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Monday, January 30, 2017

Minelab CTX 3030 or Excalibur ?

Beach and water hunters often ask me which of these two metal detectors I prefer using.
I used to get a lot of insults from Excalibur users after posting photos of my CTX 3030 screen with gold on it, now it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling seeing the same people using CTX 3030s and saying its the best thing since sliced bread.

Heck even other metal detecting book authors touting French metal detectors almost broke their ankles jumping on the CTX 3030 bandwagon, welcome aboard guys better late than never !
Here are a few differences between these two superb Minelab beach and water hunting units, differences that may help you decide which waterproof metal detector is best for you.

 Depth rating 

The Excalibur is rated to 200 feet the CTX 3030 to 10 feet,  if you are scuba diving it is obvious which waterproof metal detector is a better fit. 
Shallow water hunting the pendulum swings back over towards the CTX 3030, especially when you can see the display screen and take full advantage of target information. 
am sure many people know about CTX 3030 users sealing battery and USB connections to dive deeper with the CTX 3030.
Note to divers, buy an Excalibur and avoid ruining your CTX 3030 and voiding your warrantee.

Search coil and headphone options 

Here is where the CTX 3030 user has the upper hand over an Excalibur user, when conditions dictate a change of search coil, you can easily change search coils within minutes. 
If you prefer to wear your favorite headphones, you can do so with the CTX 3030. 
Those two things can be an advantage for a CTX 3030 user at the beach, a place that is constantly changing.
I am sure many Excalibur users know about Pinpoint mods that allow a user to change search modes quickly or "Inline" connector mods so you can change search coils. 
Note to Excalibur users, why spend money voiding your warrantee when you can buy a CTX 3030 change search modes pressing a button and change search coils without worrying about connections.

Display screen 

If you cannot see your CTX 3030 display screen because it is submerged under low visibility water, you are hunting by ear like an Excalibur user. 
One of the main advantages to using a CTX 3030 over an Excalibur at the beach, is the amount of target information displayed on the screen. 
If you only like shallow water hunting and your screen is under water most of the time, you may be better off using an Excalibur because you are going to have to dig more targets at trashy sites.  
Targets you may otherwise have chosen to pass up on scooping if you were able to look at your CTX 3030 screen.

Price tag

The price difference between the two metal detectors is always a factor when deciding between the two metal detectors, especially if you are considering buying accessories.
I will stay on the sidelines on this difference as I have always been lucky enough to have all my metal detectors pay for themselves many times over. 
You have to stay within your budget and either of these two waterproof metal detectors is a great investment. 
These things may help you decide which waterproof Minelab is best for you, but you have another option.
You could do what I do if you can afford to, by owning and using both waterproof  Minelabs.
The BBS technology Excalibur has a slower recovery speed and is not as deep as the FBS 2 technology CTX 3030, but you can compensate or overcome both of these cons by using good metal detecting and search techniques.
The CTX 3030 has plenty of bells and whistles that can be of little use when you cannot see the screen, but they can still help if you are not dependent on them and know how to hunt by ear.
One thing I recently picked up on from being around a group of metal detector dealers, is just how many people think it has to be one metal detector or the other. 
Why can't you use different horses for different courses if your budget stretches to it, new metal detectors are not always intended to replace other established metal detectors.
In my opinion, they offer new options for a beach or water hunter.
Take a look at the jewelry, coins or artifacts in my beach and water hunting books and you probably cannot tell what metal detector I used to recover them. 
In closing, I use an Excalibur like an Excalibur and a CTX 3030 like a CTX 3030.
Two great water proof metal detectors that I love using at the beach.

Friday, January 27, 2017

This weekend keep it simple

I am sure like me, many weekend warriors are chomping at the bit to go beach or water hunting. 
Sunday will be my day to add to the scrap or jewelry box pile, I will go to the beach and more than likely recover gold or silver.
I have a couple of sites in mind and I will narrow it down and do three easy things to increase my chances of returning home with jewelry.

1. Site selection

I do not have to worry about competition because I choose my sites wisely, the main beach everyone with a metal detector heads to is not the site I will be searching.
Heavily hunted beaches are the last places you should head to if you want to go home with gold.
Why settle for sloppy seconds when you can have it all!  
Keep it simple by avoiding heavily hunted sites when you have a limited amount of beach or water hunting time.

2. Use your old faithful

I will keep things simple by using one of my trusty Minelabs,  metal detectors I have used for years.

I prefer using versatile metal detectors that can be used in a wide variety of situations on the beach or inside the water, metal detectors you don't have to dumb down or worry about using in a saltwater environment. 
Keep it simple by arriving a site you believe has potential using equipment you are comfortable and confident using. 
If you have to adjust your search to suit the metal detector you use, you are already at a disadvantage. 

3. Stay put

A phrase you will rarely see in one of my finds stories is "And at the next site" because it rarely happens.
For example, if I go for a two, three or four hour beach or water hunt I like to hammer the main site I have chosen to search.  
The more you move around the more time you waste traveling instead of detecting targets, that includes walking long distances at the beach between sites.
Keep it simple by narrowing your search, from experience I have found one good slow methodical search of an area is better than whiffing over several areas quickly.

See how simple beach hunting can be when you do not join the metal detecting crowds, wonder if you are using the right metal detector for the job and think the grass is greener somewhere else.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Let the beach do the hard work

Gold is often difficult to detect at the beach, but not if you let the beach help you.
There are always plenty of places at the beach to search if you know where to look, this photo is a great example.

Some people may see the gold jewelry, Coiltek search coil I was using, or the lovely ocean view, but the rocks are one of the interesting parts of this blog photo. 
What you are looking at is a natural jewelry trap at the beach, an area lost jewelry or coins cannot escape past, especially when I am in the area using a metal detector. 
The natural barrier on the beach prevents jewelry and coins from washing higher up on the beach. 
There is another clue to a jewelry trap in the photo, but I bet you did not see it. 
The breaking surf over the shallow sand bar gives you two areas to search between, anything lost between these two natural traps is easy pickings to an experienced beach and water hunter.
You can even see a low area between the two barriers, now you know what I see when I come across a good looking jewelry hunting opportunity.
Many beach hunters work too hard, by walking miles at the beach hoping to get lucky stumbling across a piece of gold.
prefer the beach to do the hard part, by getting it ready for me to plunder.
Anytime you see two natural jewelry or coins traps like these, stick around and hammer them hard.
The end of the sandy beach conveyor belt I often talk about, is always easy to find when you see where the good stuff is being dumped because it can go no further. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Double take

Last May I was in the middle of a field in Iowa with several friends having fun searching the site of an old fairground. 
My friend Chuck invited me up to Moline Illinois to give a talk at a metal detecting event and I met a lot of nice folk and Chicago Ron, just kidding Ron! 
The day after the detecting event a small group of friends got a chance to search the field in Iowa, after everyone spread out I hit the area I figured I had the best chance of finding something. 
I made a bee line for the biggest oak tree in the field, figuring that tree would have provided shade many years ago. 
The area was loaded with trash, mainly modern pull tabs and bottle caps, so I guess it still provided shade to people now.
I was told it was a good field for old silver coins, but being a beach hunter the small aluminum targets sounded just too good to pass up. 
The aluminum pull tabs sounded just like gold and I figured where there is silver there could be gold, maybe wishful thinking.
As I expanded my spiral search pattern away from the base of the old oak tree, I found fewer trash targets.
Until finally I heard a loud low tone followed by a quieter high tone through my Minelab CTX 3030 headphones.
Two targets I thought, before digging an obscenely large plug of dirt just in case the low tone was a gold coin.
And this is what I saw, an aluminum pull tab and the edge of a coin in the same area. 

I could have easily got frustrated and just moved on knowing it was a pull tab, but the high tone made me want to dig in the area.
Usually it is the opposite way around for me at the beach searching for jewelry, hearing high tones (coins) and not wanting to dig them until I hear a low tone (gold) in the area.
I talk a lot about hunting by ear, even if you use a metal detector with discrimination features out the wazoo and this is why.

A superb 1922 silver dollar, lost in the field who knows how long ago and helped to be discovered by a stinky old pull tab. 
The metal detecting gods work in mysterious ways, which is why you need eyes and ears to find this kind of stuff.
Your eyes as sight reading tools and your ears as detecting tools, I use the Minelab Cap to keep my head warm.
Heres the real point of todays blog, I heard both targets and even if I had not seen the edge of the silver dollar I would not have left the hole until I recovered the object making the high tone.
There is a big size difference between the aluminum pull tab and silver coin, but I wonder if I would have heard the silver coin laying on edge if it was a few inches deeper ?
Attractive targets like the aluminum pull tab may mask a much larger but deeper conductive target, another reason to always recheck your holes before filling them in. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Son of a beach

I have uttered similar words to these after seeing gold chains in my scoop, some of the most difficult targets to detect at the beach and for good reason.
I spend a lot of time answering questions about gold chains from beach and water hunters, they usually start with my metal detector barely detects them, or I have not detected any yet. 
Many beach and water hunters probably expect a two way repeatable signal from a gold chain without a pendant and that rarely happens.
Detecting gold chains at the beach without pendants is tough, no matter what type of metal detector you use. 
Although gold chains get easier to detect when you know what they sound like when your search coil passes over them.
Even big chunky gold chains do not respond very well without pendants, and you are probably detecting the clasp instead of the gold chain.
Remember, even though I am known for using a metal detector with a screen I hunt by ear.
Loading someones program or pattern does not mean jack when your at the beach, I would rather be known for my finds than a program or a pattern. 
If you want to detect gold chains you better not use a lot of discrimination,  the reason I always use bare bones or minimum discrimination on my VLF metal detectors.
Just like using a pulse induction metal detector, sometimes a subtle raising or lowering of the threshold is all the signal you hear from a gold chain, would you stop to detect that? 
Sometimes its a click or subtle one way signal response from a gold chain, would you stop to dig that ?
Diamond rings are another thing many people struggle to detect at the the beach, often there is not a lot of platinum or gold band to detect, the reason they are difficult to detect.
I have recovered a lot of thin platinum and gold bands with nice size diamonds in my time, using several different metal detectors. 
Just like a gold chain without a pendant, thin platinum or gold bands can be difficult to detect on edge, resting next to another target or buried deep on the edge of detection range.
These three diamond rings are a common style of engagement ring, diamonds mounted on a single band of platinum or gold. 

Not one of the diamond rings in the photo was a two way repeatable signal when first detected, I just caught the slightest low tone from one direction on a couple of these recoveries.
This happens when you look for targets to detect, not look for ways to avoid digging targets, by using too much discrimination, shaded out screens or gold programs.
 What Im getting at, is experience under your beach hunting belt tells you something is worth stopping to investigate and dig up.
I remember my old science school teacher used to tell me empty vessels make the most noise, something I often think about when Im beach or water hunting. 
The loudest knock your headphones off signals, usually end up being nickels, dimes quarters, crushed beer cans or other disappointing recoveries.
Crab fart or wait a second insignificant signals, often precede pulling a gold chain or a diamond engagement ring out of your scoop basket.
It is not called metal detecting for nothing, and often your main metal detector is the noggin on your shoulders. 
Relying on your metal detector or gold program is ok,  but I would rather rely on my search techniques, beach hunting skills and ears. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Beach hunting by the numbers

I often use a metal detector with a screen and discrimination features out the wazoo.
I use target numbers on the screen as a good second opinion, but always  base my digging decisions on what my ears are telling me. 
The longer I have used metal detectors with display screens and probability target IDs, the more I rely on my ears.
I spend a lot of time answering questions from beach hunters and "What are the numbers?" is always one of the most frequently asked questions.
Unfortunately, beach hunting by the numbers does not work in the real detecting world. 
Basing your digging decisions on target probability numbers should be looked at as a situational thing. 
For example, if you are getting frustrated digging a large amount of unwanted or nuisance targets in an area and you know the numbers, you can take a chance and not dig targets registering those numbers.
Steady ferrous or conductivity numbers can help identify certain targets and help you avoid digging them.
I never advise block editing targets on the screen you do not want to dig, I prefer to glance at the target ID numbers just in case there are multiple targets reading on the screen. 
Block editing areas on the screen may cause you to miss any other target close to the area on the screen being edited out.
In Florida we get tourists from around the world, many gold rings have unusual mixes of alloys that can easily throw numbers off and even play tricks with your ears. 
Knowing the numbers of common beach found clad coins is cool and helpful at trashy tourist beaches, but thats about as much of a numbers game I play around with.
Once you get to a certain target depth, all bets are off on a lot of target IDs, another good reason not to get too wrapped up in the numbers.
If you are searching areas known to produce old finds, they are probably going to be deep and on the edge of detection range, rely on your target depth reading before the target numbers. 
You can tell just how little I take notice of target numbers outside of clad coins, when people ask me what numbers a gold ring rang up at and I have not got a clue.
I was too busy listening instead of looking at numbers. 
Here are a few reasons to leave the numbers game to tourist sites, and no I have no idea what any of the numbers rang up for these cool old finds.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Ironing out good areas

On my last two trips to Oak Island Nova Scotia I recovered some pretty cool old coins and artifacts, many will be shown on the new season of the History channel show "The Curse of Oak Island." 
Although I prefer finding old coins, jewelry, buttons or musket balls etc at sites with a little history using discrimination, I always try to recover rejected iron targets afterwards as sometimes they can be of interest or just as valuable as non ferrous finds.
I think you will agree this iron trade or ships rigging axe from the 1720-1730's is a very interesting iron artifact. 

The old axe head was recovered a couple of years ago on Oak Island, after I rescanned an area and dug the rejected iron targets up. 
I often "Iron out" an area that I find interesting old coins or artifacts at, just in case the iron targets are masking more good targets.
A big clump of iron will mask or hide a smaller non ferrous target, so it makes good treasure hunting sense to rescan productive sites and remove large pieces of iron.  
If a site is full of various sized pieces of iron, sometimes its a good idea to downsize and go to a smaller search coil.
You would be surprised to know how many good shallow targets you cannot detect in an iron infested area, using a 10 inch or larger search coil. 
A smaller 5 to 9 inch size search coil will help increase the target recovery speed of your metal detector.
Target recovery speed is the time it takes your metal detector to detect another target after your search coil passes over an initial target.
Some VLF metal detectors have a notoriously slow target recovery speed, using a smaller search coil will help combat that disadvantage in trashy infested areas. 
Nine times out of ten at a productive site with iron in the area, if you remove the iron or go to a smaller search coil you will detect stuff missed on the initial first sweep of the area.
Of course, it should go without saying a slow methodical search technique is always the best option in an iron infested area.
A combination of searches, search coils or even metal detectors will help you clean out an area you believe may hold more good stuff.
Lastly when searching sites known for older finds, I always slam the biggest search coil I have in my arsenal to give me a chance to detect any deeper targets in an area.
It just makes sense to do that after you have first taken all the shallower targets from the site.
You could call this a layered approach to ironing out an area. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

In at the deep end

I often think of topics for my beach and water hunting blogs while I am out beach or water hunting.
Yesterday I had the chance to hit the water for just over an hour at lunch time, working near the beach has its perks.
As I am searching an area with a large crowd of tourists gathered, I wondered what time the low tide is. 
Which is the point of today's blog, I never had a clue what time low tide is because I am not a slave to the low tide.
I go to the beach regardless of the tide times, which can often put a beach or water hunter in the right place at the right time. 
I had no idea if this area had been searched by other hunters recently, but I figured if it was they probably searched it at low tide. 
It was high tide and I was close to shore, which is where I spotted a large heavy mans watch a few feet away from me.
At first I thought the watch was a Rolex or other high end watch, but it turned out to be only a $300 price tag watch. 
The second thought after recovering the watch was would I have missed it if I was low tide watching?
Perhaps another water hunter missed it at the heavily hunted tourist beach because they only searched the deeper water at low tide.
Perhaps a low tide beach or water hunter has just searched along the waters edge, who knows why such a large attractive target was still there.  
It could also have likely been a fresh drop, no matter what the reason is I saw it and scooped it up.
If you do not just head to the beach at low tide, you often search areas that you probably would have ignored during the low tide.
Alternatively yesterday, if the water level had of been higher I may have been closer to shore and maybe missed eyeballing or detecting the watch and someone else would have found it.
Hey it all goes to show you should go to the beach when you get the chance, not when the tide table tells you to.
Here's a short video I took yesterday, after seeing the watch I turned the GoPro on.

Also I should point out that if the water visibility is good, you should always wear a mask.
I am two for two on eyeballing finds underwater on my last two water hunts, a $20 bill and a watch. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Positive beach hunting

Who, what and where are three words I could not give a monkeys uncle about when they pertain to beach hunting.
I am more into what am I going to find and where, while always staying positive about my treasure hunting chances.
During filming of a treasure hunting show last year, the host asked if we were going to find anything good. 
My reply was of course we are, because I always believe I will find something good.  
I then explained to the host of the treasure hunting show that often positive thinking gets positive results. 
In my opinion, beach treasure hunting is about staying focused, sharp and keeping an open mind about everything to do with metal detecting at the beach.
If I want negativity I would still be posting on metal detecting forums, instead I put my time into something more positive, raiding beaches and Davy Jones Locker for jewelry and coins.
Who what and where are not important, why and how are two words that make a difference to a beach hunter.
The more experience you have under your belt at beach hunting, the more you realize there was a darn good reason you recovered something good at the beach using your metal detector. 
Understanding how and why you find jewelry or coins will pay big dividends on future beach hunts.
Unless you believe you found something good because someone else found something at the same site and that is the only reason you were successful. 
Believe me, it does not work that way very often, it's a much safer bet to learn the dynamics of beach hunting as there are many different ways a good window of beach hunting opportunity opens up. 
From people using the beach and the weather, to the treasure hunting equipment you use and more importantly, how you use it! 
All of these things do not make a difference if you do not believe you have the opportunity or skills to find something good.
I am not a big fan of beach conditions reports either, because it implies you need good conditions to find something. 
Like saying hold off a while until conditions improve, which is pants because I have found great stuff in the worst beach hunting conditions.
When you stay positive my beach hunting friends, positive things will happen for you at the beach in 2017 
Here's one of my favorite 3 ounce chunk o'gold from early 2016, a gold chain and pendant.

Recovered at a sanded-in beach when I bothered to show up and stayed positive despite the poor looking beach conditions.
A fortunate outcome from the only really good site within the sanded-in site.