by Bernard Hehl
(Reprinted with permission from Western & Eastern Treasures magazine November, 2000 issue)
Sunray has always been the type of company that finds a need and fills it. They have also always made quality products and stood behind them! Most of Sunray's products have been developed for use with Minelab detectors, and the latest accessories in their line have been designed with the Minelab Explorer in mind. This report is mainly about the new Stealth X5 coil; however, it will also include descriptions of other accessory items designed to enhance the use of the Minelab Explorer series of metal detectors.
The Stealth X5 coil, as its name implies, is a 5" coil designed for detecting in very trashy areas, as well as tight quarters where the 10" coil would be too large. The Stealth X5 comes complete with coil cover and easy-to-follow instructions for installing it onto the Explorer's lower and upper shafts.
Once I had the coil attached, I was ready to head out and see what a 5" coil could really do. My first outing with the Stealth X5 was to a local schoolyard. It isn't a high-trash area, but I wanted to become familiar with the X5's characteristics in, shall we say, a "user friendly" environment. When I first started using the X5 it seemed really small, especially after using a 10" coil; however, it didn't take long to get used to the coil's size and ease of use.
As you would expect from a small, lightweight coil, swing weight was negligible, and fatigue didn't even enter the picture. Target ID with the Stealth X5 was the same as with the standard 10" coil, but there was however a big difference in depth measurements. Of course, this was anticipated, since the Explorer was designed to give a depth measurement based on a coin-sized object under a 10" coil. When using a 5" coil with an identical target, the signal strength would be much lower at an equal distance from the coil. Since the X5 at 5" is exactly half the size of the stock Explorer coil, the depth readings were almost exactly 50% off. If the depth meter indicated a penny at 6" it was actually only about 3" deep. If it indicated a quarter at 10-12", it was actually about 6" deep.
Pinpointing with the Stealth X5 is great! It was very easy to pop up most of the coins using just a probe. The targets pinpointed right under the center of the coil. On the first outing I had learned a lot of valuable information about the X5, and after digging a few more coins I felt confident enough to head for an area that would offer much more of a challenge for this coil.
On the second trip I headed for an old school that had been built in 1918. I had searched there with many detectors over the years and had made some nice finds, but there had always been one very trashy section of the larger playground. Even with detectors known for their ability in trashy environments, I had not been able to successfully hunt this area. This was the area I headed for first, as I really wanted to give the Stealth X5 a challenge.
I set the Explorer to the Ironmask mode and set the Ironmask to -16, its lowest setting, so that I would hear and see all the targets that the detector was seeing. There was a great deal of junk in this area, mostly iron. Possibly at one time there had been some type of structure here that had been demolished. But there were also a lot of coin signals, so I guess I am not the only one who had problems searching this section of the playground. At any rate, I discovered that target separation with the Stealth X5 is excellent. It was easy to isolate one target from another, and I started popping out the obvious coins.
After a while I decided to check a few of the signals that weren't coin readings. Two of these turned out to be keys, and another target that didn't ID as a coin was an old tie clip. Working my way through all the trash was time consuming, but it turned out to be a worthwhile pursuit. I managed to find a silver Roosevelt dime, and I also found a silver Washington quarter that was about 6" deep. This coin did ID as a quarter in the upper right hand side of the Explorer's Smartfind screen; however, the depth meter indicated that it was 10-12" down. This was the deepest coin found while using the Stealth X5 coil.
Like many of today's schools, this one had added a play area for the younger children. This area had swings, a merry-go-round, monkey bars, and a seesaw, and the ground was covered with wood chips. Having read stories of people who hunt these areas on a regular basis and occasionally find a gold ring, I would like to be able to tell you that while searching this play area I found a gold ring, too. Unfortunately, that was not the case. What I did find was that with the X5 coil I was able to hunt quite close to the metal supports of the playground equipment, and this allowed me to find coins that I would not have been able to detect if I had been using a larger coil. Along with the coins in this play area, I also found a small pewter charm that appears to be two manatees.
In summary, the Stealth X5 is an excellent choice for searching those really trashy areas that are impossible to search with the larger coils. It offers both good depth and very good target separation.
Along with the Stealth X5, I have been using a few other accessory items that Sunray has developed for the Minelab Explorer. For example, for those detectorists who search woods and fields, they've come out with coil inserts to prevent broken branches and the stubble left in fields after harvesting from snagging your coil.
Another interesting and useful item that serves a dual purpose is the combination detector stand and 1/8" to 1/4" headphone jack converter. This unit mounts under the armrest of the Explorer and serves as a detector stand, allowing the coil-mounted stand to be removed. This slightly lightens the coil and lessens the chance of its getting snagged on stubble and tall grass. The jack converter allows you to use your favorite metal detecting headphones with the Explorer. This comes in handy when you are working in a noisy environment like the beach and would like to use a set of headphones better suited to cutting out the sound of the surf, or on a hot day in the park when you might want to use a set of ultralight headphones.
Yet another item that is becoming very popular these days is a rain/dust cover. The one offered by Sunray for the Explorer not only shields the detector from light rain and dust, but also prevents the display panel from getting scratched and helps to protect the Explorer's pushbuttons from wear. The rain/dust cover is available in several colors.
Last but not least, Sunray has come out with a coil stabilizer for the Explorer's 10" coil. The stabilizer attaches easily, has plenty of adjustment range, and will aid in keeping the coil level with the ground.