Thursday, June 30, 2016

Getting max depth with your minelab excalibur

I now have about 50 hours on my excalibur so I am still very new to the machine but I believe that I have figured out how to get max depth in both Disc and PP. First, here are a few things I have found when testing out this machine:

1. A modded machine (ie different than stock headphones/coil) can produce drastically different results. So if you have a modded machine this does not apply to you.
2. Disc and PP are equal depth but each have different settings to get max depth
3. There are times when each has its advantages/disadvantages.
4. Threshold affects PP depth a lot and Sensitivity affects Disc depth a lot.
5. Your machine could be different due to slight variations that happened during factory tuning so please TEST yours before taking my word for it

To get max depth in Disc, use the following settings

Volume: Max
Discrimination: 1
Threshold: To where it just silent (cant hear it at all)
Sensitivity: 10 (9oclock) - max sens

To get max depth in PP, use the following settings:

Volume: Max
Discrimination: 1
Threshold: To where its nice and steady and can just hear it...sounds almost like a tiny steady buzz
Sensitivity: anywhere from 10 - 6 (9oclock to 12oclock). Anywhere below 6 starts to cause a depth decrease so if you can steady the machine try to keep it at least at the 6 position. 

Now test a few coins/metals using these settings and see if the Disc and PP depths are nearly identical. I have found I get around 13'' inches at these settings with a quarter in both Disc and PP.

Beach Sweepers

I hunted a new beach to me early this morning in NJ on my vacation up north. I got there around 6am and noticed that the beach sweeper got there at the same time. Now I have hunted tons of beaches with rakes and such but this sweeper was designed to actually pick up everything in the first 4-6'' inches of sand. That meant that he was taking coins, rings, etc along with all of the junk. Where I live they use rakes and so do most of the sweepers around where I am vacationing but not the ones designed to pick up such small objects. So its very valuable to know what kind of sweeper they use at your beach because it can help determine where and when you hunt there. So for this beach I knew if I were hunting where he swept that I was not really going to be getting recent drops. I tried out the dry sand just to see what I would find after he went through and it was pretty bare except for a few deep targets that had been there for quite a while.

What size scoop should I get?

This post will address size, not kind of scoop. I recommend trying to get a scoop that is comfortable and as large as your coil. So if you have a 10'' coil, a 5'' inch scoop is going to make it difficult to pinpoint and cause you to scoop multiple times. Thus if you have a 10'' inch coil you should probably get a 9-10'' scoop. I have a 9'' scoop for my 10'' coils and it works very well. I think you could probably get away with a 7'' but that is on the way lower end. 6'' would be too small.

Now for travel, I have a 5'' only because it needs to fit into my car but for home digging I have a scoop that is as large as I could find.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hunting hunted areas

I am away this week in NJ and the beaches here are packed. There must be so many good finds and I have little time to detect. I won't give away all of my secrets in this post about picking out my beach to hunt among the many to choose from but in 2 hours of detecting I have found about $8 in clad and a ring (which has yet to be identified and wont happen until I return on vacation).

I knew that these beaches were hunted a lot by many different people with the best machines. But I also know that there are fresh drops daily since the beaches are packed. So, I got the beach early in the morning and looked around at the other detectorists. Nearly everyone with a high end machine was at the water's edge, which appeared sanded in even though I dont know this beaches terrain well enough to know that for sure. But I decided I wasn't hunting there. Also the water is still freezing, not even 70 degrees so I knew the finds would be little unless they were dropped there last year because people are just not in the water yet up here. Then I looked on the beach. The only people in the dry sand were people with low end detectors that were swinging several inches above the ground. These were the vacationers that bought a $100 machine and were having fun on the beach. I knew they would find those 1-4'' drops but everything past that was mine. Additionally, I knew they would clear out the freshly dropped trash for me, so I used them to my advantage. So I hunted in the dry sand only. I only hunt the dry sand when its strategic and in this case it was. I got barely any trash and it was all mostly freshly dropped clad in the 4-6'' range. In my first hour I had around 15 quarters and then I found a really nice ring - boom! I also noticed that the guys on the water edge with CTXs and Etrac's were not really digging at all. In fact, they just kept walking up the beach staying in the wetsand. So I went down just to check it out and couldn't get a hit. Back to the dry sand I went and I felt like I couldn't take a step without getting a good target. So don't always assume the wetsand is the best place to hunt and don't assume the guys out there have any clue what they are doing. Sometimes the dry sand is the place to be.

Testing your jewelry to find out what it's made out of

Earlier this week I found a very nice ring in a very wealthy area. The issue? No markings on it. So I have no idea what its made out of. It could be a plain Tungsten ring but it could also be platinum considering where it was found. There are some custom ring makers that use gold/platinum and then do not or forget to stamp. So, I need to find this out. How do I do it? Well I could go to a pawn shop but fortunately, I have my own scratch/acid kit test. These are cheap and can be found on amazon for $20-$30. Every hunter should have one. I cannot tell you how many junk rings/pendants have turned out to be silver or gold. I literally had around 150 junk items in a box from the last few years and when I got around to testing them added maybe 30 silver/gold items to my collection. So go out and get one of these kits, they do work. Here is an example:

Air and Ground Testing your Metal Detector

Air testing your machine is great for many reasons. One, it teaches you what the machine will sound like for various types of targets. So take a few coins, pieces of gold/silver/platinum and see how your machine reacts. This is very beneficial when you first get your machine. You can see what things sound like. You can see what iron and gold each sound like.

Additionally, air testing is a great way to see how deep your machine will get with various settings. Air testing can provide a glimpse into your machines depth however some machines, like Minelab which have automatic ground balance can be off in air tests. However machines like the CZ21 will show your max depth with an air test. 

Some words of caution about air tests. First, interference can really mess up an air test. So you cannot air test in a house. There is too much metal around which will definitely prevent you from getting accurate results. This also goes for the outside of your house. I recommend testing the ground and trying to find an area with no signals to perform the air test. Additionally, you want to ensure there are not strong EMI/RF signals around to interfere with your detector. These signals can come from home Wi-Fi, cell phones towers, and power lines. You can buy EMI detectors to be sure of this but in general the further away from houses you are the better.

Ground tests are good tests as well because it will show how your detector acts with various types of soil. Usually I do this out in the field but you can do this at home by digging holes to various depths and putting coins/targets in. In the example below I am going to show some air and ground tests I did with my machines.

Ground test

For the ground test I used a quarter and taped it to a ruler. The ground at my house is a mixture of sand and soil. It was also damp from rain. It is a bit salty too. I live about 1 mile from the coast and about 300 yards from the intercoastal waterway.

Whites DF

12 inches - Nothing
10 inches - Nothing
8 inches - Break in threshold. I may of stopped but it would of been easy to miss.
6 inches - Yes

Excal II - 10 inch stock machine (I was new to this machine when doing this test so results may be different now that I have more hours on it)

12 inches - Nothing
10 inches - Nothing
8 inches - Maybe a very faint tone. Not sure I would of stopped but sometimes I pick these up. In Disc it would null and then ring but then I couldn't repeat the ring very easily.
6 inches - Yes

CZ21 - 10 inch stock machine

12 inches - Nothing
10 inches - Nothing
8 inches - Maybe a very faint tone. Not sure I would of stopped but sometimes I pick these up. It rang as iron in disc 0.
6 inches - Yes

Air Tests

Whites DF

Nickel - 10-11
Quarter - 9-10

Excal II (More recent air tests of this I have gotten closer to 13'' with a quarter - I was new to the machine when I originally did this test)

Nickel - 10-11
Quarter - 11-12


Nickel - 10
Quarter - 10-11

What did I learn? Overall all 3 detectors are about the same depth in air/low mineralized soil. Now, how they handle mineralized soil/water is a different story. My beaches have very little mineralization so I dont expect different measures at my beaches. In the water, I expect the CZ/Excal to begin to drop off but the DF should stay the same.  

Why should you swing your metal dector low?

Why should you swing low?

Very simple...

Let's say your detector can go 8'' deep. If you are 4 inches off the ground, how many inches in the ground can you detect? This could be an SAT question haha. You can only go into the ground 4 inches. So, the lower you are the ground the further into the ground you will penetrate.

When I detect, I am always 1 inch or less above the ground. On the wet packed sand I am nearly touching the ground and on deep targets I will touch the ground when I go over the target to confirm its identity.

Do a test to confirm this. The next time you are out detecting and find a target, slowly swing and lift your coil above the soil. See how many inches off the soil/sand you can get before you lose the target. Do this on a deep target too. All of a sudden you realize how even holding your coil 2-3 inches off of the ground can cause you to miss targets. Its very eye opening.

Pinpointing with the CZ21

This week I am traveling north to NJ. I brought my trusty CZ21 as its indestructible. Its a great travel machine. I also have my 5'' RTG travel scoop which means I really need to pinpoint well or else I will be digging forever. With my 9'' Stealth scoop this is much less of an issue but that thing is just too big to travel with when you have 5 people in the car and 2 weeks worth of luggage:)

So getting my find in 1-2 scoops is very important. Thus I need to really pinpoint. First, as I have mentioned before, I never use the pinpoint button on the CZ21. Its worthless. I cannot think of a time I ever needed to use it. Instead I use autotune to pinpoint and it does an excellent job, even with my 5'' scoop. In fact, 9 times out of 10 I can get my target in 1 scoop even if its 8''-10'' down.

Once I have identified my target as something I want to dig, I switch back to autotune and do a circle pattern very VERY slowly around where I think the target is. I mean very slowly. When you get right over the target it will be much louder. Then I do a very slow X to confirm. This whole process only takes 5-10 seconds. Then I dig. Literally one scoop every time. I am so happy with the CZ21's ability to pinpoint so well in autotune. If you are having problems with this you just need to practice. Take your time and go very slow to get the hang of it. If its taking you more than 2 scoops and target is not very deep you are going to fast and not hearing where the loudest part is. Obviously a deeper target can take more scoops.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Will my metal detector work on the beach?

Maybe. It depends where you are going to detect and what kind of detector you have.

My first rule of beach detecting is do NOT take your detector near water if its not waterproof. Too many people have ruined there machines doing this. 

If you are talking about a fresh water beach then most detectors will work on the wet and dry sand. But in a salt environment, this is not the case.

On the dry sand, any machine will work just fine. So if you are visiting the shore for the weekend or week your home detector will work great on the dry sand.

On the wetsand and water however this is not the case. On the wetsand and water you need a multifrequency machine or it won't work. Sure you might be able to change the settings and detect and inch or two but more or less you need a multifrequency machine and there are only a few machines out there that have such a function and they are expensive.

Some non waterproof ones include the Fisher CZ3D, Minelab Etrac, Minelab Sovereign. These are great but not waterproof.

The waterproof machines are the Whites BH300, Fisher CZ21, Minelab Excalibur, and Minelab CTX. That's it. 4 machines which are waterproof and multifrequency. If you have an el cheapo machine that has a 'salt' setting it will not work. It needs to be multifrequency and these are it as of writing this post.

Now another option is a PI machine however if you are asking this question, a PI is probably not what you are looking for. They are great beach machines but they require you to dig everything. This is usually not very good for beginners. They are more of a specialty machine for certain highly mineralized beaches, dives, and times when the beach is sanded in/clean. They are great machines for experienced detectorists that know they want a PI.

Minelab Excalibur VS. Fisher CZ21

As you can see below, this is a ford vs chevy thing. There is no right answer. There are guys that are die hard for one or the other. Both machines are high end for VLF detectors. You are trying to split hairs. Pick one and be done with it. Since I own both I have compared them to no end. I have concluded that the Excal is probably better on the wetsand and CZ is better on the dry sand and in the water. I also think that the person behind the detector makes the biggest difference here. Read below to hear why and see the comparisons from each category:


I have seen tests where the CZ was deeper and tests where the Excal was deeper. I have seen tests where a standard CZ beats a heavily modded Excal and tests where a heavily modded excal beats a CZ. It seems like this depends on how well you know the detector, if its 'hot', and know how to get it to its max depth. Overall they are both probably equal depending on the place you are hunting. I believe that Excal is the deeper sand machine and that the CZ is the deeper water machine. Here are links to a few depth tests:

Test Results Data photo added - Friendly Metal Detecting Forums
CZ 21 Vs Excal 1000 air test - Friendly Metal Detecting Forums
Tom... question concerning CZ6a/CZ3d vs. Sovereign GT...

And if you are concerned about air depth tests read this post. The general conclusion is that a machine that doesn't air test well won't ground test any better vs a machine that does air test well:
Air tests are great for the CZ and can show its maximum depth. However, with the Excalibur, you really can’t rely on an air test because it has automatic ground balance. I have not had problems air testing my Excal but others have reported it.

Do you want an automatic ground balancing unit ( Excal) or a manual gb unit ( CZ) ?

Automatic is nice because you don’t need to ground balance when switching from water to wetsand to dry sand. This is why many people prefer the automatic on the excal. But being able to ground balance can give you extra sensitivity which can translate to extra depth, which is why people prefer the ground balance on the CZ. I prefer manual. I do not trust anything automatic on my detector. I really hope the next version of the Excal allows you to do it yourself.

Do you like DD coils ( Excal) or concentric coils (CZ) ?

Perks of the CC:. If the mineralization isn't bad enough to where the DD might come into it's own depth and stability wise, then the concentric in theory should have slightly more depth right at the very center of the coil, and at that fringe edge of the field it should in theory also have excellent separation from any angle, where as a DD will have it's best at only certain angles. Contrast that though with a DD tending to have better left/right separation over more of it's vertical span into the ground.

Perks of a DD: Better stability/depth in mineralization after a certain point, better left/right separation, better coverage length wise at depth, though as said a concentric can have better depth at the very tight center of it if both coils are the same size.

Multiple tones ( Excal) or 3 tones ( CZ ).

The 3 tons CZ is probably easier for a beginner to pick up and go but the Excal tones can tell you a lot about the target once you get to know them. One of the reasons I prefer the excel for the wetsand is that it can tell you so much about what is in the ground. This is great in trashy areas.

Do you want the unit to null on iron in discriminate mode ( Excal) or do you want to hear iron ( CZ) ?

The excel will just be silent (null) when you go over iron. On the CZ you will hear the iron. I prefer the null because if there is a good target it will tell you. On the CZ in that case you will get a mixed signal and will need to dig to determine what it is.

How do they perform in an iron infested area?

Some people prefer the excal so they don’t have to hear the iron and other like the CZ because they can hear the iron. The CZ has been known to false on rusted iron (like rusty nails). It is said this can be overcome by going over the target a few times and it should correct itself. The Excal takes longer to process iron so you will need to go slow so you do not miss good targets.

Tones on deep targets?

As the target gets deeper, discrimination begins to falter and cannot be relied upon. If the target is deep, one should dig regardless of tone. This goes for both machines. That means that as you get deeper the machine becomes less reliable. Thus you dig all deep targets on both machines.

Can they dig tiny gold?

The general belief is that multi freq machines are not very good on small gold compared to other detectors out there because they are locked in salt mode, which translates to masking out small gold. However no detector is really great on chains/earrings. That said you can still find small rings/earrings but I have seen videos of someone going over a gold chain with both machines and the machine not even making a peep. Neither of these machines is great on small gold. The technology isn't there yet. Here is a link where I asked about a machine on the beach that detects small gold:,104459

Check out this other link to read about the technology of these machines and how they detect gold. This post starts out about the CZ but discusses the excal and sovereign as well. And what they say applies to all 3 machines. - CZ owners - Salt training 101


1 yr (excal) vs 2 yr (CZ)
I don’t think this makes a difference. If your machine is going to fail it will happen pretty quickly or not work when you first get it. Minelabs warranty is transferrable while Fishers is not.

Customer Service

CZ probably has overall better customer service. However, you can get Minelab machines serviced at Kellyco which evens out the time for repairs.


Each is $1500. Each requires some mods to be comfortable. Also, be sure to contact the dealers they will offer discounts on these machines just for calling/emailing.


CZ cannot be modded. Excal can be modded like crazy but its not recommended while under warranty. The mods can add a lot of functionality. If you like to 'tinker' with your toys then the excal is probably for you. If you do not want to mess with it get the cz.


The CZ is known for being built like a tank. The Excal is known for being more fragile. However both should be taken care of and rinsed after salt water use. Taking care of each should make each last for years.


Excal includes a rechargeable battery that lasts about 15 hours. CZ requires 4 9 volt batteries which last about 40-60 hours.


Each can be mounted. The CZ comes with a belt mount. Many people mount each on their belt/chest. I also see people just use both on the shaft. I use the CZ on the shaft and I have a friend that uses the excal on an Anderson shaft. There is a new mount on feebay for the cz21 for $16 that allows me to swing it all day long on the shaft.

First post

This blog will contain notes and various things I have learned about metal detecting. I dont expect to update it often but please check back for updates.