Electroscope, in conjunction with C-Scope from England, has recently introduced anew line a metal detectors in the United States. When I was contacted and asked if I was interested in field testing their deep-seeking Ultrascope, I agreed, having some areas that I felt would be a good test of its capabilities.
The first thing that strikes one about the Ultrascope is its unique design there is no other detector that even resembles it. The Ultrascope has been designed to be able to find larger targets at extreme depths, while allowing the user to selectively ignore small individual targets similar to a conventional two-box detector.
The Ultrascope is constructed of high-impact plastic, and its dimensions are 29 x 3 x 6 112. The entire unit weighs only six pounds, eight ounces with the batteries. The detector has a 3 x 5 search coil built into the bottom of the one-piece case which yields surprising depth.
Unlike many deep-seeking metal detectors available today, the Ultrascope uses only two rotary knobs and a push button for tuning and normal operation. The two knobs, which are located on the face of the detector, are Tuning and Sensitivity Selection. On the bottom of the hand grip is a push button which is used for retuning the Ultrascope when ground conditions change. There is also a small meter on the top of the detector which is used for initial tuning and verifying that the unit is set properly when in the field.
On the unit that I tested, the speaker, which is mounted on the front of the unit, was removable and was mounted on a long spiral cord, similar to a telephone cord. The factory has indicated that on the newer models being produced the speaker will be permanently mounted in the case and a headphone jack will be provided for use in high-noise areas, or when privacy is needed.
The Ultrascope does not have a discrimination circuit like those on a conventional coin hunting metal detector, and as such, will respond to both ferrous and non-ferrous targets. The discrimination that it does provide is based on the size of the target rather that its composition.
By decreasing the overall sensitivity of the detector, the Ultrascope will respond only to larger objects while completely ignoring smaller objects such as nails, individual coins, and other small trash items. This feature becomes extremely useful when searching near an old foundation that is littered with nails, barbed wire, and pieces of tin roof.
By ignoring these smaller objects, you will be able to locate larger relics, both ferrous and non-ferrous, in areas that were previously un-searchable. The reason that you dont want to ignore all ferrous targets, is that in many cases, caches of coins are buried in iron pots or other types of ferrous containers.
If on a conventional coin hunting metal detector you were using a level of discrimination high enough to reject the small trash items in the area, you would probably ignore a cache buried in a ferrous container. By discriminating only based on target size, this does not occur.
The Ultrascope is powered by 12 AA penlight batteries mounted in two holders, and are contained in the compartment on the back of the detector toward the bottom. The cover can be removed easily with either a screwdriver or a coin. The battery life on the Ultrascope is approximately 35 - 40 hours on regular carbon type batteries slightly longer if alkaline batteries are used. Nicad batteries can be used to reduce the cost of replacing batteries, however, at the present time, this is not an option available from the factory.
After removing the Ultrascope from the box and reading over the instructions which are printed on the face of the detector, I proceeded to see how it responded to various targets in an air test.
There are three sensitivity settings available on the Ultrascope, with setting number 2 being the recommended setting for most applications. Setting number 1 will provide good depth while providing the most stable operation in the field. Setting number 3 will provide the greatest depth and sensitivity; however, the operation becomes less stable and may become confusing to the new user.
I started to test the Ultrascope by turning the Tuning knob fully counter-clockwise and turning the Sensitivity knob to 1. This turns the detector on and activates the automatic battery check feature. If the batteries are in good condition, a tone will be heard for approximately three seconds and then it will slowly fade away. If the tone lasts for one second or less, the batteries require replacement.
The push button on the underside of the handle should be depressed and held while making any adjustments to the Tuning control. While holding the push button, slowly turn the Tuning control clockwise until a bell-type tone is heard. At this point, rotate the knob slightly counterclockwise until the tone disappears and release the push button. The Ultrascope is now set for normal operation in the lowest sensitivity setting.
I checked the response of the Ultrascope to various objects: individual coins, a Civil War vintage belt plate, a candle stick, a horseshoe, and a mason jar filled with coins. The Ultrascope responded with a clear signal to each of these items.
I repeated the test with the unit in sensitivity setting 2 and found that it resulted in approximately a five percent increase in depth on the same objects. Sensitivity setting 3 resulted in an increase of approximately 15 percent more depth than in the 2 setting; however, it be-came slightly erratic due to the electrical interference present.
As mentioned earlier, the Ultrascope can be set to ignore small objects and respond only to larger objects which is extremely helpful when searching an area with a great deal of small trash items. By operating the detector in the 2 sensitivity setting and turning the Tuning control about one- half a turn counterclockwise from the point where the tone stops, I was able to still get a signal from the larger items such as the jar of coins and the candle stick with only a slight loss of depth, while ignoring individual coins or nails.
Another important feature of the Ultrascope is that it is a non-motion detector. Unlike most automatic ground canceling metal detecting available today, the Ultrascope does not have to be in motion to respond to a target. This feature is especially useful if you are lowering the Ultrascope into a well, basement, or small hole where you would be unable to move the detector.
The first place I tried the Ultrascope was on my property tracing the pipes that came in from the street. By setting the Sensitivity knob to 2 and adjusting the Tuning knob so that the threshold tone had just disappeared, I was able to easily pick up the pipes which were up to two feet down. I checked the response of the Ultrascope in the 1 sensitivity setting, and was still able to pick them up.
Next I took the Ultrascope to an old ford site on a creek in central Georgia with fellow hunters Tim Geib, Ed and Brenda Williamson, Chuck Brown and my wife. During the Civil War, Union cavalry forces had encountered heavy resistance from two Confederate units and decided that the best option was to retreat.
In the course of the retreat, the Union forces attempted to cross a swollen creek at this fording site. Feeling that capture was imminent, they dumped damaged cannon into the creek and the remaining troops, horses, and mules proceeded to cross. The water was deeper and faster than they had thought, and a number of mules and horses were drowned and the equipment they were carrying was swept away and lost.
The site had been located by friends of Ed Williamson after a great deal of research both in the archives as well as in the field. Upon arriving at the site, we were immediately disappointed by seeing that the level of the creek was about 8 to 10 feet higher than it had been during the winter of 1988 due to the heavy rains that we had had recently. We realized that the cannon was most likely in the middle of the creek which was now out of reach due to the water level. Despite these conditions, we felt that searching the immediate area might provide us with some definite proof that we were in the right area.
We had several conventional metal detectors in addition to the Ultrascope, and began to search the area near the creek and on both banks. On one bank, there was a great deal of small rusted iron and pieces of an old barbed wire fence which made searching very difficult. I set the Ultrascope to sensitivity level 2 and de-tuned the Tuning control so that the detector would ignore the small pieces of trash and began to search the area. Almost immediately I received a good signal, and at a depth of about nine inches, I found a large hand-forged bolt which may have come from a wagon.
A short distance away, I again received a solid signal which proved to be a mule shoe from almost 12 inches deep. After 20 minutes or searching a small area on the bank, I had found several more hand-forged wagon parts, as well as two more mule shoes. The consensus of the people present was that the items I had found were from the period we were looking for and that we had indeed found the right location. I tried to search around the old stone support for the bridge hoping that the cannon might be within reach, however, all that was found were more relics from the mid -to late1800s.
While we did not locate the cannon, the Ultrascope had enabled us to verify that we were in the right area by locating several items in the midst of a heavy concentration of small pieces of trash. When the water recedes, we will be back with the Ultrascope to try and recover the cannon which has been lost for the last 125 years.
Next I took the Ultrascope to an old field stone foundation in the woods near my house. I had previously tried to search the area with a conventional metal detector, but due to the amount of small pieces of rusted metal, primarily from the old tin roof, I had given up in frustration.
Upon arriving at the site, I set the Ultrascope to sensitivity setting 3 and Tuning control so that the threshold had just disappeared the most sensitive setting of the Ultrascope. As I swept the ground near the foundation, I received several sharp but repeatable signals.
Looking at the ground, I noticed what had caused the signals. Underneath the search head of the Ultrascope were several scattered .22 caliber shell casings.
Not believing that these had caused the response, I picked one up and ran it under the head, and much to my surprise, the detector responded with a loud signal. The Ultrascope was able to detect even a small target a few inches away from the search head.
I reduced the sensitivity setting to 2 and turned the Tuning knob slightly counterclockwise to ignore small targets such as the shell casings and other trash items. I let my wife sweep the Ultrascope, while I dug the targets she located.
To one side of an old path, she received aloud signal. After digging down approximately 10 inches, I found half a horse shoe. The next signal produced a rusted Prince Albert tobacco tin at nearly 12 inches, however, there was no gold or silver hoard hidden in it but theres always next time.
We spent over an hour at this site and, as shown in the accompanying photographs, were able to come up with a number of interesting artifacts from an area that I had been unable to hunt in the past.
The Ultrascope is a metal detector designed for a specific purpose. It has not been designed for coin hunting, beach hunting, or prospecting. Its main function is to locate larger targets deeper than a conventional metal detector or in areas that are un-searchable due to the amount of small targets that are present.
Due to its construction, it can be maneuvered around bushes, rocks, and trees much easier than a standard two-box type detector. Cache hunters will find the Ultrascope to be extremely useful for searching wells, cisterns, root cellars, and basements by lowering the Ultrascope into these areas on a rope and listening for an audio response.
The Ultrascope can also be used successfully for searching the inside of a structure to locate objects hidden in the walls or under steps. By de-tuning the Ultrascope to the point that nails and other small objects are ignored, these areas can be searched for larger items possibly indicating a hidden cache.
Relic hunters who are looking for larger artifacts in areas that are heavily littered with small pieces of trash can also set the Ultrascope to ignore these items and locate the larger objects.
If you are a cache or relic hunter and are looking for a metal detector designed for your specialized needs, you need to take a look at the Ultrascope before you purchase your next detector.
For more information and the name of your nearest Electroscope or Tomaco dealer, write the factory at: Thomas Electroscopes, 1589A Northwood Drive, South Williamsport, PA 17701 or call them at 1-800-245-9276 or 1-800-323-92751.