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My involvement with EQUINOX has been purely around the Gold Mode, leaving the testing of the coin & treasure modes (Park, Field, Beach) to the experts in these areas. Typically, a general-purpose metal detector has a token gold (or prospecting) mode with much lesser performance than a dedicated VLF gold detector. Not so with the EQUINOX 800…
From essentially first ‘switch-on’, I knew I was using something special. However, to put this in perspective, I am NOT comparing this detector to the high-end Pulse Induction and ZVT specialist gold detectors that Minelab is well known for. The EQUINOX 800 Gold Mode needs to be measured against the GOLD MONSTER 1000 and other high-frequency VLF detectors. Ok, you must be asking yourself, “Why is Jonathan waxing lyrical?” From my perspective, I was caught off-guard when I tried the detector for the first time. I was expecting an X-TERRA 705-like gold mode that ‘kind of’ works in the goldfields, but doesn’t perform to the level of the dedicated GM 1000. Imagine my surprise when I started to ping nuggets with ease in lower mineralized VLF-type areas. I’m talking high numbers of nuggets on a regular basis, going over ground I’m extremely familiar with.
Minelab have created something really amazing with EQUINOX. It’s lightweight., it‘s ridiculously inexpensive, it’s waterproof, it’s wireless - in 3 different ways - and, most amazing of all, it performs across a ludicrously wide spectrum of targets and ground conditions. No wonder it was unveiled with panache on a parachute! The Recovery Speed (I prefer 4 for nugget hunting) is incredible and the high sensitivity from the EQX 11 coil is hard to come to grips with. Having used high single-frequency VLF detectors my whole career, the EQUINOX 800 came out of left-field for me and, to be honest, I think it also surprised a few scientists at Minelab too. Multi-IQ is doing some weird voodoo that I can’t explain. It somehow ‘irons out’ the detector’s response to ground noise, but still ‘sings’ on those little nuggets in a way that astounded me.
The other thing I love about the EQUINOX is its ability to see in real-time the Target ID numbers. ‘Hot’ rocks come in at a steady -7 to -8 on the ferrous scale. Anything that bounces around, or locks in on the positive numbers (usually around +2) needs to be investigated. I like to combine the sound being heard with the behavior of the target IDs, to help make an informed decision to dig. And dig I did too! Some tiny pieces were down as deep as 5-inches! Once the target is in the spoils (I’m talking about tiny micro-gold nuggets here), forget about looking at the Target ID. Once the target is moved, just retrieve the target. I found that some tiny nuggets that were border-line, or bouncing around on the Target ID, became unsettled, or showed up as ferrous, once moved into the loose soils of the spoils heap.
In Gold Mode, the Threshold Level is a ‘true’ threshold compared to the ‘reference’ threshold of the other modes. It is more in-tune with what is actually going on under the coil, giving you real-time feedback of the ground. This is essential for nugget hunting, especially on the deeper gold. I found using a Threshold setting of 11 worked well with the supplied headphones, or 14 if you’re using the inbuilt speaker. The best Volume settings for me have been 17 for headphones and 20-25 for the speaker; with a Threshold Tone of 15 (achieved by long pressing the Settings (cogwheel icon) button when Threshold Level is selected).
For my soil in Australia, I very early on discovered you need to sweep the coil when using Ground Tracking. I found that if I ‘pumped’ the coil, the salt signals would degrade the Ground Balance, forcing me to use a higher Recovery Speed. I simply select the Ground Balance option and hold in the Accept/Reject button until I hear a beep, than sweep carefully side-to-side, watching the GB number display until it settles on a single number for the chosen area. I also discovered to not sweep over loud ‘hot’ rocks while doing this, to avoid bad Ground Balance numbers coming up (any VLF style machine will suffer from this as the detector thinks they are target signals). This Ground Balance technique works for me, but it’s essential you work out for yourself how to maximize target recovery in your environment.
In summary, I am just astounded at the ability of this detector to perform across an amazingly wide spectrum with very few compromises. It is the TRUE all-rounder. I found over 50 pieces of gold with the EQUINOX 800 in approximately 40 hours of testing. In one session I recovered 15 nuggets alone. I also found two silver coins when I had a play with the other modes, proving even an inexperienced coin- shooter like me can simply switch-on-an- go with this versatile machine. Minelab have said Multi-IQ has “unequaled performance in all conditions”. I can attest to that statement with the many successes I’ve already had during the short time I’ve hunted with this machine.
© Jonathan Porter 2018
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Best of luck out there
Your observations of the Equinox in Australia were exactly my experience on Saturday on some gold bearing soil in Southern California. I was able to find two small nuggets on a very windy day.
As soon as I listened to the threshold and the response to targets I felt it was a gold machine. For my money it sounds like more of a gold machine than a beach machine because I prefer the smooth setting of the 3030. Now I have found gold with both but I could never find the little gold I found on Saturday with a 3030.
You were keen to point out that as soon as you moved the gold it could change its ID numbers. Thank you. I thought I just didn't understand how to use it my first time. Once the target is in the scoop it is pretty easy to separate it from non-nuggets.
I hope I can get the dept you were talking about on future trips. It is a fun machine.