Feb 18 2007

Guest Post: Show off your finds! Simple tips for better pictures.

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Well there is nothing better than finding that elusive ring, old coin, civil war bullet or roman coin. Whatever you are after it’s almost as fun to share what you have found! As the saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words”. It’s true but mostly when we try to get that picture out in the real world it just doesn’t come out as you would like.

There are several ways to capture your finds; one is by using a scanner (which is a great way but usually only coins or other flat objects can be displayed). This method is great but you tend to want to enlarge and sharpen your images so people will see a little bit better what your subject is really all about and for that you need some imaging software to help you out. Adobe Photoshop or Elements are two common programs to help with this Endeavour. The second method is the camera. This method is probably by far the best for grabbing images of any kind giving you the ability to show in a simple way what you have found. The third method is the video camera. This is fun because you can develop the story behind the object and also give many assorted views. Each method has its place and its strengths and weaknesses. On this subject I will focus on the camera.

Most of us have either a digital or a film camera at our disposal. They come in 1000’s of flavors if you are in the market for one, simply go to www.dcviews.com for the latest in digital photography. With film cameras although I truly believe they are far superior in reproduction of the moment (there are huge debates on this just Google film vs. digital) you’ll need to wait for your photos to come back from the lab in order to see your results. Therefore I can attest that digital cameras are superior for ease of use, and true to the moment reproductions.

In most cases, just taking a picture of your object and placing it on a forum or an online photo album is simple and enough. But there are times that if you want to identify an object that you have found, and need detail this simple method just doesn’t work. Let’s take for instance a penny I have here.

This penny is under normal magnification of my camera. But with simple low cost lenses you can get from any camera store or online store, you can magnify these images even further. And the nice thing about these simple lenses is that they screw into the front of the lens of you camera (fitting virtually all cameras from simple digital cameras all the way to the digital SLR’s). They also screw into each other magnifying even further.

Below you will see the differences these lenses can achieve.

This is +2 magnifications from the first photo

This is +4 magnifications from the first photo

This is the +4 and the +2 lenses together.

This method achieves two purposes. The resolution of the picture is a lot better than just using Photoshop to increase the pixel images (you can only increase this so far in Photoshop) and if digitally enhancing is something you want to do (using Photoshop) this increases your ability 10 fold!

The ability to bring into view a date much clearer is enhanced by the initial magnification.

Several manufacturers have theses lenses on hand.
Tiffen
Promaster

So show off your finds! Get that great relic ready to show what it’s really made of! Let people see what you have! A nice photo will make it all that much better!

Author: J.J. Antonetti


Feb 11 2007

Guest Post: Preparing for the Beach

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One of the things I like about metal detecting is the equipment. The beach is a specialized environment and selecting the right equipment can make a big difference concerning finds and comfort. Beach equipment can be categorized into apparel, headphones, probes, digging tools and metal detectors. There are also miscellaneous accessories that can make your trek along the beach more enjoyable.

The clothing you wear while detecting on the beach depends on the type of hunting you do and the weather. For dry and wet sand hunting you can just dress for the weather conditions. For shallow and deep water hunting you can wear anything from a bathing suit to hip-waders to a full wet-suit. You choice will depend on the weather, surf conditions and water temperature. The shoes you wear should provide comfort, but also some protection. You will be pushing on your digging tool with your foot and will be covering areas that may contain sharp metal or glass. I have found that I sometimes hit my foot accidentally with my digging tool and am thankful that I had some type of shoes on. Gloves can offer some protection when retrieving targets that may be sharp. Cutting the tip off one or more of the fingers allows you to manipulate the detector controls more easily. You may consider using kneepads. Some people use both kneepads, others use only one on the knee they kneel on when digging. Make sure that your finds pouch is large enough to hold the trash items you find, or attach a second pouch or plastic bag to your belt for trash.

The beach can be noisy. The crashing surf, the wind and the crowds can make it difficult to hear the tones generated by your detector. I prefer headphones that have full ear cups to reduce the ambient sound. When using these types of headphones you cannot hear what is going on around you and it is a wise precaution to look around often. There are some beaches and times of day where safety and caution are advisable. If you are deep water hunting you must have submersible headphones. These headphones are usually supplied with your submersible detector.

A probe can save time when you have a hard-to-find target. Some targets are very small and, when covered with sand, can be almost impossible to isolate without a probe. Probes can be used in the dry sand, wet sand and shallow water. Use a waterproof probe if you think it is going to get wet. Probes cannot be used in the deep water, unless you plan on diving down to the bottom to get up-close and personal with your target.

Your choice of digging tool for the beach is crucial. If you are digging in the dry or wet sand then a trowel, shovel or sand scoop can do the job. Once you get into the water, however, a good sand scoop is a necessity. Sand scoops come in a variety of sizes, configurations and weight. Some are made with wooden or galvanized pipe handles and some are made completely of aircraft aluminum or stainless steel. If you are not hunting deep water the lightweight models will do just fine. Most deep water veterans prefer the heavy rugged models. The added weight helps punch down into the sand when retrieving a target. Everyone seems to have a scoop configuration of choice – there are people who make custom scoops with lengths and handles configured specifically for the way you hunt. Having a large scoop capacity (usually referred to by the diameter of the scoop opening) can make successful target retrieval more likely. With a small scoop it can take many attempts to retrieve a target. Some people attach large magnets inside the scoop to catch any troublesome iron targets. When you can’t see the sea floor and the water is moving around you it can be difficult to zero in on your target. One method is to pinpoint the target, place your foot at the back of the coil, remove the coil, place your scoop in front of your foot, push the scoop into the sand and retrieve your target.

There are a multitude of detector types on the market that can be used on the beach. The different types present a confusing array of choices for someone unfamiliar with the technology and associated jargon. They can be loosely divided into two basic groups: PI (pulse-induction) and VLF (very low frequency, sometimes called induction-balance) machines. VLF machines can use one or more frequencies. There are also VLF hybrids such as BBS (broad band spectrum) and FBS (full band spectrum) which use multiple frequencies, some of which are lower and higher than those typically associated with VLF machines. Detector technology has come along way and it is still evolving.

The beach, in contrast to most inland sites, presents two conditions that can adversely affect your detector, namely salt and black sand (mineralization). When choosing a detector for the beach it is advisable to choose one that addresses these conditions specifically. PI and multi-frequency VLF machines are generally well suited for the beach. There are single frequency machines that do well too. It is important to remember that a detector’s capabilities are not simply a function of type and frequencies. The manner in which the signals are processed by the circuitry and software vary between manufacturers and some do this better than others. The best advice is to read as much as possible about the various detector models and take them for a test drive, if possible, before making a purchase. You would, of course, want to choose a machine that has a submersible coil or is fully submersible, unless you plan on only hunting the dry sand.

A PI machine is the deepest seeking type of detector made. It is immune from the effects of salt water and mineralization. The one drawback PI machines have is that they have no discrimination. All metals will generate a signal. Experienced PI users can sometimes determine whether a target is iron by listening for the unique tonal signature of iron, for instance, a double beep. If you use a PI machine you will not miss many targets, but you will dig a lot of trash.

VLF machines have discrimination and, depending on the model, decent depth. Discrimination gives you the ability to reject iron and other undesirable targets. Be careful that you do not use too much discrimination. Gold rings show up in the pull-tab range and if you discriminate pull-tabs you will find few gold rings. Discriminate only iron at first and adjust your discrimination settings as you become more familiar with the beach and its associated trash items. Some VLF machines have a salt mode toggle allowing them to be used on dry land and at the beach.

The shoreline can be a long way from your car on some beaches. A backpack, bucket or even a wagon can be used to carry some extras that make detecting the beach more enjoyable. Bring drinks and some food. You may want to bring a towel. Bug spray can be a life-saver during certain times of the year. Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat can protect you from the elements. Bring your cell phone. You can always turn it off if you do not want to be disturbed, but it will be there if you need it. A waterproof container is great for keeping your wallet, keys and cell phone dry when venturing into the water. They can be found at most SCUBA stores. A camera is an excellent item to bring along to capture the scenery, your finds or your detecting buddies. Do not forget batteries for your detector, and bring some extras. There is nothing worse than getting to a hunting spot and realizing that you have forgotten something (like batteries) or that your machine is broken. Bringing along some backup equipment is always a good idea if you have it.

Any hunt can be ruined by bad weather. Check the forecasts a few days before you go and keep checking it until you leave. Have a backup plan if the weather intervenes. You may also want to check the tides and try to time your hunt for low-tide. That will give you a bit more wet sand to hunt and increase your chances.

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

Happy Hunting!
Chris Burroughs (TBGO)

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.


Feb 11 2007

DetectorBase One Month Anniversary!

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Today signifies our first month milestone! The response to DetectorBase has been outstanding. We’ve received multiple emails letting us know that the community has spoke, and the community is happy! We plan on improving and working the site and feel that our launch was a complete success, and are extremely excited about the future.

For this site to continue being a success we need your help. You can definitely help us in multiple ways.

One. Please help spread the word of the site. Everyday we’re getting more and more visitors, but need more to help create a community where we can generate open discussions within articles and the forum. If you’ve read an interesting article here, use the “email story” link, located at the bottom of the article, to send it to a friend, or post the link in a forum letting others know about that great article. Also, if you have a website, please add a link to us on your detecting resource section or page.

Two. Speaking of the forum, we’re in need of members. We know that we’ve added another forum to the large bucket of Metal Detecting forums out there, but we feel that we’re offering an excellent resource along with our forums. Visitors will be able to read interesting user experience stories and how-to articles and have an easy time jumping to the forum, and vice versa. So please visit the DetectorBase forum and sign up today!

Finally, we need stories! Our long term goal is to have a new article a few times a week (possibly daily). Currently, we’re adding a single article a week. We’d love to hear about everyone’s experience and help share these experiences with others. The goal is to inspire and educate all metal detecting hobbyists and we can’t do it without your stories!

People sometimes will say to me, “I don’t have any spectacular finds”, or “I’m a newb, definitely not a pro”. I say, “so what”! The point is to take experiences from all levels of metal detecting, covering all fields of the hobby. I want to hear about stories of the first Wheatie you found, to the first silver you found, and the first cache you found. All these stories can help inspire other detectorists. That Wheatie story could definitely inspire that person that just bought a detector and that’s what they’re wishing they’ll find, etc! Each story might have a clue or ‘setting’ that none of us knew about. That story might have a great research tip that leads to your first “great” find.

We’re also looking for the “interesting”. Did you have a particular hunt that stood out from the rest? If so, why? This hunt might have stood out, but had nothing to do with the quality or quantity of finds.

I also wanted to mention that we’re giving away a brand new VibraProbe 560 Pinpoint metal detector (list price is $120.00) through our article submission contest. Once the contest receives 30 submissions (that’s it, 30 is hardly anything!), we’ll announce the winner. The winner will have their story set as the feature for one month and receive the pinpoint probe. Now, talk about an easy way to get a piece of detecting equipment. Just fill out the submission form with your entry. Even if you have one, it’s nice to have a backup, or give it away to your detecting buddy, or sell it!

We hope to hear from you!!! And thanks for stopping by.

DetectorBase


Feb 3 2007

Guest Post: The Super Booster Metal Detector Amplifying Headset

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The headphones usually supplied for use with metal detectors are dinosaurs. Heavy, expensive, and flimsy of make, the sound quality of these burdensome and ridiculous things is a joke, and thats not a good thing at all, because sound quality in metal detecting is really what its all about!

Until I figured this little contraption out, I never made much money detecting because I was replacing headphones yearly to the tune of 50-100$ per. Now I carry three of four extra headphone sets with me everywhere I go, and these cost me about 2 dollars each, or less.

I studied many varieties of metal detector sound amplifiers before coming up with this idea, and it sure works well, and is easy to accomplish. While reading over this article, and building your own super booster sound amplifier, remember that many other good things can be made by modifying equipment and machinery to fit your needs.

This project will give you super sound quality, and adjustability. I have had many people tell me that by being able to adjust their metal detectors closer to threshold frequencies, they actually gain an inch or more in depth, and that is a BIG advantage. I myself have experienced this, and more. Those hunted out areas become huntable again, and remember this: a lot of the best stuff at any site is the deepest stuff.

You will need to obtain a walkman-type cassette player, which will then be altered to serve as your metal detectors SOUND AMPLIFIER, and it will also allow you to use the lightweight and REAL POWERFUL ceramic-speaker headphones that can be replaced for a dollar or two. Usually these run on two AA batteries.

Other than this belt-mountable cassette player, you will also need this short list of supplies:

Soldering Iron, soldering flux, and rosin core solder — do not use acid core solder, because it will not work, or it will not work for long.

– Small phillips head screwdrivers.
– Wire stripping tool/knife.
– Propane torch or bic lighter
– Small diameter heat shrinkable tubing = 1/8″ . Henceforth called HST.
– Electrical Tape
– A hot glue stick
– A 1/4″ Stereo headphone plug — Its very important to get a STEREO plug vs. a MONO plug. A MONO plug will not work.

A two foot long piece of wire-wrapped two-strand electronic cable with about a 1/8″ inner diameter, and an outer diameter of around 1/4″. Co-axial cable with a braided wire mesh on the outside, and two separate wire strands on the inside, is what you are after. Strip an inch of this wires insulation totally off both ends, twisting the outer wire braid into a third wire. Tin all of these wire ends with solder (See page on soldering).

OK.

A lot of the above can be salvaged, and the total cost of the supplies should not exceed ten dollars. I have consistently bought walkman cassette players used and still working for 50 cents or a dollar at thrift stores. I have 5 or 6 here right now, I picked up just because they were there and practically free. Almost every one of the type of stores selling used items has a special section for used electronics, and many times they will have a box FULL of the radio/cassette players. Make sure you obtain a machine with a cassette player, do not get one that is just a radio. This is because the amplifier we are after requires the amplifying circuit of the cassette player, and also because the cassette player mechanism allows easy access to that circuit.

When you buy these, get them cheap, or free, but before doing any work put batteries in and see if you get at least a loud hum from the headphones, when the volume is turned up. If they work perfectly, thats better, but sometimes the little rubber bands running the mechanics of the tape-turner go to heaven, and the machine is then good for our purposes but its wheels will not turn.

If none of the above happens, then toss the thing, and get another. You can even buy new hipmount cassette players for about 5 dollars, but the older meatier machines are actually better, and, as stated, still plentiful.

The players are usually encased in two pieces, and it all comes apart after 6 little screws are located and undone around the outer edge of the back of the player. Save the screws and remember its all going to have to go back together when this is done.

Once you get the cassette player apart, find the motor on the circuit board and cut its power wire, otherwise it will cause interference during operations. Cutting the rubber bands does not accomplish the same thing, you must remove power to the motor. One or both wires running into the motor are clipped, and that is that. Make sure they cannot short out later. Hot glue any loose ends and fasten with a dab of hot glue somewhere out of the way. Do not make trouble for yourself when its time to put the machine back together though, and keep hot glue well away from the circuit board.

Now look for the shiny metal cube, which is called the cassette head. The wire we need to hook up to, runs right up to that shiny metal cube, the cassette head. Find it and cut it up as close to the shiny cube as possible. You need as much slack as you can get, and there will not be much. This is the same type of wire-wrapped 2 strand cable that you have obtained already, except that it is smaller in diameter. Strip the ends of this wire carefully, and tin each bare wire (see the page on soldering).

IMPORTANT******* Remember to place your HST (heat shrinkable tubing) on wires BEFORE joining any two wires. Cut the pieces small enough so they can be slid out of the way, and be unaffected by the soldering irons heat, but then can be pulled up over the join, to be shrunk in place permanently. Any heat will shrink that stuff so be careful. Double or triple applications of HST is a good trick for waterproofing and strengthening joined wires.

On either end of the two-strand wire wrapped cable goes the 1/4″ Stereo Plug. 1/4″ denotes the diameter of the plugs shaft, by the way. Inside this plug are three prongs, one being higher and usually larger in size than the other two. The outer wire wrapping of the cable, which has been already twisted and solder-tinned, gets attached to that largest of prongs. The other two wires you just solder where they fit best, at this stage, because correct polarities will be checked when it gets hooked up to the amplifying circuit in the cassette player.

Lets go over what we have done so far: You have taken the player apart. You have soldered the 1/4″ Stereo plug on one end of the wire-wrapped 2 strand cable from your supplies list. You have also stripped and tinned the wire wrapped 2 strand cable inside the player, which runs from the cassette head (Shiny Cube) to the printed circuit board/amplifier circuit.

Now we need to test this set up, and its tricky, but the end product is very well worth all this trouble, believe it.

Plug the stereo plug into your metal detector. The wires on the other end of it now need to be tested with the wires running to the circuit board of the cassette player. The outer wire wrapping will connect to the outer wire wrapping of the cable inside the cassette player. The two other wires must be tested with the cassette player on and hooked up to the metal detector. You can turn it on by hitting the players PLAY button, and you have to have the headphones on to hear all this.

Turn the volume to about 1/4 or 1/2 but don’t blast your ear drums. Turn the metal detector on, with tuner at #1 preset level, and turn the detectors volume all the way up. Again, the cassette player is also on. Make sure the batteries are hooked up and there is power. Put the headphones on and attach the outer wrapped wires from both cables together. Now test the two wires out of the center of this wirewrapped cable with the two corresponding wires running into the player.

When you get it right you will know, as long as everything is hooked up with power. If you can’t get any sound either way, you have a bad solder join/connection somewhere, or a switch is off. Go back over this until you get it right. Once you have tone and variability coming through the headphones, solder the wires as is, shrink their HST, wrap with electrical tape, and re-assemble the cassette player.

Before doing any soldering remember to correctly place the stereo plugs cap, and any HST, in their correct spots before joining.

You can make an egress point for this outbound wire going to the detector, wherever it is needed, by melting the plastic casing of the cassette player with a lighter or even the soldering iron. Attach this wire inside the cassette player with hot glue, so that any pull on it is not on the soldered join. Do remember to keep hot glue away from the circuit board too.

This finished super booster now gets strapped to your metal detector with rubber banding or whatever you can deduce for your own particular set up. Mount it on the detector so there is not a lot of trauma replacing the batteries.

Practice getting just the right amount of volume that will let you adjust your threshold frequency as low as it will go. This increases field size of the coil and you will gain many advantages, including increased depth. The differences between round targets and not is more easily discernible too. Ferrous and nonferrous have much more clear signatures when listening with the increased sound quality. You will love it. Be careful with the sound though, you have much more than your ears need, or can even handle. Do not make yourself deaf by trying to get more from the machine than it can give. If you use this to its best utility, you will increase your finds exponentially over time, and will save a lot of money.

——————————————-

Soldering.

The ability to solder is important in all electronics work, and for other work too, like plumbing, or jewelry.

The correct way to solder is to clean all the metal to be soldered first, then coat the metal well with rosin soldering flux. Different work requires different soldering fluxes, but all electronic work uses ONLY rosin flux, and most of the solder comes in wire and is called rosin core solder, because it has this type of flux running right through the middle of it.

Apply the soldering gun or soldering pencil to ONLY one cleaned and fluxed wire or terminal at a time, simultaneously applying the solder itself to each area being heated. As soon as high enough temperature is reached, the solder will melt and flow across the entirety of the heated wire or terminal. This is called Tinning. You will see the solder coat the wire or terminal entirely. It should be bright with no dull spots. If there are dull spots apply heat until shininess is achieved. Do not confuse burnt flux with areas of dull cloudiness. Dull cloudiness is the result of insufficient heat. Burned flux may appear dull but when scratched off the solder will probably be bright underneath. If there is excess solder on the part it can be shaken off carefully at this stage of treatment.

Two tinned pieces of metal only require a minimum of flux and heat to join together when the soldering iron is applied to them. This is how the professionals do it, and the minimum heat at this stage allows for the use of heat shrinkable tubing, and protects delicate components.

In electronics only rosin core solder is used. Do not use acid core solder unless your job specifically calls for it. Acid core solder will never be used to make electronic connections.

A necessity in soldering is to expose only the amount of metal necessary for a good soldered joint. Any excess exposed metals just crate greater possibilities for short circuiting down the road.

Good soldering skills are usually the difference between good work, and only so-so. practice on scraps until you get good, and perfect soldering is not hard once you get the hang of it.

Editor’s Note: Bill Gallagher originally sold this report, but has decided to make it public domain through DetectorBase. The original article was written in 1991. We would also like to emphasize that the opinions expressed in this article are of the author and no way reflect the opinions of DetectorBase.

Author: Bill Gallagher
Bill Gallagher sold his first treasure hunting article when he was 19, to Western and Eastern Treasures magazine then of Arcata California (Coral Fever). He then proceeded to publish magazine articles with them on a steady basis through the mid 90’s, as well as with several other magazines. Subjects included metal detecting, rock hounding, numismatics, bottle collecting and much more. Bill turned 48 in 2007, and is still treasure hunting strong.

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