FIELD TEST

Big Bud Pro Sed
By Reginald G. Sniff
From Page 5
December, 1991 issue of Lost Treasure

As a long-time fan of Bounty Hunter detectors, I was happy to hear they were back in business. So, when I was asked to field test the new Big Bud Pro SED, I gladly accepted. Bounty Hunter, now owned by First Texas Manufacturing, has just introduced the new version of the Big Bud Pro called the Big Bud Pro SED. Besides some internal design changes, the new SED version has taken on a new look and feel.

When I first saw the ads for the new Big Bud SED I wasn't quite sure I would like the new handle design, but after a few minutes of operation, I knew I was wrong in my initial assumption. The new SEDs are lighter and more comfortable to operate than the original Big Bud Pro SED. Also, my initial testing indicated they are a very sensitive, quiet, and smooth-operating instrument.

The new Big Bud Pro SED (Special Edition Digital) is very similar to the original Big Bud Pro S-E in its layout of the controls. The SED version does have a couple of added features including a new dual LCD crystal display designed to display both probable target identification (ID) and depth simultaneously.

For maximum versatility, this new detector has a total of 7 controls on the main face of the control unit, 2 at the rear of the control housing, and a dime-position selector switch in the handle.

The one new control added, the target ID readout control , enhances the accuracy of the new LCD target ID system. This control, located at the right rear of the control housing, allows the operator to fine tune the accuracy of the target ID reading. In other words, if the ID consistently reads low, the operator can adjust the control slightly and immediately the ID reads higher.

The four controls found on the main face of the control housing are similar to those found on the original Big Bud Pro SE. They include a multi-position switch which turns the detector on and selects a particular mode, a ground balance control, a discrimination level control, and a depth blanking control. The last control (sensitivity) is located at the left rear of the control housing.

Once the operator turns the detector on with the mode switch, any one of three positions can be selected-the disc, notch, and auto notch. The disc mode is the same as any typical discrimination mode found on a motion detector. In this mode, the discrimination level is set by adjusting the discrimination control.

The two notch modes allow the operator some variation over a standard type discrimination metal detector in the notch select mode, the discrimination control becomes the notch adjustment.

in this mode, all targets except those that fall into the notch window will be detected. For example, if the discrimination control is adjusted to the pull tab position, all small rings, nickels, and most other coins will be accepted, but most pull tabs will be eliminated.

In the auto notch, the notch window is automatically set to reject most pull tabs and the discrimination control once again sets the desired level of discrimination. With the discrimination control set at or near minimum, most rings and coins, including nickels, are accepted while rejecting most pull tabs.

The ground balance control adjusts the all-metal mode only, and has a range which is sufficient to adjust for about every possible condition including saltwater and extremely mineralized ground. For the TH'er who doesn't want to fool with this control, it can be turned fully clockwise to the preset position.

The fourth control, the depth blanking control, allows the operator to ignore or blank out all targets within a certain adjustable distance from the coil. The range of depth blanking is from less than one inch to about four inches. For those who don't want the blanking feature, the control can be turned to the off 'Position.

The three position mode selector switch located in the handle allows the operator to switch between the all-metal and discrimination modes. The third position, normally called the momentary retune position, not only retunes, the all-metal mode but also selects the detector to discrimination mode while the switch is held.

As an enhancement over the original Big Bud Pro series, the new SED has internal changes in the electronic circuitry. These changes were designed to increase the battery life and, in the process, also reduce noise and false signals.

Batteries are automatically checked while the detector is on and an LED indicator located on the front of the control housing lights when the two 9-volt transistor batteries need replacing.

The popular tri-tone audio ID system is retained on the SED version. In the discrimination mode, a target will give one of three distinctive tones based upon the target's conductivity.

Targets that have about the same conductivity as nickels emit a low frequency tone, ones that respond the same as pull tabs and some screwcaps respond with a medium tone, and most pennies, dimes, quarters, etc. respond with a high pitch tone.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The assembly of the Big Bud Pro SED was one of extreme simplicity.

The control unit, upper stem, and armrest were already assembled as one part, and the coil attached to the lower stem as the other. All I needed to do was unpack the two sections and slip them together, connect the coil to the housing, and connect the batteries to the terminals; the detector was ready to go.

Although I considered myself familiar with the Big Bud Pro SED, I took time to read the owner's manual. It's very well written and contains many of the answers to questions an inexperienced operator might have about the detector. All owners are urged to thoroughly read the manual to better understand all the features of this detector.

INITIAL TESTING

As I mentioned earlier, I found the new Big Bud Pro SED extremely comfortable. Attributing to this comfort is the use of a different coil than found on the original Bounty Hunter line. Gone is the heavier bulky 8-inch coil and in its place is an extremely lightweight 7-1/4-inch coil.

Because the new coil is slightly smaller, I wondered if there would be any depth losses as a result of the change. What I found was just the opposite-the new coil seemed to enhance the depth capabilities.

To initially check out the detector in my front yard, I set the various controls as such; the selector to disc mode, the discrimination at minimum, and the sensitivity at maximum. To check the target identification (ID) accuracy, the target ID adjustment was set by adjusting for proper ID of a coin lying on the ground. After the various adjustments were made, I began my tests.

My favorite target, a 6-1/2-inch deep dime, was easily detected, as were my other test targets. In fact, in the tough Colorado soil, this detector displayed excellent depth capabilities meeting and, in some cases, beating some of the more expensive instruments in depth.

My initial checks of the visual target ID readings showed the Big Bud Pro SED had respectable accuracy, matching many of the previously tested instruments. Like the other detectors, very deep targets had a tendency to read higher than normal and the extremely deep targets would read full scale. Considering my previous experiences with other target ID detectors in these soil conditions, I considered these readings to be normal.

During the testing, I found that, with the sensitivity control at maximum, the target ID did display some instability, quickly jumping from the initial indication to another. However, reducing the sensitivity very slightly settled the display down.

One weak point I found with the digital display was the accuracy of the depth indication. Somehow, I could never get a proper reading of the depth of a target. At least, I never was able to get the depth indication to give a reading I had confidence in. Again, I didn't consider this a crisis, considering I have found few depth indicating meters to be really accurate in the soil in my area.

The digital display had difficulty distinguishing the ID indication of one target from another. The different markings are very close together and I had a habit of turning the detector slightly to get a better idea of the response.

After awhile, I found that with time I could look at the length of the dark bar indication and get a pretty good idea of the target.

OFF TO A PARK

I decided to select a typical place, a local park, for my initial uncontrolled testing of the instrument. As I expected, I didn't find anything of great value during this round of testing, but I did find targets up to seven inches deep. Again, considering the local conditions, I considered the depth capabilities excellent.

I concentrated on trying to determine the best features of this instrument during this portion of the field test. One hidden feature I found on the Big Bud Pro SED was the advantage of using the depth blanking feature. With the depth blanking selected (but at minimum setting), I found the Big Bud Pro SED would ignore shallow screwcaps while detecting all zinc pennies, including those on the surface.

This is a great feature, since these objects have about the same conductivity. Further testing at the park indicated with this setting, the large brass sprinkler heads that normally respond with a strong penny indication on target ID detectors were also ignored.

A later test using a couple of gold objects having about the same conductivity as a screwcap would also give a nice strong output while the screwcaps were eliminated. This depth blanking feature greatly enhances the possibility of finding more valuable targets that read identical to screwcaps, without having to contend with most of the caps.

Although most targets found were relatively close to the surface, the target ID did respond very accurately in most cases.

However, as mentioned earlier, I found that the deeper targets had a tendency to read higher than normal on the target ID. My recommendation is to dig everything that reads full scale, especially if the target is deep.

On some of the deeper targets, I found I could increase the accuracy of the target ID reading by pinpointing the target in the all-metal mode, and then carefully passing over the spot in the discrimination mode.

I also found that this technique of checking for the loudest signal in the all-metal mode and rechecking the target in discrimination had another advantage. By using this technique, some pieces of trash that gave intermittently good signals were usually ignored once the target was pinpointed and then checked.

During the park testing, I concentrated on listening to size of the targets in the all-metal mode, also. After a while, I could easily tell when I had detected a dime just by the physical size indicated by the all-metal mode. Other coins were a little difficult to second guess as to their size. The reason, I feel, is the exceptionally high sensitivity of the all-metal mode (the most sensitive of any detector I've used).

GHOST TOWNING

Instead of traveling to my usual coal campsites south of my hometown, I decided to try an old ghost town site in the mountains. There I found that ghost town hunting with the Big Bud Pro SED can be a lot of fun. Not because of the finds, but because of the additional features of the detector.

Again, the depth blanking feature of this detector aided in minimizing trash problems common to ghost town sites. With the depth blanking on and at minimum setting, large thin pieces of metal trash that normally would indicate a coin target on a typical motion detector were ignored.

Even many smaller pieces of iron trash were ignored by the use of the depth blanking feature. For obtaining the best results, I found that if I kept the searchcoil fairly close to the ground, a high percentage of trash objects would be totally ignored.

I also found another feature of the Big Bud Pro SED, the tri-tone audio response, aided in eliminating many pieces of trash. Many ferrous trash objects that weren't ignored by the discrimination and blanking features would give different tones on successive passes.

Many pieces of trash would give a low tone on one pass, a middle tone on another pass, and a high tone on a different pass.

Non-ferrous targets, such as brass and copper objects, normally would give only one tone if they were shallow and no more than two adjoining tones on the deeper targets. Occasionally, a good target would waver between two tones on different passes if the conductivity of the object was right at the borderline of the two tones.

Since screwcaps and pull tabs are fairly rare at ghost town sites, I didn't worry about the target ID indications. But, by carefully listening to the audio signal, I didn't have to look at the visual target ID to have a pretty good idea of the probable target. For example, once I had found a shell casing, similar audio responses were almost always the same object.

The result of this trip was the accumulation of a handful of miscellaneous objects, including buttons, snaps, rivets, rimfire cartridges, and a bunch of other "whatchamacallits."

Unfortunately, I found no coins, but I did find several objects relatively deep. In fact, considering the dry ground conditions, I felt that the Big Bud Pro SED was detecting objects as deep as detectors costing much more.

SEARCHING THE YARDS

As I expected, searching some of the older yards in my hometown proved to be the most productive. The results were a couple of Indian head pennies, one V nickel, and a handful of wheatback pennies out of two yards. Again, the depths of the targets ranged to about seven inches.

During this testing, I elected to ignore the target ID and again rely on the audio ID feature. The reason for my selection was again the fact that most yards do not contain more than a few pull tabs. Also, I have found that yards have produced more rings and other interesting jewelry. Since some of this jewelry can target ID similar to the more common trash, I found it best to dig everything that ID's a nickel or above.

This time I turned the sensitivity to maximum and the depth blanking feature off. Since one of the yards had almost no grass, I concentrated on keeping the searchcoil at the same height across the ground. This technique helped, since one of the Indian heads was recovered from a depth of about 7 inches.

CONCLUSION

It is safe to say the Bounty Hunter is back with a winner. The exceptional depth and smooth response of this instrument make it an ideal choice for anyone who is serious about treasure hunting.

Just as important are the little hidden features of this detector. By taking advantage of the wide range ground balance adjustment and exceptional depth of the all-metal mode, an operator can feel comfortable using this detector in all aspects of TH'ing, including searching for coins in a park, relics at a Civil War site, or just plunking along a saltwater beach. Furthermore, the enhanced feature of the depth blanking makes extremely trashy parks or old ghost towns much easier to contend with.

For more information on the Big Bud Pro SED, contact First Texas Manufacturing Co., 11900 Montana, El Paso, TX 79936, (915)855-4206.

Author's note: First Texas has improved the depth indication for more accuracy, and is working on a color-coded meter face that should make it easier for the operator to quickly determine the target.
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