The Equinox’s (at right) low conductor sensitivity brings in a lot of small targets and “stacks” them in the “below 12” range. Even some ground noises jump up this high–especially around salt sand where there are contours and hills.

20/ The Critical Importance of Target Size and Solidity

A “trade-off” of the Equinox’s low conductor “punch” is that micro targets hit well. These may sound off loudly and even register high on the meter–up to almost the “20’s.” It’s critical with this detector to work at developing some methods to determine the size and solidity of these smaller responses. While this subject was looked at in some detail in …From Beginner to Advanced”–it’s important enough to briefly re-visit–with a few things I’ve been taught since.

A key question to ask with these “under 20” signals is: What’s left of this response in “Pinpoint” and how does that relate to the tone and the depth reading on the meter?

Pinpoint” mode can also be handy in that it gives a single digit “ID.” This is kind of like an “all things being equal” reading–similar to the old “DC Phase” of early programmable detectors. However–it’s not identical–the Equinox’s “Pinpoint” number is more of a “freeze”–capturing exactly what was under the coil when the button was pressed. “(DC Phase”–was more of an “iron / ground versus” target reading at the level of electrical metering).

If you keep the coil still, this “Pinpoint” number can give you a good idea of an object’s most central reading–a handy tool. This can also be combined with the basic “wide or narrow” tests to give still more information.

Combining this with some of the cross sweep methods listed above can save a lot of needless digging. Hairpins are a great example here: they can give a solid “8” on the meter and a strong tone but all but disappear in “Pinpoint” and sound clipped and tiny on the cross sweep. There is more at work here than just the pin’s shape. A hairpin is also a great example of a signal that is “hopped up” by the Equinox’s high gain circuitry to sound good, but when you change (renew) its relationship with the ground by going to the cross sweep–it’s all but gone.

Where you see a target that continually flickers down into the minus range–suspect something that’s either corroded or too weak of a signal to stand out against the ground (foils). (The method of using “All-Metal” to get more information is also an effective tool).

The Equinox will make these distinctions for you if you take the instant needed to conduct these simple target tests and observations.

In sand–don’t forget to use your feet–to do a quick swish and see if the object moves. With a high gain, high frequency detector like the Equinox–anything you can do to mediate these low conductors is a plus.

As touched upon earlier, the Equinox’s coins sized target bias actually makes big objects sound weaker–or at least more flat and drawn out. (Depending on if they contain iron). Of the pre-set modes, the exceptions are the “Gold” modes which feature “Single Tone” modulated audio. Likely for the Aussie lunker nugget environment! Try testing “Gold 2” with a large object–it detects out in the three foot range!

The signal tone is also important in determining a target’s size and solidity. Page “61” of …From Beginner to Advanced has a “Signal Quality Chart” that if applied lets you get a good idea of how solid, round and coin sized something is before digging. Where you see low “ID” numbers, anything that sounds broken, “clipped” or “bitty” should be suspect. The influence of the Equinox’s higher frequencies has a big effect on its operating characteristics and it’s necessary for the operator to compensate by really listening to these low conductors. These “20” and “40 kHz” frequencies make this detector highly sensitive to these targets–especially flat foils that give the signal a wide surface to amplify. Your ears, “Pinpoint” mode and coil control are your best weapons against them.

Another indicator of the operating characteristics of the Equinox is that (especially when running the “Sensitivity” up over “20)”–there will often be random numbers jumping onto the screen–especially in salt sand. These can be as high as “10” or more. This is another good illustration of a machine that really wants to bring up low conductors. These flickering numbers represent the ground or objects that can’t initially be assigned as being ferrous or non-ferrous. (On a less sophisticated high gain machine these would also give an audio “crackle.” Many of these machines require the addition of a “Silencer” control to mediate these iron / ground noises).

It’s often necessary to re-sweep these to make sure they are not good targets. An alternative is to reduce the “Sensitivity.” This brings the machine’s focus up to the more solid non-ferrous targets under the coil making for quieter operation.

I re-visit this topic of “small stuff” again because of just how pronounced the “stacking” of the Equinox is. This low range (under “12)” not only has a lot of small targets–there are also a lot of ground (or seabed) noises that jump up here as well. It’s as if there’s this flat “plateau” which “funnels in” a lot of low conductors that would show up very differently on a simpler machine such as the Sovereign. A lot of these produce this “bitty,” broken, frustrating audio. It can be a lot to manage and makes less of this detector’s “Sensitivity” useable than I would like to see. (The “+ 20” range).

The best CTX programs I’ve used manage these “ground noises” by having a “barrier” discriminate line to break up how these marginal indications are assigned. Besides knocking out “1” and “2” as with the two “Field” modes there’s also the “Tone Pitch Gap” feature that can be used in “50 Tone” to mediate these “ground noises” by increasing the audio pitch distinction between the two ranges. (Manual pg. 49).

Whereas a more typical detector might report these ground noises as “nulls” and outright false signals, the Equinox digitizes them into small “tics.” This is the “trade-off” for the machine’s highly processed signal and effective bias–rejects and the ground are more like a mathematical “subtraction” than an actual “reading” of the ground. Tuning then, is more “hit or miss” having more to do with the detector’s operating characteristics than the ground itself. You just have to fiddle around to see what works.

These sound-offs can be frustrating and need to be managed–either by testing the better-sounding of them with the coil or by tuning. A slowed sweep speed also helps.

While …From Beginner to Advanced suggests that you use a couple of testers to get the hang of looking for solid middle range signals, this same kind of testing is also valuable to teach “hand to eye to ear.” By this I mean the ability to be able to hear a response and have a pretty good idea of its size, solidity and distance from the coil. With the Equinox’s high frequencies in the “mix” this becomes even more important. This kind of testing should not be done on a bench but involve free swinging the coil–to make it as “hands on” as possible–replicating field conditions. Tests should include:

1/ Very small target: (foil or weak other conductor) close medium range and edge of detection range.

2/ Medium sized target: (quarter) close, medium range and edge of detection field.

3/ Large target: (vertically crushed can sized), close, medium range, and edge of detection field.

This is some of the most important skill building you can do to improve your accuracy with this detector.

If there’s one bit of advice I would give to intermediate Equinox hunters–it would be that this detector has gold field quality target acquisition. You don’t have to become frustrated by opening the machine up to every “flyspeck” in the ground just because “Joe” in the Internet found a micro gold earring that hit at “1.” Running lowered “Sensitivity” or some “Discriminate” lets you cover more ground and dig more solid, quality signals. It’s also less frustrating. Walk first. Don’t get bogged down by foils. At the same time–there is small gold around to be found–and the key is to base your settings and digs upon where you are. Running right down to zero–or alternating between “All-Metal” is a good way to increase your chances of finding these small targets–if the “odds” are with you.

From: “The Minelab Equinox: An Advanced Guide” by Clive James Clynick.

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