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Electrical Interference Essay by First Texas Lead Engineer Dave Johnson

Electrical Interference

First Texas Products & Fisher Labs August 2009

Dave Johnson, Chief Designer @ FTP & Fisher

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.

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1 Detector Stuff Interviews FT-Fisher Engineers, David Johnson and John Gardiner

From left to right: Mark Krieger, New Product Development Engineer; John Gardiner, Electronics Engineer; David Johnson (kneeling), Chief Engineer; Jorge Anton Saad, Electronics Engineer

Introduction:

First of all, I want to thank Tom Walsh, Mike Scott, Tricia Richardson, Dave Johnson and John Gardiner for their help in arranging this interview. I think it’s a fair statement that First Texas – Fisher is one of the most exciting metal detector companies on the planet right now, and as such, has piqued the interest of the hobby detecting world in a way that hasn’t been seen for quite a while.

I had the idea for this interview months ago, before I had started this web site. There was quite a buzz in the forums when rumors started of a new Dave Johnson design coming from First Texas under the Teknetics moniker. After the subsequent release and success of the T-2, the hobby community was set on fire with excitement over the prospects of “things to come”. Another wave of excitement hit when it was learned First Texas had acquired Fisher, and that wave turned into a tsunami with the release of the F-75. Mr. Johnson was quick to point out that the T-2 and F-75 were team efforts, not solo projects, and that Engineer John Gardiner was key to the success of both machines.

The purpose of this interview is to give the fans of metal detecting a “behind the scenes” glimpse of the engineers who designed the T-2, F-75 and F-4. There is an unusual “connection” people in this hobby have with their metal detectors. Over time, they seem to take on a personality of their own, becoming an extension of the owner/user. Because of this “personal” connection, most view the responsible engineers with a sense of awe and mystery. I feel that “getting to know” the Engineers will help people appreciate and applaud the outstanding efforts of these geniuses behind the scenes.

All questions below are for both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Gardiner, unless otherwise designated.

Question 1:

DS: What got you interested in engineering metal detectors?

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