FIELD TEST

Bounty Hunter Big Bud
By Jerry Pattee
From Page 28
September, 1986 issue of Lost Treasure

I opened the shipping carton, removed the mere three-and-one-half pounds of metal detector and thought to myself, "This is it, this is the `Big Bud,' that's all there's to it." That was it all right - a little black box, a stem, some straps, a loop and an instruction book. After all these years of unpacking some pretty hefty metal detectors, it was hard to believe something this compact was going to do all the good things I had been reading and hearing about it.
Even more depressing was the fact that a thorough search of the box didn't turn up any batteries. "Almost every metal detector I ever owned always came with batteries," I thought "What are they going to leave out next, coils?" My fears were short-lived, however, because I soon found out my Big Bud had made a side trip to Lost Treasure's main office, and the boys out there in Oklahoma just couldn't resist trying it out before they shipped it off to me -- less the batteries - for reasons I will explain later on.
That's the way I was introduced to Bounty Hunter's Big Bud - but after that, it was just about all down hill. In fact, to give you a hint of what's to come, I'll have to admit this little three-and-one-half-pound metal detector was full of surprises - most of them good.
As you might already know, I don't believe it's a good idea for just one person to conduct a field test. I like to let some of my friends and clients give it a go and try to incorporate their input into my evaluation - as the saying goes, "Different strokes for different folks." I feel field testing a new metal detector is too serious of a job to always be left up to one person's opinion. Let's face it, we all have our likes and dislikes and they are bound to bleed over into our evaluafion of a product, be it metal detector or a microwave oven.
Well, when it comes to the Big Bud, the voting was just about unanimous. Everyone who tried it was very impressed. And there is quite a bit to be impressed with. Price: less than $400. Weight: much less than some of the bigger top-line detectors. Performance: as good as, if not better than, some units costing considerably more. Features: more than one could expect in a unit that falls into what could be considered a medium-priced unit by today's standards. Just about everyone - with few exceptions agreed that the Big Bud was one heck of a metal detector.
I guess the best way to describe the Big Bud in one sentence is: it's a fully automatic visual discriminating notch type metal detector with many unusual features and options included at no extra cost. Thke the hipmount convertible feature, for example. The detector comes ready to use in either the conventional hand-held configuration or, by removing two thumbscrews and attaching the strap, is easily converted into a hipmount or bodymount model. Not only that, the extra long loop cord normally needed for hipmount use is already provided, so there's no need to change loops.
The handle and stem are constructed of two pieces of black anodized aluminum with a nicely molded and padded armrest. The upper portion (with the armrest) is the new comfortable S-curved type that is so popular and puts the lightweight control housing and meter right in front of you - where it belongs.
The handle-and-box configuration also puts several of the five operation controls literally at your fingertips. On the left rear of the box is a horizontally-mounted, three-position toggle switch that is used to switch from the automatic (self tuning, self adjusting) silent discrimination mode
into the two-phase (automatic and semi-automatic) all-metal pinpoint mode. With the switch fully left and locked, it is in the self-tuning VLF slow motion discrimination mode. One click to the right puts you into the self-adjusting (field automatically narrows) all-metal pinpoint mode. Moving the spring-loaded switch all the way to the right puts the detector into a semi-automatic threshold readjust and pinpoint mode, which can be used to pinpoint a little faster or readjust your threshold to start the pinpoint mode over again.
Next on the list of Big Bud features is a vertically-mounted two-position,
toggle switch mounted on the right side of the control box. When this switch is in the down position, the unit is in its normal operating mode. When the switch is in the raised or up position, the unit is in the "Deep Coins Only" mode. What this mode is designed to do is eliminate responses from most surface and shallow targets and only respond to detectable objects buried deeper than approximately 3 inches.
The three remaining controls are mounted on the top of the control housing. There is the familiar discrimination control with the standard iron, foil, pull tab and screw cap indications. When rotated fully
counterclockwise, you are at the minimum discrimination level, rotating the knob fully clockwise puts the discrimination at the maximum rejection level.
Right above the discrimination control is the on/off-battery check and mode selector switch. One click to the right turns the unit on and activates the battery-check circuitry, which is read on the detector's meter. An additional click to the right puts you into the main control circuit, and the detector comes alive and is instanily ready for use. Being fully automated, there is no threshold to adjust, as the Big Bud is a "silent-search" detector.
Incidentally, there is no volume control on the Big Bud (presumably because most detector owners are willing to wear a headset with built-in volume adjustments).
In the main DISC mode, the aforementioned variable discriminate control is in effect as well as the sensitivity control, which is mounted just to the right of the master control. Also activated is the visual discrimination readout which is conveniendy mounted at slighdy raised angle at the upper end of the control box.
The Big Bud's meter calibration is designed in a notch-type pattern that reads from left to right starting with
iron and foil and continuing on to silver. It is divided into red and green sections, with the red sections indicating less desirable targets (iron, foil, puiltabs, etc.) and the green acceptable ones (most rings, coins, etc.). By manipulating the discriminate control while in the DISC mode, you can also eliminate the sound of undesirable targets to any desired level of acceptance or rejection.
The final position of the master control switch (full right) puts you in the "Coins Only" mode, which, as fatas I can tell, gives you the same effect as turning the discriminate control fully clockwise to maximum discriminate. The "Coins Only" mode and DISC mode in effect gives you a choice of two audio discrimination levels: one you set with the variable discriminate control and is in use when you are in the DISC mode;
the other is factory preset at maximum, and is working when you are in the "Coins Only" mode. So, as well as having built-in notch discrimination you have a choice of two instant (by selecting a switch position) discrimination levels. While in either mode most rings and nickels are accepted, the difference is that you hear the sounds of some trash (pull-tabs, etc.) while in a low level of the discriminate mode, which you won't hear as often in the "Coins Only" mode.
The last operator-variable control is the sensitivity control, mounted to the right of the on/off mode select. Like most variable sensitivity controls, its use is a matter of circumstances rather than absolute values. A good rule of thumb is to use as much as you can while still maintaining the stability of the detector.
The control housing itself is constructed of high impact black plastic and is attached to the upper shaft by two quick-release thumb screws for instant conversion to a bodymount configuration. The bodymount strap, which is supplied, snaps into two holes on the rear of the control housing. Besides the factory mounted external speaker, a 1/4-inch headphone jack is conveniently fitted on the left rear side of the housing.
Power is supplied by two 9-volt transistor batteries, stored in two compartments covered by sliding panels on the underside of the control housing. The standard search loop that comes with the Big Bud is an 8inch waterproof concentric type. A 12-inch coil is available. The whole thing runs at an operating frequency of 6.592 kfiz and is 49 inches long collapsed and 58 inches extended.
Like any new piece of equipment, the performance you get from it depends on a number of variables: how good the equipment is; how much you know about what you are doing; and the circumstances under which you use the equipment. First of all, the Big Bud, like many of the newer detectors, is so fully automated it's almost impossible to completely mess it up - almost, but not entirely.
Out of the half dozen or so people who assisted me in this field test, most had little or no trouble in understanding some of the more advanced features of the Big Bud. Tike the ultra-slow sweep speed in the DISC or "Coins Only" mode, for instance. Thken at face value, you would think a slow sweep would give you the same response as a fast sweep. Yes and no - depth penetration was about the same, however, most of us found that too slow of a sweep would set off a flurry of false signals. After experimenting with different sweep speeds, I found out the reason why. Somewhere in between a slow sweep and a very slow (almost ultra-slow) sweep some ferrous (iron) objects can be detected as good targets (at least audibly). I would therefore recommend a moderate to fast sweep for normal use, and at least a change of sweep speed if the target in question gives off a broken or "chattering" audio response and/or corresponding meter fluctuations.
On the other hand, a good hit or target (coin, ring, etc.) will give off a steady signal, both audible and visually under just about all swing speed
conditions - which is just as it should be. Another method of checking your target is to change sweep direction by sweeping your search coil at about 90 degrees from the first sweep.
Another comment that came up often was in connection with battery drain. Remember, in the beginning I said I would tell you why the detector came to me minus the batteries. Well, it turns out batteries have a relatively short life span when used in the Big Bud. Although no exact figures are available, and Bounty Hunter recommends using only good quality alkalines, battery life can run as low as three hours or up to 10, depending on who you're talking to. One of the reasons for short battery life is the compactness of the unit itself remember, it only holds two 9-volt transistor batteries. With all the great features and power of the Big Bud, I guess relatively short battery life is a small price to pay.
Although the Big Bud lives up to most of its claims and is indeed and excellent piece of detection equipment, I have one final bone to pick in regards to their deep coin "Blanker." Albeit Bounty Hunter does not claim the Blanker gets rid of all surface trash as it only searches for deeper coins, the illustrations it is currently using (when this was written) in its brochures and advertising depicts a detector signal going down through the the soil and various pieces of trash to find the coin buried directly underneath. More than several people have brought that to my attention and questioned its authenticity. As far as I can
tell after considerable tests, this is not the case.
Like all discriminating metal detectors, the ability to see through one piece of metal to find another is something that only happens (for the most part) in the imagination. Under special circumstances and after careful adjustment, and with only some types of detectors, yes, it can be made to happen, but not all of the time under all circumstances. I found that the Blanker ability of the Big Bud works very well as long as the trash items are not directly over the desired target.
Other than that, when you consider the Big Bud comes with a limited lifetime factory warranty, is completely convertible from standard to bodymount and is easy to use under most
circumstances, it's got to be one of the better "little" detectors around.
For additional information contact: Bounty Hunter, Dept. LT, 300 Market Drive, Lebanon, OR 97355.
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