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Metal Detecting 101 – The Sensitivity Setting
They say that the best place to start metal detecting is in your own backyard. So, for our latest outing we decided to do just that. Well, sort of. Just behind our home is one of Tucson’s public high schools. We decided to go and check it out and see what we could find. But more importantly, we were looking to get more experience with our detector.
As rookie detectorists, my husband, stepson, and I set out to practice with our detector and try to learn more about the settings, alerts, and how to determine if we could tell what types of targets we would find. We headed to the school and found a beautiful desert trail that wound around behind the baseball field.
We weren’t really expecting to find anything of value, this excursion was about becoming more familiar with our detector. We’ve fallen into detecting roles – my husband handles the detector because neither my stepson nor I have the patience to move slowly and deliberately, my stepson has control of the pinpointer, and I dig for the target.
Focusing specifically on the sensitivity setting, which is the detector’s ability to react to varying amounts of electromagnetic fields generated by metals, we started searching. We found that when we had the setting at its most sensitive, our detector could detect even the smallest bits of foil gum wrappers buried under the dirt. I was actually pretty impressed with the detector’s capabilities. Several times we had difficulty locating the target because it was so small.
At the highest sensitivity setting, the detector made a lot of noise. Even when there were no metal objects to be found, it maintained almost a hum as it passed over the ground. I don’t know for sure, but I think that is because it was responding to the minerals that are naturally present in the dirt. When there was a target, the detector’s signal was very obvious. We found a lot of metal parts that were used when the chain-link fence was constructed around the baseball field. Not exactly treasure, but it was good practice for us because we were able to see that the size of the item, the depth to which it was buried, and the type of metal all made a difference in the sound of the signal.
We found several bobby pins (I think the girls’ cross-country team runs along the trail) that were very close to the surface, and the intensity of the alert was equal to a large metal bracket that was buried at least six or seven inches in the ground. What this showed us is that we need to focus on the depth setting next time, so that we can further determine which signals warrant digging. Until then, we’ll keep digging everything.
We didn’t have any major finds, although we did find our first coin – a quarter that was just barely covered in the dirt – but we did learn about the sensitivity of the detector and how it really made a difference in how many signals we received. Despite our lack of treasure, it was still a very fruitful hunt!