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My understanding thus far

9 Feb

A long time ago, I made the observation that when I am metal detecting for very deep objects, every metal target ‘goes to iron’. Now I know that that was a poor choice of words.

What I meant to say is that when you are detecting for very deep objects, and for me, that’s past ten inches deep, all targets sound the same as iron would at that depth. With the XP Deus, that means an ID in the high 90’s and a high tone. Of course, with advanced detectors, you can change the tone to whatever you want but be that as it may, the ID probably won’t change.

Why you may ask? The answer is that the identifying circuit in your detector, at least for a Very Low Frequency (VLF) detector, does not go all the way to the limits of the signal. Confused? Let’s see if I can make a picture:


So, as you can see, your detector can achieve an absolute depth dictated first by the power output of your machine and the size of your coil, and then, by various external variables such as ground mineralization, ground moisture, ElectroMagnetic Interference (EMI), ambient temperature, etc. When you get to this limit, you may get an ID or you may not but whatever audio signal you get however, will be the same for ALL targets. There may be people out there with super ears who, while using a detector with variable audio may discern differences in the tone at that depth. I hear people claim this but I haven’t met anyone personally who can do it.

That’s what I meant when I said ‘all targets go to iron’ at the limits of your detector’s signal. Why this happens is beyond my puny little brain. In fact, I could be wrong about my understanding of things. This notion was borne of experience. I have dug thousands of holes in the last 6 years and explored the depths more than most. It really hurts me to see newbies get excited because they get a high tone on a deep target. Sometimes they get lucky, as do I, and pull a keeper from the depths but let me assure you that if you routinely dig signals at eleven or twelve inches (or deeper) as I do, you will have an impressive amount of old, rusted iron for your efforts.

I also do not understand why a freshly buried target can be id’d better than a target which reaches the same depth via natural processes. A detectorist claimed once that his Tesoro Vaquero could id a nickel at twelve inches. To test, I buried a nickel at 12 inches and was able to id it half the time with my machine. In real life, however, I’ve yet to id a nickel past seven inches, and I mean, with a proper id and a tone.

So there you have it. Maybe this is useful or maybe it is pure dribble. You decide. Also, if you are smarter than me and have a good solid understanding of the workings of a detector, please comment below. I could stand a bit of learning.

Thank you for stopping by.


Masking is the new frontier

31 Oct

Sunday evening I returned to the 1884 park with my trusty XP Deus metal detector.

I wanted to spend a little more time at the spot where I found the two Mercury dimes Saturday morning. This time I began my hunt with a high recovery speed and stayed at the same 5’x 10′ area.

I decided to try a two tone approach but it was tricky deciding on the cut-off for iron. I didn’t want to miss any small gold so I probably left the setting too low because I ended up digging about 20 rusty nails. Still, the hunt was productive:

Iron was found with every target except for the new dime, which was on the surface. The Mercury dime was a faint signal in spite of being only about six inches deep. I attribute this to the Jack that was in the hole with it. The Nickel is from 1949 and was found as part of a pocket spill with the two Wheat cents.

Let me recap so I can paint a picture for you. The area is approximately 5 feet by 10 feet. I conservatively estimate that I have dug more than 200 rusty nails and pieces of other iron from it since I began hunting the spot three years ago. During this hunt I dug two large pieces of iron near the surface. I find large pieces of iron near the surface every time I dig here. There appears to be no end to it.

Why all the iron? I surmise a structure stood here a long time ago; possibly even before the swing set stood there. I think this because I have dug very old door hinges and other pieces of iron that hold wood together from here. Theory number two is that the spot where the park now sits was used as a dump, which I understand was common on the old days. All the coins I have found here harken back to the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, when the swing set sat there.

There you have it. A classic case of iron masking. There is something called silent masking. As I understand it, this is the case when you hear neither the iron nor the non ferrous target being masked. In other words, the coil goes over both the iron and the coin but the detector makes no noise at all. I believe this is happening here as well.

Stay tuned to see if I am right about this.

Thank you for stopping by.

Back to silver

29 Oct

I returned to the park this morning where I found the token the other day with the aim of exploring more deep signals with my XP Deus metal detector. I have been using the 9 inch coil lately to try to get around the trash.

I selected an area I haven’t explored in several years. I remember this area was heavily infested by foil and pull tabs but today I was amused to find out that the area was relatively clear of shallow trash. Seems like other hunters have been working the spot. After an hour of nothing but deep chunks of rusted iron, I changed my strategy. One of the beautiful things about the XP Deus is that it is ridiculously fast. At its slowest setting, it is as fast as many other machines at their fastest. This is known.

So I raised my recovery speed to 3 and moved to the 5’x10′ area where I have found 99 percent of all coins at this park. I actually watched a guy with an Etrack several years ago grid this very same spot and come up empty handed. I myself have come up empty handed several times but today, I was in a good mental place and got in the ‘zone’ quickly. I must add that the reason why a high recovery speed is necessary at this location is that if you sink your digger to about seven to eight inches randomly, you will likely find rusted nails and several small round pieces of amorphous rusted iron. I know that in the 30’s and 40’s there was play equipment here but why all the nails and other rusted iron are there I’ll never know. Here are my non-ferrous targets:

The round piece of rusted iron is a steel wheat cent. This is either the third or fourth I have dug since I began back in 2011. The rivet, I was told by my friend lawdog1, is likely from a pair of old overalls. The two mercs were around six inches deep but barely gave a signal as they were heavily masked by iron. I wonder how many more coins are there being silently masked by the insane amount of iron.

I will continue to explore this spot in the coming weeks to see if I can squeeze more silver from it.

Thank you for stopping by!

Happy Thanksgiving

27 Nov

It’s the day after Thanksgiving. I am still reeling from yesterday’s over eating. It’s 27 degrees outside with a dusting of snow on the ground and I am seriously considering going out to dig some holes in the frozen ground (it rained all day yesterday).

The Money Maker Protocol (henceforth MMP) has netted me an old trolley token (1900-1933) and a 1913 D wheat. It occurred to me that I can apply this protocol while using one of the All Metal modes of the Deus. I tried hunting on All Metal mode (AMM) before but I didn’t have the protocol, I just sort of walked aimlessly and thus drove myself crazy and abandoned the AMM.

We’ll see.

The most significant development in my metal detecting life is that I have finally engaged the help of the German-farming side of the family in finding old homesites and such. Already, I was regaled with fables of a lost ghost town and the possibility of obtaining permission to hunt it.

Now I gotta go find my thermal underwear.

The Money Maker Protocol

18 Nov

Yesterday I went to a very old park in the city. I won’t call it a hunted out park because, really, ALL our parks are hunted out! Anyway, a couple of years ago, a pair of detectorists hit this park with their E-tracs and pulled a number of very cool coins out of there. Needless to say, scores of other detectorists descended upon this park but none repeated the impressive results the two guys with their Minelabs achieved.
The park is, of course, very trashy and, as it is very popular today, the trash continues to pile up.

I myself have hunted this park a number of times and managed to pull a silver coin now and again. This time however, I took my XP Deus to this park with a very specific protocol in mind. Protocol is a fancy word for what you all do now when detecting. Do you dig a signal or not? The answer to that question depends on your protocol.

I specifically wanted to try the spot where the two guys mentioned above found all their coins. Heck, I was there for one of their hunts and watched as one of them dug up a super cool Seated dime. I know they did a very thorough job at that spot but being me, and the reputation of the E-track notwithstanding,  I believe there are still many cool coins to be had there.

I walked to the very spot where KansasDave found that Seated dime that morning and I began applying my protocol. I had to dig a couple of rusted bottle caps to establish some parameters and then I began to seriously look for treasure. Not long I had a couple of signals that fit the criteria of the Money Making Protocol. The first coin was a wheat minted in 1919. Cool. Next signal was a wheat from 1918.  Next signal turned out to be a very toasted V nickel. I can barely make out the first two numbers of the date: 18xx.

I continued and dug up a couple of small pieces of aluminum foil. The protocol is susceptible to this so I still need to refine it. Not to worry though as my next signal gifted me with this beauty:

A 1917 Type 1 Standing Liberty Quarter.

A few feet away, the next signal turned out to be a 1901 Barber dime with a New Orleans mint mark:


The last signal of the hunt was a very deep 1964 memorial. Geez!

So I think that the Money Maker Protocol is a winner. I wouldn’t apply this protocol to just any park. It is designed for very old parks.


Hopefully I will get to hunt a bit more this Fall and Winter.

Thank you for stopping by!

Three Ringer Circus and other things

10 Mar

This past Saturday, Maurice and I were invited to hunt an awesome site out in Western Kansas (Thank you Keith!). The scenery was Dances With Wolves beautiful and the history of the area is fascinating; a history which includes (it is claimed) Custer himself.

It was a great hunt on a beautiful day with some great company. I always believed that I would never find a three ringer bullet unless I went East, to the hallowed fields of the Civil War. But I was wrong. I found my first three ringer bullet at this site. I will post a picture of it later. Although slightly flattened, the bullet is complete. I found two other three ringers but they were heavily damaged, I would guess when they made contact with a person or an American Bison (known around these parts as Buffalo). I also found a pouchful of cartridges, most of them as old as the history of the place. All in all it was a fantastic trip, one which I hope to make again.

Today at lunch, I went to Riverside park to begin one of many experiments regarding masking. I posit that there are many coins that are being masked by deep iron. So I’ve decided to spend 30 minutes every hunt digging deep iron signals. Today, I dug 9 iron signals. Only the second iron signal revealed an hitherto masked coin. I am excited because although the ratio of iron to non-iron targets in this experiment was 9:1, I am betting that all coins being masked by deep iron are very old coins. This coin was a dateless Buff but I think I can make a very faint 16 at the end of the date, which could conceivably make this Buff a 1916 coin. I will keep you posted.

Thank you for stopping by!

I Guarantee It!

10 Mar

So the weather has now turned and we are enjoying some well deserved mild winter days. The temps are in the 60’s and the sun is shinning and no wet stuff anywhere around.

For me, this is all for naught as I returned to walking during lunch. Walking every lunch hour has made a big difference on my health so I need to keep on walking but, I intend to hunt more on the weekends time permitting.

However, I thought of something this weekend as I spent some time looking for gold in one of our city parks and I can now guarantee you that if you do as I say next, you will find hundreds of silver coins this year.


If we accept that thousands of silver coins are masked by iron then the the way to find all that silver is to dig every iron signal.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Thank you for looking!

If you only dig coin signals you will miss stuff

5 Nov

I was talking with Steveouke yesterday about how some old coins in the ground don’t sound like coins at all when you run your metal detector’s coil over them. This is particularly important to me since I am still looking for my first Seated coin.

Well, after work I stopped at a park for a few minutes at a spot that I just know has more old coins (I’ve found a few there already). I didn’t find any coins but I did get a signal that registered between a pull tab and a zinc Lincoln cent. I don’t usually get this target id. I have the XP Deus set to give a mid tone on this VDI. It was good and consistent so I decided to dig it. I pulled a rusted nail first and then I re-scanned the hole but got nothing else. I knew that the nail would not have given off that signal, so I scanned the plug with my pinpointer and sure enough, I got a hit at about the 4-5 inch mark. This is what I found:




This tiny pendant is marked “Sterling” on the back. If I only dug high tones with coin VDI’s I would have left this in the ground. Let me remind you that three cent coins would also ring somewhere around this range.

I am not saying you should dig every beep but you may want to broaden your digging criteria if you only dig coin signals.

Thank you for looking!


Pushing the limits

14 Oct

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I have in the past, lightly touched on the subject. Be warned, this is not going to be your typical post about metal detecting. IT IS about metal detecting; it’s just that it is about the very limits of metal detecting.

Let me give you a little background which at first may seem unrelated but bear with me.

I saw a video about a man named Byron Ferguson, who can hit ANY moving target with his bow and arrows. In the video I saw the man hit a moving aspirin –yes, you read that right, a moving, regular size (very small!) aspirin tablet with an arrow at 45 feet!!!! Byron goes on to explain in the video, that when he is attempting to hit something very small like an aspirin tablet, he first visualizes the arrow hitting the target.  The scientists trying to figure out how he does it, learned that Byron can track a moving target with uncanny accuracy.

Then I saw a video about a young man (now deceased) who lost his sight at the age of two because of cancer. Eventually, the young man, whose name was Ben Underwood, taught himself to use echolocation to see the world around him. He would make a ticking noise with his mouth and use the echo to navigate around, much like a bat. He was tested and was found to be the real deal. Although completely blind, he could skate and ride his bike without any problems. I had already seen a video about a school that adopted this idea and was teaching it to other blind people.

Last, I had heard of something called the World Memory Championship. A man by the name of Dominic O’Brien won it 8 times. The stuff Dominic can do with his memory seems impossible.

I want to point out that these three people are humans like you and I. What they have done is push our normal human abilities to limits others do not think possible. At least in the case of Ben and Dominic, what they do can be taught to other people. I suspect what Byron can do can also be taught to other people but I don’t know that anyone is trying.

What does this have to do with metal detecting? I believe that there is a way to metal detect while in an altered state. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of altered state (and no, I don’t mean high), think of detecting while in a VERY relaxed state. Why do I say this? I have been trying this for a while and it seems that whenever I am successful at maintaining  a very relaxed state while hunting, I always find a silver coin or something cool. I suspect that when I am super relaxed, my brain can process the signals from the detector at a different level. I have an even crazier idea but I will only tell that one to my closest friends, who will (I hope) still be my friends after they hear it.

Anyway, I wonder how many of the super stars of the hobby use techniques like these but are not telling anyone.

Something to think about.

Thank you for looking!

Call me crazy…

8 Aug

…but I am beginning to get a real appreciation for iron signals! As I said before, I finally was able to configure my Deus metal detector in a way I really like. One of the things I’ve done with Maurice, is to open the iron all the way; I have no iron discrimination. I did however, set the iron audio to 1, the lowest before you turn it off completely. This makes the iron signals come in as a well defined buzz. This buzz is soft and dim and it doesn’t interfere with the other tones.

So when I hunt an iron infested site, I get a rather pleasant series of buzzes. This has really improved my hunting. Also, I dig a lot of iron signals and yes, many are rusted nails but also, many are interesting pieces of iron. I have a large selection of rusted pocket knives and I am quickly amassing the largest collection of bottle openers this side of the Mississippi.  What I don’t dig very often is iron foil. You know what I mean, those nasty flat pieces of old coffee cans and such.

It bears repeating that many, if not all, non-iron objects, will sound like iron once they have reached a deep enough level.

I will also repeat a piece of advice I give all coin-shooters: Coin-shoot like a relic hunter. You won’t regret it!

Thank you for looking!