Compass Electronics, one of the original metal detector manufacturers, can trace its history back to 1970. Over the years treasure hunters have found the equipment from Compass to be both sensitive and reliable. During the 1 980s, Compass developed the X-70, X-80, X-90 and X-l00 Challengers, and treasure hunters reported success stories to the factory on a regular basis.
Following a reorganization of the company, the new management pushed their engineering staff to develop a new line of detectors that would once again provide treasure hunters with state-of-the-art equipment bearing the Compass name. One model that came out of this concentrated effort is the new X-200 Challenger which the company feels is one of the finest units they have ever produced.
The X-200 Challenger is a manual ground balance, full-time target ID detector with three independent search modes. These include a true non-motion All-Metal, a motion discriminate, and a non-motion TR discriminate mode. In addition, an operating frequency of either 6 Khz or 14 Khz can be selected through a toggle switch on the control housing and a 1 or 3 filter motion discriminate circuit can be selected through touch pads on the meter face. It features a unique 3-piece shaft assembly which collapses to less than 24 inches in length allowing users to transport the detector in a carrying bag, backpack or suitcase without taking it apart.
The X-200s operation is controlled by six knobs and two toggle switches on the control housing and five touch pads on the meter face. Starting in the upper right corner of the control housing and moving clockwise, the knobs are: POWER LEVEL (provides 5 different sensitivity settings for varying levels of ground mineralization); TRASH-OUT (used to set the desired level of discrimination); TONE (allows the user to vary the speaker tone to their personnel preference); GROUND NULL (used to cancel out the effects of mineralized ground); TRASH-OUT SENSITIVITY (turns the X-200 on, varies the detectors sensitivity in the discriminate mode, and adjusts the target ID meters response and sensitivity), and TUNER (adjusts the audio threshold heard thru the speaker or headphones).
Two of these knobs have features which deserve additional explanation. The TUNER knob has a position marked Auto Tune at the fully counter-clockwise position. In this position the X-200s circuitry will automatically maintain a slight constant threshold by continually retuning the detector as ground conditions change. This feature, active only in the All-Metal mode, is particularly useful when searching saltwater beaches or for electronic prospecting.
When the TRASH OUT knob is turned fully counter-clockwise, the Auto-Notch circuitry is activated. This setting, designed primarily for coin-shooting, will automatically reject most trash items such as tinfoil, pull tabs, screw caps, and iron while still accepting nickels, pennies, clad, silver coins and some jewelry items. There are PRESET marks on each of the controls for hunters that want to get out and use the detector as quickly as possible. Even with the controls left at these settings, the X-200 will still provide above-average performance.
There are two toggle switches located on the right side of the control housing. The lower one labeled FREQ. is used to select the frequency at which the X-200 will operate. Unlike conventional detectors which operate at a set frequency, the X-200 can operate at either 6 or 14 Khz. 14 Khz is the preferred frequency providing more accurate target identification and greater sensitivity to small targets, particularly those made of gold. The 6 Khz setting is more sensitive to larger coins and silver objects and will also operate smoother in trashy areas.
Directly above the FREQ. toggle is another one labeled DISC MODE. This switch allows the operator to select either the motion discriminate or TR discriminate mode of operation. While the TR mode is affected by ground mineralization, there are a number a of applications such as hunting certain types of saltwater beaches, searching in confined spaces where the coil cannot be swept easily, and electronic prospecting where this mode will provide users with finds that may otherwise be missed.
The target ID meter, located at the end of the handgrip, provides the operator with a wealth of information. In addition to providing the probable ID of the detected target, signal strength and target depth is also indicated on easy-to-read scales. Below the meter are five touchpads which are used to select the operating mode (ALL-METAL or DISCRIMINATE), number of filters used in the motion discriminate mode (1 or 3), and turn the backlight on/off. The built-in backlight can be extremely useful for beach hunters who are forced to hunt after the beach empties at the end of the day.
As with selectable operating frequencies, the ability to select either I or 3-filter operation allows targets to be detected that other hunters may have passed over hundreds of times before. The 1-filter circuit is designed to allow for accurate target separation in high trash areas while the 3-filter circuit handles mineralized ground more effectively than the single filter can.
As with any manual ground balance detector, it is extremely important that the user takes the time and accurately balances the detector BEFORE beginning the search. By taking a few extra seconds, the detection depth and stability of operation will be greatly improved.
The X-200 is powered by 12 AA penlight batteries. Nicads are included and can be recharged without removing them from the detector. Battery strength is indicated on the meter each time it is turned on. Fully charged nicads will provide approximately 10 to 12 hours of use and alkalines almost double that amount. The use of headphones will further extend battery life and a standard 1/4 inch jack is located in the rear corner of the control housing for this use.
Despite having heard about the new X-200 Challenger from several treasure hunters I know around the country since the spring of 1993, the first time I actually got to see one was at the annual FMDAC Show and Hunt in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Compass personnel were demonstrating their new models to a steady stream of interested treasure hunters. Many of them stated that they didnt realize that Compass was still in business; however, they were assured that Compass would continue to produce state-of-the-art equipment for both the U. S. and international markets.
As the show began to wind down late Saturday afternoon, I finally got a chance to take a close look at the X-200. Immediately impressed with the X200s features and air-test sensitivity, I began to look forward to field testing the unit at some of the more difficult sites I knew of.
The first site I took the X-200 to was the old elementary school which has remained empty since the mid 1950s. Despite having been hunted by virtually every treasure hunter in the area I was sure that there was still a coin or two waiting to be found. As with many of the older schools located within city limits, there was only a small side yard in which to search. In addition to the limited hunting area, the ground at the school was heavily mineralized and contained cinders from the old coal furnace that had heated the school since before the turn of the century.
Walking into the side yard, I proceeded to ground balance the detector. Selecting the 14 Khz operating frequency, 3-filter circuit, and MAX detection depth, I began searching along the old sidewalk.
Near the old flag pole I received a repeatable signal that registered towards the upper end of the meter. Holding down the TRASH OUT touchpad, I checked the target and the meter indicated a depth of 8 inches. Hoping for the best, I cut a deep plug and folded it back from the hole. Scraping some dirt from the side of the hole, I saw the edge of a coin glinting in the sunlight. Carefully pulling it free I could see that it was a 1 944P silver War nickel in almost uncirculated condition, the coin had been just over 6 inches deep and ON EDGE! Already satisfied with the X-200s performance, I continued hunting the side yard.
After almost two and a half hours, I walked back to my truck and emptied out my pouch. In addition to the nickel, I had a 19 Buffalo Nickel, a 1921 Mercury dime, three wheat cents dated 1917, 1919, and 1928, an old skeleton key, a WW II military ID dog tag, and a small brass gear from a watch or clock. All of the targets had been at least 5 inches deep, with two of the coins being almost 9 inches down in the dirt cinder mixture.
A few days later my family and I went to a nearby State Park situated on the Chesapeake Bay that allowed metal detecting after the end of the season. The ranger gave me permission to hunt but said that several people had already searched the beach since it had closed a few weeks earlier. After nearly a mile walk down the barricaded access road, we arrived at the beach.
Arriving at the beach, I realized that I had forgotten my headphones so I hoped that the X-200s built-in speaker had sufficient volume to be heard over the noise of the waves and passing boats. As my wife and son gathered shells and old crab clippers along the beach, I started hunting parallel to the waterline. Surprisingly, my first signal produced a 1947 wheat penny which had been buried about three inches down in a layer of coarse gravel.
I alternated between 1 and 3 filter operation and found that when there was a high concentration of targets, the 1 filter circuit allowed me to identify good targets in amongst several trash targets. Despite the brackish water and mineralized, rocky ground, the X-200 operated extremely well and produced no falsing even with the sensitivity control set at MAX. When hunting in the 6 Khz mode, some detection depth was lost under the conditions present at the beach. Again, with the various options available on the X-200, users can find the optimum combination for a specific area to maximize the detectors performance.
After an hour or so, we all could tell lunch time was approaching so we packed up and began the long walk back to our car. My finds included three wheat cents (1917, 1944, and 1947), a buffalo nickel, a 1954 Jefferson nickel, one zinc penny, a few clad coins, several bullet casings dating back to the early 1900s, and a petite sterling silver ring with a turquoise setting. Needless to say I planned on returning to this site and searching it further.
Another spot I took the X-200 to that I thought would be a good test of its performance was a drained lake in central New Jersey that has been hunted on a regular basis since it was emptied almost two years ago.
Starting near the abandoned concession stand, I decided to hunt in the All-Metal mode using the meter to identify trash targets. After ground balancing the detector, I began searching along the edge of what little water remained in the lake. It was surprising to see the number of ferrous targets that still remained on the beach which were being identified on the meter. Even deeply buried ferrous items caused the meter to instantly peg to the left into the area marked IRON.
As I continued along the waterline, I received a few signals that caused no movement on the meter. By removing an inch or two of sand and rechecking the signal, the X-200 would provide a solid target ID on the meter allowing me to decide if it was worth recovering.
My partner Jim Harrick watched me recover one of these targets turned out to be a clad (1965) dime at over 12 inches that Im sure had been missed by hundreds of hunters before me. Over the next 45 minutes I found several bathing suit clips, clad coins, and a beach tag that had been buried over 10 inches down in the wet sand.
One area held a high concentration of iron trash; however, by selecting the ONE filter circuit and making slow, deliberate sweeps, I was able to pick out a few good targets from amongst the trash. The first good signal produced a small religious medal followed by three .22 short shell casings at depths ranging from 1 to 5 inches deep. This speaks for the X-200s sensitivity and ability to work trashy areas.
Based on the X-200s performance, Compass Electronics is definitely back as a serious metal detector manufacturer. While the X-200 was designed with the professional treasure hunter in mind, it is simple enough to operate that even a weekend hunter will be more than satisfied with it. The All-Metal mode provides exceptional detection depth, and since the meter provides probable target ID in both the DISC and All-Metal modes, one can hunt in all metal mode when searching for deep targets others may have missed. At 4-1/2 pounds, the X-200 is one of the heavier detectors on the market; however, the arm rest makes it seem lighter.
The X-200 lists for $899 and comes with a two year limited warranty is transferable to subsequent owners during that period. Compass offers the widest range of search coils currently available from any metal detector manufacturer including a 3-inch, 6-inch, 8-inch, 12-inch, and 16-inch size.
For more information on the new line of metal detectors from Compass Electronics write the factory at 3700 24th Ave., Forest Grove, OR 97116 or call them at (503) 357-2111 and be sure to mention you read about the X-200 in Lost Treasure.