Minelab Electronics is one of the newest metal detector manufacturers on the block; however, in less than 15 years, they have developed the reputation of a company that is on the cutting-edge of metal detector technology.
Their detectors have achieved exceptional results in the areas of gold prospecting, coin & relic hunting and underwater treasure hunting--due to the unique circuit designs their engineers have developed since the companys inception.
One of their most popular detectors has been the Explorer. Initially introduced in late-1999 and most recently improved in 2003, it has achieved worldwide recognition of a detector that detects deeper and more accurately than most of its competitors. Kym Rowett, Minelab USA President, states that hardly a day goes by where a customer doesnt report making an impressive find with an Explorer--often in areas well hunted for years. While the Explorer itself is a first-rate detector, there are several field-proven accessories that make the Explorer much more versatile and enable users to be more successful in their searches. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of several of these products and how they can be used for maximum effectiveness.
Minelab 8 inch coil
Optional Search Coils by Minelab, Coiltek and Sun Ray The Explorer comes with a 10.5 Double-D coil that was chosen to be an all-purpose coil providing a high level of performance in a wide range of applications. As with all detectors however, optional search coils are well worth investigating if you want to get the most out of it in terms of performance for specific applications.
While Minelab only offers one additional size coil for the Explorer, there are other options that meet the varied needs of todays treasure hunters.
Smaller search coils are ideally suited for searching in high-trash sites or in areas where a larger coil might not fit such as amongst rocks or in thick underbrush. Coils that fall in this category include the Sun Ray Stealth X-5 a 5.5 round coil ($190 list), the Coiltek Joey 5x10 elliptical ($199 list) and the Minelab 8 round coil ($160 list). The advantage of the smaller coils is that unlike concentric coils, Double-D coils do not lose much in the way of the detection depth thus makes a great addition to your detecting equipment arsenal.
They allow you to pick out good signals from amongst trash targets at depths that rival the stock 10.5 coil. On the other hand, if you want to cover more ground with each sweep or get the absolute maximum detection depth possible, selecting a larger coil is the answer. Both Coiltek and Sun Ray produce coils larger than the stock 10.5 coil with just a slight difference in overall weight.
The Coiltek Wonderful Orange Thing (WOT for short) measures 15 in diameter, weighs only 24 ounces and lists for $215. Sun Rays Stealth X-12 is a 12.5 coil weighing just less than 21 ounces and lists for $220. Double-D coils have another advantage over concentric coils as the size increases and that is there is no noticeable loss in sensitivity going to a coil as large as 15! I have found earrings and Civil War bullet fragments using the Coiltek WOT coil at impressive depths that would not even produce a whisper when placed on a 12 concentric coil.
Dont worry about pinpointing with the larger coils either--with a little practice you can pinpoint as accurately with a 12 15 coil as you can with a 5 coil! Recently I attended a seminar in Las Vegas where Doc (Coilteks US distributor) demonstrated how to pinpoint a coin with the WOT coil and everyone in attendance was surprised at how easy and accurate it was with a large coil. An hour or two in your test garden will have you pinpointing with ease.
I have had the opportunity to use all of the optional coils available for the Explorer series and found that each fills a niche that that stock coil might not be as strong in.
The WOT is my coil-of-choice when beach hunting since I can cover a 15 inch swath of sand with each sweep and routinely recover coin-sized targets at depths in excess of 16 inches. Several friends of mine that are avid Civil War relic hunters use both the larger Coiltek and Sun Ray coils to recover relics from worked out sites at depths that sound like they spend the rest of their free time telling tall fish stories.
On the other hand, the smaller coils have proven themselves time and time again in areas such as trashy sections of older parks, the area between the curb-&-sidewalk, underneath football stadium bleachers and alongside chain link fences. Ive made some exceptional finds in Civil War campsites and around old foundations littered with iron trash which were masked when using larger coils.
If you want to expand the capabilities of your Explorer, check out one or more of the optional coils that are available. The Sun Ray X-1 Target Probe Sun Ray's X-1 Target Probe attached to a White's DFX
Pinpointing targets that the Explorer has located is a skill that takes longer for some to master than with a detector using a concentric coil. This is not to say that accurate pinpointing is not possible with a Double-D coil but rather it does take some practice and a change in techniques that may have been learned on another detector.
Ralph Degrew, founder of Sun Ray, listened to Explorer users and worked with his engineers to develop an innovative accessory that provides an effective solution to pinpointing with any size coil on the Explorer.
The X-1 Target Probe is actually a fully functional handheld coil measuring 9 long by 1 in diameter that clips to the side of the Explorers armrest. The switch box mounts under the upper shaft and connects in-line between the conventional search coil and the control housing. Its operation is pure simplicity--once a target is detected and its approximate location determined, the Explorer is placed on the ground and the X-1 probe activated through the use of the selector switch on the switch box.
The probe is unclipped and can be run through dirt removed from the hole or around the inside of the hole. Since the X-1 utilizes the Explorers circuitry, you will receive tone and visual identification as to the targets location and probable ID exactly as you would with the coil at the end of the shaft! This is something that no other pinpointer probe can provide you with and is the main reason many Explorer users would never think of venturing out without their X-1 affixed to their Explorer. Targets can be detected at depths of up to 3 away from the tip of the X-1.
I use the X-1 when I am hunting areas where there is a good possibility of finding an older coin or relic to ensure I do not inadvertently hit the target with my knife or digger and damage the item. Its happened more times than I care to remember in the past; however, since the X-1 is able to detect targets a few inches away, I can slow down and carefully extract the target without damaging it.
Success is also a matter of math; i.e., how many good targets can you find per hour, and the X-1 will reduce the time it takes to find a target and move on to the next one resulting in you being able to bring home more at the end of the day.
The X-1 lists for $179.95 mounted onto your existing upper shaft or you can purchase an extra shaft with the probe already mounted. The Swingy Thing by Profile Prospecting Supply Swingy thing
When Doc first called and told me about his latest invention, I was a little skeptical. He told me that it would work on any detector and in a matter of the few seconds it took to install and adjust it, would make the detector appear to be almost entirely weightless.
Well, the one comment many Explorer users voice is that the weight (or at least the perceived weight after swinging it for several hours) tends to put a damper on using it for extended periods of time. Doc adapted the practice of using a bungee cord type of support system found on some gold detectors and after a few months of tinkering with a design, unveiled the Swingy Thing.
I have used the Swingy Thing not only on my Explorers but on two detectors from other manufacturers that tend to get heavy after a few hours of use and found it to be amazing that I was able hunt for extended periods of time without having a sore arm for days afterwards. A good friend of mine, Larry Shirah, used my Swingy Thing on his Explorer II and he was sold on it after the first time he used it. It requires a little adjustment to your sweep style to avoid pulling the elastic cord; however, by pivoting at the waist you can hunt for hours with no fatigue. The Swingy Thing sells for $29.95 is a bargain considering how much comfort it adds to your detecting time.
In summary, while the Minelab Explorer has proven itself to be a detector that provides exceptional performance in virtually any application, the addition of a well-designed accessory or two such as those described in this article will allow you to maximize the potential of this first-rate detector.
To order any of the products covered in this report or to request more information on their line of products, contact the manufacturers at: Profile Prospecting Supply (Coilteks US Distributor): (702) 732-8000 Ext. 11; 3740 S. Royal Crest Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119-7010 or visit their website at http://www.kamakazi.com/ Sun Ray Detectors: (319) 636-2244; 106 N. Main Street, Hazleton, IA 50641 or visit them on-line at http://www.SunrayDetector.com