An extremely useful metal detecting accessory is an electronic pinpoint probe; a hand-held miniature metal detector, identifying all metal by audio and vibrating. This gadget helps identify the exact position of the find in and out of the ground so you can not only avoid damaging your find but speed up find extraction considerably. Probes have other uses too. You can check the surface for shallow finds before you dig, which is especially useful when searching sensitive areas like lawns or when searching for a recent loss – you usually only need to check the shallow signals. Probes with a limited range, perhaps no more than an inch on a coin-sized object, have been around for a long time but a few years back Garrett brought out the Pro-Pointer which has a greater range and a larger price tag but is so much better at pinpointing than the old style probes. I bought a Garrett Pro-pointer when they were first available in the UK and have had 10 years of reliable service out of it but recently it started sounding-off (falsing) for no apparent reason, even with a new battery, which made me think it had come to the end of its working life. I had a look around to see what was available and it seems almost every metal detector manufacturer now makes these probes in many colors. But the cost of some of them is bordering on the ridiculous – you could easily buy a good, brand new, entry level metal detector for the price! There are quite a few tests on YouTube and one thing that struck me was that the Chinese had got in on the act and they have a probe available at less than twenty pounds or twenty-five dollars, which includes holster, lanyard and shipping! The model in question is called a GP-Pointer and it tested quite well on YouTube so I thought I would give it a try. It is almost identical to the Garrett in appearance. Switching on takes about 3 seconds; whereas Garrett is instant. The GP is not quite as sensitive, nor as loud, nor vibrates so strongly as the Garrett. I didn’t find any of this to be a problem even when wearing headphones but I do have good hearing and did not need to wear thick gloves at the time. It may be difficult to use in a noisy environment and by anyone with poor hearing but for its price, I found it a great tool for the money.
As a footnote, I did a Google search for ‘repair Garrett Pro-pointer’ and found some YouTube videos which show you how to fix the fairly common falsing problem. I have taken the advice and had a go at repairing mine. So far so good, it still works but I have yet to field test it.