First Texas Products & Fisher Labs August 2009
Dave Johnson, Chief Designer @ FTP & Fisher
Because of the high sensitivity of modern metal detectors coupled with the proliferation of sources of electromagnetic interference, you are likely to encounter electrical interference at times during the use of your metal detector. It is important that you recognize electrical interference when present, and take appropriate measures to deal with it. This will prevent you from giving up on a worthwhile site unnecessarily, or from sending in for a repair a machine which is working properly.
Symptoms of electrical interference
Electrical interference can cause a metal detector to “chatter” spontaneously, to lose sensitivity for no apparent reason, or to cause periodic audio “wobble” or slow waves of spontaneous sound. What you’ll hear will depend on what model of metal detector you’re using, what operating mode you’re using it in, how you have the adjustments set, and what the source of the electrical interference is. The most common manifestation is spontaneous chatter.
All metal detectors are susceptible to electrical interference, but they vary in what kinds of electrical interference affect them. In a given environment some metal detectors may be affected by electrical interference whereas others may not.
Two metal detectors of the same model in the same environment may be affected differently, because of minor differences in operating frequency or because the controls have been adjusted differently.
Common sources of electrical interference
Common sources of electrical interference include: overhead electric power lines, underground power lines, other metal detectors, telephone lines carrying electronic data, computer systems, electric fences, old CRT-based televisions, cell phones, thunderstorms, fluorescent lights, metal vapor lamps, military aircraft with electronic warfare countermeasures turned on, electric motors, VLF military communications systems, and automobile ignition systems. It will sometimes be the case at home, in the showroom, or in an urban environment that there are several different sources of electrical interference present simultaneously.