Ralph Degraw is a seasoned treasure hunter who founded Sun Ray Detector Electronics in order to design and build accessories for the Minelab Electronics line of metal detectors. Over the years, he has developed the reputation for producing high-quality accessories such as searchcoils, battery packs, chargers, pouches, probes and target ID meters that greatly enhance the overall performance of Minelab detectors in the field.
Recently, Ralph responded to customer feedback asking for a target ID meter that could be used under low or no-light conditions. Many users hunt popular areas after the crowds leave for the day and continue searching long after the sun goes down. Having visual target ID capabilities would greatly reduce the amount of trash they recover. Ralph and his engineers worked on an improved version of the popular DTI II target ID meter and the result was the DTI III.
As an avid Minelab Sovereign user myself, I was anxious to see how the DTI III would affect my success in the field.
The DTI III meter has been designed to work with any version of Sovereign, from the original model to the XS and the XS-2. In many ways it appears identical to the highly-successful DTI II meter, with the exception being the new backlight push-button on the lower edge of the housing and a battery holder built in to the back of the housing. While the DTI III (and DTI II) receive the power needed to operate directly from the Sovereign itself, a 9-volt battery is needed for the backlight function. A nice feature on the DTI III that shows the amount of thought that went into its design is that the backlight is prevented from being inadvertently turned on if the detector itself is not on, as well as automatically turning itself off after 30 seconds. Both of these features are intended to avoid finding a dead battery when you need the backlight feature.
The DTI III housing measures 4 inches by 3 inches by 1.5 inches and snaps onto the Sovereigns shaft using the same type of bracket used to mount the control housing. The LCD meter displays a high numerical value corresponding to the probable target ID. The size of the display and angle of the meter ensures that one can quickly and easily determine if a target is worth recovering under a wide range of lighting conditions. Immediately below the LCD display is an easy-to-read chart that allows users to correlate the numerical value to the actual target ID.
The DTI III features an external, user-adjustable meter-calibration control. This ensures that if a different coil is used; i.e., larger or smaller than the standard coil on the Sovereign, the meter indications remain accurate and consistent. Sun Ray recommends a quarter be passed across the coil to calibrate the meter. Simply sweep the coil back and forth until a consistent reading of 180 is obtained and the meter will be properly adjusted for any coil used on the detector be it from Minelab itself or one of the optional coils available from Sun Ray or another manufacturer.
The DTI III comes with a 50-inch long connecting cable so the detectors control housing can either be pole or hip mounted, depending on the personnel preferences of the user.
Timing was perfect in that I received the new DTI III meter the day before my family and I left for a 10-day vacation / metal detecting trip to the eastern coast of Spain. After getting some last minute tips and suggestions from Ralph, I packed the meter in with all of the rest of our gear and headed for the airport.
Before we actually did any hunting, I calibrated the meter using a U.S. quarter and then tested each Spanish coin to see what type of signal / meter reading they produced. As with most foreign coins, they registered all over the spectrum; however, the higher denomination coins (100, 200 and 500 pesetas with 155 pesetas to the dollar) were easily distinguishable from the pull-tabs and screw caps that would be found on the beaches and other public areas we were planning on hunting. Using a Post-It note, I made up a reference chart calibrated to Spanish coinage and stuck it over the one that comes with the meter. I have used this trick in the past when traveling to a foreign country or even hunting for Civil War relics, so that the target ID display provided useful information in that area or application.
The first site we tried was the local public beach. While my wife, Rosanne, and our 5-year-old daughter played on the beach, my 10-year-old son, Paul, and I started out hunting near the thatched-huts and concession stands. Based on the number of "keepers" we were coming up with, it was quickly apparent that metal detecting was nowhere as popular in Europe as it is in the U.S. After two hours of hunting, we dumped out our pouch and counted nearly 3,000 pesetas and more importantly, very little trash!
The next site we went to was the highlight of our trip. It was the site of a Roman village that made pottery for the coastal sea trade from 900 BC to 450 AD history in Europe takes on a whole different meaning when you look at less than 300 years of history in the United States! The area where the town once stood was in an olive tree orchard and the property owner readily gave us permission to hunt for stuff. There were two other Spanish treasure hunters with me and both were using Minelabs (a Sovereign and an Excalibur). We started hunting and quickly discovered that, with nearly 3,000 years of the land being used, the amount of trash was truly amazing. Targets were plentiful, but most were modern in nature and time was wasted digging these unwanted targets. I started focusing in on the targets that registered between 110 and 140 on the meter and was able to ignore most of the modern trash that read either much lower; i.e., iron or higher. After several hours, we regrouped to see what had been found. Surprisingly, I had recovered nearly eight times the number of good targets that both of my partners had found since I had been able to pass over the junk. My finds included nine Roman coins, including one which was a commemorative coin dating from 54 BC to 48 BC, a beautiful bronze ring, a fibula from a Roman toga, and several small, unidentifiable bronze items. Both of the other Minelab users quickly saw the value of using the DTI III meter and planned on ordering a pair as soon as possible.
We had similar results at several other well-used sites that would have been almost un-huntable had we not had the DTI III meter with us. The readings were invaluable in determining if a target was worth recovering and, in areas where there were multiple targets, which ones were keepers.
The Sun Ray DTI III Target ID meter and Minelab Sovereign metal detector make for an unbeatable combination in terms of being able to hunt areas with even the most adverse ground conditions and high trash content, while accurately identifying targets the search coil passes over. I found that using the DTI III often made the difference between making mediocre finds and truly exceptional finds in areas I hunted with friends using other top-of-the-line detectors, including a Sovereign without the DTI III meter. If you currently own a Minelab Sovereign or are thinking about buying one, you need to take a close look at the Sun Ray DTI III Target ID meter to achieve the maximum performance out of an already first-rate detector! It sells for $195 and comes with a full 12-month warranty.
For referral to a dealer in your area or for additional information about the new Sun Ray DTI III Target ID meter or other Sun Ray products, write them at 106 North Main, Hazelton, Iowa 50641, call them at (319) 636-2244, or visit their website at http://www.treasuremall. com/sunray and be sure to mention you read about it in Lost Treasure.