Based on the recent proliferation of podcasts, Facebook pages and TV shows, you might think that metal detectors are a recent invention, but the technology has actually been around since 1874! You can read more about this technology and how it actually works here, but this page is more about the practical functions of what the industry refers to as hobby or sport detectors.
You can only make a good decision choosing your machine if you understand the basic parts of any machine, and the function these parts serve.
Arm Cuff – The part on the operator’s end of a metal detector, usually semi-circular with foam padding, a webbing strap and hook-and-loop closure, intended to secure the machine around the operator’s arm. This not only provides control and counter-balance, but also creates a configuration that’s comfortable for the user.
Control Box – The part of your metal detector that houses most of the electronics and circuitry that make it work. This part of your machine cannot be allowed to get wet unless your machine is rated waterproof; otherwise, you’ll probably ruin the machine. To avoid this, you can cover it with a control box cover from the manufacturer, or a plastic bag will do if you make sure it’s tightly closed, but this will protect only from light to moderate rain. You should not operate non-waterproof machines in heavy rain, splashy conditions or underwater.
Power Cable – The thick cable, usually black, that runs from your machine’s coil to the control box, connecting the metal sensor with the circuitry that creates the signal. Some machines, like the French XP Deus, are now being made using Bluetooth technology instead of analog cables, allowing the digital controls to be contained in a small, relatively flat housing about the size of a smartphone that can be worn on a belt or in a pocket instead of mounted permanently on the shaft.
Shaft – The tubular frame of the metal detector that holds it all together. Usually it is adjustable for length, using metal pushbutton and/or threaded poly locking mechanisms to hold it in place.
Search Coil – The part of the metal detector that passes parallel over the ground; usually round or oval-shaped. Double-D is another popular configuration, which gives more depth to the reading. If a target does not pass under your coil, you will never know it’s there. “Sniper” coils are the small (usually about 5” in diameter), solid ones that look like hockey pucks, and are used to get in between lots of targets in trashy areas.