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Bounty Hunter

Articles, Tips & Tech

Page created April 26, 2009

Updated December, 2010


How Metal Detectors Work


Plugging the Battery Drain


Tips for Bounty Hunter Detectors, 1995 PDF file


Metal Detector History pdf

A 1917 application of the Induction Balance principle.


Square Nail History pdf


Scroll down for More Tips!


Bounty Hunter coil connector wiring

When the plug went bad on my 8-inch coil, I replaced it with a metal version with locking collar. I removed the collar, and it fits the stock socket on the detector just fine without it and never comes loose.

The pins are numbered from 1 to 5 as shown in the pic, going counterclockwise, starting from the index notch. The wire colors are shown as well: Pin 1-red, pin 2-black, pin 3-gray, pin 4-white and pin 5-green.

Inside the Bounty Hunter

4-inch Nugget Coil

I had two 4-inch Nugget coils, so I decided to open one up and see what was inside. I carefully cut through the side of the plastic housing with a hacksaw blade, making sure I didn't saw into any wires, which are very near the outer edge.

The case was filled with expandable foam, so I had to pop the top by gently prying up with a screwdriver, since the foam adheres to anything it touches.

Once open, I spent awhile picking bits of foam out to expose the coils and wiring. I then lightly scraped away some insulation from the enameled wires so that I could trace them with a multimeter.

Click Here for the 4" Coil Manual in pdf

Two views of the inside.

Here's a simplified wiring diagram of the 4-inch coil. The five cable wires are numbered to correspond with those on the plug, as seen above.

The inner coil is colored green. It connects to Pin 1 (red cable wire) and Pin 2 (black cable wire).

The outer and middle coils are colored red. They are wound from a single length of wire, but wound in two sections. It thus consists of two windings with a space between them of about a half-inch. Electrically, they would be considered as two series-wound loops with an air gap. The smaller half is wound tightly against the green coil. The large half of the red loop begins at Pin 4 (white cable wire). At its end, it wraps around itself, then heads to the center of the coil. There, a small hank of wire is in a loose oval shape and seems almost randomly wrapped about the center of the oval. From here, the red coil continues with the smaller half of its winding. The smaller loop ends at Pin 3 (gray cable wire). Additionally, the red coils are paralleled by two capacitors. a .22 uf and a "223" (.022 uf). At the point where the wires exit the outer jacket of the cable, the gray wire is stripped of insulation so it contacts the cable's shield.

Finally, a short length of red-colored wire (drawn in yellow for clarity) is connected to Pin 5 (green cable wire) and randomly wraps loosely around the inner green and middle red coils. After a few turns, the wire dead-ends without a connection.

Bounty Hunter Time Ranger Mods

Time Ranger circuit board. I call it a "version 2," although it is marked "Time Ranger Rev. 8, 042597." Display wiring is to the left, coil connections bottom left. Center bottom is power and speaker/headphone to the top right.

I spliced into the speaker wire and added a volume control and I also added a "master" power switch to cut off battery power. The Time Ranger draws a tiny bit of current at all times, to energize the "soft" power switch on the front panel. After a month or so, this is enough to run down a set of batteries. I always used to unplug them after every hunt and reconnect them on the next time out. This is hard on the battery clips, so I added a DPDT switch to disable both batteries with a simple click.

The Time Ranger was always a little loud for my tastes. The volume control is just a 1k potentiometer from my junk box. Cut the speaker wire and connect it to the center terminal. The other end of the wire just cut going to the speaker connects to one of the out terminals. The third terminal is unused. Choose the one that increases volume as you turn the control clockwise. This mod does not affect headphone volume, but it would only be a matter of splicing into the appropriate wire to control the headphone volume as well.

I used a soldering iron to make the holes in the case and trimmed them to size with an exacto knife.

The Time Ranger has its own page here.

Coil detection area experiment

The crazy images seen to the left are time exposures, created by waving an LED over the coil.

In my hand was the LED, a small battery to power it and a quarter to add some metal for a stronger signal. I put the Time Ranger in non-motion mode and waved my hand over the coil, trying to stay just on the outer edge of being detected.

I hoped it would create a picture of the coil's field. The experiment did sorta work. I'll have to try it again with different objects an maybe a better camera angle or coil position.

Teknetics T2 circuit board 

Just a pic for all you curious types! This is the R5 board,
sent in for the R6 update. That's done by uploading the
update into the main chip seen at upper left,
using the 16-pin port to its left.

Find more T2 info here.

Tips From the Detecting Forums, 2001

Cleaning Coins

I clean coins by putting coins in a plastic jar with some salt and white vinegar and shake vigorously for a few minutes (separate pennies from rest of coins) then rinse and tumble. I use the coarse aquarium stone to tumble with a little powdered laundry soap and most coins clean up to like new in a couple of hours.


I have been using the Tumbler with aquarium gravel with water and Real Lemon juice I get at Sams Club for $4.95 for 3 quarts. I put around 1/8 of a cup of lemon juice and tumble for around a hour. Most clads come out real nice but a few have a slight red tint to them. Just do the copper seperate from the clad.


Tumblers take forever. I take a small plastic container,like coffee cup size,drop black coins in,cover coins with toilet bowl cleaner for a few minutes.Shake them back and forth. Rinse well.Coins will have a greyish film. This can be brushed off with brass wire brush. NOT ALL coins will clean up to like new,but the most of them will.


Ken get a coin tumbler from either AL'S Discount Detectors, or from Kellyco. They usually run about 69.00 for a double barrel tumbler. You can also get a ready made tumbling powder for about 14.00 a pound from them. It will clean a whole lot of clad coins. 2 tablespoons per tumbler. Or you can make your own cleaning powder using baking soda and real lemon juice concentrate. Just remember to keep the pennys seperate from the shiney stuff as it will turn red if tumbled together. Works great. Almost forgot use some small aquarium gravel with the cleaning solution


I found after a couple of different things that tumbling my clad quarters, dimes and pennies worked best with a squirt of Noxon metal polish. It's a thick liquid polish that stinks to high heaven of ammonia but seems to work pretty good. Even using this product though, the coins come out with a dull greyish finish never like shiny new again but I suppose it's better than the alternative.


ELECTROLYSIS - first you will need a small transformer,the type used for ac adapters like on your battery charger

or portable radio.clip the end off and strip the wires back an inch or so.wire the negative side to an old stainless steel fork or anything stainless.attach an aligator clip to the positive side,also stainless steel if you can find you'll need a plastic container,bowl or 1/2 gal milk jug cut in half.fill it about half full of water,throw in about 1/2 cup salt and mix it up.clip the coin to the aligator clip,hang it off the side into the water,drop the fork in on the other side and plug in the should see bubbles coming off the coin. it's important to keep the two contacts seperated,don't let them touch while plugged in.i don't think the ratio of salt to water is all that important but if i'm wrong i'm sure someone will correct's a really easy set up and it works better on some things than on for how it works i'll not embarrass myself by trying to explain the technical aspects. jim


Tips for the BH Newbie

You can air test multiple targets, both good and bad in various combinations and learn a lot about how they behave. You may be surprised. On my machine, a pull tab and a quarter touching can read like a zinc penny. Separated, signals are all over the place and often there's double beeps. What you get depends on the direction of swing, which object hits the coil's field first, separation, etc.

Even with disc on, a rusty nail or other item can set off a random beep out on the edge of the coil.

Depth is only a guide based on coin-sized objects. Anything larger or smaller won't be accurate. Just raise the coil as you swing. If it fades right away, it's deep or small or both. If you can raise the coil half a foot or more, it's large or right on the surface.

Again, air tests will help show what you see when detecting. Or just place your objects on the ground in a metal free area and test outdoors. Experience of any kind with your machine is your best teacher.

And it may be your area is totally littered with junk. Mine has a million 22 shells and bb pellets from both plinking and chasing off the critters that try to move into my outbuildings. It's hard to even find a good spot to ground balance!

At a 110 year old schoolyard, I once dug all targets out of a 1 foot square and got 11 or so metal items from it. Mostly nails, but also a knob from an old pocket watch and a couple other odd items.

If you have an all metal mode, use it to help determine the size of an object and detect multiple objects. An electronic pinpointer is a great help. I don't hunt without one!

Make sure you're not raising the coil like a pendulum at the ends of your sweeps. Tons of moisture in the ground can also cause problems.

Falsing outdoors can be blamed on bad ground, swing problems or lots of junk. If it does not behave properly in air tests, there may be a problem with coil or machine.

Just a few things to check out. Good Luck!



From a newbie to other newbies, or Getting Started

Saw your August posts on the Treasure net forum. I think you did okay with a Radio Shack/Bounty Hunter unit. My wife, Sandy, and I bought a pair of Time Rangers this summer, and find they do tell us what is going on with most targets.

They can get confused at times, mostly by cigarette foil bits, long-buried rusty iron cans (that have a "halo" of rust in the soils around them) and spent .22 shells. 22's read like nickels, the rusty iron and foil more often read more like a quarter, half-dollar or dollar, but the signals jump around a lot more than a signal from an actual coin would move. Aluminun cans can read like a variable dollar signal, but out here, at least, there's many more buried cans than lost silver dollars, so usually I pass these huge "fuzzy dollar" signals by. One test is the coil reacts for a longer time passing over the target because of the larger size of the can. Try lifting the coil up a few inches away from the surface to see if that changes the signal.

When I got the Time Ranger, I dug nearly all signals after a thorough scan to see what the detector thought they were. Then after digging, I let reality be the judge! Can't say for sure about your particular model of Bounty Hunter, but the technology is probably similar; anyway our Time Rangers were correct on most of the id's. If it said it was junk or iron, it almost always was. If the target wouldn't settle down to a specific id, it was also usually junk. I mean the detector signal was swinging wildly from an id at the low end to one at the other extreme and all parts in between! Junky signal, junk target.

Solid, repeatable targets that gave the same id when scanned in one direction (move coil left/right) and in another (move coil forward/back); or else by walking a quarter turn around the target and scanning again from side to side, if the signal stayed consistently positive, I dug. A small "test" gold nugget gave a very weak signal that varied somewhat, but was noticiable because of it's "soft" sound. Also, a small ring I found this summer did alternate a bit in the id, but not as radically as most junk targets. It was a different signal than most targets, so I dug it, and was sure glad I did!

I switch modes pretty often, depending on the area and number of signals. Few signals, I go to all-metal and once I locate a target, I might change to discriminate to help determine the target id. All metal mode pinpoints better as well. In a trashy area, I use discriminate mode with discrimination turned down low or off and increase it only enough to silence the most common trash at the site.

If you are digging nothing but nails or other trash target at a location, toss a typical "dud" on the ground and pass the coil over it, changing the settings until the trash item just vanishes from the signal. Now double check with a nickle, dime and quarter or test nugget to make sure you are still picking out the "good stuff".

I make sure I carry some coins and other items with me while hunting to provide a reliable test target, if I feel a need to check the machine's operation. I just scatter one or several coins in an area that is cleared of pre-existing signals and pass the coil over the spot. I have also brought along and scattered poptops, nails, bolts, tabs and screwcaps about the test area next to my coins to see if the detector could separate the individual signals. It quickly gave me a lot of experience with the machine in my own backyard and at nearby locations, and one time it helped me discover a loose coil connector while in the field. The intermittent coil connector is the only problem I have had with my Bounty Hunter.

If your machine suddenly seems to sound off on everything, as you mentioned it did in the creek, the batteries are good and the coil plug is secure, it is probably due to an extreme difference between where you set up and gound-balanced the machine and where you moved to actually use it. This can happen in a matter of a few feet, and water or wet vegetation and soggy soils will change it as well. Just ground-balance the detector again in that area, even right in the water, or turn it off and back on again to start from scratch with ground balancing. Another possibility, sometimes the fancy computer inside locks up or crashes, just like on your computer at home! Ain't technology great? ;-)

Reducing sensitivity can help stop false signals, as can scanning from a greater distance above the surface, but also reduces the depth you will achieve, but sometimes this is the only way to hunt highly mineralized areas. A smaller searchcoil can help as well, as it is "seeing" a smaller portion of the troublesome soils, minerals, trash, etc., but again you will lose some depth.

If the "auto-groundtrac" feature is available on your particular machine, and when you stop to dig a target, if you set the machine down with the coil facing at an angle to the ground, instead of flat against the ground, I discovered it tries to ground balance to the air while you are digging, which makes it take a long time to settle back down again when placed against the ground as you resume hunting. I either swivel the coil to lay against the ground, or simply turn the detector off while I dig. I own a second pinpointing detector to fine-locate my signal and don't often need to rescan once a target is discovered, so I usually turn off the Bounty Hunter to help preserve the batteries. I noticed that in Discriminate mode, I did not have this problem, only in All-metal mode.

As to telling mica from gold, a simple push with a tweezers or sharp fingernail will bend gold, but mica will crush and break apart. No need to beat the poor thing to death with a hammer, but you can if want to! ;-) Mica will also float all over the bottom of your gold pan, while gold usually stubbornly stays put. Fine gold flakes might float about a bit under water, but will readily go to the bottom, unless buoyed aloft by surface tension. Then you can't seem to get them to sink again! Mica will re-sink much more easily from the surface than the fine flake gold. A tiny drop of common dish soap will relieve the surface tension, allowing the fine gold to settle better. When you are down to the black sands and you think you still might have some mica, when you do the "swirl" to separate the gold, the mica will race around to the back, instead of staying in place. Mica will also lose its shine when viewed in shade, but gold will remain bright-looking.

If you are finding a lot of suspicious material, try to concentrate and separate it, then check a quantity of it with your detector. While a couple individual flakes will likely not be detected, a small quantity of several dozen or so flakes concentrated in your plastic gold pan or a vial will be confirmed by most any good detector. The signal may be weak, but it will be there if you have sufficient quantity of metal-bearing ore in your pan. Micas and pyrites will not cause your detector to sound off, but gold and other heavy metals will.

If you are in all-metal mode, it is not very likely, but it is still possible you may be detecting a quantity of "black sands" or Hematite in the stream or deposit. This is easily checked by using a magnet to attract the Hematite. Put the magnet in a baggie first to help remove the particles from the magnet. Just turn the baggie inside out, and the black sands will now be "in the bag"! Gold is often found with black sands, so if you are finding a great deal of it, pay close attention, and perhaps save some of the sands for further experimentation at home. The gold may be too fine to see without magnification, but the black sands may be leading you to more concentrated deposits.

Pyrite is another mineral often confused with gold. It can be very brightly-colored and somewhat heavy, but is even more brittle than mica. In the Black Hills, we have many slates that get a shiny irridescent coating from irons in the soil. Again, like mica, these too are brittle, easily broken up and light in weight. Gold is so malleable, it can be spread out to a thin layer just a few molecules thick, but it will not crush or break into bits.

Hope this long letter has a few hints you and perhaps other newbies can use.

Happy Hunting!  -Ed

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