The Gold Trax detector from Discovery Electronics is one of the several detectors I have really enjoyed field testing.
One reason for my enjoyment is I have watched some of my recommendations (part of my wish list of what should be on the ideal nugget hunting detector) become part of the final design of this instrument.
Designed with gold nugget hunters in mind, the Gold Trax detector is built around Discovery Electronics fundamental modular discriminating detector, the Treasure Baron (see the August issue of Lost Treasure for the Treasure Barons field test). Instead of the familiar red control unit, the Gold Trax housing is gold, and instead of the 8-inch concentric coil, a 9-inch elliptical DD coil is standard.
What makes this detector really perform is the installation of Discoverys new Gold Trax module. In fact, any Treasure Baron owner can upgrade their machine to a Gold Trax detector by merely installing the Gold Trax module (a $269.95 option) and the new 9-inch elliptical coil (a $99.95 option). The result will be an improved coin and relic detector that also meets the needs of the demanding nugget hunter.
The heart of the Gold Trax module is a state-of-the-art microprocessor, which receives signals from the operator via six small tactile switches located on the face plate. To change any of the settings determined by this module, a person needs only to press one or more of these switches.
To make this detector a truly turn-on-and-go instrument, the microprocessor is programmed to initialize with the most logical settings an inexperienced user would want.
Two of the main enhancements provided by the Gold Trax module are increased all-metal mode (pinpoint mode) sensitivity and a sophisticated automatic ground tracking system that tackles the toughest of ground with ease.
The only terrain where the automatic ground tracking doesnt excel is on a saltwater beach. Saltwater and salty wet sand respond as a target far beyond the adjustment limits of the ground tracking system. To use the Gold Trax detector on ocean beaches, flip a small Track/Preset toggle to the Preset position.
The ground tracking feature is a complex system itself, having eight adjustable ground tracking rates, a Turbo Mode, an Offset capability (the ability to adjust for either a positive or negative response when the search coil is lowered to the ground) and manual mode capabilities.
The Gold Trax module also provides the following features: eight adjustable pinpoint mode gain settings, 256 threshold level adjustments, 16 different auto-tuning tuning speeds, digital filtering, audio and visible light-emitting diode (LED) iron indication and a battery check.
Testing the Gold Trax
Because the base unit is the same, I merely converted my 2-year-old Treasure Baron to a Gold Trax detector by installing the Gold Trax module and the new elliptical coil, a process that took a few minutes.
Setup was simple. I set the discrimination adjustments as I would with any other detector, turning on the machine and checking out the test targets I buried in the extremely mineralized ground at my house. The results were impressive.
This turn-on-and-go instrument displayed exceptional sensitivity, even at the factory-preset settings. In fact, the preset all-metal sensitivity was as sensitive as the maximum settings of my Pro Hunter module. The discrimination sensitivity was as good or better throughout the testing.
The automatic ground balance feature worked flawlessly. All I had to do was turn on the detector, lower the coil to hunting height and begin searching. Even in the heavily mineralized ground it took only a couple of seconds for the detector to ground balance itself.
The first evaluations were made using my usual buried test targets, including the several coins and pieces of lead I had buried to simulate gold targets. All coins my 61/2-inch-deep dime, a 51/2-inch-deep penny, 9- and 10-inch-deep nickels and the several small pieces of lead were easily detected in the all-metal mode (pinpoint mode).
Checking the same targets with the discriminate mode reflected the same results for all targets except the 10-inch-deep nickel. On this target, the discrimination response was not consistent.
Next I created an environment at home like those I have found in gold hunting country using small gold nuggets (the smallest was about pinhead size) for targets, samples of dirt and hot rocks I had brought back from previous trips. Target depth ranged from the surface for the small nugget to about 4 inches. Testing was done using both the concentric and the new elliptical DD-design coil.
With the 8-inch concentric coil installed and the Gold Trax at preset settings except for the sensitivity, the detector did an excellent job of tracking all ground conditions except the most severe of hot rocks. All gold nuggets were detected except one small nugget (about 10 grains in size) hidden beneath one of the worst rocks. The detector would almost null the rock, but still failed to see the nugget.
By adjusting something called the Offset slightly positive and reducing the ground tracking speed, I could readily detect all the nuggets, including the previous elusive one.
The test was repeated using the elliptical DD wide-scan coil. This time, when scanning slowly over the test area, all nuggets were easily detected on the first pass. With the DD coil installed, the detector did a better job of minimizing hot rock problems.
Knowing that where I hunt for gold nuggets is anything but flat and the fact that the Gold Trax feels somewhat heavy especially when hunting on a hill, I mounted the control unit upside down under my forearm with the controls facing towards the coil. This arrangement allowed me to easily move the only control I would regularly need to adjust the mode switch with my little finger. The new mounting made the detector almost perfectly counterbalanced and comfortable to use for long periods of time.
Off to Nugget Country
Actual field-testing for gold nuggets was done in Arizona, where, like most nugget hunters, I found what seemed to be endless pieces of trash, wire, shoe tacks and bullets. However, I was also fortunate enough to find one nice small 331/2-grain gold nugget, which made it all worthwhile.
During this testing, both styles of coils were given about equal testing time. Surprisingly, the concentric coil worked better than I expected, indicating you can hunt with confidence with this coil. However, my coil preference was the DD wide scan, simply because of its wider ground coverage and its reduced response to ground variations and hot rocks.
I tested all the features of the Gold Trax and found most of the factory presets to be optimal for the majority of areas. The two adjustments I normally made were the threshold and sensitivity settings. Although I normally ran the sensitivity about two levels above preset, I found I could at times operate with maximum sensitivity and still have a stable detector.
I found the Turbo mode ground-tracking feature, which limits the range of the ground-tracking system, seemed to work best. With the Turbo activated, the ground balance feature seemed more stable, since it didnt try to track some of the more dramatic hot rocks. The Turbo mode is activated by merely holding the mode switch to the retune position for about two seconds while the coil is at operating height.
One feature that I did not rely on while nugget hunting was the ferrous (Iron) indication. When activated, the audio signal is designed to stutter distinctly when a ferrous object was detected. However, I found in highly mineralized ground where there were plenty of hot rocks, the audio would occasionally stutter on a nonferrous target such as lead. Usually, the inaccurate response was brief and intermittent, while the response from an iron target was consistent. This condition didnt surprise me, since I have had similar results with every other discriminating detector I have used.
The one small nugget I did find indicated correctly, and what made this find really pleasant was this target was between 5 and 6 inches deep. More importantly, it was buried under a piece of negative responding greenish schist (hot rock). I suspect that if I had been using a manually ground-balanced instrument, I could have easily missed this piece of gold.
Priced at $729.95, the Gold Trax detector is truly a simple to use, versatile nugget hunting instrument. More importantly, because of the full discrimination features, it can also be thought of as an extremely sensitive, easy to use coin or relic detector that can be used to hunt gold.
As for the new Gold Trax module itself, I have to say that if I were going to select only one module to add to a Treasure Baron, it would be this module, simply because of the improvements it provides. The new DD elliptical coil also works extremely well and is highly recommended when used with the Gold Trax or the Pro Hunter module.
It is easy to recommend the Gold Trax detector as well as the Gold Trax module to all present and future owners of the Treasure Baron.
For more information on the Gold Trax detector, the Gold Trax module, the Treasure Baron or other Discovery products, contact Discovery Electronics at Discovery Electronics, 1115 Long St., Sweet Home, Ore. 97386; phone (503) 367-2585 or fax (503) 367-6690.