When Gary Bischke, a well-known treasure hunting equipment distributor and avid treasure hunter, told me to keep an eye out for a new detector from Garrett Electronics, I was curious what this new detector might be like.
A couple of months later when the Ultra GTA 1000 arrived for field testing I knew, after a couple of minutes with the unit, that I had received the detector he was talking about. This new detector was impressive.
Garretts new Ultra GTA 1000 (Graphic Target Analyzer) is packed with many highly technological features including a microprocessor, a sophisticated LCD display, touch pad controls, an elliptical coil, and a unique hip-mount design.
The compact control housing which rests on top of the stem is comprised of a sophisticated LCD display capable of displaying probable target identification (target ID), probable depth indication, six different operating modes, and battery power indication.
Also included on control housing is a unique set of operator controls, different from the usual switches and knobs. All controls and adjustments are accomplished by pressing appropriate locations on a plastic face plate commonly referred to as touch pads. Hidden away within the compact housing are the electronic components which make the detector function.
The touch pad system is made up of nine different touch pads or points. Some of these pads are multi-functional. A highlight of their functions follows:
1. POWERTurns the detector on or off. Also resets the detector to factory calibration.
2. PINPOINTActivates the pinpoint function and causes the target depth to be displayed on the lower scale of the graphic display.
3. LASTReturns the detector to the previous operating mode.
4. SELECTChanges mode selections and allows the operator to adjust and/or change settings on the following selections:
A. Operating modessix programs or modes of operation to choose from, including coins, all-metal, beach, A, B, and C (which are operator adjustable)
B. Depthsensitivity adjustment
C. Thresholdsets the continuous audio level adjustment
D. Tone adjustment
E. Audioallows the selection of three different audio modes including the Garrett bell tone
F. Surface Eliminationallows the operator the ability to blank the first inch of surface targets
G. Audio Boostenhances the weaker signals
H. Battery Typeselect between standard and Ni-Cad for proper indication of battery check
5. OPERATEReturns the detector to the hunting mode after changes are made.
6 and 7. ACCEPT & REJECTPermits acceptance or rejection of targets allowing for discrimination notches.
8 and 9. (-) & (+)Have three functions; alternate between selections when changing modes, adjust levels of threshold, depth, and tone, and move segment on Upper Scale when setting discrimination acceptance or rejection.
Besides the LCD display and the touch pad controls, I was impressed with many other subtle features that make up the GTA 1000. Garrett implemented many designs I have in my own idea book for the ultimate detector.
One important design found on the GTA is the hip-mount arrangement. Knowing the batteries and speaker are the primary weight factors normally found in the control housing of a detector, Garrett has elected to separate these components along with the earphone jack from the main control housing and place them in a separate enclosure. This second housing mounts under the forearm rest. This unique arrangement really adds to the balance of the instrument.
When this battery/speaker assembly is removed from the main stem and belt-mounted, almost a pound of weight is shifted from the detector to the hip. The extension cable necessary for hip-mounting is attached and stores neatly in the end of the handle when conventionally mounted.
The great feature of this concept is all operator controls remain mounted on top of the detector shaft within easy reach of the operator in any configuration.
Another feature I liked was the elliptical coil. Al-though elliptical coils are relatively new, I feel they will be the coils of the future since they offer the depth of the conventional round coils but maneuver better under certain adverse conditions. At the present time, Garrett is the only manufacturer to offer both round and elliptical coils for the same detector.
The large LCD display provides a multitude of in-formation, including a continuous display of the acceptable target range on a horizontal display. This display divides the discrimination range from tinfoil through silver dollars into 24 graphic segments. Each of these 24 segments can be set to accept or reject corresponding objects. When the segments are visible or activated, the targets that fall in that range are accepted. The names of typical targets such as foil, bottle tops, nickels, pull tabs, penny, dime, quarter, etc., are imprinted on the face plate above the display.
A second 24-segment horizontal display (normally invisible) is located just above one mentioned. When a target is encountered and analyzed, one of the 24 segments will be activated based upon the detectors evaluation. If the target is determined to fall in the acceptable range, the detector will respond with an audio signal.
An operator can select from one of the Ultra GTA 1000s 6 programmed operating modes. The first is the Coins mode which allows detection of most coins including nickels while rejecting pull tabs.
A Beach mode detects all targets from a nickel through the dollar range. A third mode, the All-Metal mode detects all metals, ferrous or non-ferrous. Also included are three optional modes labeled A, B, and C, which are mirror images of the three above-mentioned modes.
The operator can adjust or personalize any of the programmed modes. However, the changes are only retained on the three optional modes when the power is turned off.
My initial testing revealed that even the novice can begin hunting with little or no reading of the instruction manual. Just turn the power on and go. I do, however, recommend that all new owners read the manual carefully and learn the different functions of the detector to fully utilize this instrument.
My first test site was my front yard. When the GTA 1000 powered up in the coins mode of operation, I was immediately ready to test the detector on the coins I have buried. The first target selected was a penny buried five-inches deep.
The Ultra GTA 1000 responded with a clear, loud response. More importantly, the detector properly target-IDd the coin. Impressed with this signal I decided to challenge the detector by trying to detect the six-and-a-half-inch dime buried nearby. Again the detector responded with a clear, loud response. Several passes over the dime displayed a respectable consistency in target ID accuracy. Very impressive, considering the detector was at preset settings.
Several passes over other buried coins displayed the GTA 1000 has one of the most accurate target ID indications I have used under these circumstances.
IN THE FIELD
My first real test area was a local park. Following Garretts recommendations of beginning in the coins mode, I began to search one of the more trashy areas. Within a couple of minutes I received my first solid penny/dime response. The target retrieved was a bottle cap.
This good response to the bottle cap was not a flaw of the GTA 1000 but rather a characteristic of the searchcoil supplied. Although all coil designs have problems with many of the pesky caps, the double D wide-scan design used in the elliptical coil is the worst. Generally speaking, all double D designed coils love bottle caps. For a person who hates to dig these pests, the optional 8-112 inch concentric round coil may be a better choice of coils.
This first outing was brief and only yielded a handful of new coins plus another handful of bottle caps. The depth of targets varied between the surface and about six inches.
The next site tested the Ultra GTA 1000 under the worst of conditions. The area had plenty of trash, uneven ground, dry soil, and severe mineralization. This location was a city block where all the houses had been removed and the outbuildings bulldozed to make way for a new school. To make success at this site less likely, the area had been seriously hunted by a couple of my treasure hunting partners.
At the site, I turned the power on and began to hunt in the coin mode. From the beginning, the detector began to give me an unusually high incidence of false signals. This condition turned out to be my own fault.
As mentioned before, Garrett recommends that new owners use the GTA 1000 with all controls in the preset mode when first starting out. Unfortunately, I had been playing earlier with all the different features and had inadvertently left on an option called audio enhance.
The audio enhance feature is designed to enhance all extremely weak signals and should only be used in areas where targets are scarce and deep. As a result of my mis-adjustment, the Ultra GTA 1000 responded with the very high incidence of annoying signals caused by the trash. Once the enhance feature was turned off, the detector quieted down dramatically and, like all other detectors, the GTA 1000 would occasionally give a quick but unrepeatable response over junk targets.
One strange feature noted at this location was that some of the targets gave two indications simultaneously on the target ID. In almost every case where the double display occurred, the target was apiece of rusty iron trash or tinfoil. With the exception of a few extremely deep targets or those extremely close to junk, the target ID would lock on with a very consistent indication on non-ferrous items such as coins, brass buttons, etc.
My first outing to this location yielded a handful of miscellaneous non-ferrous items, 1 Mercury dime, a 1900 Indian head penny, 2 badly deteriorated aluminum tokens, and several newer coins. The depths of recovery ranged between the surface and about 6 to 7 inches. A few days later, I returned to the area. This time I was met by Terry Stoehr, a fellow treasure hunter. After a mutual introduction we were off hunting. Within a couple of minutes, I had a solid penny/dime indication which turned out to be a badly worn 1917 Mercury dime recovered from a depth of 4-5 inches.
In trying to determine the depth of the dime and other nearby targets I found the depth indication feature associated with the pinpoint mode to be very accurate. However, I also found this mode to have a minor weakness. In the extremely mineralized Colorado soil, the Pinpoint mode (the all-metal no-motion mode), was somewhat difficult to use.
Sometimes the detector wouldnt shift to the pinpoint mode and other times there would be no audio indication of the target. This lack of audio, in many of the cases, was the result of tuning over nearby trash and not the detectors fault. In some cases, several attempts of selecting the pinpoint mode were necessary to get accurate readings.
This second trip to the area yielded only a few wheat pennies, some newer coins, two tokens, and a handful of junk to add to the dime I had found earlier. About dark, I decided to give one more area a quick check before quitting. This turned out to be a wise decision. Within a couple of minutes I got a nice solid quarter response on the target ID.
The target retrieved was about quarter-size but didnt have the usual markings. In the dim light the dark colored coin was indistinguishable. Calling over to Terry, he quickly came over and examined the coin with a lighted magnifying glass. It was an 1876 Seated Liberty quarter, my best coin find of the year.
The next couple of trips to the area were done to experiment with some of the other features of the detector. One feature I quickly learned to appreciate was the Last feature. This feature allows the operator to quickly select between two different operating modes. I selected the Beach mode as my primary mode of operation because all targets having a conductivity of a nickel or higher would be detected. Past experience has shown that some tokens and even Indian head pennies are detected in the tab range.
The All-Metal motion mode was selected as my second mode. By merely pressing the Last touch pad, I could switch between the two modes. If a target was found using the Beach mode but disappeared after digging, I could quickly determine the location of most of the targets by using the All Metal motion mode.
This quirk of losing a target once a hole was dug while in the motion mode also occurred on a few deep coin targets. On a couple of occasions, even the all-metal motion mode wouldnt detect the object. Fortunately, the pinpoint mode would still indicate the target allowing for retrieval.
Years of testing has indicated that under severe mineralized ground conditions, this is not an uncommon problem for ultra-slow-motion detectors. In most cases, sweeping the hole very slowly will alleviate the problem.
Two other features I tried were the Audio Tone and depth option. By trying the various different tones, I was able to find one that sounded best through my earphones and stayed with it. The depth option is the sensitivity control. I found I could raise the sensitivity to maximum without increasing significantly the number of false signals. Selecting maximum depth appeared to add almost an inch in depth under ideal conditions.
After my personalizing of the GTA 1000 by adjusting the various options, I became very comfortable and confident with this instrument. This increased confidence was partially responsible for my finding several other interesting items including a Colorado Telephone token, three Colorado sales tax tokens, and a couple of aluminum tokens that were so badly deteriorated they were indistinguishable, a dog tag, three toy cars, and a few more odd items. The depth of the targets recovered ranged from near surface to about eight inches.
Among my favorite places to search are Colorado ghost towns so it was only natural to give a couple of sites a try. At these locations, the problem of detecting bottle caps was expanded to include small pieces of thin metal. The elliptical coil had a tendency of giving a good penny indication over the thin metal more often than I have found with the standard concentric coils.
The ghost towns did produce several unique items, including an old lock, several older keys, brass buttons, watch parts, spoons, a fork, and part of an old kerosene lamp. The only coin found was an Indian head penny.
The GTA 1000 is an ultra-slow slow-motion detector, meaning the searchcoil can be swept extremely slow. Because ghost towns are extremely trashy, the ultra-slow motion allowed me to select non-ferrous targets hidden very close to iron trash.
Garrett Electronics has engineered a full-featured metal detector at a very respectable price of $599.95. The Ultra GTA 1000 is as simple as turning on and searching and yet is sophisticated enough for the most demanding treasure hunter. Not only does the Ultra GTA 1000 have a multitude of features, but this detector has excellent depth in almost any soil conditions.
To fully appreciate the Ultra GTA 1000, I recommend treasure hunters get a hands-on demonstration to fully comprehend the features, versatility, and sensitivity of this unit. Additional information can be obtained from Garrett Electronics, P. 0. Drawer 38649, Dallas, TX 75238, or phone (800) 527-401l.