How to Read a Metal Detector: A Beginner’s Guide

How to Read a Metal Detector
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Metal detecting can be a fun and extremely rewarding hobby, but if you want to get the most out of it, you first need to learn the basics and then hone a certain set of skills. Things, such as knowing where to start looking and how to dig without damaging a treasure you found, are all important to know.

However, there is one skill that simply has to come first—how to read a metal detector. Since metal detectors are tools that will let you know what is buried beneath your feet, reading it correctly will help save time and increase the likelihood of a big find.

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Benefits of Metal Detecting

When you are just learning how to read a metal detector, it can make you feel like you want to give up simply because it is a difficult skill to master. But if it were easy, everyone would do it! So to keep you going, you must know and remember some of the benefits of metal detecting as a hobby.

  • Health

You certainly can’t do this hobby from the comfort of your couch, and that means getting up and walking around. Most of the time you would cover a lot of ground, and walking is a very healthy activity.

  • Social

You can meet a lot of friendly, like-minded individuals both out in the real world and online. Take the time to talk to other people you meet and maybe sign up to Internet forums dedicated to metal detecting. Talking to people is a great way to develop your skills quickly.

  • Enjoying the Natural World

Again, you would be able to get out and about in a wealth of beautiful locations. The beach, for example, is a great place to use your metal detector as you never know what the tide will wash in.

  • Financial Gain

Of course, there is the fact that there are not many hobbies that can really pay for themselves in the same way that metal detecting can. By selling the valuable items you collect, you would surely have a financial gain.

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Reading a Metal Detector

Almost all metal detectors provide readings as audible signals. Each model will produce slightly different tones, so it will really pay to practice with the metal detector model that you own before you venture out to detect objects in a wider area.

A good way to practice is to dig up a small patch of land in your yard and bury various materials such as nickel, gold, aluminum, and steel. Use your metal detector over each buried metal to practice and get used to the different pitches of the tone that your particular model makes.

The Different Tones

Broadly speaking, when your machine detects metal, the tone will come in one of two forms. One will be a broken sound that comes and goes, rising and falling in tone. When you move the detector in one direction, say from north to south, it will sound choppy and weak.

On the other hand, when you move it in the opposite direction, so now from east to west, it could sound louder. This sound profile is generally not what you want to hear. The broken sound suggests an asymmetrical and randomly shaped item with poorly defined edges like a piece of junk or trash.

The other sound will be a solid one that stops and starts abruptly. It will literally often go from silent to full volume and back to silent again. More importantly, it will broadly maintain this sound profile no matter what direction you wave the metal detector. This is the sound profile you want to hear as it suggests a dense item with well-defined edges and a regular shape, like a manmade object or metal coin.

At the end of the day, the question is always going to be whether you act on a weak or questionable signal, or if you walk away. The choice is yours but, if in doubt, all you will waste if you do dig is your time but if you don’t dig, you could be leaving a genuine discovery buried in the ground.

More Metal Detecting Tips

So now you know how to read a metal detector, it’s time for a few tips to get the most of both the detector itself and the activity.

  • Reasonable Expectations

Yes, you will likely have dreams of unearthing some highly valuable, incredibly important historical artifact. The reality is that you would find a lot of junk and trash, especially when you first start out metal detecting. That is because finding a real treasure is rare and difficult, which makes it more rewarding.

  • Persistence is Key

You simply have to keep going even if you have some early setbacks. As your experience level grows and as you begin to understand your metal detector almost intuitively, your chances of locating great finds will improve.

  • Research

If you simply wander off into the woods or pick a field at random, then you may find something, but the odds are already against you. Do your research first, and you can drastically improve your chances. Go to the local library or museum and check out an area online to find it’s old historical spots like old forts, abandoned settlements, and battlefields.

Final Thoughts

The success of finding objects using a metal detector takes time and requires patience and thorough research since it is not as simple as swiping the device on any ground. Learning about the area where you plan to detect and dig objects, as well as understanding the tones produced by the device are two of the things you should always keep in mind.

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