FIELD TEST

Garrett Electronics Gta 350
By Andy Sabisch
From Page 53
June, 1994 issue of Lost Treasure

Charles Garretts intense interest in electronics and passion for trea­sure hunting led him to found the company that bears his name over 30 years ago. Ever since that time, he has remained active in the day-to­day operation of Garrett Electronics and ensures that his philosophy of producing high quality equipment is followed by all of his employees. Realizing that continual research and development efforts were needed for his company to remain at the fore­front of metal detection technology, Charles has invested millions of dol­lars over the last ten years improving an already successful line of metal detectors.

The GTA-series, first introduced in 1990, has been one of the most popular lines of detectors ever pro­duced by the company. Despite this success, Charles felt that there were treasure hunters who wanted the con­venience and performance of the GTAs but just couldnt afford one. Rather than ignore this segment of the hobby, the engineers at Garrett developed the GTA 350, which of­fered many of the features found on the GTA 500, and 1000 models at a price even beginners could afford.

FEATURES:

The GTA 350 is a fully automatic, motion discriminator with both notch discrimination and target ID cir­cuitry. Mounted on the familiar GTA type S-rod, its lightweight and ex­ceptional balance will allow anyone to spend hours in the field searching for hidden treasures without fa­tigue. While its weight of 3.5 pounds makes it one of the lighter detectors on the market, the battery pack can be removed by simply sliding it free from the armrest and clipping it to your belt reduces the detectors weight by nearly a full 10 ounces.

The 350s circuitry features the same time-tested surface mount tech­nology used on other Garrett models including the GTA 500 and 1000 as well as the top-of-the-line Grand Master CXIII which has been de­signed to provide users with years of dependable service.

The GTA 350s operation is con­trolled through five touchpads lo­cated on the front of the control hous­ing. The center pad labeled ONE TOUCH is used to turn the detector on and off. Just to the left is a pad marked SET DEPTH which when pressed, will allow the user to adjust the units sensitivity. To the right of the ONE TOUCH control is a third pad labeled SET DISC. This control is used to turn the individual notches on or off which in turn determines what targets are accepted/rejected as the coil passes over them. The two remaining pads, labeled <+> and <->, are used to actually adjust the sensi­tivity or select the discrimination notch to be changed.

The notch discrimination circuitry of the GTA 350 provides users with discrimination capabilities that are far superior to those found on detec­tors which only have a single-knob control. On non-notch type units, if one wants to reject pull tabs for example, all targets which are less con­ductive than a pull tab such as nick­els and most pieces of gold jewelry will also be rejected. If the area to be searched contains a high concentra­tion of screw caps, rejecting these will not only cause you to miss everything except for pennies and clad coins but result in a noticeable loss of detection depth as well.

With the 350s notch-discrimina­tion system you can precisely select what targets you want to accept or reject simply by pressing a single touchpad with no loss in sensitivity to any other target. For example, if a certain type of pull tab is prevalent in the area you are hunting, you can reject only that specific target while still picking up nickels and most jewelry.

There are 17 individual notches that can be set resulting in a detector that can be used effectively in high trash areas to locate good targets overlooked by previous hunters. Since any one of the 17 notches can be adjusted, many owners have found that Garretts notch system can be used to search for a specific type of target such as a gold ring (by turning all other notches off or in competi­tion hunts to increase their chances of locating prize tokens.

The LCD meter located directly above the touchpads provides a full-time indication of what notches are active. If the notch is blank, the target that corresponds to that notch will be rejected. When a target is detected, a block will be displayed above the lower row of notches. This upper row will provide a probable target ID reading which can be used to determine if the target is worth recovering. On the left-hand side of the meter is a 4-bar display labeled BATT which continually displays the current condition of the batteries. All of the information provided by the meter can be easily seen even in direct sunlight.

To reduce the amount of time spent adjusting the detector, the GTA 350 was designed to retain any changes made to the factory settings in its memory, even with the power turned off. If you do want to re­initialize the detector and start adjusting it from a known point, simply press and hold the ONE TOUCH pad for 10 seconds and wait for a single beep. The 350 will then be reset to the original factory settings.

The GTA 350 comes with a com­prehensive pocket-sized instruction manual that describes all of its fea­tures, explains how to adjust the de­tector for various applications, and provides several tips which will help you achieve the most from the unit.

The 350 is powered by eight AA penlight batteries. Garretts engi­neers have eliminated the wires nor­mally found on other detectors and the battery packs simply slide into the two compartments located be­neath the armrest. This feature elimi­nates the possibility of breaking the battery leads thereby avoiding un­wanted down time. Standard carbon batteries will provide between 20 to 30 hours of use alkaline about 10 hours more.

Nicads can be used and a kit con­taining batteries and a charger is available from the factory. Use of headphones is recommended to in­crease battery life and avoid missing the deeper targets and a standard 1/4-inch headphone jack located on the rear of the armrest assembly is pro­vided for this purpose.

FIELD TEST:

Over the years Ive converted a number of my co-workers into trea­sure hunters simply by bringing my finds to work on a periodic basis. Recently I brought in a collection of Civil War relics I had found and Ron Conroy showed an immediate interest in them.

After explaining what each item was, he asked me if he could come along the next time I went relic hunt­ing. Since he had never used a detec­tor before, I felt that he would be a good test of the 350s performance and ease-of-operation. Due to travel requirements, my schedule didnt permit me to spend any time with Ron until the following weekend so I gave him the detector along with the instruction manual and provided him with a few tips and suggestions on how to use the unit.

While I was gone Ron took the unit to a few playgrounds near his home. Without altering any of the factory-settings, he was able to re­cover a double-handful of coins from the locations he searched. More im­portantly, he said that he had only dug a few pieces of trash despite the fact that most of the sites were lit­tered with pull tabs and tin foil. Sur­prised at how easy the detector had been to operate, he left several messages with my wife while I was out of town wanting to get together and try searching for Civil War relics when I returned.

Picking Ron up early Saturday morning, I told him we would be going to a site near the outskirts of Atlanta that had produced some in­teresting artifacts over the last few years. As we hiked in to the area, I gave Ron a brief history of the battle that had taken place in the woods 130 years earlier.

Setting the sensitivity at 80% and accepting all notches except for the first two on the left-end side of the meter, Ron began hunting along the top of a small hill. After 10 minutes without having received even one signal, Ron asked if we were in the right place. Telling him that relic hunting required more patience than fishing (he is an avid fisherman) he put the headphones back on and con­tinued searching.

Suddenly he called me over and tapped the coil on the ground indi­cating the location of a target he had detected. Using a mattock, I removed several inches of dirt and had Ron recheck the hole. The target was in the pile of dirt and after spreading it out, I picked up a beautiful .58 cali­ber minnie ball that had been dropped by a soldier so many years ago.

Ron was proud to hold a piece of the past in his hands and quickly continued searching with renewed enthusiasm. We both had other com­mitments, which forced us to quit after about 90 minutes, but Ron was more than satisfied with his success. In addition to the first bullet, he had found a round ball, three fired minnie balls, and a dropped cleaner bullet which was a nice find in itself.

As a side note, Ron has since bought a detector of his own and is out searching for relics or coins whenever his schedule permits wel­come to the hobby Ron!

After prying the GTA 350 away from Ron, I decided to try it at a nearby beach closed for the season. All of the beaches in the surrounding area are heavily hunted soon after Labor Day; however, I knew from past experience that not everything gets recovered no matter how thor­oughly an area is searched.

Parking at the gate and walking down to the beach, I set the detector to accept all targets above FOIL. While pull-tabs and screw caps would be detected, rejecting them could cause some pieces of gold jewelry to be rejected as well. Starting near the rock wall at the top end of the beach, I began to get a number of signals that registered directly under the PULLTAB label. The 350 was right in each case, so I used the SET DISC touchpad to reject the two notches corresponding to that specific target and continued hunting. With the ex­ception of a few mangled tabs, I was able to hunt the entire length of the wall; about 100 feet; without being bothered by the large number of tabs which littered the area. Several passes across the sandy portion of the beach only netted me eight coins so I de­cided to try hunting the picnic area located on the hill next to the parking lot.

My luck immediately improved as I picked up nearly $2.00 in change from the first set of tables I searched. Approaching one of the large pavil­ions I began to be bothered by more and more screw caps buried just be­neath the grass. Again, a quick ad­justment with the SET DISC pad allowed me to continue hunting the area while rejecting all of these un­wanted targets. After almost 2 hours I decided to call it a day and headed back to the truck. Emptying out my pouch I counted out just under $5.00 along with several keys, a gold-plated earring, and a marijuana pipe (which was quickly disposed of). While I was satisfied with my finds made at a site which had been hunted several times before, I was more impressed at the limited amount of trash that I had recovered considering how much was visible laying on the ground.

Unfortunately a stretch of record-breaking cold weather with tempera­tures staying below freezing for most of January limited the amount of time I was able to use the GTA 350; however, I was able to try it at vari­ous sites around Atlanta and Miami. In addition to an impressive number of clad coins and other modern items such as keys and matchbox cars, I found 23 wheat cents, a buffalo nickel, 9 silver coins, a heavy silver ring, and three Civil War minnie balls all in areas that had either been heavily hunted before or contained a high concentration of trash targets. Garretts easy-to-use notch discrimination system allowed me to recover many of these items in areas others would have been forced to give up on due to the amount of trash present.

SUMMARY:

The GTA 350 was designed for those treasure hunters that want the features and ease of operation found on top-of-the-line detectors yet were unable or unwilling to pay the price normally associated with them. While it makes an ideal entry-level detector, its discrimination and target ID capabilities should satisfy even a sea­soned hunter who already owns several other detec­tors and may be looking for a dependable coin or gen­eral treasure hunting unit.

The lack of a non-motion pinpoint mode may take some getting used to by more-experienced treasure hunter however it reminded me that she had used a detector without this feature for years and never had any trouble pinpoint­ing and recovering targets even in well-manicured lawns. To put this minor comment in perspective, I did find that with a little practice, I was able to pinpoint nearly as well as I could with my usual detector. The instruction manual gives several well-written tips on how to gain pro­ficiency in this area.

The GTA 350 sells for $350 and comes with a 2-year, transferable warranty. A wide range of optional search coils is available making the GTA 350 an extremely versatile de­tector.

For the name of your local dealer and a copy of Garretts informative buyers guide featuring their com­plete line of treasure hunting equip­ment, call the factory at (800) 527-4011 or write them at 1881W. State Street, Garland, TX, 75042-6761 and be sure to mention that you read about the value-packed GTA 350 in Lost Treasure.

 
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