Nokta Golden Sense Field Test
by Dave Spencer
12 April 2012
After learning of the newly released Nokta Golden Sense and watching a web-hosted video demonstrating the detectors superior recovery speed, I became quite interested in testing the machine to verify and validate the claims of exceptional recovery depth. I primarily hunt the east and west coasts of central Florida and wanted more information on the Golden Sense depth penetration in the dry sand and conductive wet sand, positive ground beach environments.
I chose to test the machine at low tide on south New Smyrna Beach during a period of extreme high (+5.5') / low (-1') tide cycles. To construct a test bed, an area high up on the beach was outlined in the sand and then scanned and removed non-test targets to a depth in excess of 12" from the test area. I used a 5'x1" metal stake and a heavy capped section of galvanized 1 ½" pipe (pile driver) to drive test holes into the ground at predetermined depths of 6", 12", 18", 24", and 30". I had intended to go to 48" depth for my testing. Unfortunately the wet, compacted sand at depth prevented me from driving the test holes any deeper than 30" despite repeated efforts (bent my metal stake). Test hole spacing / target separation was set at 3'. I used a wood dowel to push nickels to the bottom of each test hole. Older nickels (80's) were chosen because their metal content is consistent (75% copper, 25% nickel), they are a smaller target and offer a response similar to desirable rings and small jewelry targets likely to be encountered when detecting the positive ground salt sand beach environment.
After carefully reading the Nokta Golden Sense Owner's Manual, I powered up the detector and allowed it to complete its start-up cycle (approx. 20 seconds). It was noted that Nokta specifically states that the Golden Sense “operates on the principle of motion" and that “target detection is not possible without moving the search coil". As a result, a 1½ second sweep speed was employed during the test. Defined Tuning procedures are generic and were easily completed…adjust Sensitivity while sweeping the coil head according to directions, then Ground Balance until no signal falsing is heard. Proceeding to the 'test bed' with the detector in "All Metal" mode the detector picked up the first target nickel at 6" with a nice, clear target signal and concurrent 'non-ferrous' LED display. I then proceeded to the 12" test hole expecting a similar result and was surprised to find no target indication whatsoever. Remembering that the Owner's Manual had specifically addressed a procedure for tuning in a highly mineralized environment, I decided to re-read the Owner's Manual tuning instructions and attempt to refine the tuning for the salt-sand environment.
After restarting the machine and following the Owner's Manual directions 'exactly', the depth penetration increased to 18". I was not satisfied that I was optimizing the performance of this detector. I then decided to work (reverse engineer) the Sensitivity over a known target at depth to determine a more precise Sensitivity setting for the beach environment. To accomplish this I adjusted the Sensitivity until I noted signal drift (signal instability) and then back off slightly (I cannot overemphasize slightly). Sure enough, this worked well….so well in fact that I was able to complete my testing and easily picked up the nickel targets at 12" thru 30".
In order to test the detectors capability to separate and / or identify desirable target(s) in close proximity to non-desirable (ferrous) target(s), nails were placed in close proximity to each test hole (3-5"). The detector was switched to 'discriminate' and testing repeated over the entire test bed. The detector easily identified non-ferrous targets at all depths through 30". I then placed a 14kt gold ring at the bottom of the 30" test hole. The machine performed flawlessly locating the gold ring at 30"… and for all you New Smyrna Beach hunters… yes, I did recover my gold ring…however, the nickels are still there.
In summary, 'Owner's Manual defined' and 'User refined' tuning coupled with the use of a 'tuning test target' to verify and optimize detector tuning collectively are the 'keys to success' for this detector. Employing this tuning strategy will provide user confidence that the detector is performing to its maximum potential. I am very impressed with the depth penetration and capability of the Nokta Golden Sense and look forward to having it in my detecting arsenal.