Electronic metal detector

Garrett Ace 250 electronic metal detector

Garrett Ace 250

Electronic metal detectors go back a lot farther in history than most people would imagine. In the late 1800’s, there was a lot of interest in an experimenting with electricity and ways that this new force could be used. One of the ways that science looked to use electricity was in finding metal. Crude devices were built and tested as early as 1881, but found little success because of operator error and poor circuitry.


The first patent for a metal detector was issued to Gerard Fisher in the 1930s, and by the end of WWII there were early model metal detectors being used to clear mine fields. Of course, transistors and integrated circuits had not been dreamed of in the 1940s and that meant metal detectors had to operate on vacuum tubes. These tubes were built of glass and came in different sizes depending on the function, from thumb-sized to several times that large. They were big, hot when operating, heavy compared to transistors, and reasonably prone to breakage. About the only advantage of tubes over transistors in this instance might come in the ability for most operators to test and replace burnt out tubes without needing to send the unit to a repair shop.


Whites classic 5

Handheld electronic metal detector from White's Electronics

Despite the fact that these machines were clumsy and heavy to carry around when treasure hunting on the beach, there were many units that made it into civilian hands after the war and that helped push public interest in metal detectors.


Since the 1950s, electronics have continued to grow smaller, beginning with transistors, and today moving to integrated circuits and micro-processors. As the components needed to build treasure locators began to shrink, so did the size of the machines themselves. That meant that more and more people could lift and carry the machines and brought them further and further into the public consciousness.


In the 1950s and 1960s, both White’s electronics and Charles Garrett were active in the field of developing and marketing machines designed to locate buried metals. By the time “discriminators” came along the hobby already had a large following. Discriminators changed the way people looked at using their detectors. It was no longer necessary to dig up every item that was found because the electronics could now tell you what the item “probably was. ” This is an important consideration when thinking about discriminators, a machine is still just a machine, and the only thing it can do is tell you that the sound it hears “sounds” like something you are or are not looking for. This can be really helpful in areas where there is a lot of junk, for instance some modern detectors can be adjusted to eliminate everything but silver and gold, which is great for “coin shooting.” Coin shooting means hunting for lost coins.


Tesoro Lobo SuperTRAQ

Tesoro makes this Lobo SuperTRAQ electronic metal detector

Today, there are dozens of different manufacturer’s and a bewildering array of models, coils, accessories and, of course, prices. Many electronic metal detectors are fully computerized with flat touch pads for controls and LCD graphics. Others still use switches, dials and gauges. There are so many choices that picking just one can be a trying experience. A little bit of information can come in very handy.


We will be adding more pages here over the coming months in an effort to give you that information. So, please feel free to browse through our site and stop back again to check on our progress. In the meantime, good luck to you on your next treasure hunting adventure.

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