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Categories: From the Gold Prospectors Magazine, How-To's

 Thursday, January 28, 2021

Getting on the Gold

Tips and tricks for finding more gold with Minelab’s Debbie Smikoski

by Gold Prospectors Association of America

Getting on the Gold
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From the January/February 2021 Gold Prosprospectors Magazine

 

By Debbie Smikoski

 

It’s no secret that Minelab makes great equipment. Its proven range of gold detectors meets the needs of professional prospectors, small-scale artisanal miners, serious holiday gold prospectors, weekend enthusiasts and gold specimen collectors. But aside from the company’s standout equipment and technologies, as active GPAA members know, Minelab remains fully committed to staying connected to its customers in the field.

“That’s the biggest and the most fun part of my job,” says Debbie Smikoski, Minelab business development manager for North America, who recently returned from a nearly month-long road swing that took her to GPAA and other detecting events in Alaska, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Arizona. While on the road, Smikoski looks for every opportunity to both teach and learn. The events and adventures are also captured on video so they can be shared with even more detecting enthusiasts on the Minelab website, as well as on social media.

 

“We’ve been working with the GPAA for many years; its events are among the best opportunities for us to train customers and answer questions firsthand,” she says. Most recently, Smikoski attended the Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association’s event in Arizona, where she helped train existing and new gold prospectors using the popular Gold Monster 1000, Minelab’s highly acclaimed, fully automatic, entry-level gold detector.

“I had never been there before,” says Smikoski. “It was really cool. We were at an old mining camp on a stagecoach route and we set up a great area for training. Most participants already had our detectors, but we had additional Gold Monster 1000s on hand for people to use. We buried a variety of targets and worked with everyone to find them, focusing on what the machines were telling us throughout the process.”

 

Always use a coil cover and know that you are going to have to clean it out often. If you are using your detector correctly, you will get debris in your coil cover.

Always use a coil cover and know that you are going to have to clean it out often. If you are using your detector correctly, you will get debris in your coil cover

 

Smikoski says the 45 kHz VLF Gold Monster 1000 is an exceptionally sensitive detector. “Especially with the 5-inch coil, which allows for more separation,” said Smikoski, who explained that many experienced gold prospectors are using the Gold Monster 1000 as a pinpointer, especially for fine gold. “It picks up the really tiny stuff,” she says. “There can also be a lot of iron around gold, so you can find the deep targets with a machine like the GPZ7000, then quickly find and eliminate the trash with the Gold Monster.”

 

After a few hours of proper coil to the ground use it’s common for 80 mesh and below stuff to get into your coil cover. This doesn’t look bad BUT what you don’t see is the target hiding in plain sight

After a few hours of proper coil to the ground use it’s common for 80 mesh and below stuff to get into your coil cover. This doesn’t look bad BUT what you don’t see is the target hiding in plain sight

 

Smikoski offers plenty of other tips as well. “We teach people the importance of keeping their hands away from the coil,” she says. “The coil on the Gold Monster 1000 is so sensitive that it will pick up mineralization in the hand, which is why we include a hand digger in the box with the Gold Monster 1000.”

She also reminds detectorists using high-frequency gold machines to keep their coil covers clean. “Every inch the coil is above the ground means you lose an inch below the ground. That’s why you want to always use the skid plate… to keep that coil right down on the ground and keep it protected,” she says. “But most people don’t keep them clean enough. Those covers can collect fine black sands and other mineralization that can create falsing. So we remind folks to always start the hunt with a clean skid plate and take time to clean it periodically throughout the hunt.”

 

The magnet under the coil and all the magnetic sand stands up. And that black magnetic sand where you find gold is a target.

The magnet under the coil and all the magnetic sand stands up. And that black magnetic sand where you find gold is a target

 

Smikoski says there are some mental pitfalls of hunting with a fully automatic gold machine like the Gold Monster 1000. “Here’s a machine that’s incredibly easy to use, but to get the best performance, you need to condition yourself to adapt to what the machine is telling you,” she says. “Don’t get lazy! The Gold Monster 1000 has a 24-bit processor, which is a huge brain, but you have to let it work for you. That means letting the soils dictate your sensitivity setting. The Auto 1 and Auto 2 settings are very helpful in highly mineralized soils, while the manual settings perform best in unmineralized conditions. The key is setting the sensitivity as high as possible without the machine becoming ‘chatty.’ A detector that is running too sensitive is constantly trying to calm itself down, so it’s not doing the best job actually looking for targets.”

Smikoski says nugget hunters also need to remain aware of their swing speed. “Some may say they swing to right and hear a target, but then won’t hear it when they swing it back to the left,” she says. “In that case, the machine is telling them they are swinging too fast for their current settings. They need to slow down or change their sensitivity setting.”

 

 

Experienced prospectors know that ground balancing is a critical step for maximum performance. “The Gold Monster 1000 has auto ground balance,” says Smikoski, “but it’s important to give any machine with this feature a sampling of the ground before taking those first few steps. This allows the detector to adapt to the soil conditions before detecting begins in order to ensure that no targets are missed.”

When it comes to selecting one of the Gold Monster 1000’s two detecting modes — Gold Mode or Deep All Metal Mode — Smikoski recommends selecting the latter to start. “The coil itself is not meant to go very deep, so the Deep All Metal Mode provides more depth. But as I mentioned before, other alloys are often found around gold. This is where Gold Monster’s Gold Chance indicator comes into play,” she says. “It shows how likely it is that a detected target is gold. When a target is detected, I show people how to shorten their swing, then change 45 degrees and go over it again while watching the Gold Chance Indicator. If it stays to the left and doesn’t bounce to the non-ferrous (right) side, you can be pretty sure the target is trash. But if the indicator does bounce to non-ferrous side, be sure to dig it,” she advises. “A lot of prospectors dig everything, which is okay, but not necessary once you learn how to use and interpret this machine.”

 

Smikoski keeps her most important tip for last. “When-ever you get a new detector, build a test area at home or in camp,” she advises. “It’s really the same thing I do when I’m out helping folks learn at GPAA events. Bury a variety of targets — nails, different sizes of gold, coins, etc. — at different depths and orientations so you can start to understand what your machine is telling you. That knowledge and experience will help you find more success in the field, no matter what machine you are hunting with. Practice makes perfect, so this is an exercise that will improve your performance and productivity in real hunting situations. Because every time you do it, because you are learning what your machine is telling you in controlled conditions.”

The Gold Monster 1000 is Minelab’s acclaimed universal gold detector. This high-performance entry-level VLF detector retails for just $899 and turns beginners into experts in no time. It includes a choice of coils, batteries, shaft and supplied headphones. The Gold Monster 1000 has proven itself to outperform other high-frequency competitors in mineralized ground conditions. The performance lies in Gold Monster 1000’s combination of ultra-wide dynamic range 45 kHz VLF and a 24-bit signal processor, which greatly boosts sensitivity to gold beyond that of other single-frequency VLF detectors over a wide range of nugget sizes, without introducing excess noise and false signals. The Gold Monster 1000 has improved ferrous/non-ferrous discrimination and copes better with conductive (salty) soils than higher frequency detectors, making it the perfect choice to maximize gold recovery.

 

 

This detector has been designed as a modular, adaptable system with several assembled configurations. Two coils — waterproof to 1 meter, or 3 feet — are included. The GM 10-inch coil excels for greater ground coverage and deeper targets, while the GM 5-inch coil is ideal for work in tight spaces.

The Gold Monster 1000 comes with two battery options, a rechargeable lithium ion battery and a carrier, which holds eight AA batteries. The lithium ion battery can be charged using the supplied AC plug back — which comes with several different international adapters — or a 12-volt DV vehicle adapter cable for direct connection to any 12-volt battery.

 

The controls on Gold Monster 1000’s rain-proof control box are simple and easy to use. It is fully automatic, so you can just turn it on and go detecting. With no complicated controls or ground balancing procedure to learn, you’ll be spending more time finding gold and less time adjusting settings.

 

 

The Gold Monster 1000 has some additional controls that will help increase your chances of success. The detect mode has two search options for optimum efficiency. When you first start up the detector, Gold Mode is selected. This mode rejects signals from iron objects, allowing you to just dig the gold. You also have the option of changing to Deep All-Metal Mode with a single press of the Detect Mode button. This mode detects gold deeper, but it also detects iron trash. The Gold Chance indicator shows you how likely it is that a detected target is gold. You can manually adjust the sensitivity of the detector to suit the ground and your swing speed. You can increase the sensitivity to maximize depth, or decrease the sensitivity to minimize noise. The volume level can be adjusted up or down to suit your hearing.

Whether you’re looking for a primary machine to get started in gold detecting, or one that can support and back up your current gold detector, the Gold Monster 1000 is an excellent choice. Super sensitive to small gold nuggets, it really does deliver the results.

 

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