Bender

Dork alert

I gave in to an itch that has been bugging me for years, and bought a better metal detector. I've had fun occasionally with the cheap Radio Shack one that I've had for 2 or 3 decades, and when I looked into them, I was absolutely blow away with what you can get for $200 these days. At least in YouTube videos they seem almost magical in their ability to tell you what's in the ground. Of course I realize that is only going to work down a few inches and in ideal conditions, beyond that it'll require some learning.

I did a few hours reading to see if I could determine what's really needed for copper nugget hunting in the UP, and basically the answer is "more money than I want to spend." What you really need up there is a pulse induction detector, they'll find any metal types through highly mineralized soils, and are absolutely the thing to use up there. But I'm not willing to spend $1200+ on a detector. Short of pulse induction, any detector will do. I've found nuggets with my old $40 Radio Shack unit.

I decided that unless I was willing to spend > $500, the Garret Ace 250 at about $200 was about as good as it gets. If you filter out the "it can't possibly be good if it's not made by White or Minelab" and "it's too light and small and brightly colored, it must be crap" the reviews are almost 100% outstanding.

They make a 350 as well, but it looks like it's the same box with a DD coil. Coils can be changed later so it's probably better to just go for the base now, I'll probably never need anything more than that.
I've been considering getting this guy's kit:

http://home.global.co.za/~trh/

It's a pulse induction metal detector semi-kit. He's selling the plans, the circuit board, and the microcontroller, along with a parts list for the the miscellaneous other components. At $42, the price is certainly right.

Although, he hasn't revised the site since 2007, so who knows whether it is still available.
Very interesting. If it's not available, if you could pry the firmware out of him somehow the board could be easily done from the schematic.