Jan 28 2007

Guest Post: Why do we do this?


It’s funny really, the multitude of reasons why a person would spend the time we do in the field swinging a coil back and forth looking for buried metal items. Some of the reasons don’t seem justifiable but rather personal. Some of the reasons are perfectly understandable and rooted in childhood fantasies of finding buried treasure and sadly some of the reasons seem based upon personality flaws that cause us to do a LOT of things in our lives. But before I go on, let me start at the beginning for me with a brief explaination of who I am and why "I" do this!!

For the last 3-4 years my son and I have played a LOT of catch with a baseball as he plays travel ball and always wants to throw. This means my vehicle is usually loaded with gear and there’s always gloves and balls on hand. Many times while driving to and fro we have stopped at various park and athletic fields for a few minutes of catch and many of those times we ran accross someone who was using a metal detector. The first few times we watched quietly, not wanting to bother the person, but noticed the intense focus and methodical approach they used. We would try and see what they were doing every time they knelt down to dig. Finally (against my son’s wishes) I got up the nerve to approach a few of these people and talk. Walking up slowly as to not surprise them (why were they wearing those big headphones I thought?) I struck up a conversation and twice even had them show me their finds. Lots of change…car keys…SILVER coins!!…and pulltabs and screwcaps.. I was intrigued to say the least, as was my son. Later my son and I talked about it and both decided it looked like a cool thing to kill some time doing.

Fast forward to the Christmas of 2005, just over a year ago. I reached for a fairly large wrapped gift from my son, wondering what it was he spent his hard earned money on…tore off the paper and saw a Bounty Hunter Fast Tracker detector!!. I didn’t know WHAT to say as it was a great gift choice!! Since we had no snow cover at that time, I actually was trying it out in my backyard that evening and quickly socred my first few coins, one of them a Wheat cent. I was hooked!!

It was a mild winter that year leading into my first season detecting. I started researching the hobby in general and found several websites where experienced detectorists posted their finds and was AMAZED at the tiems found! Gold jewelry, old silver coins, older copper and bronze coins, historical artifacts, the list is never ending. I KNEW that if I applied myself like I did bass fishing (another hobby I enjoy and have done very well at) that my turn at finding great stuff was around the corner. I went out detecting as much as possible that first spring and soon wanted a better machine. I ended up buying a Garrett ACE250 based upon it’s low cost and great reputation as providing higher end features in a lightweight affordable package. I handed down the Bounty Hunter to my son and now he joins me in a lot of hunts and has already found his first dozen silver coins too. As I became more familiar with the ACE250 and started looking for better (older) places to hunt both the quantity and quality of my finds jumped accordingly. I began posting my finds because I wanted to share my excitement and found out lots of other folks enjoy reading a well-written post. As I chatted and talked with an ever-increasing number of experienced people I began to be invited to hunt alongside them, but always backed down. I’m not sure WHY I wanted to still go solo, but I still wasn’t over the "image" thing of being seen detecting and thought being seen doing this with others would be even more embarrasing.

One day I talked to a fellow detetcorist who lived in my area who hunted with his 16 yr old son and this guy seemed different. Less "boastfull"…less cocky and very down to Earth. We agreed to meet and hunt and as it turned out I really like the way he worked. He not only showed me some nice spots to hunt, he showed me a lot about humility and respect for the hobby. His son and he were also coin collectors already and soon I was learning more about the coins I was finding…mint marks, minted quantities and how these things affected a coins rarity and value.

Around this time I increased the amount of time I detected yet again as well as time spent researching older areas where the odds were better of finding nice coins. My new friend Bob also showed me a LOT about taking better pictures of my finds to include in my online posts. As I posted more finds I began to get a LOT of positive feedback from other online metal detecting website users that said they really appreciated reading a well written post with clear and well-composed pictures so that fueled me to do better and tell more of the story when I posted. And that’s when it hit me WHY some people’s internet posts are an asset to this hobby and others a detriment!

Why do YOU spend all this time doing this?? And then spend MORE vaulable time posting your finds(if you do post them)?? If you are commenting on other people’s posts where they post their finds, WHY would you ever be anything but positive and supportive?

Is it to try and get rich? (not likely in actuality)

Is it to show off and feel superior? (feeding one’s ego is fun, but short lived, like any addiction)

The above two reasons I feel are the wrong two reasons and yet they seem to be the focus of some people who are firmly entrenched in this hobby. I feel it should be more about the following:

Do you do this to LEARN more? (both through comparing finds and locations through your posted finds)

Do you do this to share in the excitement of the find? (I think this is the number one most valiant, ego-free reason to go public with your finds)

Everyone who enjoys this hobby enjoys it for their own personal reasons and perhaps you the reader haven’t even really taken a moment to examine your own motivating factors. Maybe you have, and are happy with what you come up with as yours. As we become more experienced as detectorists we may go through progressions as far as our personal or yearly goals concerning what we find and how that may be predicated by where and how we hunt.

At first it’s ANY coins (clad-happy!)

Then we taste our first silver and want more of that shiny reeded edge!

Then we break the 1800s barrier and all we want is an Indian Head cent or a Seated coin.

Then we may find a Colonial Era coin or artifact and WHAM…there’s no turning back. Our goals change as our experience level change but one that that should remain constant is the WHY….WHY we are doing it. Your goals may be pre-decided by the limiting factors in the age of the areas available for you to hunt. I know some folks from PA and NY and NJ who routinely find old coppers and right now THOSE finds are fueling for me a drive to find my first Large Cent. Thing is, while there were heavily populated areas in those states with people dropping coins, a lot of the area around me (NE Ohio) was unpopulated outside of Native Americans. I now spend lots of time looking for cellar holes and other spots that date back before the 1850s in my quest for large copper coins (I DID stumble upon a 1792 Irish Half Penny token this year!)

Whatever your reasons, keep the coil to the soil, your plugs small and keep your ego in check. This helps us all in the end.

HH all!!

Author: Dan Byers
46 yrs old N.E. Ohio area Started detecting Dec. ’05 Use ACE250 with all 3 coils Personal detecting goals for 2007: Barber or Seated quarter, Large cent(s)

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Jan 21 2007

Guest Post: Mission #5: Last Chance


It takes a loving wife to put up with a man. We always seem to be the cause of some innocent mishap. Josh’s situation was no different. He had already lost his first wedding ring while net fishing. His better half managed to forgive and forget that one, but how would she handle number two?

Josh was one month from finishing up an internship at a petro-chemical company in Texas City when he felt the urge to do some net fishing, one of his many hobbies. Josh is not the kind of guy to make the same mistake twice, so when he got down to the water’s edge behind the dike, he slipped off his ring and dropped it into his back pocket. He fished a few different areas and went home. When he remembered his ring, he searched in his pocket and found nothing but a hole in the bottom, big enough for a ring to fall through. How was his wife going to handle this one?

After a few weeks of considering his options, he was getting desperate for help and time was not on his side. After his last internship meeting on August 15th, he would be driving back home to Atlanta and wouldn’t be returning. Josh’s desperation drove him to creativity and he posted his cry-for-help on a few popular metal detecting forums, even including a reward of one-hundred dollars.

On Sunday August 13th, two days before Josh would be leaving the state indefinitely, Mr. Schreckengost, a member here at dirtjournal, saw one of Josh’s posts and fowarded it to me knowing that I was close by. Of course, my schedule is wide-open at the moment so I was happy to give it a shot. Today was the only opportunity that we could meet so it was all or nothing. In a few hours, he would be leaving for Atlanta and we wouldn’t be getting a second chance.

I met Josh in Texas City at 2 PM and we drove across the dike to his fishing spot. Upon arrival, he couldn’t believe what he saw…

Heavy machinery had been moving earth around where he had been fishing, and possibly where he had lost the ring. Fortunately, they hadn’t yet progressed to the area where he had put the ring in his pocket, the area where it most likely fell out. He showed me where he took the ring off at the waters edge (which was now mud) and where he had walked and where he thought it might be.

I loaded my custom Coin & Jewelry program and began to search, carefully scanning every inch of sweepable area. I wasn’t going to take any chances so I dug targets down to an inch-and-a-half in case it had been stepped on and pushed into the ground. I checked and rechecked the small six-foot by four-foot strip of tall grass where he had taken the ring off. I dug some trash items but no ring. After becoming somewhat comfortable that it wasn’t there, I walked back up the narrow path that was littered with large scraps of metal debris and surrounded by waist-high, jewelry-devouring weeds. I was really hoping the ring hadn’t taken the plunge there, or we would have little hope of finding it.

I scraped a tick from my ankle after climbing the narrow path and worked my way around a large bush (pictured above), checking the depth on every non-ferrous target. The grass here was thick and about ankle-high so I was certain it wouldn’t be buried, even after a month. I dug a few targets anyway, just in case. The sweat was now steadily dripping from my face and I was becoming more concerned that this was a lost cause. I was getting closer and closer to the dirt-line which would be useless to search beyond. The dirt had been pushed around so much that it could have easily been a foot deep, assuming it hadn’t been scraped away.

Five feet from the edge of the dirt line, I got another pull-tab hit (+28/+30) but this one pinpointed very small and very shallow. I pushed the grass out of the way with my foot and saw the glint of white gold.

After we were able to shake off the intial excitement of recovery, we talked for twenty minutes about detecting. It’s something he would really like to get into and I gave him a general idea of what to expect. I pointed him in the direction of the forum so hopefully we’ll hear from him soon!

Editor Note:
This article was originally posted at:
This article has been approved for re-publication by the author.

Author: Tim Herschbach
I’m relatively new to metal detecting. It’s always been something I wanted to do but the cost has always been the issue. My first detector was a cheap garage sale machine that I played around with in the front yard a few times when I was 13 or 14. It was good at finding large chunks of pot metal. Yay for me. However, this past June, I went with my parents to Colorado for a week of vacation. For some reason we started looking for a metal detector store because it sounded like fun. Dad had always had his eye open for a metal detector but being the stingy goat that he is :D, he would never actually buy one. Well, a u-turn and an impressive sales pitch later, and we were driving away with a new White’s E-Series DFX. I know I couldn’t wait to get it running. Dad was still wondering how he had been talked into it.

Jan 18 2007

Guest Post: Karma Nickel


I wanted to talk about one of my last detecting hunts of 2006. I was at a local park, a park that I’ve hunted many times in the past, and was having some pretty bad luck. This park is pretty trashy but has yielded me a lot of good finds (early wheat cents, indian heads, barber dimes and V nickles).

I decided to focus on the surface coins for a bit, since I figured it must be masking a lot of targets. So I started probing a bunch of clads out. I normally hate digging clads, but felt I was going to get a good target by doing this. After several hours, I had about 5 dollars in clads, which surprised me that I found that many quarters.

I rescanned my area, but no luck. So I decided to leave, but as I always do, I always scan on the way back to my car, just in case. Sure enough, I got this weird signal. It wasn’t the best signal, but it’s a signal I like to hear with my Whites XLT for a deep coin. While pinpointing I noticed that the pinpoint was possibly locking on to two targets. The signal was erratic, my optimism quickly fell. Scanning the target in non-pinpoint was giving me the good signal, but the pinpoint was not.

I said to myself, “the only way to find out if this is junk or not is to dig it out”. So I dug my initial plug. Removing the soil I did not visual see the target. Scanning the target only returned me silence from the hole AND the extracted dirt! What happened? Thinking it may have been a piece of foil in there and my detector’s discrimination was final able to see a “clear” picture, I put the plug back in. Going over the spot again, I got my good signal again!? I was stumped.

At that time a homeless woman walked up to me and starting watching. I wanted to continue with my understanding of this target and hole, but felt awkward with her watching me. So I thought I’d take the offensive and said “Hi, how are you?”. She smiled and walked closer to me and asked if I had any spare change so she could get something to eat. I reached into my pocket and realized I didn’t have any money on me… so I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t”. But then realized, I had a little over five dollars in dirty clad. I asked her if she minded if it was “dirty” and of course she said “no”.

I reached into my collection bag, and pulled out all of the clad I found that day and handed it to her. She was very appreciative and moved on. I thought to myself, “That’s another good reason to dig up the clad targets”.

On that note, I was going to call it a day, but thought I’d swing the coil over that spot one more time. Again, the signal came up as a good possible coin signal. I redug my plug and scraped the soil a few more times, and to my surprise a 1911 V-Nickel! It was hiding in there the whole time all right. It’s funny how the detector had a clear view of that coin, but couldn’t see it. I think there may have been a piece of iron below it or around it that was masking the signal after the plug was removed.

I couldn’t help thinking that a little karma might have played a part here!

Happy Hunting!

Author: Hank D.

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Jan 15 2007

Welcome to DetectorBase.com!


We would like to welcome everyone to the official launch of DetectorBase.com! Our primary goal is to provide article rich content to the metal detecting community written by the experienced hunters. We want to provide veteran experiences and how-to’s to the novice, and to inspire all to become more productive and successful with their hunting.

There are many metal detecting sites on the internet and we hope to break away from the pack by providing great up to date content. Along with content, we want to include community inner activity. All visitors will be able to rate and comment on articles.

Staying current with what’s going on the site is a snap with our RSS syndication feed. Want to include a piece of DetectorBase.com to your personal web site or blog? This can be done with our content widget!

As the site grows we will be implementing new features and sections, but wanted to start with what’s important, the stories. And to do this, we need your help. We need your how-to’s and experiences. Right now, we’re offering a submissions contest, where the winner will receive a brand new Vibraprobe 560 pinpoint metal detector (list price of $119.95)!!!! Winner will also have their article set as the feature for a full month. You can get more information by visiting the article submission site. We will be offering more contests and give giveaways, so check back often!

We’ve already mentioned that we’re promoting community inner activity, so along those lines, we’ve added a forum and user submission areas. We encourage all users to post events, clubs and club news to our site.

We’re all extremely excited about the site, and welcome you to come on the ride!!


Jan 11 2007

Guest Post: Beach Basics


Detecting on the beach can be one of the most pleasurable forms of detecting. Shuffling down the beach in the sun, swinging your detector is a great way to spend the day. The ease of target retrieval in the soft sand is an added bonus. Many people agree and there is a growing community of beach hunters. To become a successful beach hunter you can use a variety of strategies. Some of these strategies can be implemented immediately and some of them take time and observation. The most successful hunters will use all these strategies and generate their own insights as their experience grows.

The number of targets at any detecting site, including the beach, can be derived from a simple equation composed of four variables. These variables are the length of TIME the site has been in use, the NUMBER of people that visit the site, the level of physical ACTIVITY people engage in at the site and the environment, or GROUND COVER, that can hide objects that have been dropped. Another variable to consider is the TYPE of people frequenting the site.

Time and site population are a consideration, but they can be deceiving. There have been many great finds at sites that are not very old. There can also be sites that appear to be unused today but were heavily used in the past. A little research can pay big dividends in this regard. For modern beaches presently in use the seasons also play a part. More people visit the beach in the summer.

Activity refers to the type of play people engage in at the site. Playing volleyball, frolicking in the waves, playing catch and throwing a Frisbee would all be considered activities that result in more valuables being lost.

The beach has three kinds of ground cover. There is dry sand, wet sand and water. Water is the best ground cover. Water prevents a visual search and the movement of the water can displace dropped objects. The sand is almost as good since objects are quickly swallowed up.

In general, all types of people use the beach. They do, however, congregate by age group for certain activities. The younger folks are usually more apt to wear valuables and be more active. Some of the older folks will be more cautious and leave their valuables in the car or hotel.

When you are at the beach, take a look around. You may see kids on the play sets with mom nearby, teenagers playing volleyball, a swath of sunbathers on towels and blankets, families playing in the wet sand and people playing in the water. Consider the variables presented above and apply them to what you see. It is evident that all these beach areas have potential.

It is important to understand that the beach is always changing. Waves, currents, storms, wind and rain can dramatically change beach geography. Buried objects behave predictably in this environment. Most metal objects are denser than the surrounding sand and will bury themselves deeper and deeper over time. The beach actually vibrates due to the pounding surf which accelerates this process. Objects will continue to sink until they come to rest upon a denser surface. This could be a layer of gravel or clay. The point here is that you want to look for areas of the beach that have had a lot of sand removed. If you see gravel or clay, or deep cuts in the sand, then you would want to hunt those areas. Objects also migrate along the beach. A current washing along a beach will deposit objects of similar density in the same place. This will result in a line of objects varying from lightest to heaviest along the beach. If you pay attention to the trash items deposited by the current and look for the heavier objects there is a good chance valuable items will be in the same place.

The beach is subject to other phenomenon, namely tides and wind. During low tide, areas that were deep water are now shallow and shallow water is now wet sand. This allows you to get farther out and hunt areas that are difficult to hunt at any other time. There are a few times a year that the tides are very low. They are called minus tides. If you can time your trip for one of these tides you will find that you can venture out much farther than at any other time of the year. Wind can lower the water level if it is blowing out to sea. If you can hit the beach during a minus tide with the wind blowing out to sea, do not miss the chance to do so.

Once you have analyzed the beach variables and geography it is time to choose the type of hunting you would like to do, or the type you think would be the most productive. These include hunting the deep water, shallow water, wet sand or dry sand.

Hunting the deep water requires a submersible detector and can be physically challenging. Wave action can make deep water hunting very difficult. If your beach is not too rough, hunting the deep water can be very rewarding. Cool water tends to shrink fingers and people can lose rings without even knowing it. Diving under the water can cause necklaces to slip over the head, or they can break off in the surf.

Shallow water requires, at least, a submersible coil. It is much easier than hunting deep water and many finds can be had. A lot of people will get into the shallows and sit in the water or splash around. Since this is the place where people are initially affected by the cold water many items are lost here.

The wet sand is a great area to hunt. Families play in this area and people going into or coming out of the water can lose items. A mother building a castle in the wet sand with her child can lose a ring or break a bracelet while digging in the sand. It is also where people walk or run along the beach. There is a lot of activity in this area and people tend to congregate where the wet sand meets the shallow water.

The dry sand has many potentially good areas. One of them is the line along the beach where people lay their towels and blankets. When people leave and shake out their towel they may scatter items they accidentally left on their towel. They may get up to run to the water and the slippery suntan lotion will cause rings to slip off their fingers. It is also a place where people spend a lot of time, increasing the likelihood of losing items. The rest of the dry sand area can be compared to an inland park. The volleyball courts and play sets can generate finds. The paths that people walk to and from their cars are another good area. Any route where people are forced through a narrow path is a place you would want to hunt.

One other item to consider, at least on some beaches, is competition. If a lot of detectorists hunt the beach in your area then you may have to time your hunts to get the fresh drops. The most obvious way to do this is to get to the beach as the crowds are leaving and hunt into the evening. Luckily, most beaches are very large and there is plenty of ground for everyone. A lot of fellow detectorists on the beach can be a good thing. Get to know them, share stories of your finds and you will discover that you may have a new detecting partner, or a new site to hunt that they have shared with you.

Do not forget to dispose of all the trash you find, fill all your holes and, most importantly, have fun.

Happy Hunting!
The Beep Goes On

Author: Chris Burroughs (TBGO)
My name is Chris, although I go by The Beep Goes On (TBGO) when posting on the various metal detecting forums. I started detecting in 2002, mainly in Galveston. Life got a little hectic and I stopped detecting at the end of 2004. I took a couple of years off. I got a new DFX and started up again in February 2006. I decided to concentrate on local parks and, surprisingly, my finds increased dramatically. I do not think anyone had hunted the grass parks and sports fields in my area. Since then I have become a fairly avid detectorist and have really enjoyed getting out and hunting. I also enjoy participating in the growing online detecting community.

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Jan 9 2007

Guest Post: Research, research, research – Google Earth


The first thing to a good relic or coin shoot is doing your research. This might entail going to a location and “scoping” it out, or to the library to look at old maps.

Better yet how about both? Yes this is possible with the technology we have today. We can literally scope out a current site and look at an old map at the same time!

This is where Google Earth comes in handy. Google Earth “GE” is a free application ( there is also a fee based application called GE Professional) that you can download from Google that allows you to view current maps and aerial views of areas along with around 1000 other options. In this article I will only touch on one, the ability to “overlay” an older map on top of an aerial view to get a good approximation of how things look now compared to how things looked then.

After loading Google Earth lets look at some of the common functions and allow us to get our bearings with the task at hand.

I am assuming that you are a little familiar with GE, but I will go over a cursory outline of what it can do.

GE is very nice in the fact that it like all good programs take full control of the scroll functions in mice. The scroll function allows you to zoom in and out of the field of view. Right mouse clicking on the view allows you to “pull” your map into any direction you want allowing you to pan through sections with ease. Notice that the maps orientation is due north (the compass is in the upper right hand corner) getting comfortable with the compass will help with placing an overlay map. This is due to the fact that all maps in the Northern hemisphere are centered with north being in the “up” position. Getting familiar with panning and the compass is a must when working with the older maps as overlays.

Getting used to GE is very simple here are some tips on using the places and layers windows.

Notice that all places and layers are located on the left of the screen. This allows you to turn on/off features and allows you create “layers” to your views. On the layers menu you can turn on roads and other features that allow you expand or limit the amount of data that is displayed on your map. Expanding the “+” sign will allow you to drill down and see each individual option available under each layer heading.

Here I have expanded transportation and have put a check mark next to railroads enabling all railroad lines to be displayed on your view. The places window will allow you to add your overlay. This feature will allow you to turn on and off places of interest, overlays, polygons and paths.

After you have played with GE you will notice the power of what you have in front of you. The sky is the limit! Next let’s explore overlaying an old map on to GE. Old maps of your area can usually be found on the internet. Google is a great place to start your search for a “digital “version of a map. There are plenty of free maps on the internet that will help you in your quest.

Let’s get to the task at hand. After finding a good digital map, open up Google earth and type the location of where you want to do your hunt. Make certain that your compass is facing north! * For you Southern Hemisphere folk “South”*

Look at your digital map you want to overlay and get the approximate expanse of the map to mirror your area in GE. For example if your map shows parts of a lake in the digital map try to approximate the area shown in GE. This is VERY helpful when placing the overlay.

On the top row of GE you will see an Icon that looks like “layered papers” This is the Overlay tool, click this Icon. Here you will see a border box appear in the “View” mode this will approximate where the map placement and size of the map. This can be adjusted so don’t worry if it’s not exact.

Enter in a useful name on your overlay and browse to where you stored your digital map. At this point you will see your overlay on top of the current view. Keep the link box open as you will be able to adjust the transparency of the map by the slide tool on the description tab. The transparency tool is nice because you can view either the map or the current view and adjust if you want to see both. The more “opaque” the object is the more solid it looks. The more “clear” allows the map to blend in with the background.

You may want to turn off unwanted features to allow you to see the overlay better. On the placed map you will see a cross hair ( in green) on the object, by touching this with the mouse you can move the map on the background to align it with your static features on your background map, rivers, lakes, roads ( if they existed) and other land features are good points use to place the map properly. By using the cross hair and the side border adjustments you will be able to “resize” the map to come close to what is actually seen in the view. This process at first can be a bit frustrating if you make too many adjustments at one time. A bit of patience and practice and you can master this overlay in less than ½ hour. One thing to note, all maps are not created equal. There are many maps which are not truly accurate this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as they approximated just as we do today its only human nature. The other fact is that there are different projections that are used in maps but I won’t get into this discussion here.

Remember to use your transparency adjustments to allow you to see through your digital map and see the background. This will make all the difference in the world!

At this point you can close the overlay control box and you will see your results! To change the transparency right mouse click on your new place and click properties. This will bring up the overlay control box and allow you to adjust the transparency. Now the real work begins! Time to find that homestead that used to exist! Enjoy!

This is just a taste of what you can do with Google Earth. There are many features that allow you to expand your research capabilities in the field of metal detecting. As I mentioned earlier research is the key to a good hunt. But most of the fun is still the detecting.

J.J. Antonetti

Google and all trademarks are property of Google Inc.

Author: J.J. Antonetti

Jan 7 2007

Guest Post: DFX vs Explorer SE – Part I


The title of this article is a bit misleading. I don’t necessarily consider one machine to be better than the other. Each machine does outperform the other in certain situations, however. As I am new to the SE, this is not an in-depth comparison. Basically, this is a first impressions report on the SE using the DFX as a known reference. I am not going into details, just the most notable differences. When I am more proficient with the SE I can provide a more informed perspective.

Look and Feel
The DFX is a good looking machine – it looks like a detector should look. The SE is a sleek looking unit. The SE has no visible cables and the shiny black upper shaft, the carbon fiber lower rod, the locking cams, control box and black labelled battery compartment make for a sophisticated looking machine. Both are sturdy and do not wobble. I consider the DFX, with the DX-1 probe and standard coil, to be a fairly heavy machine, but not too heavy. I can swing it for long periods of time without a problem. The weight can become an issue when hunting in rough terrain, or when a lot of hiking is involved. The SE (3 lb 7 oz without batteries) is comparable in weight to the DFX (4 lb with batteries). The balance of both machines is excellent.

When using the DFX I tend to rely on Tone ID more than the display, but I always check the display before digging a target. The DFX has a one-dimensional display with 190 possible VDI values. It ranges from -95 (ferrous) to 95 (conductive). The DFX display is two-dimensional if you take the signal strength bars into account, but we will disregard this feature for the sake of clarity. The SE has a two-dimensional display with 1024 possible values. The horizontal axis (0 to 31) represents the ferrous content of the target and the vertical axis (0 to 31) represents the conductivity of the target. With the DFX I can pretty much tell what is in the ground. The SE, for a newbie, is difficult because there are so many places a target can show up on the display. A one-dimensional representation is easier for the mind to interpret than a two-dimensional representation. I think this is the source of the Explorer learning curve people talk about…the rest of the machine is easy to master. I do believe the SE’s two-dimensional display offers tremendous potential for an experienced user. I just cannot deduce the target as easily as I can with the DFX…yet.

According to the manuals, the DFX sweep speed is about two seconds and the SE’s is about four seconds. This is a big difference. As a dual frequency detector the DFX doesn’t have as much data to process compared to the 28 frequency SE. For me, this is an important factor to consider when choosing a machine to use for a certain environment. If you want to cover a lot of ground and cherry pick targets the DFX will be a better choice. If you have a site you really want to concentrate on and take your time, the SE is the better choice. More on this below.

Depth and Stability
I think these two topics are related because they are dependent upon a machine’s ability to send, receive and process clean signals. The DFX, in general, is very stable and has great depth, but it is susceptible to EMI and struggles in salt water. Don’t get me wrong, the DFX can hunt the wet sand as well or better than most land detectors, but falsing in the waves and reduction in depth are things I have experienced first hand. The SE has no problems with EMI. I hunted directly under the main lines by the RR tracks in Memorial and had absolutely no interference. I have never used a machine that goes as deep as the SE in wet salt sand, or normal ground for that matter. I assume the same could be said of highly mineralized ground, but I haven’t used either machine in such an environment.

Which One?
I would hate to have to make that choice. Luckily, I have both machines and can use the best one for the job at hand. I really love the DFX and would not want to be without it. I have a lot to learn about the SE but it has already proven its worth at the beach and elsewhere. Here is a sample list of environments and the machine I would choose for each:

  • Large Area – DFX
  • EMI – SE
  • Wet Salt Sand – SE

    I do not want to get any more specific than that at the moment. Since each machine can use specialized coils, there is a lot of overlap concerning their respective capabilities. I have often thought that if I wanted to really clean out a place I may hunt it with the DFX, then take the SE and hunt it again…slowly.

    Other Considerations
    There are many other worthy topics for discussion concerning these two units, but I’ll save them for another time. Discrimination, programming, detailed display characteristics, tones, etc. are important things to consider when choosing a machine. I will close with a thought we should all keep in mind: There are many detectorists out there with low-end machines that can out-hunt other detectorists with high-end machines. It is crucial that, whichever machine you have, you learn it and dig, dig, dig. The machine is important but not nearly as important as the user, their knowledge, their experience and their unhesitating willingness to dig.

    Happy Hunting!
    The Beeps Goes On

    Editor Note:
    This article was originally posted at:
    This article has been approved for re-publication by the author.

    Author: Chris Burroughs (TBGO)
    My name is Chris, although I go by The Beep Goes On (TBGO) when posting on the various metal detecting forums. I started detecting in 2002, mainly in Galveston. Life got a little hectic and I stopped detecting at the end of 2004. I took a couple of years off. I got a new DFX and started up again in February 2006. I decided to concentrate on local parks and, surprisingly, my finds increased dramatically. I do not think anyone had hunted the grass parks and sports fields in my area. Since then I have become a fairly avid detectorist and have really enjoyed getting out and hunting. I also enjoy participating in the growing online detecting community.

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  • Jan 7 2007

    Guest Post: VibraProbe 560 Pinpoint Metal Detector Review


    For the last ten years of metal detecting I did not use a hand held pinpointer of any kind. For this season, I decided to give one a try. After posting various queries on forums and reading what others had to say, I continually saw this unit mentioned. Originally, I was going to purchase the Sun Ray inline probe, usually mentioned the best pinpointer you can buy, but along with a pinpointer, I might be buying a new machine, and the Sun Ray is machine specific, so I decided to stick with the hand held unit.

    After receiving the VibraProbe, I first noticed that the size was larger than what I was expecting. It’s 14″ long, which isn’t a problem, but thought I would mention that. The second thing I noticed is that there is no on/off switch. I myself thought this was a great design. To turn the machine on you point it up for one second. You’ll feel two quick pulse vibrations letting you know it’s on. It will turn off automatically after receiving no signal for one minute. You’ll feel two long pulse vibrations letting you know it’s off.

    The unit is also water proof! There is a water tight seal at the heal of the handle. Unscrewing this will allow you to access the battery compartment. It takes a single 9v battery. Overall, this pinpointer is obviously durable. It looks and feels tough in your hand which is an important prerequisite for me. I usually relic hunt, so being out in the woods and rocks things tend to fall and break, and all I want to worry about is my detector, not my accessories.

    The depth is shallow, but if you use this as intended (as a pinpointer) you should be fine. This is assuming that you’re an inch or two away from your target before you bring it out. The tip is the only thing that picks up signals. The shaft is not sensitive at all. It also appears to react best with movement. A gentle stirring or tapping motion in your debris pile or hole seems to work the best.

    The VibraProbe comes with a sheath and a one year warranty though the manufacturer.

    The VibraProbe was created and designed by Treasure Products, Inc. Along with the VibraProbe, they offer the VibraTector 720, VibraPhone 280 and E-Z Swing.

    I’m extremely happy with this purchase. I think it’s going to be a great addition to anyone’s detecting tool kit.

    Author: Bill J

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