Buying your first metal detector can present you with some difficult decisions, here are some metal detecting questions and answers.
Metal detector facts, important things you should know before buying a new or used metal detector for more information please visit our forum where all your questions will be answered.
All people new to the hobby should visit this page, it will guide you through a simple process and help you to choose the best metal detector for your budget.
Choosing the correct metal detector
Buying your first metal detector
Q: I am new to this hobby should I buy a cheap machine just to start off with ?
A: My advice would be to avoid cheap machines especially the Chinese ones swamping E Bay, they do not perform well, you will soon be disappointed with metal detecting.
A good starter price would be in the region of £200- £300 for a new machine, when visiting a dealer ask if they are a sole importer of a particular model I will bet they try to sell you that one. Take your time and look at a varied range of models and talk to independent detectorists and retailers.
Q: Do I need a specific metal detector to detect Gold ?
A: No most good metal detectors will detect Gold coins and jewellery quite easily, however a more specialised unit may be required for nugget hunting in remote places such as Australia and other desert areas.
Q: I have seen advertised metal detectors that detect 2m on coins is this true ?
A: No this is total rubbish expect to detect coins at around 8″-14″ depth depending on size and soil conditions…avoid manufacturers that make these claims.
Q: I have been told metal detectors work deeper in the soil than in air is this true ?
A: No if a machine performs badly in air it will not exceed in the soil.
Q: Do I need a metal detector with a meter ?
A: No a meter is only an added gimmick which can quite often give you false information, for example a ring pull has the same conductivity as a some ancient silver coins…would you ignore the target if the meter said ring pull…no I wouldn’t either. Use the meter for ferrous and non ferrous only.
Q: Do I need special headphones for a metal detector ?
A: No most headphones will work on a modern metal detector although build quality differs, my tip would be go for headphones with a single sided lead and a volume control. Always use headphones when detecting… only use the detectors in built speaker as a last resort.
Here are some simple metal detecting question and answers, perhaps they will help you before you send your machine in for repair.
Poor power supply is the most common problem with metal detector failures, always check batteries are installed correctly and have sufficient power, some batteries show good power on a tester but fail under load.
After market re-chargeable batteries may not supply enough Amps for your machine.
Be aware that Duracell’s from the market are very likely to be Chinese copies and will fail, so I always buy Energizers from a supermarket or trusted outlet.
Some signs of bad batteries:
Metal detector works well at first but slowly the performance gets worse.
Machine is not rejecting Iron as well as it did and the audio sounds faint.
My machine gives a series of bleeps at regular intervals.
Note : Most new metal detectors are not supplied with good quality batteries, they should be changed as soon as possible.
Other problems you may encounter with a metal detector
Q; My metal detector is very erratic, I get lots of signals all at once.
A: Turn the sensitivity down, also you may not be using enough discrimination turn it up slightly to eliminate nails. Wet grass may be a problem, check the coil housing is not split and letting in water, some users may wish to try searching wet grass with no coil cover, this can help as some machines are very sensitive, droplets of water trapped between the coil and cover may cause false signals, I have found this to be the case on the early Minelab’s. Some machines from Eastern Europe and most from China have poor internal coil shielding they will not work on wet grass no matter what you do.
Q: My metal detector gives a signal when I touch the coil cable.
A: Check the coil cable is tight on the connecting collar, as a rule the coil wire is very sensitive and may not indicate there is a problem with the machine.
Q: My metal detector bleeps when the coil touches stubble or long grass.
A: Turn the power down a little this may help, your search coil may be out of tune with the machine, this can be re calibrated with a manual ground balance if your machine is fitted with one, if not the machine may need re-tuning do not attempt this yourself, send it to your dealer as it is a very specialised task. The search coil is very delicate, if all fails you may have a broken wire inside it.
If your machine becomes erratic in wet grass a common cause may be the sensitivity is to high, the coils internal shielding has broken down, you may require a new search coil, however some can be repaired or it may just be an incorrect ground control setting.
Q: My metal detector is not as deep as my friends.
A: If you are using an older model it is more than likely technology has taken another step forward and you may wish to upgrade. However if you are using a modern metal detector, it may simply be you are using the wrong search technique. Try to keep the coil as close to the ground as possible, slow your sweep speed down and investigate some signals you would not normally dig, this method proves valuable when using modern machines, remember deep targets will not always give a good signal.
Q: I got my metal detector wet in a rain storm what shall I do?
A: Remove the batteries and place the control box in a warm cupboard for a few days to dry out slowly, you may be lucky!. Never spray WD40 on to the circuit board.
Q: When I detect on my own the machine performs great, if I am at a rally or a club dig it is not so good.
A: The chances of outside interference from another metal detector is very high especially at rally’s, sometimes you can not hear it, but it may still be silently affecting the machines circuitry. Keep as much distance from other machines and electrical sources, turning your sensitivity down will help. Some newer machines now have a switchable frequency to overcome this problem.
Q: The meter on my metal detector says the target is good but when I dig it it’s Iron.
A: Meters are never accurate because there are so many different types of target, all metal detectors are fooled by odd shaped Iron, some worse than others. Treat your meter as a guide but never rely on it 100%.For example never ignore a target if the meter says ring pull because it may be a hammered coin or jewellery.
Q: My metal detector gives a good signal on coke is something wrong with it?
A: Most machines will give a signal Coke/hot rock on the surface there are so many different types. The Minelab range will give good Coke rejection, other machines are somewhere in the middle, it is normal to get a good signal on coke with single frequency machines.
Q: My detector will not pick up a new 1p or 2p is it working properly ?
A : Modern coinage quite often has a high iron content this is quite normal
Q: I have purchased a new machine which I believe is faulty what should I do?
A: The first thing to do is contact your dealer, if they tell you to send it to a warranty department you can refuse, let the dealer send it and pay the postage, he should have built this cost into the original sale price. Cheap metal detectors are cheap for a reason check this out before buying. Also if your machine is not a genuine UK model you may have no warranty whatsoever. Pentechnic in Staffordshire repair most makes of metal detector.
Here is a short video on how to assemble your first metal detector