Minelab Electronics Excalibur
By Andy Sabisch
From Page 16
March, 1997 issue of Lost Treasure

In terms of metal detector manufacturers, Minelab Electronics is one of the more recent entrants into the market. Founded in 1985, Australia-based Minelab has quickly established itself as a producer of high-quality metal detectors that can be found in use worldwide.

Originally focusing on the electronic prospecting market due to the huge demand for this type of detector in Australia, they received limited acceptance in other countries due to the interest in other types of treasure hunting. In 1991, they recognized the need to expand their line and developed a revolutionary new circuit called Broad Band Spectrum (BBS). Introduced in the Sovereign, treasure hunters worldwide found that the BBS circuitry excelled in coin, relic and beach hunting applications.

As a company that has recognized the importance of listening to their customers, Minelab responded to the requests of many of their customers who had asked for a waterproof version of the Sovereign by introducing the Excalibur. FEATURES

The Excalibur is a VLF-type detector; however, its circuitry is unique in that it does not operate on only one or two frequencies, as is the case on other VLF units. Instead, the BBS circuitry on the Excalibur sends out 17 distinct frequencies ranging from 1.5 to 25.5 kHz. What this does is enable the Excalibur to be unaffected by even the most adverse ground conditions which typically cause conventional detectors to lose a significant amount of detection depth.

Another distinct difference between the Excalibur and other detectors is its ability to identify targets through a distinct audio signal. Each target that the coil passes over will produce a unique signal allowing users to accurately identify objects before recovering them. After a short learning period, it becomes easy to distinguish the low tone of a rusted nail from that of a gold ring, pull tab, penny or quarter. In terms of waterproof detectors, this feature is unique and can significantly improve your success rate in the field.

The sensitivity control on the Excalibur also deserves an explanation. When the knob is turned fully counter-clockwise, it clicks in a setting labeled Auto. In this position, the microprocessor brain of the Excalibur automatically sets the sensitivity level as high as the ground conditions in the area will allow. No longer do you have to think about what sensitivity setting to use in order to ensure you are getting the most detection depth your detector can achieve without getting any falsing or chattering. The Excalibur senses the ground conditions and makes the adjustment for you.

One of the most striking features of the Excalibur is its innovative waterproof housing. Through the use of advanced circuit board design and high-impact plastics, the entire tube containing the electronics measures a diminutive 111/2 inches long and 11/2 inches in diameter. The entire unit has been designed to remain waterproof at depths of up to 200 feet, well beyond the range of even professional treasure divers.

While some Excaliburs were originally assembled in the United States, Minelab decided to consolidate their production facilities earlier this year in Australia to ensure all of the units were built to a consistently high standard of quality. With numerous checks conducted on units coming off the assembly line, the Excaliburs are designed for years of trouble-free operation.

The Excalibur comes with a rechargeable battery system which provides between 10 and 12 hours of use per charge. Additional battery packs can be purchased if you will be in an area where recharging the batteries may not be feasible.


A few days after I received the Excalibur, I took my family to Florida to visit my parents. Having hunted the saltwater beaches of the Florida treasure coast with a number of detectors over the years, I was anxious to see how well the Excalibur worked under the adverse conditions found in this area. The combination of saltwater and black sand found on most ocean beaches typically results in a significant loss of detection depth on VLF-type detectors.

Pulse detectors can ignore these conditions, but they lack discrimination, and with 200plus years of metal accumulation, you usually spend a great deal of time digging junk targets. Since the Excalibur was designed to offer discrimination while ignoring even the most adverse ground conditions, I was hoping to hunt these beaches with more success than I've experienced in the past.

After talking with my parents, we decided to try a popular beach known as The Bathtub. It gets its name from the coral reef that protects the swimming area. With the sensitivity control in the Auto position and a faint audio threshold present in the headphones, my son Paul and I began hunting the dry sand area. Almost immediately I received a high-pitched tone indicating a probable dime or quarter. Paul dug furiously with, the hand scoop and from a depth of nearly 10 inches recovered a heavily encrusted clad quarter.

Several more coins were uncovered along the dry sand ridge - all from depths ranging from 6 to 12 inches. It's interesting to note that we watched another treasure hunter search the same area and not recover a single target during this time.

Hoping to find some jewelry or possibly a piece of eight from one of the Spanish galleons that sank just off the coast, we decided to try the shallow water area. Fully expecting to have to make an adjustment to the sensitivity control as I reached the wet sand, I was pleasantly surprised to hear no change in the threshold signal. My previous experience with VLF and even some pulse detectors was that frequent adjustments were needed in order to hunt this area with any degree of success. During the next 30 minutes, the two of us found a small handful of coins along with a hotel room key and a small piece of copper sheathing from some unknown ship that sank many years ago.

One could imagine that it came from one of the galleons in the famous 1715 fleet. Wading out into the shallow water just off the beach I immediately noticed that the Excalibur's slim profile presented almost no resistance as I swept it back and forth. Compared to most of the water machines I have used over the years, the Excalibur was extremely comfortable to use both in and out of the water. My son's height limited how far out I could hunt, but we traversed the shallow swimming area in search of targets. Signals were plentiful and combining the Excalibur's discrimination and audio target ID circuits, I was able to bypass all of the iron trash along with most of the pull-tabs which littered the area.

Unfortunately I had brought only a hand scoop along and as a result, the Excalibur was able to detect a number of targets that were buried deeper than I could reach. Even so, almost 30 coins and a small ring found their way into our goody pouch before a tropical downpour accompanied by lightning put an end to our hunt. Based on the detection depth I experienced using the Excalibur, I would strongly recommend buying a sturdy long-handled scoop capable of recovering deeply buried targets.

Returning to this area once more before we headed home, I experienced similar results recovering coins that had obviously been there for quite a while despite the number of times the beach had been hunted by local detector users.

Arriving back in Georgia, I took the Excalibur to several smaller beaches on lakes surrounding the Atlanta area. The first beach was a pay-to-swim site that I had hunted heavily in the past. Hoping to find at least a few targets that were beyond the detection depth of our other detectors, I turned the Excalibur on and waded out toward the ropes defining the swimming area. Signals were few and far between, but I did receive several clear signals that produced coins, a brass buckle and a small I Ok gold nugget ring at depths ranging from 8 to nearly 14 inches.

Hoping to make a few more finds in deeper water, I took my scuba gear out of the truck and brought it down to the water's edge. Converting the Excalibur to the diving configuration was quite simple, taking less than five minutes to complete. Swimming out to the deeper section of the beach, I dropped to the bottom and began searching. The unit was extremely comfortable to use in this configuration and was just the right length to cover a wide area with each sweep yet not being unwieldy when recovering a target. Just to test the Excalibur, I took it down to 65 feet at the far end of the lake. Neither the electronics housing nor the battery compartment showed any signs of leakage, a real tribute to Minelab's engineering staff in a designing detector intended for use in the water.

Searching other beaches throughout northern Georgia and Tennessee produced a generous amount of coins along with a mixture of items such as keys, toy cars, sunglasses and several pieces of jewelry including nine gold rings, a gold earring and a 14k gold chain. In all cases I was able to identify most of the targets with a high degree of accuracy before recovering them with the aid of the audio target ID circuitry.

This unique feature gives the Excalibur an unbeatable advantage over other detectors. How this feature can be used to increase the number of valuable targets you recover is actually quite simple. Let's assume you are planning on searching a beach that contains the typical mixture of a few hundred coins, some gold jewelry and an assortment of trash such as tin foil, bobby pins and bottle caps. With other detectors, you would have to recover every target that registered above foil to make sure you didn't miss any of the gold we're all hoping to find. To recover the requisite 500-plus targets would take a considerable amount of time. With the Excalibur's target ID circuitry, you could cruise through the entire beach area and ignore most of the trash and all of the coins, focusing on recovering just the gold jewelry.

Over the next few weeks I used the Excalibur at several sites, both on land and in the water. Surprisingly, I had a good deal of success hunting some Civil War sites surrounding Atlanta even though they had been heavily hunted. Minnie balls were recovered at depths of up to 10 inches, and larger artifacts such as a scabbard tip and horseshoe were unearthed at depths exceeding 18 inches. What makes the Excalibur attractive to relic hunters is its waterproof design. No longer do you have to worry about ruining your expensive detector in the event you get caught in a sudden downpour a mile from your car.


Minelab's engineers revolutionized the metal detector industry with the introduction of the unique BBS circuitry found on both the Sovereign and Excalibur. No longer does a water hunter need two separate detectors to hunt saltwater and fresh water beaches. And combined with the audio target ID and discrimination circuits, the Excalibur is equally at home in a park, long abandoned ghost town or battlefield as it is on a beach or 200 feet underwater.

If you are looking for a detector that is unaffected by adverse ground conditions, extremely simple to operate and offers above-average detection depth, you need to stop by your local dealer and try out the Excalibur.

For the name of your nearest dealer or more information on any of the other detectors in the Minelab line, contact one of the U.S. distributors, Western Treasures (602) 517-9575 or Outdoor Outfitters (414) 5427772. And be sure to mention you read about the exciting new Excalibur in Lost Treasure.

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