How Does a Metal Detector Work

Metal detecting can be a fun hobby for adults and children. The thrill of the possible treasure keeps you going and it’s great exercise and spend time outside. Metal detectors aren’t complicated machines. They are typically very easy to use and lightweight so even an older child can use one.

There are four main components to a metal detector: stabilizer, control box, shaft, and the search coil. The stabilizer is just to keep the detector stable in your arms and for comfort. The control box houses the batteries, speaker, controls, and wiring. The shaft connects the control box to the search coil. Often the shaft is adjustable so you can set it at the height that is comfortable for you. The search coil, sometimes called antenna, is the part that detects the metal.

Very low frequency (VLF) is the most popular type of frequency for metal detectors. The transmitter coil has current moving through it creating an electromagnetic field. The wire coil is perpendicular to the polarity of the magnetic field. When the current changes direction, the magnetic field polarity changes. To use this type the coil must be parallel to the ground so the magnetic field will pulse down to the ground and back up. If the current interacts with any metal, the metal will release a weak magnetic field of its own. The polarity would be the opposite of the metal detector’s polarity of the metal detector and thus set off a signal.

VLF metal detectors can even differentiate between different types of metal. The detector can sense how resistant an object is to the electricity that the detector runs through it. The amount of resistance determines what type of metal the object could be.


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