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EQUINOX Technologies (Part 2)

October 31, 2017 02:09pm

Minelab Electronics
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This is the second instalment in a blog series introducing and explaining the technologies inside our new EQUINOX detectors… (Read Part 1 here.)

What actually is Multi-IQ technology? What does the name stand for? What frequencies does it use? Is “Multi” the same or different for the various Detecting Modes? Is Multi-IQ the same or different for EQUINOX 600 and EQUINOX 800? Why use a single frequency? How does EQUINOX perform in certain environments? How does EQUINOX perform compared to other Minelab detectors? How does EQUINOX perform against other brand detectors?

These are some of the myriad of questions we have seen since we published our EQUINOX Product Notice in mid-September. Some of the answers will have to wait until Minelab publishes reports from our field testers and/or you get your own hands on a detector to try yourself. In the meantime, let’s look further into the aspects of Multi-IQ technology.


Multi-IQ is derived from:

Simultaneous Multi-Frequency In-phase and Quadrature Synchronous Demodulation.

So, full marks to “Pimento” on the Thomas Dankowski Metal Detecting Forum for this great deduction:

 “I think the IQ part of Multi-IQ is not suggesting how Intelligent it is, but is alluding to the mathematical I and Q, representing the two quadrature (90 degrees apart) components of the signal, (which are then demodulated, a key part of most metal detector workings)”

But, that doesn’t mean EQUINOX is not an intelligent detector as well! We can go to a statement from Dr Philip Wahrlich, our principal technology physicist, about a key difference of Multi-IQ compared to the demodulation taking place in conventional single frequency VLF detectors:

“Within the Multi-IQ engine, the receiver is both phase-locked and amplitude-normalised to the transmitted magnetic field – rather than the electrical voltage driving the transmitted field. This field can be altered by the mineralisation in the soil (in both phase and amplitude), so if the receiver was only phased-locked to the driving voltage, this would result in inaccurate target IDs and a higher audible noise level. Locking the receiver to the actual transmitted field, across all frequencies simultaneously (by measuring the current through the coil) solves these issues, creating a very sensitive AND stable detector”

Precisely measuring these extremely small current variations is quite remarkable if you consider the levels involved. It’s actually parts per billion, or nanoamp signals, we are talking about here!

With Multi-IQ, we can derive much greater target ID accuracy and increased detecting performance, especially in ‘difficult’ ground. In ‘mild’ ground, single frequency may perform adequately, BUT depth and stable ID’s will be limited by ground noise; whereas the Multi-IQ simultaneous multi-frequency will achieve maximum depth with a very stable target signal. In ‘strong’ ground, single frequency will not be able to effectively separate the target signal, giving decreased results; whereas Multi-IQ will still detect at depth, losing a minimal amount of target accuracy.  This is how we would generally represent the multi-frequency advantage, based on our engineering test data.

Target Stability

 Let’s hear more from Philip Wahrlich about the technical details:

“For each frequency the detector transmits and receives there are two signals which can be extracted which we refer to as I and Q. The Q signal is most sensitive to targets, while the I signal is most sensitive to iron content. Traditional single-frequency metal detectors use the Q signal to detect targets, and then use the ratio of the I and Q signals to assess the characteristics of the target and assign a target ID. The problem with this approach is that the I signal is sensitive to the iron content of the soil. The target ID is always perturbed by the response from the soil, and as the signal from the target gets weaker, this perturbation becomes substantial. With some simplification here for brevity, if a detector transmits and receives on more than one frequency, it can ignore the soil sensitive I signals, and instead look at the multiple Q signals it receives in order to determine a target ID. That way, even for weak targets or highly mineralised soils, the target ID is far less perturbed by the response from the soil. This leads to very precise target IDs, both in mineralised soils and for targets at depth.


“How many simultaneous frequencies?” you may ask, wondering if this is a critical parameter. Minelab has been carrying out detailed investigations into this in recent years. Just as you can colour in a map with many colours, the minimum number to differentiate between adjacent countries is only 4 – a tough problem for mathematicians to prove, over many years. Similar to the map problem, it’s perhaps not the maximum number of frequencies needed to achieve an optimum result, but the minimum number that is more interesting. When it comes to frequencies in a detector, to cover all target types, how the frequencies are combined AND processed is now more important, with the latest detectors, than how many frequencies, for achieving even better results.

Efficient new technology = lower power = lighter weight = higher performance.

* 20 kHz and 40 kHz are not available as single operating frequencies in EQUINOX 600. The Multi-IQ frequency range shown applies to both EQUINOX 600 and 800. This diagram is representative only. Actual sensitivity levels will depend upon target types and sizes, ground conditions and detector settings.

The above diagram is intended to be a simplified representation of how different frequencies of operation are better suited to different target types; i.e. low frequencies (e.g. 5kHz) are more responsive to high conductors (e.g. large silver targets) and high frequencies (e.g. 40kHz) are more responsive to low conductors (e.g. small gold nuggets). The EQUINOX 600 offers a choice of 3 single frequencies and the EQUINOX 800 offers the choice of 5 single frequencies. Both models also have simultaneous multi-frequency options that cover a much broader range of targets than any one single frequency can – and they’re different across the Detecting Modes! 

We’ll consider this further in Part 3…


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Very interesting, and excited to see how this detector/technology performs practically in those challenging mineralized environments! Curious, with the simultaneous spread spectrum frequency usage, will all frequencies perform equally with regard to depth, or will each discrete frequency (since they're fixed frequencies, even in spread spectrum) perform slighty differently? Also, since soil density will of course always play a part (i.e. "strong" soil), like some of the hard red clay mineralized soils here in Virginia, am curious if the SS frequency usage tied to the transmitted field will hold up depth-wise without the benefit of a high-power power source? Keep up the great work!
Posted By: PatriotMetalDetecting on November 01, 2017 01:00am
I am really looking forward to getting my hands on this detector, I have had my order in since the announcement of it coming on stream.
This machine is going to be ideal for guys in my age range and above, coming up to 75 in a few weeks.
Posted By: Randy Dee on November 01, 2017 03:51am
I'm super excited about the new Equinox. I'm wondering why did you choose to go with a single number ID compared to a smart find FE-CO ID. I think that would've made the Equinox even better. Unless you're saving that feature for the ETrac 2? Lol
Posted By: Jaxhunter on November 05, 2017 03:38pm
Equinox. I am a little confused. In one part of the video it says that you can get different frequency search heads, but in another part it says that it runs over a spectrum of 5-40khz. So why do you need different search heads and how can it run on the spectrum of frequencies if it has a 10khz search head on it? Surly one search head is all that is needed.
Posted By: Brian 23 on November 12, 2017 03:30am