A bold new detector is entering the metal detector field, which should make serious treasure hunters scrambling to see its capabilities.
This new detector, named the Treasure Baron, is produced by Discovery Electronics. In business since 1981, Discovery Electronics is the leading manufacturer of two box detectors. The Treasure Baron is their first detector to be directly introduced under their name to the consumer market.
As mentioned earlier, the new Treasure Baron is bold bold because it is the first to be a truly modular type detector. Yes, modular. A prospective buyer can purchase a base model detector or equip it with one or both of the optional modules designed to enhance the detectors features and depth capabilities. This detector is also bold in color, bright red, which had a great appeal to almost all people who saw it during my initial testing.
Last but not least, this detector is bold in capabilities. No, it is not equipped every fancy feature, but is bold in depth capabilities. The base unit by it itself is extremely sensitive, matching the depth capabilities of some of the best. With the optional Deep Hunter module there are two additional power settings to enhance the detectors depth capabilities.
Since Discovery wanted to incorporate several different features, it was necessary to have some of the controls have multi-functions. The following explanation may seem a little confusing, so I recommend a hands on demonstration for a better idea of each controls operation. I will try to give a brief explanation of the controls so you can get the general idea.
As mentioned before, this detector can be purchased as a base unit, or with one or both of the optional modules. The base unit of this detector comes with the most basic of adjustments, an on/off/sensitivity control, a discrimination control, and a mode selection switch which allows the operator to switch between the all metal and discrimination modes. Although this seems like a very basic unit, the depth capabilities are equivalent to those of the enhanced model with the boost selector off.
The discrimination control is a little different in the fact that it has a potential dual function plus a push-push built in switch. The switch allows the operator to set the motion mode to reject or detect most ferrous objects in the discrimination mode. With the switch selected off, ferrous objects are rejected and when on, most iron targets as well as good targets will be accepted.
As for the action of the discrimination control, it is similar to a conventional discrimination level control except that instead of the detector ignoring targets with lower conductivity than the setting, these targets will respond with a low audio tone and the accepted targets will respond with a higher tone.
The first optional module I will discuss is the Pro Hunter module. This module enhances the detector by adding an LED bar graph visual depth indicator, a ground balance control, a salt/and switch, and a notch width control.
The bar graph is active in the all-metal mode and indicates depths between 1 and 10 inches. The ground balance control and a corresponding salt/gnd switch allow for adjustments over a wide range of soil conditions. The ground balance control does have a direct effect on the discrimination performance.
Built into the ground balance control is a push-push switch, which activates an autotune feature that can be used to keep the threshold constant. When this feature is first actuated, the 1 inch LED lights momentarily for indication.
The notch width control works in conjunction with the discrimination control. When off, it has no effect but when on, as the control is turned a notch is created and widened. This notch allows for an operator to ignore a limited range of targets such as pulltabs. The starting point or lower end of the notch setting is set by the discrimination control setting.
The second module discussed is called the Deep Hunter Module. This module contains an additional battery pack and a special search coil Boost switch. The switch, located on the back of the instrument, allows the operator to select either the standard coil energy setting or one of two boosted energy levels. Factory specifications indicate that up to 45% increase in depth are possible with the higher settings. This module also has a built in plug for the use of optional ni-cad batteries and charger.
The Treasure Baron comes standard with what the factory calls their 8 inch ES P coil. ESP, which stands for Extra Scanning Power, is so named because of particular design which allows for increasing the energy to the coil.
The housing of this instrument is of aluminum construction and is capable of readily converting to a hip mount configuration.
Factory options include a 10 inch, a pinpoint, and a zero buoyancy coil, a frequency shifter designed so two similar detectors can work near each other, and an auto charger that will allow the charging of the optional nicad batteries from an auto lighter plug.
The battery requirement for the base unit is an 8 pack of AAs. The optional Deep Hunter Module requires another 8 eight pack. Batteries are not included with the instrument.
I should mention that I felt quite privileged to be the first to get a hands on trial of the first prototype Treasure Baron sent out by the factory for testing. Since it was a preliminary design, as to be expected, there were a couple of problems that have already been addressed in the production modules.
Obviously because of the potential depth capabilities I was anxious to give the instrument a try. I had been in communications with Roy Van Epps of Discovery Electronics for some time and had some idea of the features incorporated in this detector, but didnt have the faintest idea what it would look like or how it would really respond in the field.
The assembly of the prototype was quick and easy. Since the factory had installed batteries I didnt bother to check them, which turned out to be a minor mistake on my part. During shipment one of the batteries had popped out of the pack making the unit inoperable. With a little effort, I had the instruments battery assembly problem corrected and I was ready to go.
This battery problem I experienced in the prototype unit was one of a tight housing could cause a battery to come dislodged if the instrument was jarred sufficiently. I am told has been corrected on the production modules.
Upon turning on the instrument, setting the sensitivity to maximum, adjusting the ground balance, and making a few passes over different objects with the 8 inch coil, I could quickly sense the capabilities of the instrument. The detector was extremely sensitive in both modes, and, was exceptionally stable.
One thing I immediately noticed was the extra weight of the machine, primarily because of the 16 batteries. However, even with this weight, the instrument was reasonably comfortable to use over level ground for short periods of time. Later testing over varying terrain displayed the immediate need to hip mount the unit.
The extreme sensitivity of the all-metal mode did display another minor problem the proper adjustment of the ground balance control was somewhat difficult. Several attempts were necessary to get it properly adjusted. Also, I found the autotune circuitry on this prototype was very slow and, therefore, difficult to tell any difference when it was on or off. My recommendation was to increase the auto tune speed.
The rest of the controls were easily adjusted and took only a few seconds to set the discrimination to accept typical silver and copper coins as a high tone and other targets as a low tone. During the testing the notch feature was left off.
A quick pass over my usual test targets made me think that my usual test targets were too easy. Even the 6-1/2 inch dime responded with a solid strong response. All targets from 2 to the 6-1/2 inch dime were strong responses in both modes, and in the all-metal mode, the depth indication was also accurate to within a half inch.
My next test was to check my 9-inch deep nickel I normally use to check the sensitivity of gold machines. In the all-metal mode, the detector responded with a solid signal and the depth indication verified the depth to be 9 inches.
The discrimination mode gave repeatable but inconsistent response to this 9-inch deep nickel. Knowing that this detector uses a technique to offset the discrimination circuitry a little to eliminate responses from hot rocks, I decided to cheat a bit by deliberately mis-adjusting the ground balance control. The reason for my adjustment is I know that this offset can effect depth in extremely mineralized ground.
With a slight adjustment counterclockwise of the ground balance control, the detector was able to easily detect the 9-inch deep nickel with consistency in the discrimination mode. I should mention that with this adjustment, negative responding hot rocks would probably have given a response.
I should also add that all of the preliminary tests were done with the ESP boost circuitry off. This meant there were still two higher energy settings available to increase the depth capabilities. Considering the location where I make my tests is extremely mineralized and, at the time, very dry, I could see that this detector displayed a real potential for detecting extremely deep targets in less severe conditions.
Kicking the ESP boost on the two different settings I noticed an increase in the all-metal sensitivity, but since I was already detecting the targets including the 9 inch deep nickel in the discrimination mode, there wasnt any way to notice any increase in that mode.
On the lighter side, one neat feature of this instrument was the LED bar graph for depth indication. When scanning over the ground, miscellaneous targets would cause the red LED to appear to zip back and forth across the graph at times like something out of a science fiction movie.
GHOST TOWN CONDITION
The next test was to see how this detector responded in really trashy conditions that can be found around a ghost town environment. Fortunately, there was such a place nearby.
At this site, I didnt find anything spectacular, but did learn more about the detector. First of all, since most non-ferrous targets will give an audio response, I elected to set the discrimination level to accept typical targets screwcap and greater for the high tone and targets having lesser conductivity sounding off with a low tone.
The wide variety of pieces of brass and other junk quickly had the detector talking up a storm, especially with the boost on. In fact even some visible targets off to the side of the searchcoil would, occasionally, cause some type of intermittent response.
As a result of this I elected to complete my testing with the boost off.
The higher tone targets were few in number and, unfortunately, turned out to be miscellaneous junk items. The deepest target dug at this site was a short piece of copper pipe buried a little over 6 inches deep. A few deeper targets were detected but the ground was extremely hard and the targets were too large when checked in the all-metal mode to logically be a coin or token.
At this site I found that the Treasure Baron seemed to reject most of the iron trash extremely well, but some did give an occasional intermittent false response. My reference to the number of false signals might be concerning to a reader, but I mentioned it, not because I think there are an abnormal number of them, but rather because one should be aware that with an extremely sensitive detector in the worst of conditions, false signals are going to happen. Reducing the sensitivity somewhat drastically reduced the number of these false indications.
At this trashy site, I also found reducing the sweep speed to a nice slow smooth pace also reduced the number of false signals, and I seem to get a better response from deeper targets. Furthermore, increasing the height of the search coil above the ground assisted in cutting down on spurious responses without any appreciable depth loss.
Since this site was also extremely mineralized, I suspected that under very mild ground conditions, I could have changed techniques with few negative affects. Fortunately this instrument seemed to have enough reserve ability that I didnt feel I was missing anything by my preference in operations. This does need further testing when possible.
Since parks are a common place to hunt, I decided to take the Treasure Baron to one of the more hunted locations. Unfortunately, like the area at my house the ground was mineralized and extremely dry in most places, making it difficult to dig many of the really deep targets.
At this site, I found I could again get the best and most accurate response by using a nice slow sweep technique while keeping the coil several inches above the ground. A good example was the nice find of as cent token good for mints I retrieved from about 7 inches in depth.
Like all other detectors I have tried, I did retrieve a few targets that indicated good such as a piece of foil, the type that used to be inside bottle caps. This target indicated to be a coin about 7 inches deep but was really about 5 inches down. Another target that impressed me was a positive response from a 22 short casing. This target was recovered from a depth of about 5 inches.
I did check several other targets for depth and found this feature to be very accurate on coin size objects. This made me wonder what a few of the deep targets indicating depths of 8 and 9 inches were that I didnt dig due to the dry soil conditions.
Fortunately, like the ghost town testing, most junk targets were not repeatable signals and with a quick check using the all-metal mode to center over that target and passing the target again in the discrimination mode, I could quickly determine they were trash.
During my park testing, I tried all power settings and decided that the boost did seem to enhance depth was noticeable by being able to raise the detector higher and still detect the same target. Because the normal power setting seemed to be as sensitive or more as anything I had used before, I settled back to using the normal setup for the remaining time.
RETESTING WITH THE 10 INCH COIL
Because Discovery was nice enough to send the 10 inch coil, I retraced my testing this time with the larger coil installed. What I found was surprising. Instead of the increased problems due to a larger coil in really bad ground, this detector was really quite smooth. However, as I suspected, the larger coil did seem to reduce the accuracy of the depth indications somewhat.
My test targets were a breeze to detect with the larger coil with no more noticeable ground effects. However, I quickly decided that it was unadvisable to have any type of metal in my shoes since in the boost modes I should get all metal responses as the coil approached my feet, especially with the boost on.
In fact, when I was comparing the different coils using an air test, I had to take things out of my pockets to assure the test target was the only one giving me a response.
As for the other locations, the trashy conditions at the ghost town site were enhanced using the larger coil and I quickly decided that the 8-inch was a better choice when trash was excessive.
The park was an even split. In areas where trash wasnt severe, the 10-inch seemed to be the logical choice. However, as a matter of personal choice, I preferred the 8-inch.
Since the instrument is extremely smooth with this coil, I do suspect this coil would excel in areas not overwhelmed with trash and the targets are really deep.
This metal detector from Discovery Electronics gives what most people want, depth, depth, and more depth, and, considering its extreme sensitivity, the instrument is surprisingly stable. It is heavier than many detectors on the market, but hip mounting helps alleviates this condition. The depth indication is as accurate as any I have seen.
The price of the Treasure Baron base unit is $399.95 and the optional modules are $149.95 Each.
For more information about the Treasure Baron, you can contact: Discovery Electronics, Inc., 1115 Long Street, Sweet Home, Oregon 97386. Phone: (503) 367-2585.