This field test report is the second of a three-part series covering the newest additions to the Teknetics line of metal detectors. As mentioned in the first installment, youâ€™ll not only find out about the features and performance of these detectors but also some background information about the company, hear from the engineers that designed them and see where Teknetics is heading in terms of product development and support of the hobby. For this report, letâ€™s start with some information about Dave Johnson, First Texasâ€™s Chief Engineer and a major force behind the new Teknetics detectors.
DAVE JOHNSON . . . HELPING SHAPE THE INDUSTRY FOR
MORE THAN A QUARTER OF A CENTURY
Dave Johnson is a name that might not be as well known as some in the industry; however, he has been heavily involved in the development of metal detectors for more than 25 years with several manufacturers including Whites, Fisher, Tesoro and Troy. To be honest, before doing an interview article on Dave a few years ago I had never heard of him yet had used virtually all of the detectors he designed. Joining First Texas, the parent company of Teknetics, in 2002, Dave immediately went to work redesigning most of the detectors that were in production at that time with the goal of improving quality and performance while keeping the prices affordable. After helping turn around the Bounty Hunter line, Dave and his team focused their efforts on developing a new high-end detector that incorporated as many of the features seasoned detectorists had been asking for as possible. First Texas decided to resurrect the legendary Teknetics name which they had purchased years earlier when the original Teknetics went out of business. With a name that still commanded respect in the industry, Dave and his team had a tall order to fill as they embarked on developing the first detector in the new Teknetics line. After extensive R&D and input from testers in the field, the T-2 was introduced to the public in late 2005 which by itself has raised the Teknetics brand to once again be recognized as an industry leader. Not willing to rest on their laurels, Dave and the other engineers at First Texas worked to develop additional detectors that met the tagline now found all the Teknetics literature . . . â€œA proud descendent of the Teknetics Tradition.â€ The Alpha, Delta, Gamma and Omega join the T-2 in the Teknetics line.
One of the most striking features seen on all of the Teknetics detectors from the entry-level Alpha to the top-of-the-line T2 is their overall weight. The Gamma 6000 with the stock 8-inch concentric coil and single 9V battery weighs a mere 2.3 pounds. When you consider its light weight, the range of adjustment afforded by the telescoping shaft and an armrest that can be moved back & forth, the Gamma can be used by any treasure hunter for hours. In this case, less is definitely more . . . . . less weight equals more time & enjoyment in the field!
The Gamma operates at 7.8kHz which provides solid performance on a wide range of targets. It offers both manual and automatic ground balance capabilities so users can compensate for severe ground conditions and not loose detection depth that tends to occur on detectors using preset or fixed ground balance. The ground balance adjustments are applied to both search modes; a motion discriminate and a non-motion all-metal mode. At most locations, the easiest way to balance the Gamma is to turn it on, scroll down to the GROUND GRAB option using the left-most touchpad, press-&-hold the center pinpoint touchpad, raise-&-lower the coil a few times until the ground reading stabilizes and then select the desired search mode. All the adjustments are done automatically in seconds making it a snap to repeat throughout your time in the field ensuring the Gamma remains operating at peak efficiency. If conditions are such that GROUND GRAB can not obtain sufficient data to set the ground balance such as on salt water/black sand beaches or alkali desert ground or you desire to run with an â€œoffsetâ€ to the optimal setting to gain performance at the expense of some stability, you can set the ground balance manually. While not quite as simple as using GROUND GRAB, it is far easier then ground balancing has been in the past and the process is well described in the manual.
The Gammaâ€™s target ID system assigns values ranging from 01 to 99 to targets based on their composition. The discrimination control allows you to reject targets that register between 01 (iron) and 80 (zinc pennies / large screw caps). Copper, clad coins or silver can not be rejected. To further expand on the Gammaâ€™s versatility, a notch discrimination system has been provided. The notches include Iron, Foil, Nickel, Pull Tab, S-Cap, Zinc, Dime, and Qtr. You can accept or reject any (or all) of the first 6 notches while not affecting the response received from the other notches.
The Gamma also offers an audio target ID function which further aids in identifying detected targets when in the discriminate mode. Based on the number of Tones selected from the menu, targets will all produce the same sound (Tones = 1) or different sounds based on which notch segment they fall in. With a bit of practice, you can quickly identify the type of target youâ€™ve detected based on the audio response and use the LCD display to confirm this and then more precisely identifying the target using the large two-digit value in the center of the screen.
The Gamma is controlled through the use of 6 rubberized touchpads on the face of the control housing which are POWER, MODE (scrolls through All-Metal, Discrimination and Ground Grab), MENU (scrolls through the various options that can be adjusted depending on the mode selected), PINPOINT (when held, switches to a non-motion all-metal mode to zero-in on targets or activates the Ground Grab circuit) and <+>/<-> (used to make the menu adjustments).
The LCD screen provides a wealth of information in an easy-to-read format that includes the search mode and options selected, target ID information, a real-time battery strength monitor and target depth indication (via a 3-segment icon at all times and a large numerical display showing inches when in Pinpoint). Target identification is provided by both a block icon in one of the 8 notch segments corresponding to the probable ID as well as a 2-digit ranging from â€œ01â€ to â€œ99â€ in the center of the screen.
Similar to other Teknetics models, the Gamma does not retain adjustments made in the field but rather resets itself back to the factory preset values in terms of settings and search mode. While that may seem like an oversight at first since one needs to â€œtweakâ€ it each time it is turned on, this takes literally seconds to accomplish and ensures you have it set precisely the way you want it each time you start hunting. The default settings have the Gamma power up in the Discriminate mode at a sensitivity level of â€œ80â€, Volume and Discriminate at â€œ10â€, and Tones at â€œ3â€. With a few simple strokes of the touchpads you can tailor the settings to meet your specific needs, ground balance it and start searching.
The Gamma is powered by a single â€“ thatâ€™s right, a single - 9V battery which provides between 20 and 25 hours of operation. A unique feature found on several Teknetics models is the headphone jack or in fact jacks as is the case. The Gamma has both a 1/4" and an 1/8â€ jack located on the left side of the control housing which allows one to use any type of headphone ranging from a lightweight pair in warmer weather to more substantial models when external noise is high or temperatures drop. Left-handed hunters may have to loop the headphone cord under the control housing but the versatility of having both size jacks is really a unique feature and shows that Teknetics talked to actual users during the design phase of these detectors.
Sometimes when being assigned a field test, the deadline to have the report submitted doesnâ€™t allow for exhaustive testing at multiple locations with different ground conditions and this test ran into that limitation. The on-line version will contain additional test results but even with that said, I was able to try the Gamma 6000 out at several sites that provided different challenges in terms of ground conditions, trash content and depth of targets.
I found the Gamma 6000 to be extremely simple to pick up and use. A pet peeve of mine for years has been that the manuals for most detectors appear to be written by engineers and not actual users making them of limited value, especially to someone that has never picked up a detector before. The manuals for all of the new Teknetics detectors however have been done in a format that is easy-to-understand and walks even a newcomer through how to best set and use the detector. After reading through the manual to familiarize myself with the Ground Grab function as well as the various options that were not on the Delta I had used before and testing several targets while adjusting these options, I loaded up the truck and headed out to try some sites across the border in nearby Georgia.
The first site I stopped at was a town park that while not particularly old, had a large playground area, several picnic pavilions, two ballfields and an open area used for football and soccer. Thankfully the weather was still less than ideal which allowed me to have the park pretty much all to myself. Turning the Gamma on, I rejected the IRON and FOIL notches, lowered the Volume to â€œ8â€ for headphone use, dropped the sensitivity to â€œ70â€, selected the â€œ4 â€“toneâ€ audio option and did a quick Ground Grab to set the ground balance. A ground reading of â€œ71â€ indicated the ground was moderately mineralized and as expected, comprised of clay . . . useful information provided automatically on the screen. Signals were plentiful and since this was a field test, I opted to recover even those that registered in the PULL TAB and S-CAP notches to confirm the Gammaâ€™s target ID accuracy. An hour or so at this site produced a handful of coins â€“ all clad â€“ at depths ranging from just under the surface to 5 inches or so. Shallow targets tended to be a bit more challenging to pinpoint due to the wide response they would produce across much of the coilâ€™s diameter. After a little experimenting, I found that by toggling in-and-out of the Pinpoint mode as the coil was slowly moved into the area where the target was, the response would shrink to the point where the detector would only produce a slight â€œbeepâ€ when the target was beneath the small inner ring of the search coil.
Driving into a nearby town, I saw several vacant lots with steps that led down to the sidewalk in front of them. Seeing an elderly woman in the yard of a house across the street, I talked with her and she soon gave me permission to search two of them which were owned by her son. Running with the lower two notches rejected, a Ground Grab indicated the soil was a tad more mineralized but even with the sensitivity at â€œ80â€, the Gamma produced very little chatter as I hunted the lots. While not as productive as the park had been in terms of shear numbers, the quality more than made up for it. A few hours turned up several wheat cents, two Mercury dimes, a V-nickel (my first for 2010) and an old brass skeleton key. The target ID readings had been dead-on even at depth; however, one thing I noticed on the deeper targets was that the depth reading in the pinpoint mode tended to indicate an inch or so shallower than the target actually was. Not a big deal and after I was aware of the fact, I simply adjusted my plug depth accordingly based on the depth indication and the signalâ€™s audio strength. I also felt that a smaller coil would have helped search some of the trashier sections of the lots but slowing down my sweep speed and overlapping each sweep allowed me to pick some good targets from amongst the trash.
The last site I was able to search before the deadline was a ballfield that I had searched a number of times since moving to the area last Fall. Targets were few and far between but with a good detector and some patience, there were still keepers to be found across the multi-acre site. This time I bumped up the sensitivity to â€œ90â€ and rejected only the IRON notch. A quick Ground Grab and I was off. As expected, the first good signal was some time coming but it registered a consistent â€œ83â€ with the depth icon bouncing between 2 and 3 bars (3â€-6â€ / 6â€+). Cutting a deep plug, I checked the hole with my probe and it indicated the target was still in the bottom. Popping out a chunk of dirt with my digger, I could see the edge of a coin which turned out to be a 1917 Wheat cent. The coin had given a solid, repeatable signal and had been a good 7â€ deep. Setting a goal for myself of finding 5 Wheat cents before leaving may not sound that impressive but for this site it would be a challenge and the sun was just starting to set as I saw the wheat ears on the back of the 5th one . . . . this one dated 1928.
The more I use the new line of detectors branded with the Teknetics moniker, the more impressed I become. Many of us seasoned veterans tend to look at new models and use its price tag as the sole means to determine if it warrants a second look. After all, if it costs half as much as what we are currently using, how can it possibly offer anything we donâ€™t already have? Well, thanks to the ever-dropping price of computer technology and the engineering skills within many of detector manufacturers, todayâ€™s detectors cost less and perform better in many cases than some top-of-the-line detectors did just a few years ago. The Teknetics Gamma 6000 surprised me in regards to how much performance Dave Johnson and his team have put into a detector mid-range on the pricing scale. As I said in the report on the Delta 4000, Teknetics recognized that there is a large segment of treasure hunters that either donâ€™t want or need the bells-and-whistles of a high-end detector and have built a series of detectors that provide far more performance than their price alone would allude to. Swinging a detector that weighs almost half that of my usual detector and coming home with a pouch full of keepers made me realize there is more to selecting a detector than price alone. If you are looking at adding a detector to your arsenal for 2010, checking out the Gamma 6000 or one of the other Teknetics models would be time well spent.
The Teknetics Gamma 6000 lists for $499 with the 5-year First Texas warranty and there are several optional search coils in both the concentric and Double-D design available. For more information about the new Gamma, the rest of the Teknetics line or the name of your nearest Teknetics dealer, contact the factory at 1465-H Henry Brennan; El Paso, TX 79936, call them at (800)-413-4131 or visit their websites at http://www.TekneticsT2.com or http://www.Detecting.com. Be sure to mention you read about the Gamma 6000 in Lost Treasure Magazine.