Metal Detecting Terms
by Michael Bernzweig
Metal detecting has, over the years, developed its own vocabulary, vernacular, or language that is unique to the hobby. This glossary of metal detecting terms was written to provide a comprehensive resource of the words and meanings that make up that vocabulary. This list also includes metal detecting jargon or terms which may not be familiar to people who aren't involved in this hobby. For example, those involved in the hobby are often referred to as TH'ers, short for Treasure Hunters. You are welcome to add to this resource as we aim to make it the best metal detector resource on the internet. Submit your terms or suggested edits for inclusion to help us make this the most complete metal detecting vocabulary resource.
A test in which different sized metal samples are moved under the metal detector search coil to evaluate the detector's characteristics and target response. This test does not accurately predict ground depth penetrating capabilities.
The most popular form of non-rechargeable battery, with a longer shelf life and the ability to withstand a larger current discharge than simple carbon-inc varieties.
A control setting or a feature available on most metal detectors. Accepts all types of metal targets, rather than just one kind.
Amplification is a term that refers to an electrical circuit or device that is used to raise the amplitude or intensity of an electronic signal, such as an audio or radio transmission.
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL
Alexander Graham Bell is credited for inventing the first metal detector in 1881. Bell wanted to use his metal detector to locate a bullet lodged inside of President James Garfield's body. Today, Alexander Graham Bell National Museum is dedicated to the history of Bell and his inventions.
Material is made up of two or more distinct metals, a metal and a non-metal. The majority of alloys are created when two metals are melted and combined in liquid form, then allowed to cool and reform into a solid.
Analog data transmission and reception is a technique used to send and receive data between electrical devices or inside an electronic circuit. The amplitude of these pulses contains information (volts).
Archeological objects are artifacts or other excavated items that are found by archeologists. These include stone tools, pottery shards, metal targets, and human remains. An artifact is an object made by humans in the past that has historical value. Since metal detecting digs up these artifacts, it's just assumed to have archeological significance!
Jargon: Archie, Arkie
An archaeologist is an expert in the study of human history and prehistory, especially that of past civilizations. They use scientific methods to investigate ancient artifacts and sites.
Circuitry that generates distinct audio tones based on the conductivity range of each target, e.g., the low tone for nickel, high tone for coins.
An auditory or visual warning informing the operator that a target has been discovered.
Circuitry that constantly retunes the detector's threshold to the manually set audio level. The rate of returning after target rejection or drift might be fixed or variable.
Despite discrimination, ferrous metals transmit a signal due to their proximity to the coil.
They were minted for two years only, from 1892 to 1893, before they were discontinued. The Philadelphia Mint struck them, and they were designed by William Barber.
A bench test is another kind of air test that is used to evaluate your detector by setting it on a fixed and non-metallic rest and manually passing samples over the bottom of the search coil.
Beat Frequency Oscillation is the earliest metal detecting technology; it is also the least expensive and least effective. Nowadays, it is mostly utilized in metal detectors for children if at all.
Jargon: Black Dirt
Grounds with a high concentration of magnetic iron oxide.
BUCKET LIST FIND
A find of a lifetime for a detectorist.
a configuration in which the control unit is separated from the shaft and linked to the body via a belt, allowing for more mobility.
Jargon for a metal detector that has a knack for finding bottle caps, the bane of any metal detectorists existence.
BUTTERFLY SEARCH COIL
Variation of the DD coil patented and perfected by Detech Metal Detectors.
Underground cables can be located by using cable locators. A cable locator is a device that consists of an antenna and a receiver. As long as the cable is present, the signal received at the antenna will be stronger when the cable is present than if the cable is not present.
Jargon: Coin Spill, Pocket Spill
A cluster of coins or objects buried together. Typically a lost purse or change jar might lead to an accumulation or concentration of coins in one area.
A common type of dry cell battery
Components of the detector assembly lock.
Due to highly mineralized soils, salty sea water, radio signals, power transmission lines, and other metal detecting devices nearby, noise and interference are generated.
Also referred to as a search coil, a loop, or an antenna. It is a metal detector component that detects targets.
A plastic shield that is designed to protect the search coil from damage or wear over years of use. The cover is used when metal detecting and protects from wear and impact from sharp objects.
COIN DEPTH INDICATOR
This is a meter or visual display that measures the depth of coins and coin-sized targets numerically. Targets that are bigger or smaller than the circuitry's calibration will, however, be unable to be measured properly.
A search coil with two concentric wires.
One of the primary mineral kinds that comprise the positive ground matrix. On an air-tuned threshold, wet, ocean-salt sand provides a positive increase or metallic type response.
The quantity of current generated by the coil's electric field on the target's surface.
The metal detector's control and regulatory unit; it includes the battery, the control panel, and the display and control adjustments and connections to headphones and search coils.
CONVERTIBLE / COMBINATION
A metal detector arrangement that allows for operator adaptability, such as hand held to body mount.
The orientation of search coil windings that share a horizontal plane.
Noise is generated by the operation of two metal detectors in close proximity. This phenomenon can be mitigated by adjusting the operating frequency of one or more of the devices.
CRYSTAL CONTROLLED OSCILLATOR
A transmit oscillator that uses a crystal to maintain a constant output frequency.
A "blank" slot search mode (in contrast to factory modes) that the user may configure to match their own requirements for uncommon configurations.
Due to the high amount of mineralization, the search coil's depth of reach is reduced.
A deep target is a term for a lost or buried object which lies below the ground. This usually refers to objects deeper than 18 inches or more that you are trying to metal detect.
The depth to which the search coil's electric field can penetrate, or the depth of the target site.
Maximum depth to which a metal detector may penetrate in non-heavily mineralized soils.
The densest or strongest area of the electromagnetic field of the search coil where detection occurs. It has a balloon form, and its size varies exactly according to the intended surface area.
A Detector is an electronic instrument that detects the presence of metal nearby and indicates its location (normally via headphones). It is used extensively in metal detecting to locate metallic objects or buried utility lines.
Desensitizing threshold audio tuning is a means of decreasing the target signal width for precise pinpointing.
A shovel with a unique form for excavating the discoveries.
The characteristic of a metal detector is that it enables it to ignore undesirable targets; then the machine discriminates, which means the coil detects the items but does not signal them if they fit the discrimination criteria. Adjustable circuitry that rejects or nulls auditory signals from a certain conductivity range, enabling positive responses from metals with conductivities greater than the discriminating control setting to be heard. Specifically designed to reduce acoustic response from waste metals.
Discriminator mode (or discriminate) is a type of audio setting on a motion detector like a metal detector. This ensures that signals only from a good target (i.e., good targets) are heard while eliminating signals produced by undesirable items such as nails and bottle caps.
In the All Metal no-motion mode, a signal characteristic common to elongated ferrous objects like nails or coins lying near to the surface is identified.
DOUBLE D (DD)
A search coil in the form of two D letters.
Changes in depth and sensitivity as a result of heat, battery charge, and other factors.
The transmitted electromagnetic field causes little circulation currents on the surface of the metal. These currents subsequently generate a secondary electromagnetic field, which is recognized by the search coil receiver windings, causing an inductive imbalance between the windings.
An unseen field is formed by the frequencies emitted by the search coil.
An automatic detuning function that narrows the signal response for target pinpointing.
Electronic Marker Systems (EMS) markers are a simple way to mark and locate underground utilities and structures such as utility stub-outs, buried manhole covers, septic tank access covers, buried splices, survey points, and utility trench paths, pipe and conduit endings, and much more.
Search coils of this type are used to locate tiny metallic targets such as a gold nugget and smaller bits of metal with extreme sensitivity. An elliptical coil can be wound in both concentric and DD windings for use in different applications.
Generally obtained as a result of very tiny or deeply buried items.
These may be caused by loose coil leads, stubble, compacted dirt, or rubbish.
A faraday shield is a metal foil wrapped around the search coil windings that is intended to prevent electrostatic interference induced by contact with moist vegetation on the outside of the search coil housing.
Iron-based or iron-containing objects Ferrous refers to a metal thing that is attracted to a magnet.
Often referred to as black sand, these are iron particles that have been oxidized that are non-conductive or negative in charge.
A field test is conducted in real-world metal detecting situations to assess your detector's performance and operating features.
FAST MULTI FREQUENCY (FMF)
Multi-Frequency models are usually more advanced metal detectors. They operate at multiple frequencies simultaneously. The first generation of these detectors used full band spectrum (FBS) technology. Fast Multi Frequency technology, developed by XP Metal Detectors in France, provides fast target response and exceptional depth capabilities. This Technology is used in the XP DEUS 2 metal detector.
This research company, founded by DR. Gerhard Fisher, invented the first commercially available metal detector for sale to the public. The first portable metal detector was invented by Fisher in 1925, and he sold his first Fisher machine to the public in 1931 after he was granted a patent on it.
The Hertz measurement of the metal detector's current cycles.
A feature that alters the metal detector's transmission frequency to prevent crosstalk interference.
The Garrett Ace Series is a well-known line of inexpensive, high-performance metal detectors designed by Charles Garrett of Garrett Metal Detectors in Garland, TX.
Search for gold nuggets or gold dust; this is a distinct kind of detection that needs specialized equipment and training.
Ground penetrating radar is a geophysical technique that employs radar pulses to examine the subsurface.
Disciplined search based on a predetermined criteria defined strategy for a certain search region, with the goal of completely scanning it.
Ground balancing is the detector's function that allows you to adjust the coil's sensitivity in order to neutralize the response of mineralized soils to an electric field and therefore make it simpler to locate metallic items.
GROUND BALANCE - FACTORY PRESET
A function that removes the operator's setup procedure's manual ground balance control and adjustment. The manufacturer makes this change internally to maximize functioning across a wide variety of non conductive soils.
GROUND BALANCE - MANUAL ADJUSTED
A characteristic that necessitates a manual control adjustment method to offset the impacts of negative minerals in the search matrix.
GROUND BALANCE - SELF ADJUSTING
A function that detects changes in ground mineral composition and constantly readjusts the ground balance while in use. Ground Tracking or Automatic Ground Balance are other terms for the same thing.
Complex circuitry is found in motion-type detectors that isolate the mineral signal from the metal signal so that it may be processed further by the discriminating circuitry.
Reduced depth or sensitivity as a result of soil mineralization level.
Refers to the magnetic field properties of the ground. For our foreign readers, they may be more familiar with the term as ground mineralisation.
GROUND REJECT/GROUND COMPENSATION
The metal detector cancels out the ground effect.
Coins made of bronze or copper that have corroded.
In-ground penetrating radar, an electromagnetic wave is transmitted that penetrates the ground and detects objects that are buried within it. Unlike conventional radar, which uses sound waves, ground penetrating radar uses radio waves.
the situation in which a metal detector perceives a target to be larger than it really is owing to the high mineralization of the soils immediately around the target.
HAND HELD / POLE MOUNT
A convertible configuration in which the user can choose between mounting the control unit on the metal detector shaft or mounting it on their waist or another location.
Due to weariness, the detectorist's ability to discriminate between signals may be impaired.
A circular (or other shaped) plastic container carrying a specified arrangement of single or many transmit and receive windings (wire coils). Signals from the ground and metal objects are sent and received by a search coil.
The portion of the search coil is located behind the shaft's connection point.
Measurement of frequency in cycles per second.
This setup detaches the metal detector control housing from the control shaft and secures it to the detectorist's body via straps or a belt. The goal is to allow for more maneuverability and to keep your arms from becoming fatigued!
Coins or jewels are buried to keep them secure but evidently never dug up.
A hot rock is any rock or stone that does not contain a precious mineral (gold, silver, or copper) that produces an audible signal response on a metal detector. In general, they contain more nonconductive or conductive minerals than the surrounding ground, against which the metal detector is balanced.
The state of no current flow between the search coil's transmitting and receiving loops prior to detection.
These specialized metal detectors are rugged and used by utility professionals. The applications of this technology include the marking of underground items such as power lines, water mains, gas mains, cable TV cables, fiber optic cables, etc. Typical industrial models include underground Pipe Locators, Magnetic Locators, and Leak Detection devices.
The plastic or non metallic section between the search coil and the lower pole.
Bling jewelry is a type of jewelry with an ornamental element in the form of stones, gems, pearls, rhinestones, crystals, metals, or enamel.
The frequency of a currency is measured in thousandths of a cycle per second.
The Liquid Crystal Display which shows the metal detector functions, controls, and target analysis.
The Light Emitting Diode that is used on many metal detectors to provide signal indication and analysis.
Water leak detectors are devices that detect leaks in pipes and plumbing systems. They can be used for both residential and commercial applications.
Different types of beach mineralization exist, ranging from magnetic black sand to conductive salt water.
A wire winding or loop in the metal detector search coil.
A magnetic locator is a device that uses magnetism to locate objects buried underground. Magnetic locators are often used in construction projects to locate underground utilities and other infrastructure.
MASKING (TARGET MASKING)
Due to an important discovery hidden under rubbish, there is a mixed signal.
Minerals, metals, salts, rocks, moisture, and biological matter comprise the entire volume of ground penetrated by the electromagnetic transmit field.
In non-heavily mineralized soils, the maximum depth a metal detector may penetrate.
Metallic elements include iron, foil, nickel, aluminum, gold, brass, lead, copper, silver, and so on.
METAL DETECTING CODE
A set of rules to be followed in an area where metal detectors are being used. These rules include respecting public and private property and obeying the law.
Metal contaminants are objects that may not be wanted and could be hazardous if found in finished goods in food processing facilities.
When a fellow metal detectorist provides advice or direction on the hobby, this is referred to as a tip. These tips can be related to any type of metal detecting tips, such as coin hunting, relic hunting, or gold prospecting tips.
A person in the field using a metal detector.
When it comes to metal detecting terminology, metal objects are the most commonly found object when metal detecting. This is because all of the various metals that have been in use throughout history have been used to make coins, keys, buckles, pins, and screws.
A component of a detector that gives visual information to help in target identification. Meters include either an LCD or a needle indication that may indicate signal strength, target depth, target identification, metal kind, or battery status.
MINELAB METAL DETECTORS
Minelab Metal Detectors produce metal detecting technology. Minelab produces metal detecting equipment for treasure hunting, gold prospecting, and countermine operations.
MINERAL FREE DISCRIMINATOR
Any metal detector capable of rejecting or ignoring rubbish metals while balancing ground mineralization.
Mineralization is the process by which mineral substances such as metal ores are introduced into layers of soil or rock, often with very little concentration. Ground mineralization occurs when groundwater carrying dissolved minerals (such as salt, iron oxide, and calcium carbonate) percolates downward through the soil and rock strata. Internal visitors might be more familiar with the term mineralised ground.
Generally, the condition of a metal detector is in search mode, which means that specific settings have been activated for particular search requirements to be satisfied.
When both transmitting and receiving wires are merged into a single loop, this is referred to as a search coil arrangement.
Discrimination mode in which the coil must be moved to activate the discriminating feature.
MOTION GROUND CONTROL
Ground control is only possible while the coil is in motion.
Detection technology that enables simultaneous scanning of a place with many frequencies.
A target audio signal that is not broader than the search coil.
A non-conductive soil matrix that cancels out or has a detrimental influence on an air-tuned audio threshold.
Soils with little or no conductivity.
Nickel Rechargeable cadmium battery.
Nickel metal rechargeable batteries with a hydride content. These batteries have the advantage of not holding a memory like NiCad batteries.
Metals that do not include iron, such as gold, silver, copper, and aluminum, are examples. These metals are not attracted to magnets.
Any feature is only available when the search coil is still in place.
The feature enables the operating frequency to be shifted to prevent sound from escaping or getting in.
Method of discrimination that accepts only targets with conductivity within the specified notch width
discriminating against conductivity portions; rather than eliminating ferrous metals entirely, one may activate or deactivate certain conductivity segments.
The adjustment sets the breadth of the notch discrimination window.
Discrimination excludes only those conductors whose conductivity falls within the notch width.
NOTCH WIDTH / NOTCH WINDOW
A predefined conductivity discriminating segment for acceptance or rejection.
When the coil passes over a prospective target or a substantial amount of iron, the acoustic threshold vanishes quickly.
A person who does study on and accumulates coins and or currencies.
Activating and deactivating the metal detector using a single button or switch.
A result of the features of the chip's low-level transistors, the length, and physical qualities of the chip's internal wiring.
When the scanning is enhanced by the use of overlapping sweeps.
When sweeps are performed too quickly, the detector does not have enough time to recognize the discrimination and displays the rejected segment with a positive signal.
PHASE RESPONSE / PHASE LAG / PHASE ANGLE
The time interval between the current produced by the transition loop and the response from the target captured by the coil's receiving loop.
A search mode, or a distinct control, is capable of more precisely locating the target.
Pipe locators are used in the construction industry for locating pipes buried underground. They consist of a metal pipe with an antenna attached to its end. When the antenna detects the presence of a pipe, it emits a signal that can be detected by a receiver on the surface. Leak locators are similar devices, but they use a sound instead of an antenna.
Stands for Pulse Induction. Mineralization is not a concern with this technology. Metal detectors that use pulse induction send a series of quick electronic pulses into the ground. Wet salt sand and ground minerals will not affect these electronic currents, but precious metals will.
The Pulse Induction (PI) technology uses one or more coils differently than traditional metal detection. When it strikes a metal object, the coil emits bursts of electronic currents that are bounced back with these PI metal detectors.
Plastic Water Pipe Locators are used for locating the position of plastic pipes in the ground.
Precious metals are generally defined as metals that are rare and/or have a high economic value. These types of metal detectors usually detect most non-ferrous (non-iron) metallic objects, including small targets like gold nuggets, silver coins, jewelry, etc.
This is either positively mineralized ground or the positive terminal of the battery connection.
A technique of searching in which soil plugs are dug out to reveal deeper soil layers.
This is the speed of the audio response between the coil detecting the metal and the detector's complete audio response.
RECOVERY TIME / RECOVERY SPEED / REACTIVITY
The time required for the metal detector to react appropriately to the next target after the production of a signal for the prior target.
Relic Hunting is a metal detecting activity in which the goal is to find artifacts that are at least 100 years old.
The capacity of a metal detector to discern between legitimate and erroneous signals.
RF TWO BOX
A radio frequency detector with separate transmits and receive windings in an orthogonal design. This detector can identify huge objects in great detail while disregarding tiny targets like nails and individual coins.
The coil receives an electric field after making contact with the target and uses it to analyze data and send pertinent information.
Control shaft optimized for operator comfort and fatigue reduction that is in the form of an s curve.
Signal discrimination in very saline water.
Movement of the search coil or good identification of objects.
Often used to increase the depth by pushing the search coil against the earth.
The search coil is the part of the metal detector that contains the windings that transmit and receive signals from the target. There are multiple coil formats, including concentric, DD, Wide Scan, or Mono.
SEARCH COIL CABLE
The connection that connects the search coil to the control unit.
The technical specification for a metal detector combines the depth of the target location, the target size, and the target quality.
Sewer locators locate underground sewage pipes. A sewer locator typically operates at 512 kHz and detects the presence of electrical current in the soil near buried pipes. This tool can be used to locate underground utilities, such as sewers, cables, gas lines, water lines, telephone wires, power lines, fiber optic cables, and storm drains.
The target signal can be shown in the form of an audible, visual, or vibration target indication.
A characteristic of the signal that makes it suitable for a long or broad target.
SIMULTANEOUS MULTI FREQUENCY (SMF)
These are the most advanced metal detectors. Multiple frequencies are used simultaneously. Full-band spectrum (FBS) frequency technology was used in the first generation of multi-frequency detectors. The Nokta Makro metal detectors introduced simultaneous multi-frequency technology. The Legend metal detector utilizes this technology.
To protect the search coil from damage, a protective plastic cover is used.
The detector's capacity to generate a signal only when it detects a target.
A detector that operates just on a single frequency at a time.
Identical to Scuff cover.
A rate of search coil sweep speed is required for efficient discrimination.
The time interval between metal detecting and the coil's highest response.
Using a sonde, you can locate nonmetallic lines by transmitting a specific frequency signal and receiving a response from a receiver.
The ability of a detector to provide an appropriate signal free of noise.
The motion of the search coil over the surface.
Any item in the ground that produces a signal from the metal detector.
A visual representation of what your target may be based on its previously analyzed attributes.
The metal detector's capacity to react independently to distinct objects in close proximity to one another.
The threshold is the ideal tuning level at which a weak signal may be detected.
This type of metal detector has three coils that move independently to detect small variations in the surrounding electromagnetic field. As the coils pass over something that is being searched for, they experience unusual resistance because their circuitry induces current into the target object itself.
The Treasure Act of 1996 is a piece of legislation passed by the United Kingdom's Parliament that sets out which objects are to be considered treasure and obliges the discoverer to notify authorities.
Treasure Hunting is the activity of looking for valuable items such as coins and jewelry, commonly known as "treasure." This may be done recreationally or professionally with metal detectors.
Adjustment of the auditory tone.
The detector's ability to differentiate between multiple targets by the tone it emits; as a consequence, the user may pick which target to dig based on the tone it emits.
Not a search mode but an automated mode in which the detector scans and checks the degree of mineralization encountered throughout the search to modify the ground balance.
Rubbish on or under the earth.
Jargon: TH'er, Treasure Seeker, Treasure Quester, Gold Seeker, Fortune Hunter, Fortune Seeker
An individual who searches for buried treasure. There are many types of treasure hunters, including those who find gold, silver, gems, jewelry, coins, and other valuable items buried in the ground. Adventure, or a desire to add to their collection, may motivate them.
The statute establishes the state's ownership of historic treasures. A treasure trove is an old English legal term for any object found in possession of someone who does not have a right to possess it.
TURN ON AND GO
Detectors with a large number of preset search modes and further adjustment. The detectorist just has to switch on the equipment with a single button and begin looking.
It refers to discrimination that is adjustable by the user.
Refers to identifiers on display indicating the potential identity of the target.
LED or another indicator on the display that indicates the detection of a target.
Metal detectors with a very low-frequency transmitter and receiver. The VLF detector is the best for locating small targets in close proximity to one another.
The ability to control the volume of audio transmission. It is an electronic adjustment that adjusts the level of audio signals from the metal detector.
Water leak detectors are devices that detect leaks in pipes and plumbing systems. They can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications.
Compatible with metal detectors, this headphone pair operates without the need for a cable.
WIRELESS METAL DETECTOR
Between the detector and the headphones, as well as between the search coil and the control unit, no connection is required.
The same as All Metal, this mode activates when the detector detects ferrous metals.
Copyright 2021 Detector Electronics Corp. - Revised August 2022