Mar 27 2007

Guest Post: Good Medicine

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A few months ago I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Now after surgery to remove my kidney, I found myself laid up in bed recuperating for at least a month. This was driving me nuts! All I could do was ease my way to the bathroom and surf the web. I must have Google’d every topic I could think of and then some. Two weeks of lying there was really working on me. Too much time to think about the “what if”.

Anyway I searched for detectors one day and I was hooked. I had watched someone swing a big heavy metal cased detector many years before and it had always fascinated me. I ordered a Garret Ace 250 and figured it would come in about the time I was getting up and about. To my surprise it came within three days and I sat in bed with the ace spread out everywhere.

Well I couldn’t stand it any longer. I dressed and made my way to the back yard. It felt great to be outside in the sunshine and just knowing that my wife wasn’t around to get on to me made it even sweeter. (She had gone to the office.) I wasn’t supposed to pick up over ten pounds, so I took it real easy. The Ace is a gem, it was easy to setup and use and within moments I was hitting targets all over my back yard. Needless to say I couldn’t bend over to dig any of my new found treasures, but it was a joy just to get out and swing; even if it was very short time.

Within days I had regained much of my strength and was able to walk around with less discomfort. I couldn’t wait to go back into the yard, so I took my Ace and trowl and claimed my treasures. Mostly pennies but fun none the less. I’ve pretty well recovered now and I’m planning a camping trip with my family. You can bet I will be bringing my now two detectors with us. Detecting gave me the needed desire and exercise I needed to help me heal.

I hope to be detecting for a long time and when I hit the big one I’ll drop you a line.

Cambre

Author: Jeff Cambre

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Mar 13 2007

Guest Post: Metal Detecting Field Tips for Coinshooting Success

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Here are some tips that I’ve learned over the years to help with coinshooting success. Some of you will already know most of these, but I wanted to provide them as a refresher for the veterans, and a useful guide for all newcomers.

1. Purchase X-1 SunRay Probe or other pinpoint probe
This is a simple concept. Spend less time digging and recovering your target so you can devote more time finding new targets. If you add up all the time you’re in a hole, you’ll notice that time adds up considerably. If you could cut that time in half, and spend the time swinging your coil for new targets, would that be useful to you? I would say yes.

Besides having a firm grasp of your detector’s pinpoint handling, you increase your recovery speed with a pinpoint probe. I’m currently using the X-1 inline SunRay probe, and I’d have to say this is a must for any detectorist. This tool allows you to switch from the X-1 probe to your normal coil with a flick of a switch. It can also give you 3″ of depth, which is nice for finding the direction of targets within the hole.

Other pinpoint detectors would include the White’s Bullseye and the Vibraprobe 560. Anything to get you an edge when you’re in the hole is a worthy investment.

2. Purchase Lesche or other quality digging trowel
I can’t stress the importance of a good digging trowel. They will help speed up recovery, and more importantly, they’ll give you the ability to make nicely cut holes. A flimsy or dull trowel can often lead to damaging the soil, killing roots and making a general mess. I know some of you are hesitant to spend $40+ dollars on a shovel, but buying several ‘garbage’ trowels will add up, costing you more in the long run. There are other brands that make excellent trowels. Look for digging trowels with the saw edge for cutting through the grass roots and tempered steel.
They are tough and will last you a long, long time.

3. Use less discrimination
Discrimination can be your friend and your unknown worst enemy. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. If you’re tired of digging pull tabs and bottle caps, a user will tend to become lazy and crank the disc up. Now, they’re digging only clear targets saving their back from pain. If you’re after quality and quantity of finds, you’ll need to drop the discrimination and understand what your machine is telling you. A common problem with discrimination is “nulling”. This is when your discrimination kicks in to block the “bad” beep. If you’re detector doesn’t recover quickly enough, it might miss a good target next to a garbage target.
By lowering your discrimination, you might speed up the response and shorten the null. If you have the desire to hear everything, some people (and I do as well) recommend to drop discrimination altogether and use Tone ID. This way you’ll be able to hear all targets.

This can get ugly real fast. I often get asked, “How do you know when to dig?”. When I’m using tone id, my detector will have a different tone based off of the metallic make up of the target. Combine that with depth and signal strength, I’ll have enough information to determine if the target is a worthwhile target. This takes a lot of practice, and this is not for everyone.

4. Maintain good coil discipline
You’ve heard and read about this time and again. Keep the coil low. Overlap your sweeps and go slow. Super simple, but easy to get lazy and start drawing the happy face with your coil. You keep telling yourself to maintain good coil discipline, and pretty soon you’ll develop muscle memory and automatically keep that good coil technique as a habit.

5. Learn to pinpoint accurately
This fundamental is absolutely critical for quick and “clean” recoveries. When I think of this, I think of the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Be patient and accurate with your pinpoint. By spending a few more seconds ensuring that your pinpoint is dead on, will speed up your recovery and more importantly, protect your target. Being off an inch could mean a major scrape on the coin with your trowel.

6. Change coils for condition and area
Depending on your budget or the seriousness you give this hobby, you may want to purchase additional accessory coils. All detectors come with their best all around coil for that particular unit, but that doesn’t mean that coil is the best for the particular area you’re facing. Smaller coils are great for trashy areas, but are limited in depth. Wide coils are great for depth and coverage, but you might have trouble in trashy areas.

If you have the opportunity, purchase a wide and small coil and use them in conjunction with your stock coil. You could start the day with the stock coil and determine the how noisy the area is. If targets are far and few between or are extremely deep, switch to the wide coil to maximize coverage area and / or depth. If your stock coil is heavily nulling out or the signals are driving your crazy, slap on the little guy to pick the good targets between the trash targets. More options could very well lead to more finds.

7. Hunt where other don’t like to hunt
This tip is something that I like to follow quite often. How many of you like to sweep around trees, follow paths, etc? I’d suspect quite a few. In hunted out areas, I like to avoid these areas and focus on areas less attractive to the normal hobby detectorists.

These areas would be.

– “no-mans land” as I like to call it. The most open areas. I stay away from edges or borders of a park for example, being right out in the middle in the field, etc
– Get close to traffic. I know a lot of detectorists can feel self conscience at times. Again, I like to take advantage of these areas. Detect on the side next to a busy street or intersection.
– Work the underbrush. Remember, 100 years ago that bush wasn’t there. Sometimes you need to work your way in there, but you might find a keeper or two.

If you feel the site has been hunted, start thinking of unpopular detecting areas and give them a try.

8. Try Tone ID
I touched upon Tone ID on the “less discrimination” tip. Tone ID, can be a useful setting. Targets will sound off by their metallic make up. Depending on how your particular brand handles tone, they’ll normally sound “high” for conductive metals. A low thud will be on the iron side of things. This is particular useful in a couple of ways. Number one, you can spend less time looking at the read out to determine what the target might be. And the most important benefit is when targets are close together. Without Tone ID, you might hear a broken beep followed by a good beep. With Tone ID, I would hear a low thud then a high pitch squeak. That could indicate a coin target next to a nail. Tone ID can give you a bit more information about the target to help identify possible good targets.

If you’re using “constant” tone (where the tone is the same for all targets), which is standard for many detectors, you might want to give it a try. Just like the discrimination levels, this is not for everyone. Some people prefer the digital read-out versus tone.

9. Go Slow
No matter what detector you own or how much experience you have, going slow will help you find coins. Going slow means moving forward slowly AND sweeping the coil slowly. There are several benefits to going slow. Giving your detector time to recover after targets have been hit is a big reason. You’ll experience less masked and nulled targets this way. You’ll also give yourself an opportunity to hear the faint deep targets between shallow targets by going slower. Going slow is a test of your patience, but just like maintaining coil discipline, you can teach yourself until it becomes a habit.

10. Clean the area for the good stuff
Sometimes I find myself cherry picking targets. I’ll only dig targets that are a certain depth. I often am guilty of this when I’m feeling lazy. One good way to re-open your old hunting ground is to clean the shallow targets out, so you can take a look at the deeper targets. Removing all the surface coins and pull tabs will provide a nice window for your detector to see the deep targets. This takes a lot of work, and if you hate digging clads like I do this will not be any fun, but after you’ve cleaned a section out, go back and go for the deep stuff. You’ll be happy with what you find.

11. Bonus Tip – Get good headphones
I’ve heard it time and again to pay the money for the good phones. The additional frequency response will help your Tone ID clarity, and the amplification features are nice for pulling the deep target tones, as well as help the hearing ‘challenged’.

You also get what you pay for. Buying a good set of phones will last you longer since the quality is much better, not to mention that there are often great warranties for particular brands. Just like the trowel issue, you could buy cheap headphones, but in the end you’re paying more by replacing them often. Also the added frustration of dead phones can ruin a good hunt opportunity.

I hope these tips are useful, there were to me. I’m learning everyday and I’m always trying to advance my skills, we can all get better, we just need to put in the effort.

Author: Hank D.

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Mar 3 2007

Guest Post: Backup your metal detecting and research data!

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Some of you are like me and like to keep metal detecting logs recording finds, including coin tallies, and places to hunt. I also like to record my thoughts on the day/hunt, keeping track of a useful tip I may have learned or noticed interesting behaviour on a target. Sometimes I like to review these during the ‘off’ season to get excited about my new Spring hunts.

Along with logging my hunts, I take many trips to the library with my laptop for research. Many libraries now offer microfilm transfers to flash drives. This is great for storing scans of newspaper clippings, and using a flash drive makes it nice and easy to transfer those files to my laptop. Besides microfilm scans I write my research notes and save Google Map documents for future or current hunt sites. Don’t forget those old maps files off of the internet too.

Metal detecting data is extremely useful for my success in the field, and greatly organizes my thoughts for upcoming hunts. With that said, I treat my data very seriously. Six years ago, I had a complete harddrive failure and lost all of my early hunting logs and valuable research data. I was able to recover some of that from old print-outs that I had and email correspondence, but I lost a large portion of it.

The lesson I learned was to backup my data. Since then, I have been backing up to CD. This alternative was fine until, I became lazy and would forget to backup to disc, not to mention the stacks of CDs and the cost of purchasing the discs. I then opted to go with an external harddrive. This was better. It would back up nightly. I did run across a problem.. after deciding to take a look at the contents of the external harddrive, I realized it had died, and I was not backing my data at all from that point of it’s failure!!!

I wanted to explore other options, and finally decided to go with Mozy Backups (http://www.mozy.com). This backup system is a ‘off-site’ backup, meaning that the backed up files are stored on a server on the internet. Why is this good? If my house burns down, I’m okay. If someone breaks into my house and steals my computer, I’m okay. Ever watch “It takes a thief” on Discovery, the thief always steals the computer in the house. Along with the fact that the data is stored on a remote server, the files are backed up securely and incrementally. This means that if I saved a file yesterday, but realized I deleted an entry from two days ago, I can recover the file from that day!

Did I mention that Mozy is FREE??? Well, it is. You can have a 2GB remote backup account for $0. If you want more storage you can purchase an unlimited storage account for only $4.95/month.

Once you’ve created a Mozy Account and downloaded/installed the backup program you can begin to configure your backups. After installing the program, log into the application on your computer, and select the encryption mechanism.

[x] encrypt my data with Mozy’s own 448-bit key

You can use pre-existing backup set, or create custom backup set. After selecting a backup set (ie: C:\Research) to run, you can configure the schedule. One feature that I thought was nice, was to set it to backup when the computer is not in use. This means that backs will only happen when you are away. You won’t notice any performance issues or slowness of your internet bandwidth while your working on your computer. Your computer must be on and connected to the internet though.

Restoring files is extremely simple. Clicking on the restore option will open up a web browser to Mozy’s site. Log in and go to

Restore Files. There is representation of your directory tree structure that you created. Drill down to your file(s), add a check and click ‘Restore Files’. An email will be sent after restoration has been completed.

The 2GB free account is nice for backing up spreadsheets and word docs, but you’ll probably use it up quickly if you’re backing up scans of your finds or microfilm captures. If you’re planning on backing up images, it might be best to upgrade your account. Either way, it’s nice to give it a try for free.

Remember, once you lose your data.. you can’t get it back, so back it up!

Author: Hank D.