A gold metal detector is a machine designed to locate gold underground. There are many types of gold metal detectors with varying degrees of refinenmint and complexity but they all operate on the same basic principle.
How Does a Gold Metal Detector Work
A gold metal detector, like any other metal detector, operates by generating an electromagnetic field which is swept along the ground. As it does so, any gold found will affect the electromagnetic field by changing it and this change will be displayed for the operator to see and also may be indicated by an audible sound produced by the metal detector..
Inside a metal detector are two sets of copper wire windings. An electrical current is passed through one of the windings and this creates the electromagnetic field. This is called the transmit winding.
As metal conducts electricity, any metal object brought into the field will alter it and this alteration is picked up by the second winding, known as the receive winding. This is then sent to the control box which the operator can use to control the types of metals he or she wants to detect. This information is then displayed through a meter or LCD display and, often, with an audio signal. The more sophisticated the detector the more information is displayed.
There are various refinements to metal detectors designed to filter out unwanted metals and give a signal on the wanted metals only. This is called discrimination and is achieved by the detector being set for a specific level of conductivity. Different metals conduct electricity in different degrees. Silver is an excellent conductor of electricity for example whereas nails are a very low conductor of electricity. Each metals conductivity is known of course and so a metal detector can be set to detect gold or silver and reject any others. The size of the metal found is not particularly important in this case. It is just the ability or the ‘willingness’ of metal to conduct electricity that is detected.
A detector will often react to minerals in the ground or "mineralized ground" as it is called. These cause false signals and is referred to as "ground noise" . Any metal detector you buy should have a "ground balance" control to tune out ground noise. The best metal detectors can eliminate virtually all ground noise.
Some detectors can detect metal quite deep. This will depend on the quality of the detector as well as the way it is used. It also depends on the size of the object. A large nugget of gold deeper underground will be detected whereas a small speck might not be.
Types of Gold Metal Detectors
There are many types of metal detectors. One can buy a cheap detector which has little or no discrimination or one can buy the very best metal detector at the top of the range which has all the bells and whistles. Much will depend on your budget as the cost of a gold metal detector can range from 50 dollars for a very basic simple metal detector to well over a thousand for a more sophisticated model. I have even seen one for close to 5000 US dollars (the GPX-4000 Metal Detector). There are perhaps 20 or so manufacturers of metal detectors in the US with hundreds if not thousands of detectors to choose from. You can even buy metal detectors for use under water. Good for finding sunken treasure.
The type of detector you buy and use will depend primarily on the reasons for using it and the budget available. To go fossicking for gold, a reasonably sophisticated metal detector is needed. As in anything else one buys, one gets what one pays for. To prospect for gold with a gold metal detector you need a detector that can detect small particles of gold as well as the larger one. Also able to detect at least 12 inches underground and is able to filter out or discriminate gold from other metals as well as eliminate ground noise.
Gold Detecting Tips
Some useful detecting tips when using a gold metal detector include:
Go low. As close to the ground as possible. This will improve your chances of finding something buried further down. The electromagnetic field is only so big, unless you have a really big super duper detector, but even then there is still a limit as to how far down it can detect, so the lower you can sweep the better.
Go slow. Your sweeps on the surface of the ground should be slow. Do not be impatient. It is easy to miss a small gold nugget if you sweep too quickly.
Ground Balance is important. As mentioned before, this is where there are natural minerals in the ground beneath the detector. You need to ensure you have a detector that will compensate for this. The automatic tracking feature some detectors have is a good idea as the detector then maintains the ground balance setting as you sweep over varying grounds.
Another useful tip is to research old gold prospecting areas. Doing some research can be invaluable as you could find old maps, records that indicate some gold was found in certain areas. Old surveys and geological reports can be a good source of information also. You do not have to limit yourself to established gold fields. Old small fields used by old timers (without a gold metal detector) long ago can be quite lucrative. Although they may have gold there, they are generally too small for mining companies to economically find and process gold. But they are ideal for the small prospective gold fossicker and can be quite lucrative.
If you find a spot that is giving you some results. Slow right down and do a very thorough sweep several times. It is better if your detector is set a bit too sensitively, especially if your metal detector can discriminate very well. Try and keep the setting fairly low. You may dig up more rubbish that way but are unlikely to miss any potential gold deposits or gold nuggets. And you never know what else you may find! It is not uncommon to find old coins and other potentially noteworthy items.
If you find any rubbish or trash, it is a good idea to remove it and dispose of it in an environmental fashion so you do not keep detecting the same rubbish over and over again.
Make your detector comfortable. Adjust it so that it is easy to hold and use and you will be less tired at the end of the day. Take frequent breaks also and look elsewhere, such as the horizon for example to reduce possible eyestrain.
Lastly enjoy yourself. Gold metal detecting can be a healthy outdoor sport!