their best foot forward. You would think that with all the free advertising received from a test report that they would be falling over themselves to stick their product in my hand. It can’t be through my lack of experience, as I was detecting before some of these companies were actually in existence. The only stipulation I make is that I will need the detector for at least a month, (6 days a week x 4 weeks, this works out roughly to how long the average detectorists will use his machine for 5 or 6 months. Also with field tests of this length, it not only shows up the odd “wrinkle” but also gives me time to see if there is a way around the problem. If a detector doesn’t work so well on mineralised ground or is heavy to detect with, or not so capable in dealing with iron: why should you have to pay all that money, only to be become aware of the fact after the transaction? Hands up all the people that this has happened to? The two H’s need to be transposed, honesty for hype.
Right, now on to the field test…
The Garrett Ace 250 metal detector has the same dimensions and outward appearance as it’s stable-mate the Garrett Ace 150. The bright yellow and black livery is seen about more and more and is now being recognised as “one of those new Garrett’s”. The differences between the two marques lies in the control box, it has a number of extra features and also a greater range over the existing ones of the 150.
The conntrols- Garrett ACE 250
The box sits in a fixed position in front of the handgrip; there is no provision for hip mounting as the unit is so light that there would be no advantages gained. The six touch buttons sit below the LCD screen, with the target i.d. legend above this. The L C D screen itself portrays both an upper and lower horizontal graph. The upper graph shows the illuminated target i.d. cursor, this has twelve segments for more precise discrimination, and i.d. (also used for pinpointing). The lower scale indicates the amount of discrimination employed and also notch elimination. The left hand side of the screen indicates which mode of detection is currently being used, whilst the right hand side shows the target depth in four increments to eight inches plus. Beside this there is also a constant battery condition indicator.
Switching the detector on and off is accomplished by depressing the power button, holding it in for 10 seconds will return the settings to the factory preset for each mode. There are five different modes or programmes, All Metal, Jewellery, Custom, Relics and Coins. To change from one mode to the other is done by the mode (+) or (-) touch pad, which is on rocker, so it saves time by being able to scroll up or down the menu for the desired level of discrimination. The Sensitivity has eight (illuminated) settings for more precise control and target detection; this too is on a rocker as is the discrimination.
Metal detecting – Discrimination
This is used in conjunction with the Elimination button. Using the + or – button to move the cursor left or right, then use the Elim. button to notch out certain targets. When going over this rejected target, no sound will then be heard. The Pinpoint button when held in over a target will show the signal strength on the upper graph; the greatest number of graph segments that is displayed, indicates that the centre of the coil is over the target. The headphone jack is placed under the right-hand side of the control box, okay if you are left-handed, if not the headphone cable can cross over the box at the end of the right-hand side of the coil sweep.The coil is the very light Rhino 6.5″ x 9″ elliptical spider and the detector’s unit runs at 7.2 KHz, (same for the Ace 150)The control unit is powered by 4 x 1 1/2 volt batteries, these are replaced by sliding off the slide-in front cover to the control box. Finally the manual, very simply it tells you what you need to know in an easy to read style, I particularly like the ability to put it in the back-pocket for easy referral when on the field.
Metal detecting- In house testing
I normally like to spend a couple of hours or so in the house trying out different objects over the coil to familiarise myself with the detector, noting not just the strong points but also any weaknesses. In air testing is just a base-line to work from, but it gives an indication of what the metal detector is capable of and at a later date will tell you how well it copes (or suffers) from the effects of mineralisation. I did find that with the lower frequency the bell tone worked only on the larger or thicker coins. Denarii and Dupondii got the bell tone working as did an Elizabethan shilling and Georgian coppers; but the thinner sectioned hammered pennies and cut halves gave out just the normal tone, although iron in the All Metal mode gave out a low tone. It was possible to knock out coke using the Elim. button and still retain the ability to register cut halves, these needed to be near the centre of the coil to achieve any depth, in actual fact in air depths overall were quite impressive. Obviously response speed left a bit to be desired, but even this wasn’t that shabby compared to some of the detectors that has passed through my hands. Large iron did “come through” but didn’t hold steady on the readout and also gave differing sounds, plus I felt that using the pinpoint on this type of signal would give yet another indication that it was big iron.
Out in the field detecting
My format now is to use a moderately mineralised field to become accustomed to the detector quicker, rather than jump in at the deep end by going straight on to a “nails and all” Roman site. Just as well, as the first 50yards or so into the field told me that the sensitivity needed backing off a couple of notches. I was working it in the Relic mode (only iron is disc’ed out) but the “signals were a coming and the meter was a jumping”, most of the signals were close to the surface small to medium nails. The machine hardly had time to recover when it would hit another one, after making the adjustments it started to behave itself. The readouts on the graph were pretty accurate and held steady, pinpointing the target was a breeze, and this also verified the fact that the odd target was iron by the size of the signal. The depth indicator was pretty accurate on coin-sized objects; obviously anything larger or smaller than this gave a discrepancy. As regards to depths, there was a definite cutback compared to the testing in the house, but then isn’t this always the case? Finds were coming up and decent ones too, as long as the detector was swept at the speed at which conditions allowed; trying to go too fast would result in false readings. I did manage to find a “short cross” cut half and also tiny pieces of lead scrap, so it does have the ability to pull out the small stuff; at no time was I ever bothered by hot rocks.
Roman site detecting
Knowing how the Ace 150 handled the last roman site, I decided to employ the same tactics in the worst areas by working in All Metal, as this would give me a faster response speed. The sensitivity needed to be dropped another couple of notches for the 250 to behave itself, it did too, rewarding me with a couple of tiny Roman bronzes in the first quarter of an hour. It was just a question of taking my time and working the area slowly, adjusting the sensitivity accordingly, grabbing a bit and then backing off where needed. No matter what detector is used, finds from this area weren’t going to come from any great depths but the Ace 250 was managing to winkle out the odd piece here and there. In the worst spots iron did “show through” from time to time but was identified by an erratic read-out on the meter. Moving away from the heavy concentration of ferrous and mineralisation it was then possible to increase the sensitivity and change to the Relic mode again. If coke does become a problem it’s just a question of notching out another two segments on the Disc graph, this still enables cut hammered to be found.
Beach metal detecting with Garrett ACE 250
At the top of the beach on dry sand, sensitivity could be left on either high or one segment below. I used the Jewellery mode and notched out the ring pulls; as in Relic mode large pieces of foil was causing a problem at times. With these settings though the Ace 250 will ignore all types of pull-tabs, ring-pulls and bottle caps, plus iron and foil, whilst retaining all pre-decimal coinage and also £2 and £1 coins, 5p and the older 1 and 2p. If pull-tabs aren’t that prolific (show me a beach where they aren’t and I’ll be there); don’t bother with the notch to allow you to find all denominations. Damp sand does need a bit of care, by using a higher disc setting and lowering the Sensitivity, finds can be made although as with the 150, a certain amount of false signalling can still occur. As before, these are recognisable by always being the bell tone, generally at the end of the sweeps. Stay well away from pools of water unless you intend to wash the coil!
Having already field-tested the Ace 150 and given it the thumbs up, it is now just a question of comparison. They are both cracking good entry level detectors, it’s whether you opt for the standard ford escort or the ghia version; both will do the same job, but the ghia has more refinements for ease of use. I did find that although the 250 has extra increments on the sensitivity, care needs to be taken when using them, as in a lot of cases this did cause instability; this could be due to the nature of soil in this part of the country, elsewhere could be a different story. I have been looking on one or two American forums and at the moment they are raving about how good the Aces are at coin-shooting on parkland and their accompanying photos certainly bears this out. I suppose this is a bit remiss of me not to include something along these lines when testing, after all not everyone has the luxury to be able to detect each time on farmland. The Ace 250 certainly produced the goods on the sites that I did take it to and anyone just coming into detecting or even for a detectorist’s son or daughter, “the pair of aces” are extremely light and manageable. Although budget priced, the amount of sophistication on these detectors needs to be seen to be appreciated. I firmly believe that Garrett has produced a creditable winner (I wonder what other aces he has up his sleeve)?