FIELD TEST

The One Knob Wonder
By Jim Martin
From Page 14
February, 1985 issue of Lost Treasure

Works wonderfully wellthis simple three-word slogan sums up my reaction to the 1210-X, the latest addition to Fisher Research Laboratorys 1200-X series of metal detectors. The unit I was as-signed to field-test (Serial #10318) was a mighty impressive instrumenta top-performing VLF discriminating detector thats ex-tremely easy to operate and with a price tag thats easy on the pocket-book.
The 1210-X looks so uncompli-cated that at first glance one might consider it as being just another cheapie, something akin to a mythical Uncle Wigglys Wizard Wand with its powerful ON-OFF switch and the uncanny ability to emit strange sounds whenever any type of metal object comes within the limited range of its search coil.
But how wrong first impressions can often be. Dont sell this dandy little Fisher short. Its a real coin-shooting winner.
Simplicity is the keynote of the 1210-X. Not only does it look un-complicated, it practically operates itself. Theres just one knob on the front panel of the control box, no other switches or triggers to manipulatehow much more basic can a metal detector be?
Turn the knob clockwise to acti-vate the circuitry. Turn it all the way to the left (counterclockwise) to shut it off.
Yes, I know the Wizard Wand works much the same way. But while our hypothetical cheapie sounds off on all types of metal targets, the 1210-X possesses the ability to dis-tinguish treasures from trash just like its bigger brothers, the 1220-X and the 1260-X.
The discriminating control on the 1210-X has been cleverly incorpo-rated into the same single-turn knob used to turn the instrument on and off. When the indicator is set at zero (0) on the numbered dial, the detec-tor is essentially in an All-Metal Mode, and will respond to all types of metal targets. This is the position to use if you are searching for relics, artifacts and all other metal objects.
Moving the pointer on up the scale brings the variable discriminating ca-pabilities into play. Advance to about 4 on the dial, and the unit will reject nails and similar bits of iron making a lot of sounds that a coin-shooter may not wish to hear disap-pear.
Those pestiferous aluminum pull-tabs will drop out at around 6. Move the indicator all the way to 10the top of the scaleand the bulk of all audio signals received will be from coins and other desirable objects. This is the type of treasure finding performance that is certain to appeal to the casual coinshooter.
Automatic ground balancing is an-other feature the 1210-X has inher-ited from its older brothers. This electronic breakthrough enables the instrument to self-adjust to compen-sate for the audio interferences caused by excessive amounts of mineralization in the soil. It first was a feature on the 1260-X, reappeared as a feature of the 1220-X models and is now incorporated into this latest member of the Fisher family. Be-cause the detector does the critical balancing all by itself, the treasure hunting neophyte who gains his or her introduction to the hobby by us-ing the Fisher 1210-X may be un-aware that soil conditions can cause some detectors to be noisy unless proper manual adjustments are com-pleted. And this is one less problem that the casual coinshooter has to worry about.
As is true of the other models in the Fisher 1200-X series, the 1210-X emits a distinct audio response when a good target is detected. I call this unmistakable sound a healthy beep, and I have no trouble dis-cerning it from the snaps, crackles, pops and other broken sounds caused by unwanted targets.
Once a person becomes familiar with the healthy beep signal, there is no mistaking those moments of truth when the detector tells you that it is time to investigate a target. All those strange noises that so often confuse beginning coinshooters can be ignored once a person learns to recognize that distinct good target sound.
Another plus factor in the sound department is the fact that the 12 10-X is designed to run silent. There is no audio threshold to establish or maintain, a bonus feature thats at-tributable to what the Fisher folks call Pulsegate Unipolar Audio Pro-cessing.
Thats quite a mouthful to chew, but when a manufacturer is able to develop something as smooth per-forming and beneficial as this silent running feature, he can call it what-ever he wishes as far as Im con-cerned. Eliminating the necessity of tuning a detector to establish a threshold sound level, and then en-dowing the instrument with the abil-ity to maintain itself in tune, means one other less thing for a coinshooter to be concerned about.
While I have more or less empha-sized how well-suited the 1210-X is for the beginner, Im also convinced that the unit will please a lot of more advanced metal detecting enthusiasts who are interested in a blue ribbon-performing instrument at a modest price. More on this shortly.
Because I consider the 1210-X so appropriate for inexperienced opera-tors, a major, portion of my field-test efforts centered around youngsters who had never before had an oppor-tunity to use a metal detector. One test site was the lawn of a friend where I invited her pre-school age sons to take turns searching. Another was a school lawn where my prote-gees were the daughters of the head custodian. This session served to fur-ther cement the good relations al-ready established with the school au-thorities. Im always available to help them locate sprinkler heads, lost shut-off valves and other hidden ob-jects whenever the school personnel need assistance. The session with the girls generated even more good vibes. (Now why didnt YOU think of this goodwill-building gesture?)
When introducing a newcomer to coinshooting I try to make certain that he or she finds something worth-while. I also minimize the chances of locating junk. A few memorial pen-nies and clad coins is often all it takes to bring forth smiles of delight as well as helping to develop greater interest in the treasure finding pow-ers of the magic box.
To make sure that my fledgling treasure hunters would not become confused by the strange sounds gen-erated by trash targets, I used a high level of discrimination during each of my test missions with the young-sters. Without mentioning what I was doing, I simply moved the indicator to the 9 or 10 position on the dial. With this amount of discrimination, I was confident that just about every signal heard would be from a coin or otherwise good target.
Before handing the instrument to each of the youngsters, I demon-strated the exact sound that he or she should be listening for by performing a few air tests using coins as targets. I explained what was meant by a healthy beep and made sure each person understood and recognized the sound to listen for. I also cau-tioned them to ignore the broken sig-nals and all other sounds. Kids catch on quickly, and once they knew what they were hoping to hear, there was no problem.
Pinpointing with the 1210-X is easy. Because the detector is de-signed as a motion machine, a slight amount of search-coil move-ment is needed in order to receive target responses. However, the amount of motion required is very slightno greater than I employ dur-ing my slow search pattern efforts with any type of metal detector. Which is how I instructed the young-sters to workslow and easy.
After receiving a good target sig-nal, I showed them how to move the loop back and forth over the contact zone in order to zero in on the target. Young fingers were quick to point to the proper position under the bulls-eye mark on the search coil and they proved to be right on target. Score another high mark for the little Fisher.
Each of the test missions with the youngsters proved a rousing success. The lads and lassies found coins and had a marvelous time in the process. I even received a delightfully hand-painted watercolor showing us hunt-ing as a thank-you. Not only did I enjoy myself as much as the kids, I was able to evaluate how the detector performed in the hands of true novi-ces.
The 1210-X is very lighttipping the scales at 2.8 pounds, which makes it perfect for youngsters, se-nior citizens, or anyone else whose arm and wrist muscles tend to grow weary when holding a heavy object. In fact, the 1210-X is the lightest of any metal detector I have ever field-tested.
With the control housing and search coil balanced on an adjustable aluminum stem thats fitted with a hand grip and arm rest, the unit fits and feels just right. You can easily operate for an extended period of time without having to switch hands in order to obtain a bit of arm relief.
While I highly recommend the 12 10-X for casual coinshooting, I also discovered it possesses the abil-ity to sniff out those deeper coins and objects which so appeal to the ad-vanced treasure hunter. Ill admit that at first I was skeptical as to how the unit would stack up against the more expensive 1200-X models. But a few test sessions in the field con-vinced me that the 12l0-X ranks right up there with its bigger brothers. While searching for those deeperoldercoins, I came up with a search technique that should appeal to experienced coinshooters.
When holding the instrument in my right hand, I am able to easily move the control knob with my thumb. Since the knob is used to in-crease or decrease the level of dis-crimination, I am able to perform this critical adjustment at will by simply moving my thumb. This was a great advantage when attempting to detect those deeper targets which sometimes prove to be silver coins. Heres the technique I employ.
When starting to search, I set the control near the zero (0) mark on the dial so the detector will respond to all types of metal targets. By using zero discrimination, there is very little that the instrument is going to miss in the way of metal objects. Which is fine, because I can quickly get rid of the junk simply by moving my thumb.
When I receive a signal, I turn the control knob clockwise with my thumb to increase the discrimination level. Then I go back over the area again.
If the initial signal is loud and in-tense, I know that the target is lo-cated close to the surface. Should it start to crackle and break up before the 6 setting at the middle of the dial is reached, experience has proved that the object is probably not a coin but a pull-tab or some other un-wanted object.
Should the healthy beep con-tinue as I move the indicator further up the dial, the target is definitely worth investigating. Although it may prove to be an aluminum screw cap or some large object, the odds favor it being a coin. So by searching with a low, or even zero, level of discrim-ination to make the initial contact, then slowly increasing the amount of discrimination with a slight thumb movement, I am able to use the 12l0-Xs variable discrimination capabilities to the maximum.
Loud initial audio contacts that continue to sound good with high discrimination usually turn out to be memorial pennies or clad coins lo-cated near the surface. But things re-ally become interesting when I am able to pick up one of the so-called faint whispers.
Having logged countless hours us-ing the various models in the Fisher 1200-X series (1260-X, 1220-X, 1220-X PRO), my ears are well-adjusted to the type of audio signal that denotes a good target. So I can pretty well recognize a healthy beep no matter if it is loud or soft. Those muted tones are what I am al-ways hoping to hear because they are usually generated by targets which lie buried four inches or more below the surface. At this depth, the object may easily be a silver coin, or at least a wheat penny.
I am not implying that anyone can take a 1210-X and go right out and start picking up faint whispers. I often find that these sounds are few and far between. Yet once a person learns how to recognize a healthy beep and then develops the ability to discern the same tone at a low level of intensity, the magic thumb technique I described can certainly pay off.
Theres one drawback, however. Because of the position of the control knob on the front panel, you must hold the detector with your right hand in order to employ the trained thumb method. If you are left handed and cant make the switch to using your right hand, you are (pardon the pun) left out. However, it is not too difficult to hold the detector in your left hand and then reach over with right hand to perform the necessary discrimination control adjustment.
The key to success is to use a low level of discrimination to pick out those muted signals, then take ad-vantage of the variable discrimina-tion to check them out.
Wearing earphones will enable you to better hear those faint signals, but heres a word of caution. Make cer-tain that your headphones operate properly when plugged into the jack of the l210-X.
I discovered that some headsets do not produce an audio signal with this unit. Since the same set performs properly when used with other detec-tors, I assume that there is a near miss somewhere at a close toler-ance area. Actually this isnt any big thingunless, of course, you wait until you are out in the field before discovering that your headphones re-main silent. I suspect this problem may not occur with any of the head- sets sold by Fisher, but I have not had an opportunity to try any of them.
Budget-conscious beepers will appreciate the fact that the 1210-X is powered by a single 9-volt battery. Frequently I find these cells on sale, so your operating costs are probably in the few cents per hour cate-gory. Theres no battery test compo-nent on the detector, and because it is designed for silent operations, theres a chance you may run out of juice while searching and not be aware of the exact moment that your detector died.
To be on the safe side, I make an occasional check by passing the search coil over the eyelets in my boot, or some other metal object while making note of the signal strength. If I fail to receive a satisfac-tory response, I unsnap the quick re-lease cover and insert a fresh cell.
The $199.95 price tag is another strong selling point that could easily bring a lot of new blood into the metal detecting fraternity. I envision the 1210-X as being the right in-strument for a lot of folks who are kinda interested in metal detecting, but who are reluctant to ante up the cash required to purchase one of the more expensive models. Well, heres a quality-built, high-performance detector that almost runs itself.
I found the 1210-X to be in the same league as the higher-priced models in the 1200-X series. True, the more expensive instruments offer additional refinements not found on their little brother, and Im sure that these more sophisticated units will continue to be popular. 1 cant envi-sion the owner of a 1260-X or a 1220-X getting rid of his or her unit to step down to the lower-priced model. As I see it, the l210-X will appeal to a new segment of the mar-ket that is yet to be tapped. The dis-covery that heres a moderately priced detector that provides top per-formance with a minimum of effort may be just what it takes to convert a lot of shoppers into buyers and in turn generate a lot of new interest in treasure hunting. 0



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