Monday, December 05, 2005

Chapter 9: FERROUS and CONDUCTIVE Tones by Jay Wollin

(As with all Explorer users) You are probably interested in the advantages/disadvantages of ferrous vs. conductive. I used to hunt always in conductive. It works, and is pretty much like the tone system used in other detectors. Silver and copper coins give a high signal, pull tabs mid tones, foil lower yet, and iron often a low growl. This is the easiest method to "start" in and certainly finds coins. However, you may have noticed with other detectors you dig a LOT of iron, particularly rusty iron- cause it sounds like coins (and, without realizing it, you are probably missing many coins that are deep and sound more like iron).

On the Explorer pesky nails often appear at the top of the screen (when looking at crosshairs on Smart screen), usually in the far left upper corner. Silver and copper coins also appear at or very near the top of the screen- but mostly toward the right side of the screen. So- when using "conductive" sounds, where the high tones are for items appearing at the top of the screen, a nail can sound much like a coin. If you are searching an area loaded with bits of iron and nails this can be REALLY annoying and frustrating; with much practice you can tell the subtle differences between iron and coin but there is a better way. Here is where the unique "Ferrous" sound option of the Explorer comes in.

In Ferrous sounds, the RIGHT side (not top side) gives the high tone, and left side gives low tone- since most iron falls along the far left side, and coins toward right side; now iron sounds totally different than a coin. Iron is a low bleat, coin a nice high tone. In theory, this makes it MUCH easier to ferret out coins in an iron-infested field. Since most everywhere I hunt has lots of iron and nails, I use ferrous almost exclusively. BUT this is not a wonder drug, cause it opens up other confusions. The worst are the devil's invention, "bottle tops"- steel crown seals, that closed the top of every old beer bottle and coke bottle. Picnic areas have as many of these rusting hulks as ants. And they appear on the screen in the LOWER right corner, and since they are near the right side of the screen, just like coins, they also give a high-pitched coin-like squeal. (In conductive, being at the BOTTOM, they would give a low-pitched iron signal) Fortunately a glance at where the crosshairs are on the smart screen (lower right) or numbers on the digital screen (a pair of very low numbers usually in single digits or close, like 03/08) immediately identify these as non-coins. Remember a typical silver or copper coin has a reading of a low number (usually under 10) and then a high number in the 20s- like 03/28. Very different. Many people get rid of the pesky crown seals by simply blacking (discriminating) out the lower right corner of the screen as few other items of interest fall in the crown seal neighborhood. This is what I do.

Our other enemy is the pulltab. Pull tabs fall more toward the center of the screen but in a wide area. Being in the middle, they give more of a middle tone whether you are in Ferrous or Conductive and you can ignore the middle tones if you wish and just dig the higher tones (hopefully coins). But some coins, especially deeper or corroded ones and Indians, tend to appear further and further away from the right side of the screen (acting more and more like iron), toward the center and sometimes way toward the left, though still near the top of the screen. This means in Ferrous they no longer have as high a tone, and the tone approaches that of pull tabs which are also away from the right side of the screen. In Ferrous these are more likely to be confused with pull tabs and passed by. If you use conductive, coins tend to keep a high tone (as they stay toward the top of the screen, even tho they may be toward right side-ideally- or even if they move to the middle) and pull tabs stay middle tone.

Therefore, in a nutshell, Conductive sound would work best in an area that has very little iron and nails but may have pulltabs, foil etc. Ferrous sound is best in an area with many nails and iron chunks, but little aluminum junk (like areas used only pre-1950).

Aha! Why not just switch back and forth between the two modes depending on where you are hunting that day- or hour? Some of us can make the shift; I find it very hard to flip-flop. Success with the Explorer means REALLY learning subtle differences between sounds, and most objects do not have the same tone or tonal relationship in Ferrous as they do in Conductive. It is sort of like driving in England versus driving in the USA- you can get to the same place with both styles of driving, but shifting to the left side of the road is confusing for a while, slows you down, and forces you to concentrate on and translate each signal, but after a week you are driving like a Limey and can enjoy the ride. Picture driving American style for an hour, and then shift to English style. Your success rate will be much better using one method and sticking with it as much as possible.

The article above is used and preserved here with permission. Thank you Jay! (Jay-oldcoins)