Designed to appeal to the treasure hunter who desires a VLF/TR discriminating metal detector at a moderate price, the Gold Star 200 is the little brother in the new line of Gold Star detectors marketed by Compass Electronics. It's a handsome, well-built instrument which offers three individual search modes to provide the versatility so essential for all-purpose metal detecting.
The Ground Balance (All Metal) mode is intended for relic hunting or any other type of search activity in which you wish to receive responses from all types of metal objects. Should you wish to adjust the detector to eliminate responses from certain unwanted targets, the Gold Star 200 offers both a Ground Balance Discriminate (GB Disc) motion mode and a non-motion TR Discriminate mode. Given a choice of these three alternatives, a treasure hunter can easily write his or her own search mission scenario.
Programming the Gold Star 200 to operate in the desired search mode is accomplished by means of two toggle switches-one positioned at the end of the carrying handle, the other located on the side panel. Let's consider the latter first.
If this switch is flipped to the indicated pre-set position, the operator is capable of switching between the All Metal mode and the Ground Balance Discriminate Mode. To switch modes, press the toggle switch at the end of the carrying handle-left for All Metal, right for GB Disc.
When searching in GB Disc, you must keep the search loop moving from side to side in order to generate target responses. Should you hold the coil stationary over a buried metal object, you will not hear an audio signal. The advantage of the motion mode, of course, is that it enables the detector to eliminate the static and other noises caused by mineralization in the soil, while at the same time enabling it to distinguish good targets from baddepending upon the amount of discrimination being used. Because of these positive factors, the bulk of all coinshooters prefer searching in the GB-Discriminate mode.
Now let's go back to the side panel and move the toggle switch to the TR-Disc position. So adjusted, the detector can be used to search in either the All Metal mode or in TRDiscriminate, depending on which way you press the toggle switch. Pressing it to the left again means activating the All Metal mode. When pressed to the right, the TR Discriminate mode takes over. This is a nonmotion mode and can be effective in attempting to pinpoint buried targets, as well as when searching in tight corners or other locations where it is difficult to keep a loop in motion.
Mode changes can be made in wink-quick fashion, which can be a tremendous advantage when you choose to employ the All Metal as the primary search mode and then move into a discriminating mode for purposes of target identification.
The profile of the instruments in the Gold Star series represents a new look for Compass detectors. Yes, that familiar green color has been retained, but the straight stem found on the earlier models has been replaced by a curved "S" version to provide for a greater degree of balance and ease of handling.
Another significant change is the control panel, here moved from the top of the body to the left side. The convenient top-mounted combination hand-grip and armrest features found on the Compass Challenger X series has been retained. This configuration, together with the new curved stem, is designed to allow for extended periods of use with less arm fatigue. Placing the control panel on the side of the body makes viewing it much easier.
The adjustable stem can be lengthened or shortened to provide the length best suited to the individual operator. Adjustments are made by means of the lower of the two black knurled locking nuts on the stem. The uppermost knurled nut serves to hold the lower section to the upper stem and is not used in the length adjustment process. Only a slight movement of this top knurled nut is needed to tighten the two sections. Don't attempt to rotate it a full turn because this might damage the locking system.
The quartet of control knobs (Sensitivity, Discrimination, Ground Balance and Tuner) mounted on the control box are identical to those found on the top-of-the-line Gold Star 1000. Each knob is a three-quarterturn control that features a factoryrecommended pre-set position indicated by a red line. Pre-setting is a feature that characterizes many of the newer detector models and is intended to enable beginners to start using their instruments almost immediately. But keep in mind, the pre-set position of a particular control may not be the best for use under all search and ground conditions. Additional fine tuning may be necessary under some circumstances. The variable controls of the Gold Star 200 provide this flexibility.
The Turner knob is a dual-purpose control used to turn the instrument on or off, as well as for establishing the desired threshold tone. I prefer searching with a slight sound; in order to obtain a signal that seemed best for my ears, it was necessary for me to position the indicator of the Tuner slightly above the recommended pre-set position. Other ears may hear signals differently, or perhaps you may wish to "run silent" during your search missions.
The Tuner also. activates a little red LED (light emitting diode) light located in the lower left-hand corner of the control panel, which provides a means of checking the condition of the 1 .5V AA battery packs which power the Gold Star 200. The cells are housed in two packs of four batteries each and are accessible from the rear of the detector. The testing process occurs each time the Tuner is turned to the "On" position.
If the LED light glows a healthy red for a few seconds, the batteries are properly juiced. Should it remain dark, or only provide a faint glow, it is time to put in one or more fresh cells.
The Operating Manual advises you to replace all 8 batteries. Being budget conscious, and not owning stock in a firm that manufactures batteries, I prefer checking each cell individually with my battery tester and replacing only those that are weak. A single bum cell may cause an entire battery pack to read low, when actually the other cells are still good.
Another stated purpose of the LED light is to distinguish good targets from bad, according to the level of discrimination being utilized. If a target is accepted, the red light will glow. Should it be rejected, the light remains dark.
This target identification idea probably sounded better in the planning stages than in actual practice. While searching during daylight hours, I found it difficult to determine whether the light was glowing or not. This posed no problem, however, because I rely on the audio signals received to determine whether a target is worth investigating.
I suspect that others share my opinion as to the effectivenes s of the LED light as a means of target identification during daylight search operations. I note that a recent advertisement for the Gold Star 200 states that the target indicating light is used for dusk or night running. Since I usually go to bed the same time as the chickens, after-dark search missions are not a part of my modus operandi.
Ground balancing the Gold Star 200 can easily be accomplished by means of the knob located adjacent to the Turner. The adjustment process, which calls for the customary up and down lifting of the loop, is clearly explained in the operating manual. If the detector is going to be used extensively in highlymineralized areas, you may wish to purchase an optional 10-turn potentiometer for the ground balance control, which provides for a greater degree of fine tuning. This optional item costs $23.95 and will be installed at the factory.
The variable discriminator control spans a range all the way from Zero to Screw Caps, thus providing capabilities for a wide variety of treasure hunting activities. Indicated dial markings between these extremes include settings for Salt Water, Nails, Foil, and Tabs.
Here's a word of caution: As you are searching, be sure to check the position of the discrimination indicator from time to time to make certain it is still set properly. The knob of the detector I was assigned to field-test was rather loose and had a tendency to move away from the original setting. I found this looseness to be true of the three other control knobs as well.
Missing from the Gold Star 200 is the visual meter found on the Gold Star 1000 and Gold Star 400. By eliminating this component and the related circuitry, the folks at the factory have been able to hold the price tag of the Gold Star 200 to $299.95-considerably less than the cost of the more elaborate models.
Yes, it is nice to be able to refer to a meter when treasure hunting, but are such luxuries as a depth and target indicating meter really essential for a suecessful search mission?
You'll have to answer this question yourself. If your reply is affirmative, I'll go along with this opinion because I do enjoy coinshooting with a detector that offers these bonus features. Yet, I also feel that if an audio response tells me that a target is worth investigating, I'll readily check it out even though I don't know its probable identity.
As for determining approximate target depths, just listening to the strength of the signal can indicate how deeply an object is buried. Should the signal be an ear blaster, the target lies close to the surface, or is a mighty big object such as an old aluminum can. A so-called "faint whisper" on the other hand, is good indication that the target is farther below the surface and may easily be a wheat penny or a silver coin.
The well-written, 15-page instruction manual that accompanies the Gold Star 200 contains sections on Bench Testing and Field Operation that should be required reading for anyone starting out as a beginning beeper, no matter what make or model instrument he or she is using. As the manual states: "It is important to understand the operation of the detector before operating under field conditions. Bench testing will teach you the visual and audio reaction of the detector to both 'desirable' and 'undesirable' targets."
That's sound advice, yet I fear that many fledgling treasure hunters who are experiencing operational problems just have not taken the time to perform this critical bench testing.
The suggested testing proedures clearly explaln how to set up and check the ground balance, target response, sensitivity control setting and LED light responses, as well as the methods for bench testing in both GB Disc and TR Disc. When completed, these step-by-step instructions will give you an in-depth comprehension of the instrument and its capabilities.
From the bench, the manual next takes you outside and outlines the procedures for searching in the field. Here's plenty of meaty instructions that will help you to obtain the maximum built-in performance of the detector.
The Gold Star 200 is equipped with an 8-inch co-planar concentric search coil as standard equipment. Optional loops are available in 3inch, 12-inch and 16-inch sizes. Listed retail price of the detector is $299.95 and it comes with a 5-year warranty. For additional information and the name of your nearest Compass dealer, contact Compass Electronics Corporation, Box 366, Forest Grove, Oregon. Telephone (503) 357-2111.