FIELD TEST

Metal Detector Field Test & Review - White's Electronics - MXSPORT
By Andy Sabisch
From Page 44
April, 2016 issue of Lost Treasure


White's Electronics has been a leading producer of high-tech equipment for more than 60 years having opened their doors in 1950 building Geiger counters during the Cold War when the search for uranium swept the country. When the demand for uranium dried up, the company switched to designing and building metal detectors and the reputation they had earned continued to grow based on the quality of their products and the success of their customers. Over the ensuing half-a-century, White's has either introduced or fine-tuned a number of features that have become standard on most detectors produced worldwide including Ground Balance, Target ID and others. Recently, new blood in the Engineering department has resulted in a revamping of their line of treasure detectors and the introduction of the TREASUREMaster and TREASUREPro were the first two models that gave a glimpse of what was to come. The third newly designed model which is the focus of this field test is called the MXSPORT and incorporates the ergonomics and display found on the TREASURE models with newly designed circuitry and mounts them in a waterproof housing giving the MXSPORT versatility not previously found on White's detector. My use of White's equipment dates back to the late 1960's when I upgraded to a Coinmaster TR from a basic BFO detector built by a company that has long since faded into the history books and my wife has been using White's almost exclusively since she picked up the hobby soon after we met so we were both looking forward to seeing what the new team at White's brought from paper to production when we heard the MXSPORT was enroute for testing.


FEATURES

At first glance, the MXSPORT appears to be similar to the new TREASUREMaster and TREASUREPro; however, the similarity ends at the control housing face design. As one might assume based on the name, the MXSPORT design started with the MXT platform which has remained a solid performer searching for a wide range of targets under even the most challenging of conditions. In fact, as many of those that have hunted with me can attest, the MXT Pro with the 6x10 Eclipse and 4x6 Shooter coils has been one of my "go-to" relic hunting detectors since it was first introduced.

Manufacturers have recognized the market segment interested in a detector capable of being submerged strictly in shallow water since 99% of the users are not divers and the extra weight / expense required to provide a waterproof housing at depth is simply not necessary. The engineers at White's put that as a "must-have" design requirement when the MXSPORT project started to take shape. The end result is a detector with a 10-foot submersion rating that allows users to search creeks, rivers, swimming beaches and other sites even when using a mask & snorkel to get to those targets others simply can't reach.

Let's take a look at the detector itself and explore the functions that have been incorporated into the MXSPORT. Carrying over the unique design found in the MXT line, the MXSPORT has been programmed to in essence provide users with a different detector in terms of the audio response options, information displayed on the large LCD screen and what specific functions are available based on the search mode selected via the Options screen. There are six different search modes that can be selected and then fine-tuned to one's specific requirements or preferences. They are COIN & JEWELRY, BEACH, ALL METAL, RELIC, HIGH TRASH and PROSPECTING. For example, passing a 50c piece across the coil in Coin & Jewelry provides a Target ID value of "87" and a label HLFDLR. The same target when checked in the Relic mode shows a label of BUCKLE while the Prospecting mode shows the "87" value and indication that the signal is not iron.

The MXSPORT's target ID system provides values ranging from -95 to +95 similar to that found on other White's detectors and while the exact values don't match-up to other models, a few hours in the field will have you identifying targets with a high degree of accuracy. An important feature to note on the MXSPORT is that the visual target ID system – both the coarse grouping provided by the arrow beneath the 20 groups along the circle that runs around the screen and the larger VDI number in the center of the screen providing accurate target differentiation - is active in all search modes which expands its versatility. For example, if you want to search in ALL-METAL to ensure you are not missing a target and getting maximum detection depth, you can still obtain target ID and depth information through values provided on the LCD screen.

The LCD screen provides a wealth of information and is easy to read even in direct sunlight which is a challenge for many LCD-based detectors. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, target ID information is provided through both an arrow pointing to one of 20 probable target segments as well as via a large 2-digit number that appears in the center of the screen when in one of the search modes. The 2-digit value is the preferred option to determine if a signal is worth recovering since it provides greater differentiation between targets that might otherwise fall in the same "bin" such as nickels and pulltabs. Additional information provided includes a real-time battery strength indicator, coarse target depth, sensitivity level, selected search mode and backlight status. When the OPTIONS touchpad is pressed, the center of the screen displays the various options described below and allows adjustments to be made.

The MXSPORT is controlled through the use of the 8 touchpads located beneath the LCD display on the face of the control housing. Showing thought for the end-user in the design phase, all of the touchpads can be accessed using the thumb of the hand holding the detector. The touchpads include - [OPTIONS], [], [], [ /  / PINPOINT], [+], [-], [TRACK] and [POWER] - which provide the following functions:

*OPTIONS : Pressing this touchpad brings up the menu of adjustments that can be made based on the search mode selected. The specific function to adjust is selected using the  &  touchpads and then the actual adjustment is made using the [+] and [-] touchpads. Features that can be selected and / or adjusted based on the chosen Search Program include Discrimination, Volume, Threshold, Tone Identification (1, 2, 4, 8 or 20 tones), VCO Audio, Self-Adjusting Threshold (SAT), Iron Grunt, Salt Track, Frequency Shift, Backlight intensity, Program, Audio Modulation, Reject Volume and Depth Units (in. or cm). NOTE: Not all of these functions are selectable in every Search mode as described below.

* & : These touchpads scroll through the available functions based on the selected search mode when OPTIONS has been pressed or adjust the Audio Threshold when in any Search mode.

*[ /  / PINPOINT]: This touchpad is used to accept or reject any of the segments that fall within the 20 bins described above. It also is used to activate the non-motion pinpoint mode to zero in on a detected target.

*+ & : These touchpads are used to make the actual adjustment to the option selected using the  &  touchpads or adjust the Sensitivity when in any Search mode.

It was interesting to see the number of features that the engineers were able to incorporate into the MXSport which provide the capabilities of several individual detectors in one package. By simply selecting a different program from the OPTIONS menu, the MXSport instantly transforms itself from a detector finding coins in the local park to a high-performing relic detector, a capable electronic prospecting tool or a detector able to search ocean beaches containing black sand and salt water. Space limitations in this report prevent delving into extensive details on each of the functions listed above or how they can be used for maximum performance in the field but rest assured, they work well in concert with one another and being able to switch programs with a single touchpad demonstrates where White's engineers plan on taking detector designs in the future.

There are two other touchpads that round out the MXSport's controls which are POWER and TRACK.

*POWER : This serves a dual function – it turns the detector on, and if tapped, activates a very useful adjustable intensity backlight ideal for hunting in low or no light conditions. There is a slight reduction in battery life but having the ability to turn the backlight on is a feature that is a real asset in the field when searching areas that are too crowded or too hot to search during daylight hours.

*TRACK: The MXSport features a fully automatic ground balancing system which will continually monitor ground conditions and make any adjustments that might be called for; however, if you find yourself in ground searching sites where mineralization changes frequently or contains traces of rusted iron, press the TRACK touchpad. This locks the Ground Balance to prevent the detector from trying to continually adjust to the ground which can improve overall stability. To quickly set the ground balance as well as check the relative mineralization present, press and hold the TRACK touchpad. Bob the coil up and down several times until the threshold remains constant. The ground phase is indicated by the number on the screen and the relative ground strength is represented on the depth meter in the lower left corner of the screen.

The MXSport also provides a non-motion all-metal pinpoint mode which helps one accurately pinpoint targets so as to reduce the time required to recover a target and minimize the chance of damaging it. Tapping the center touchpad activates the Pinpoint mode and tapping it again returns the MXSport to its selected search mode. One can shrink the response from shallow / large targets by pressing and holding the Pinpoint touchpad which will keep it in the PINPOINT mode until the touchpad is released as the coil approaches the center of the target which makes it easier to zero in on the target. The Target ID display switches to show target depth when in the Pinpoint mode.

Any adjustments you make to the MXSport through the Options menu are retained even when the detector is turned off which is useful if you have tweaked it for a specific site and don’t want to worry about having to save the changes before calling an end to the day. While adjusting the various settings is a snap thanks to the intuitive menu structure, the engineers have included a RESET function which puts all of the settings back to the factory presets if you want to start from a known baseline or if the machine is acting strangely. Simply select RESET from the Options menu, hold the PINPOINT touchpad and everything will be as it was when you unpacked the detector.

The MXSport is powered by eight AA batteries held in a pod mounted under the armrest which helps balance the unit. They will provide up to 20+ hours of use depending on how often the backlight is activated and if headphones are used. Rechargeable batteries – either NiMH or Lion - can be used with no loss of performance, although they tend to provide slightly less operating time. Keeping an eye on the Battery Strength indicator will ensure you are not forced to cut your hunt short unexpectedly.

FIELD TEST

After assembling the MXSport, I took it to a nearby school to give the various search modes a try in an area I knew contained both good and bad targets. Starting out in the COINS & JEWELRY mode, I held the TRACK touchpad to do a quick "Ground Gab" which set the ground balance and leaving all of the other settings at factory preset, set off across the ballfield. After the first few signals, I could see a few adjustments were warranted. The first was Discrimination which in my opinion was set a tad too low for the site. Rejecting the two "bins" above the stock setting still ensured nickels would be accepted while ignoring most of the small pieces of foil I was hitting and then rejecting the last "bin" eliminated the iron wrap-around that tends to produce those annoying "ghost signals" on most detectors. The other change was in the TONE option where I selected 4 tones rather than the single tone that was the default value. This allowed me to identify targets initially by tone and then obtain a more accurate ID by glancing at the display and checking the VDI number. Bumping up the Sensitivity to "7" kept the MXSport running rock-steady and coins at depths of 8"+ came through clear as a bell. Near the playground area I switched to the HI TRASH mode which added a little rejection to the lower end and provided 4-tone audio by default. After digging several identical pulltabs, I toggled into OPTIONS, moved the Discrimination pointer to the "bin" in which the tabs had registered and tapped the Pinpoint touchpad to reject them.

As I turned the corner of the building, I found myself on the oldest part of the property which I knew contained more targets - mostly ferrous - and switched to the RELIC mode to see how it fared. The big difference between the RELIC mode and others is that it features Mixed-Mode Audio which for long-time White's users is a feature which has uncovered scores of keepers from amongst trash that kept others at bay. What this option does is to provide two separate audio signals - one based on All Metal and the other Discrimination - allowing one to hear everything in the ground but clearly pick out what is considered to be a good target from amongst trash based on the audio response. It does take a little getting used to but once you do, it is an unbeatable option for certain types of treasure hunting. I made a few adjustments to the options in this mode and it wasn't long before I was picking keepers including coins, a token and a silver-plated ring from amongst the iron that littered this part of the site.

The last feature I wanted to try before heading home was the REJECT VOLUME which is new to the White's design. On other detectors, any target that falls within the discriminated range is eliminated and no audio response produced. What this feature allows you to do is set the volume for targets that fall in the rejected range to something less that those being accepted so that you are in essence hunting in ALL-METAL but using the audio response to determine if a signal is worth recovering. If you are scouting a site, this option will allow you to find where the activity was centered as trash is often the first thing one finds yet ignore it based on the reduced volume the targets produce. It worked just as designed and its value was quickly evident as I thought of several long-lost sites where it could help zero in on areas of interest.

A stop at a private yard was next on the agenda. Using surveyor flags, I marked multiple targets so that I could check them with the different search coils. The MXSport coil running in COIN & JEWELRY did a great job even running at a Sensitivity of "8". Several coins turned up including nickels which came in exactly as expected even at 7"+. To demonstrate the sensitivity of the MXSport, I recovered a small silver heart charm (3/8" in size) from 6" and the top to a rivet at 5" - both of which produced solid repeatable signals with all 3 coils. The two Eclipse coils gave consistent VDI values and did not false even at higher sensitivity settings despite searching in mineralized red clay.

One comment my wife and I fed back to the engineers was that the new MXSport DD coil tended to hit on rusted bottle caps and register them as coins which is not totally uncommon to Double-D coils. Sweeping across them at right-angles tended to produce varying target ID readings or sweeping the outer edge of coil over suspect targets and listening to the audio response helped in identifying them; however, both the Eclipse 6x10 DD and the 9.5" concentric coils were able to ignore them with only an occasional chirp. White's is looking at tweaking the algorithm to help eliminate these pesky targets but either switching to one of the other two coils or listening to the response worked when hunting sites that were littered with bottlecaps.

Overall, we enjoyed the new MXSport and found it clearly be a potent detector in the field under a wide range of conditions. With the addition of the optional coils, one has a package that is ready for whatever challenges or sites one might come across.

SUMMARY

The new MXSport offers a number of time-proven as well as new, innovative features in a waterproof, ergonomically-designed package. Having a detector that is equally at home in the local school or park as well as it is in neck deep water or caught in a sudden downpour a mile from the truck shows that the engineers have listened to users and designed equipment that incorporates what people not only need but want. My wife and I were impressed at the performance the MXSport provided under a range of conditions and selected search modes. Switching coils as conditions warranted further demonstrated what it was capable of and we are looking forward to taking it to sites that we know hold treasure that the MXSport will find. With the introduction of the MXSport, White's Electronics is forging a path which will break new ground in terms of performance and functionality in future detectors born in Sweet Home, Oregon . . . based on discussions with the engineers, even more innovation is yet to come. If you are looking at stepping up to a new detector in 2016 or simply adding one to your arsenal, the MXSport definitely warrants a closer look.

The MXSport lists for $799.95 and comes the new MXSport 10" Double-D search coil, a set of land headphones, an adapter cable that allows you to use any set of headphones with a 1/4" jack and the standard two-year Whites transferable warranty. Optional coils currently available include the 6"x10" elliptical DD Eclipse and the 9.5" concentric Eclipse - both of which are proven to get the job done where it counts which is in the field - and make the MXSport a detector that can truly meet the needs of treasure hunters worldwide. For more information on the MXSport, any of their other models in the White's line or to find your local dealer, contact the factory at (800) 547-6911 or visit their web site at www.WhitesElectronics.com. Be sure to mention you read about the MXSPORT in Lost Treasure Magazine.

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