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Poor Mans Metal Locator 2006

Poor Mans Metal Locator 2006



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Published by Marcus Denver
This unique metal locator contains just five components – a low-cost IC, a variable capacitor, two search coils and a crystal earpiece. And believe it or not, despite the apparent simplicity it is capable of surprisingly good results.
This unique metal locator contains just five components – a low-cost IC, a variable capacitor, two search coils and a crystal earpiece. And believe it or not, despite the apparent simplicity it is capable of surprisingly good results.

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Published by: Marcus Denver on Apr 19, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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This unique metal locator contains just ve components – alow-cost IC, a variable capacitor, two search coils and a crystalearpiece. And believe it or not, despite the apparent simplicityit is capable of surprisingly good results.
his circuit
epeen a gene of meal loao. Alog  boowfom oe knd of loao/dee-o,  ba pnple of opeaon dffeen.And wle  may eem o eone’ edly, e pefomanemae a of a bdge indonBalane (iB) deeo. Bld  – andyo wll ee! t degn  even moemple an e ognal Bea Balanedegn pbled pevoly (
 May 2004).Dng eng,  deeed an old Eng-l penny a 150mm (6”) n a. how-eve, i wold only p my nek on e blok fo 125mm (5”), ne a nmbe
of factors inuence sensitivity.
t loao may eefoe epeene wng on e wall fo bdge iBype and even p pad o mo of eadvanage (e few emanng one)of Bea Feqeny Opeaon (BFO)deeo.
inead of ng a ea and a efe-ene ollao (a n e BFO ype), oanm and eeve ol (a n iB), deeo e wo anme(o ea ollao) w iB-yleol ovelap.A wll be een fom Fg.1 and opoogap, ee ae exemelymple n degn. Ea ollao om-pe j one-qae of a ommon
qad op amp ic pl e ea ol!te feqene of e wo olla-o ae en mxed (n mla fa-on o a BFO) o pode an adbleeeodyne.
On e surface of , s desgnwould seem o represen lle morean a wnned BFO meal locaor.however, wa makes  dfferen above
all else (and signifcantly increases itsrange) is that each coil modifes the
frequency of e adjacen oscllaorroug nducve couplng. ts nro-duces e “balance” a s presen nan iB meal locaor and booss sensv-y well beyond a
of a BFO.Beyond , all a  eqed a mean o onol e mxe op
Fig.1: the complete circuit – it could hardly be any simpler, could it?This view inside the box shows the WHOLE circuit (with the exception of thecoils, of course, and the tuning capacitor hidden under the PC board).
frequency, so that the metal locatorcan be tuned. This could be accom-plished in a number of ways but themethod chosen here is a variable ca-pacitor (a standard 100pF AM radiotuner) wired between the two oscil-lator outputs.Since the concept borrows from bothBFO and IB, we give a nod to each of these by calling the principle “BeatBalance”.
The main characteristics of beat balance (BB) are as follows:
Depending on the way it is de-signed, a BB metal locator potentiallyoffers the same sensitivity as IB.
It requires no receiver amplier or
level detector, thus vastly simplifyingdesign and reducing cost. The presentcircuit uses just two main components,while matching the performance of a budget IB metal locator (which wouldprobably have 10-20 parts).
Both search oscillators are identical,therefore BB offers high immunity tovoltage and temperature variations.This obviates the need for compen-sation circuits, including voltageregulation.
Each search coil has the oppositeresponse to metal, thus BB has a highdegree of immunity to ground miner-alisation. At the same time, it offersgood discrimination at the point wherethe two search coils overlap
The circuit
The design is based on the simplestof inverter oscillators.
Let us focus rst on IC1a. Since an
inductor resists rapid changes in volt-age (called reactance), any change
in the logic level at IC1a’s output
(pin 1) is delayed during trans-fer to inverting input pin 2.An approx. 8V/µs slew ratefurther delays switching
of IC1a, thus setting up a rapid oscil
-lation.One end of the search coil is furtherwired to the non-inverting input (pin 3),which stabilises operation. While pin 3
could be left “oating”, this would be a
less satisfactory arrangement.
Since different ICs have different
slew rates, as well as different inputimpedances, they are unlikely to work
in this circuit. However, the TL074CNIC is widely available and there should
 be no sourcing problems.The search coil is a critical part of the oscillator and needs to be suitablydesigned to achieve oscillation and toobtain the required frequency.While this frequency needs to behigh, it should not be so high thatnoise or instability are introduced.
Both the characteristics of IC1 andthe inductance of the coil inuence
oscillator frequency, which lies around260kHz without a Faraday shield. TheFaraday shield approximately doublesthe inductance of the coil, thus roughlyhalving the frequency.
IC1b is wired in exactly the sameway as IC1a, except that its search coil
is connected in opposite phase.
As the search head is swept overthe ground, the presence of metal in-creases the inductance of L1 and thenL2, or vice versa, thus bringing abouta dip in the oscillator frequencies. Athird op amp, IC1c, is used to mix theoutput of the oscillators, thus creatingan audible difference frequency, or beat frequency.This leads us to the one distinctivefeature of BB. Not only does the pres-ence of metal alter the frequency of a search oscillator but as in the case
of IB, it also inuences the adjacentcoil. In fact, both coils inuence each
other through mutual induction, thusgreatly enhancing the sensitivity of the system.
Beyond this, we only need to nd
a method of tuning the metal loca-tor. This is achieved using variablecapacitor VC1, which further couplesthe two inductors (the search coils),thus offering a means of controlling balance. Almost any variable ca-pacitor should work in this position,although it should preferably have asmaller value; eg, 47pF to 100pF. Asmall value capacitor (eg 47pF) can be wired in series with VC1 to reducea larger value.A crystal earpiece is used for soundoutput. While a piezo sounder may beused (without integral electronics),this is not likely to offer good volume.If the volume in the earpiece is toohigh, use a suitable series resistor toreduce it. An inductive sounder orearpiece is not recommended, becauseit could overload IC1c.Current consumption is around15mA. Therefore an 8 × AA batterypack should last around 70 hours.
There’s so little on the PC board that
it would be difcult to make a mistake.
OK, so you could put the IC in back-to-front, likewise the search coils’starts and ends could be inadvertentlyswapped. Apart from that, there’s pre-cious little to worry about.Fit the 12 stakes to the PC board andsolder them into place, then solder the
two jumper wires as shown. Normally
we would say use resistor lead offcutsfor this – but there aren’t any! You’llhave to use some tinned copper wireinstead.Now comes the challenge of popu-lating the PC board! Since this is asensitive, high-frequency circuit, Iwould recommend that IC1 be sol-dered directly to the PC board (ie,not socketed). So long as you insertthis component the right way round,there would appear to be little to gowrong! The TL074CN is a fairly “tough bird”– but be reasonably quick withthe soldering iron.Wire up the variable capacitor VC1,the socket for the crystal earpiece andthe battery and switch (carefully notethe polarity of the battery leads – anerror here could destroy the circuit).It’s usual to insert the on-off switch inthe positive battery lead. Some batteryholders have solder tags, others (suchas the one we used) need a 9V batterysnap to connect them. Again, watchthe polarity!Now mount the on-off switch and
the jack socket (for the crystal earpiece)
on the case. I used long bolts to clamp
Two overlappingcoils are woundusing 30SWG wireand fastened toa non-metallic base. Figure-of-8 screenedmicrophone cableconnects the coilsto the oscillator.Fig.2: construction of the oscillator section could hardly be simpler. Follow the diagram and photograph aboveand you can’t go wrong!

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