FIELD TEST

Minelab Electronics Excalibur 800 Metal Detector
By Andy Sabisch
From Page 22
June, 1999 issue of Lost Treasure

Despite the fact that Minelab Electronics is a relative newcomer to the metal detecting industry, they have developed a worldwide reputation of producing high quality products that incorporate new and innovative technology rather than simply repackage existing circuits in a different housing. Their early detectors were focused on the electronic prospecting market based on the overwhelming demand in their home country of Australia but as the acceptance of the Minelab name increased around the world, they branched out into the coin hunting, relic hunting and water hunting sectors. I have used both the Sovereign and Excalibur detectors with great success since they were originally introduced and looked forward to field testing one of the re-designed Excaliburs.

Features

After nearly ten years, virtually any treasure hunter that reads a magazine or logs onto the Internet knows that the single most important feature of the Sovereign and its waterproof brother the Excalibur that sets them apart from other detectors on the market is the Broad Band Spectrum or BBS circuitry they use. Unlike other VLF detectors that operate on only one or two frequencies, BBS detectors send out 17 distinct frequencies ranging from 1.5 to 25.5 kHz simultaneously. What this does is enable the circuitry to remain unaffected by even the most adverse ground conditions which typically cause conventional detectors to lose a significant amount of detection depth and all of this is done without ANY complicated adjustments by the operator!

The Excalibur is also the only waterproof detector that offers tone target ID which allows the user to hunt at low discrimination settings and use the different audio tones produced by various targets to determine which are worth recovering. One of the best ways to use this feature is to set the discrimination low; i.e., 3 and then ignore any high tones which indicate a coin. By doing this you can focus on targets that fall between Foil and Coins which in most cases will be rings, pendants or chains. You may pass up a few coins but with a dozen pieces of gold in your pouch at the end of the day, its a trade-off most of use can live with.

The waterproof housing has been time-tested and has an enviable record as far as being leakproof. The housing never needs to be opened since all of the controls and connections are on the outside of the case, and as a result, should provide years of dependable operation.

There are two versions of the Excalibur currently available, the 800 and 1000 with the only difference being the size of the search coil (8 and 10 inches in diameter). Both coils feature the Double-D design which eliminates the cone-shaped search pattern found on most detectors and ensures that maximum detection depth is achieved across the entire width of the coil with each swing. One no longer has to overlap each swing by 50 percent or more to avoid missing the deeper, more valuable targets which allows more ground to be covered effectively in less time.

The Excaliburs come with a rechargeable battery system which provides between 10-15 hours of use per charge.

Note: I did not discuss several other features on the Excalibur that have not been changed since the unit was initially introduced. Read the original field test report I did in the March 1997 issue of Lost Treasure for more details on this detector.

Field test

As Murphys Law would have it, I received the Excalibur 800 to field test in early January; obviously not the best time temperature-wise to put a water detector through its paces. Luckily my family and I were heading to Charleston, S.C., to visit relatives so in addition to our suitcases, I packed the detector, scoops, my dive gear and a thick wetsuit.

The beaches in this area of South Carolina consist of fine, hard-packed sand layered with heavily mineralized black sand that causes most detectors, including many pulse models, to be marginally effective at-best.

Placing the Sensitivity control in AUTO and Discrimination at 3, I headed away from the seawall towards the surfline. It wasnt long before I received the first signal. At close to ten inches I found an encrusted clad quarter. As I approached the wet sand, the threshold remained completely stable, with no adjustments required as would be on most detectors. Even when I got into the actual surf, it did not change. This is characteristic of the BBS circuitry and one of the main reasons Minelab detector users have been so successful worldwide. After recovering several more coins at similar depths, I headed towards a nearby pier. I recovered a handful of coins near the low-tide line and other than an occasional screw-cap, was not bothered by any of the iron I knew was still there from when hurricane Hugo passed though. One of the last targets I recovered before I left was a small 10 kt., pinky ring from just under seven inches in the wet sand.

Walking to the truck, I ran into a local treasure hunter who was just starting out for the day. When I showed him what I had found, he was taken aback, especially when I told him that I had not dug any rusted iron and had only hunted for an hour.

To put the detector to the true test, I headed out the following morning to try diving a popular freshwater swimming lake about 90 minutes north of Charleston. With temperatures in the 40s, my normal hunting partner in the area agreed to come along and hunt the beach area. Standing there at the waters edge with the wind blowing off the lake, I had my reservations but as long as I was there I opted to see what I could find.

Converting the Excalibur 800 from the conventional configuration to the shortened dive version took less then five minutes and did not require any additional parts or kits another positive feature! Slipping under the surface I kicked along the bottom until I reached the anchor chain for one of the three large floats. The silt layer was almost a foot thick; however, by pressing down on the coil, I was able to hunt and still get close enough to where the goodies were. Signals were there but not as plentiful as I would have expected. Nearly every target was 6-inches or more down in the sticky sediment below the silt and I quickly realized that I was not the first diver to hunt the site.

After almost 1 1/2 hours, I surfaced and swam in to see what I had found. Emptying my goody bag on the shore, I counted 32 coins including five silver quarters, four silver dimes and several wheat pennies. I had a few pieces of junk jewelry but the best find was a nice 14 kt gold mans ring with a small diamond in the center and a 14 kt gold ladies ring with three colored stones. One thing I did not have which my partner had been plagued with were rusty hair berets lost by swimmers over the years. Despite the fact that I knew they had been there, the Excaliburs circuitry had completely ignored them while still picking up the coins and jewelry in the same area and at depths greater than whatever detector the previous divers had been using. Even my partner said that a new detector might be a wise purchase with the upcoming water hunting season approaching.

I used the Excalibur 800 on several other lakes in South Carolina and Georgia as well as the eastern coast of Florida when I flew there on business and in each case, found it to operate without problem. No adjustments other then those made initially to achieve exceptional detection depth on a wide range of targets. I even had a chance to do a little Civil War relic hunting with it and recovered several bullets and other artifacts at depths of up to 15 inches which for mineralized, red Georgia clay is impressive with any detector.

Summary

The BBS technology has proven to be technology that can actually re-open previously worked-out sites by providing above-average detection depth, accurate target identification even at the fringe of the detectors capabilities and doing so without any complicated adjustments. Many treasure hunters have opted to purchase an Excalibur for all of their treasure hunting needs since it performs equally as well in the water as it does on dry land.

With the addition of a hipmount kit, one can search for hours without tiring. And now with your choice of two coil sizes, theres a model that fits the needs of a wide range of treasure hunters. Even if you only plan on doing some beach or water hunting a few times a year, you need to take a closer look at the Excalibur line before you purchase your next detector. The Excalibur comes with a one-year parts and labor warranty with service handled by a repair center located in the United States.

For the name of your nearest dealer or more information on any of the other detectors in the Minelab line, contact Minelab USA at 1878 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ, 85281, call them at (602) 829-7550 or visit their web site at http://www.minelab. com.au and be sure to mention you read about the exciting new Excalibur 800 in Lost Treasure.
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