Fisher Research 1280-x Wader
By Andy Sabisch
From Page 8
April, 1991 issue of Lost Treasure

Fisher Research is one of the oldest manufacturers of metal-detecting equipment and since the 1280-X Aquanaut was introduced in 1985, they have been one of the leading producers of underwater metal detectors as well.

While there has been a dramatic increase in the number of treasure hunters searching the shallow waters just off the beach in recent years, most never go into water more than four or five feet deep. Because of this, Fisher decided to replace the underwater headphones with standard land headphones, thereby making the detector more affordable.

Having used the Fisher 1280-X Aquanaut for a number of years with a great deal of success, both on land and in the water, I was anxious to try out the new wader model.


The 1280-X Wader is a silent search, motion discriminator with automatic ground - canceling circuitry. The detector is mounted on a fiberglass handle assembly with the controls positioned directly above your hand. The rod extends from 33 inches, which is ideally suited for searching under buildings or in dense underbrush, to 49 inches, which is long enough for even the tallest treasure hunter.

The detector weighs nearly five-and-a-half pounds with the eight inch searchcoil and headphones; however, the control housing slips easily from the handle and can be used in a hip-mount configuration with the belt clip included.

The 1280-X Wader comes with either an 8-inch or 10-1/2-inch concentric searchcoil hard wired into the control housing. The coils can be replaced by the factory at a later date; however, it is much more cost effective to purchase it with the coil that fits your needs initially.

The eight-inch coil provides for better target separation in high trash areas, is easier to operate in salt water, and allows for more precise pinpointing. The 10-1/2 inch searchcoil provides for greater depth on targets larger than coin-size and will cover a greater area with each sweep.

The simplicity of the 1280-X series of metal detectors is one of its best features. There are only three knobs on the 1280-X Wader: Volume, Sensitivity, and Discrimination.

The Volume control adjusts the volume of the signal sent to the headphones and also turns the detector on. The Discrimination control allows the user to select the type of targets to ignore, ranging from small pieces of iron to pull tabs and screw caps.

The Sensitivity control adjusts the strength of the signal being transmitted from the coil and, when turned fully counterclockwise, activates the battery test circuit.

In between the Volume and Sensitivity controls is a clear plastic window with an indicator light in the center of it. The indicator light will glow when a target is detected and the intensity of the light will indicate the relative strength of the signal.

The 1280-X Wader is powered by 8 AA penlight batteries which are located in a compartment in the rear of the control housing. A well-designed feature is that the battery compartment is totally separate from the electronics compartment, which eliminates any possibility of damaging the detector in the event the batteries leak or the battery compartment floods.

On my 1280-X Aquanaut I have flooded the battery compartment on several occasions, mainly due to neglecting to check the tightness of the battery door before use and, other than replacing the batteries, have never had a problem because of it.

The 1280-X Wader is designed to provide exceptional battery life, even with standard carbon batteries; after 35 hours of use, the batteries in the test unit were still reading strong. An optional battery recharge kit, which includes ni-cad batteries and both an AC and DC charger, is available from the factory or your local dealer.


The 1280-X Wader I received for testing came equipped with the 10-1/2-inch "spider" coil. Since I was familiar with the response of the 1280-X Aquanaut with the 8-inch coil and older circuitry, I was curious to see how this unit performed.

After assembling the detector and reading over the instruction manual, I started by performing an air test to see how it responded to various objects one might encounter in the field.

I set the discriminate control to three, and both the Volume and Sensitivity controls to maximum. I noticed that, with the sensitivity set at maximum, a slight threshold signal was heard. In order to eliminate the threshold, I reduced the sensitivity to eight and continued with the test.

While there was a slight increase in detection depth on the smaller coins and jewelry items as compared to my 1 2 8 0 - X Aquanaut with the 8 inch coil, the depth at which it would detect a silver dollar, belt buckle, and an artillery shell was considerably better. By turning the Sensitivity control to the maximum position, a slight improvement in detection depth was obtained; however, you really have to listen to the change in the threshold tone to obtain that increase.

After completing the air test, I took the 1280-X Wader outside to my test garden to see how it responded to objects buried in the mineralized red clay. With the sensitivity control at eight, I did not receive any falsing or chattering caused by the mineralization, and was able to detect all of the targets.

The large iron nail produced a short, chopped signal that was noticeably different than the response from a good target. The 1280-X has difficulty completely rejecting a larger piece of iron at lower discrimination settings; however, after a few hours of use one can ignore most of it based on the type of response it produces. After a short time practicing in the yard, I decided to try some nearby sites to see how it performed in the field.


Since the 1280-X Wader was primarily designed to be used for searching shallow water sites, the first place I took it to, was a small beach on a north Georgia Lake. Upon arriving, I saw that there were signs of digging by previous treasure hunters on the dry sand area, so I decided to spend my time in the water. I set the Discriminate control to 3, the Volume control to 10, and the Sensitivity control to 8 to eliminate the threshold signal.

The Volume control should be set at maximum at all times and, if the signals are too loud, the volume controls on the headphones should be used to reduce them. This will prevent the user from possibly missing a deeper, potentially valuable target. I started searching parallel to the beach in knee-deep water and, after a few sweeps, received a solid signal. Pinpointing a signal with the 101/2-inch coil, especially on targets extremely close to the loop, takes a little time to become accustomed to; however, by raising the loop slightly off the bottom, it became fairly simple. Checking the scoop, I retrieved a quarter and a dime from the same spot.

As I continued on, I recovered a number of coins ranging in depth from just under the surface to five or six inches, and they all produced a solid response. Near the center of the beach l received a very weak signal which sounded like circuit noise and I nearly passed it up. However, since this was a field test, I decided to recheck it.

I used my foot to fan an inch or two of sand away and swept the loop over the area. This time, the signal was clearer, and I began to dig, using the long-handled scoop. After removing 3 scoops of sand (about 10- 11 inches) the 12 80X indicated that the target was in the scoop. Checking the scoop revealed an ornate ring with five large stones which, unfortunately, turned out to be a piece of costume jewelry.

Over the next few hours, I was able to recover a number of coins and other items at depths of up to 10 inches by using this technique. If a signal was extremely weak, I would remove an inch or two of sand and recheck it. If the signal became stronger, I would recover it and, if it disappeared, it was usually apiece of tinfoil that floated away with the sand.

With darkness approaching, I headed back to the car and looked over my finds. In addition to nearly $6 in coins, I also had several keys, two matchbox cars, a fishing lure, and a number of junk rings and earrings.

The next site I took the 1280-X Wader to was a construction site just outside the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield that had been recently cleared. While other relic hunters had already searched the area, I was hoping that the 10-1/2-inch searchcoil would be able to locate items they had missed. I set the Discriminate control to 4 to reject some of the nails and bits of barbed wire in the area and the Sensitivity control to 10.

As I searched the dried red clay, the threshold signal remained fairly constant and it was quite easy to become accustomed to after a short time. Nearly 20 minutes went by before I received my first signal, and it was quite faint.

Using the technique described above, I used my mattock to scrape away a few inches of dirt and rechecked the area. The signal was much clearer and defined, so I laid the detector down and began to dig. At just over 9 inches, I found a fired. 58-caliber minnie ball that had obviously hit something or someone over 125 years earlier.

After recovering three more minnie balls and a round ball at similar depths, I received a clear signal that produced a different type of response. At five inches I found a large rusted bolt. As I mentioned before, the 1280-X does not completely reject iron targets at lower discrimination settings; however, when relic hunting or searching for artifacts, you would not want to loose the larger iron objects which could be gun parts, shell fragments, or farm implements.

After recovering a few more pieces of rusted iron, I could tell what the target was before digging based on the response it produced. Despite finding only bullets in this site, the 1280-X Wader had performed well and located targets at depths equal to or better than the detectors that had searched the area before.

The next site I went to was a nearby beach; when I arrived, I saw that the lake level had been lowered several feet for maintenance of the dam and the beach was completely exposed. I was sure that the beach had been heavily hunted, but decided to try searching where the water had been to see if anything was missed.

Starting at the side closest to the parking lot and working a tight search pattern, I found 2 pennies and a dime in the first 30 minutes. I decided to try searching in a haphazard pattern toward the opposite end of the beach and, if the finds did not improve, I would leave.

Near the center of the beach the finds picked up and, over the next hour, I recovered nearly 40 coins, many of them quarters. Despite the abundance of coins, I was surprised at the lack of jewelry. As I worked toward the raft, the mud became deeper and recovering targets was quite -difficult.

Near the raft, I received a broken but faint signal and I tried decreasing the discrimination level slightly. With the control set at 2-1/2, the signal was very sharp and repeatable. As I sifted through the mud, I saw what appeared to be the edge of a pull tab but, as I was putting it in my pouch, some mud fell away and I saw it was a ring. Rinsing it off in a nearby puddle revealed that it was a 14KT white gold dinner ring with three diamonds.

This example shows that it is extremely important to use only a minimal amount of discrimination when searching areas that may contain jewelry to avoid rejecting good targets. Filled with renewed enthusiasm, I continued to search the mud near the ropes and, over the next hour, found a handful of coins (including an old Buffalo nickel) and one more 14KT gold ring in the shape of a rose with a small blue stone in it.

I continued to use the 1280-X Wader on a number of beaches in the north Georgia and Alabama areas as well as some Civil War battle sites and school yards and, in all cases ' it worked well and located targets !n areas that had been heavily hunted in the past.


The 1280-X Wader has been designed primarily for shallow-water hunting but is equally at home on land as well. The high-impact ABS control housing is extremely forgiving and has been designed to take more physical "abuse" than most other detectors.

The 10-1/2-inch searchcoil is a little more difficult to use on land than the smaller 8-inch coil; however, with some practice, pinpointing targets can be accomplished nearly as accurately with the larger loop.

Fisher has said that if the user wants to replace the land headphones with underwater headphones to allow the detector to be used for diving or all-weather searching, this can be done by the factory which then converts the 1280-X Wader to an Aquanaut with a 250-foot depth rating. A locking, hard carrying case is also available for $65 and will prevent damage to the unit when traveling.

The 1280-X Wader lists for $549.95 with the 8-inch search coil or $559.95 with the 10-1/2-inch searchcoil and both models come with the standard 5-year Gold Seal warranty.

If you are looking for an all-purpose detector that will allow you to hunt without worrying about damaging the electronics due to moisture, you should take a look at this new addition to the Fisher line.

For the name of your local dealer and a copy of the new Fisher catalog and newsletter, write the factory at Fisher Research Laboratory, 200 W. Willmott Road, Dept. LT, Los Banos, CA 93635, or call them at (209)8263292 and mention that you read about it in Lost Treasure.

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