Metal detecting is a great hobby that more and more people are embracing today. However, before and during the treasure hunt, there are a few tips that can help you get the best out of the activity. In this article, we are going to look at these tips in depth.
Many people today can try out metal detecting as a hobby because of how accessible they are. Activities such as relic hunting, coin collecting and treasure hunting have been made possible by the use of metal detectors. As easy as it is to use a metal detector, it is not as simple as hovering the detector over the ground. Practice makes it easier to find little metallic relics in the ground.
Other than this, metal detectors are used as a security check-in public places such as airports and malls. When metal detectors are used a security measure, they come in two forms: the huge walk-in metal detector where you place all metallic objects on your body on a separate pan, and as a small handheld machine that is run across your body to detect any weapons. Security metal detectors work as part of a larger security system that includes CCTV cameras, door controls and x-ray scanners.
In this article, we are going to focus on the more personal detectors that anyone can own; the relic hunting detector or the hobby detector. There are a few tips you should always remember before and during the metal detecting process. But before that, it is important to understand how the detector works.
How do metal detectors work?
The hobby detectors are the simplest detectors of all. They are the ones used for personal needs. They are the simplest detectors because they produce the lowest frequency, up to 30 kHz. You see, a detectors uses the relationship between electric current and magnetism to detect metals. When a copper coil is wrapped around a metallic object, say a nail, and electric current is passed through it, the nail is magnetized and produces a magnetic field around it.
When the magnet field created hits a metallic object, it reflects back the field and the nail can attract a metal. Metal detectors slightly change this last part. When the field detects the target in the ground, it bounces back to the search coil of the detector and alerts the user that there is a potential target in the ground.
Handheld hobby detectors use this technology to detect metals, only they have a different setup. In this setup, there are two coils in the search head of the detector. The first coil is referred to as the transmitter coil because it transmits, while the second coil is referred to as the receiver coil. The transmitter coil is charged with electric current from the machine’s electric system to produce a magnetic field that travels into the ground.
If there is a target in the ground, the field is reflected back and the receiver coil receives the reflected field from the ground. Once this happens, the alarm system in the detector beeps and/or lights up to alert the user of a target in the ground. The alert system is built such that the stronger the reflected field, the louder the alert will be, and vice versa.
What components make up a metal detector?
Now that you know how a metal detector works, it is important to know the parts that make this process possible. Although different detectors look different based on their purpose, they work basically the same way. The following are the main components in the handheld hobby detector.
- Control box: the control box is the brain of the detector. It is where the microprocessor lies. It is where the transmit signal is produced and the reflected signal is processed and converted to an alert.
- Search coil: Depending on the model of your detector, it can either have one or two search coils. Most detectors have one though. The search coil transmits electromagnetic waves into the ground. It also receives the reflected wave. For metal detectors with two coils, the transmitter coil and receiver are separate.
- Battery: The battery powers the machine and produces electric current needed to charge the transmitter coil
- Shaft: The shaft is the main part of the regular detectors. It is the part where all other parts are connected to and is made to be adjustable for the user’s comfort
- Stabilizer: The stabilizer is an essential part made for the user’s comfort. It acts like an armrest of the detector. It keeps the metal detector stable as you hover it over the ground.
Other parts include the speaker where alerts are sounded, the readout where you can connect the headphones and the handle.
What are the tips for metal detecting?
As you start your new relic hunting hobby, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make the activity more enjoyable and productive. To help you get started, here’s a list of the best tips for beginners.
Expect more trash than treasure
As life has taught us already, good things are hard to find. This life lesson also applies to metal detecting as a hobby. As you scour the earth, you will find a lot of trash and junk that is really worthless. You will find things such as bottle caps, pennies and old empty cans. However, do not give up like most beginners do. Keep searching and you will find something of value.
Look for the right spot
Contrary to what many people believe, you need a bit of research on the area you want to scour. You can visit the library, search journals and do intensive online searches on the historic places around your area where relics have been found in the past.
One of the most important rules is to avoid trespassing. A metal detector does not mean you can scour anyone’s land for some treasure, this will get you sued very fast. Always ask for permission from land owner and local governments to search their land. Unfortunately, this means that you might not always get permission. When this happens, chin up and look for another hotspot. Asking permission also means you can always come back.
This required a lot of effort but may be worth it in the end. Sadly, metal detectors cannot distinguish junk from valuables, you have to do it yourself. Dig everything because you do not want to miss something good.
Buy the right detector
The most common mistake beginners make when they buy metal detectors is buying one that is extremely difficult to use. Remember that this is your first detector and you have no prior knowledge on how they work. If this is your first detector, get a simple entry-level detector that is powerful enough for standard level detection. Also remember to avoid the cheapest detectors as they will almost always disappoint you
Buy a detector kit
As you search the earth with your metal detector, it is important to have a few accessories that will help you along the way. These accessories include: gloves, headphones, batteries, boots, coil covers and at least one digging tool. Others include a snack, water, insect repellant and a first aid kit.
What you wear is also part of the kit. Wear suitable protective clothing depending on the location and weather. A waterproof jacket and plastic detector cover are a great addition if you’re searching in a swampy or wet area.
Avoid high traffic hours
If you are searching in a public area, avoid hours when traffic is high. When there are a lot of people, it is difficult to move about with your detector searching for treasure. You could also end up pulling a crowd which is something you probably don’t want.
Start with your backyard
This is an easy thing to forget once you get a metal detector. If you have a backyard, learn the ropes and the working of your detector by scouring that backyard first. Even if you do not have a backyard to learn on, use a deserted spot in your neighborhood. It will give you time to learn and play with your new gadget before starting the real thing.
Rotate the hunting spots
If you’re searching on a certain spot, say, the park, and you do not find anything, this does not mean there is nothing of value in the park. Come back after some time, around ten months and search it again for treasure.
Cover up holes
When you find your first treasure or relic, it can be exciting. You will also most likely have dug a hole. Always cover up these holes when you have retrieved your treasure. By doing this, you respect the owner of the land and you can always come back.