Compadre - A Family Fun Detector

by Gordon S. Gibson

Some metal detecting friends of mine were sitting around drinking coffee and I asked the question, "Can you name one company, besides Tesoro, that makes a low cost, lightweight, high quality, easy-to-operate detector that comes with a lifetime warranty and can be used by the whole family including everyone from the kids to granddad?" No one could think of a company!

The detector from Tesoro I was thinking about was the Amigo II. I gave my grandsons an Amigo II and have spent several wonderful hours watching them hunt for treasure. Kids just naturally love to dig-and why not? They are closer to the ground than adults. The problems with most detectors are they are too heavy, too complicated, and too long for children to use comfortably. It is hard to find an inexpensive, quality detector that can be used by both children and adults. The Amigo II is a detector you can take on a family outing and just have fun!

When James Gifford called and wanted me to field test the new Compadre (the replacement for the Amigo II), I readily agreed. I wanted to see if this detector could hold up to the Amigo II as the new family fun machine.

Let's Take a Closer Look at the Compadre

The Compadre is a singleknob, 10 kHz motion-based discriminator detector. This means you will need to keep the coil moving when you search. It weighs only 2.2 lbs. and uses a silent search mode of hunting. This detector is built on the same frame as the μMax detectors but does not incorporate the same circuitry. The control housing is of the μMax style and has one rotary control knob. This knob is the "Off-On" switch, Battery Check and Discriminate Control. When the knob is turned on, you will hear an audio tone that indicates the condition of the battery. A five to seven second audio tone indicates that the battery is in good condition. When there is a short or no audio tone, then the battery needs to be replaced. The battery compartment holds a 9-volt battery, which will give about 20 hours of use. If headphones are used, you can expect even more battery life. The Compadre has a small speaker on the front panel and a 1/4 inch headphone jack on the rear of the control housing. Changing batteries is a snap! Just open the battery door and drop in the battery. No more fumbling with snaps and wires.

The coil is a seven inch waterproof, hardwired, solid concentric coil. This is the ideal size for most hunting situations. It offers excellent trash separation and gives very respectable depth.

The Compadre comes with an ABS lower pole, metal middle pole, upper pole, and control housing. The stem comes with the more advanced Positive Pole Lock System. This Positive Pole Lock System will ensure that there is no movement or wobble of the stem when searching. When the stem is retracted to its shortest length, the distance from the coil to the end of the armrest is 38 inches. This is just about the perfect length for a child to use comfortably. When the stem is fully extended, it measures 53 inches. This would be perfect for any professional basketball star. So, this detector can fit anyone!

The discriminate knob has the following markings: Off, All Metal, Iron, Foil, nickel, Pull Tabs, penny, Max. The "Max" setting will only respond on silver, clad, and copper pennies. These markings indicate what will be tuned out below that setting when hunting. If you place the indicator on nickel, then Iron and Foil will not respond with an audio sound. Everything counterclockwise from where the indicator is located will be rejected. The All Metal Mode will detect all metals as long as the coil is kept in motion. This really is a versatile, low cost, high quality detector.

Let's Try Out The Compadre In The Field

I am not a big advocate of air tests, but using a zinc penny with the Discriminate Knob set on the "Foil" position, the Compadre would give a good strong signal at a measured 7 inches. That is a very respectable depth, but I was more interested in how the Compadre performed in the field. Tesoro is famous for its discriminating circuitry, and I wanted to know if the Compadre would hold up to that reputation.

There is a park near my house that has the potential for older coins and is heavily worked by detectorists. I noticed they were doing some dozer work on a streambed and remembering the sage advice, "Follow the dozers," I decided to start in this park with my tests. This park ranges from medium to heavy in the trash category, so I set the discriminate knob to just below penny and I immediately started to get signals on good targets. Pinpointing is very easy. Just make an "X" with the coil over the target and the target will be where the two lines intersect. I began finding pennies and clad coins near a playground swing set with the deepest coin at about 4 inches. I moved to the area where the dirt had been scrapped off and immediately found a silver Roosevelt Dime and later on, Wheat Pennies. This dime was at least 5 inches deep. I learned that I could operate in the All Metal Mode and when I got a signal, I just turned the Discriminate Knob with my thumb and raised the discrimination until the signal stopped. This gave me a good idea of what the target might be. This may sound awkward, but it was actually very easy to do. This detector will produce coins!

My next test was a hunt with two friends of mine at an older area of town where they were clearing the land to build modern structures. It was a misty, "off and on" rainy day. The ground was as trashy as I have ever encountered, but the 7-inch coil on the Compadre worked great in this environment. We hunted for two hours digging a lot of trash before being driven off by the rain. My friends were using high dollar, top-of-the-line detectors, and I was using the one knob, very-easy-touse, low cost, friendly Compadre. When we displayed our finds to each other at the end of the hunt, the Compadre held its own. My best finds were a Mercury Dime at 6 inches, some Wheat Pennies and a pocketknife at 5 inches. It seems that the Compadre will find targets at a very respectable depth and do it with ease. Have you ever noticed that most of our coins, old and new, are found within the first six or seven inches?

Let's Give It To Our Kid Experts

For the next portion of the field test, I am using two young experts (my grandsons)-Ethan Shuler, age 12 and Blaine Shuler, age 8. The test took place in the sand pit of a playground near a school where, over the past months, there has been a lot of activity.

When we arrived, I went over the Discriminate Knob and the proper way to search. They were not anxious to hear that; they wanted to hunt. So, I turned them loose in the sandpit. The main thing I noticed was I could adjust the stem to fit each of them. We spent one and a half hours hunting when the sun started to suggest that we needed to get to a cool place. In that time, they found $1.79 of current coins, one key chain and a little trash. I set the Discriminate Knob to accept nickels so they would not be burdened with too much trash. Some coins were in the 5 and 6-inch range and gave strong signals.

I was interested in their comments on the Compadre and so I asked. Here is what I learned:

Blaine: "It's cool!"
Ethan: "It's really light."
Blaine: "It's neat!"
Ethan: "It really fits me."
Both of them: "Can I have one?"
There you have it-the very highest compliments from our young experts.

Final Thoughts

This is truly a "Family Fun Detector!" A family can take the Compadre on their outings and everyone can use it with high expectations of finding treasure. It is well made (must be with a lifetime warranty) and will fit the budget of any family. This is not a cheap toy; it is a quality, well-designed, lightweight, low cost metal detector. The Compadre would make an excellent first detector and, for the hard-core hobbyist, a backup detector that the rest of the family could enjoy. In every respect it measures up to the Amigo II and still retains that famous Tesoro discrimination. So…in the words of our young experts, "Can I have one?"

* - Reprinted with permission from Tesoro, "Metal Detector Information" - 22nd Edition