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Widget Of The Week

C-Scope ProMet II Metal Detector, 1986

You have to be a hardcore glass-half-full optimist to be a metal detectorist. It’s not that you won’t find anything, you almost certainly will, probably within minutes of switching a metal detector on for the first time. The trouble is ninety-nine percent of what you’ll find is likely to be rubbish. On the other hand there’s that magic one percent possibility of unearthing something interesting, and occasionally even valuable, and that’s what makes it such a popular hobby. As it happens there are ways to improve the odds and that’s to invest in some decent kit, spend time learning how to use it, and carefully pick the places where you do your detectoring – and yes, that is a real word…

 

Although this C-Scope ProMet II is more than 30 years old, it is the sort of metal detector that can help limit the number of bottle caps, rusty nails, bits of tin foil and so on you’ll dig up and, with practice, help tell the difference between a gold ring and an aluminium ring-pull. It’s a ‘discriminator’ several steps up from basic detectors and for good measure it can also compensate for differing ground conditions. This can have a big effect on a detector’s sensitivity and performance. For example, a piece of metal buried in a heavy clay soil can give an entirely different reading, or no reading at all, when the same object is at the same depth on a sandy, saltwater-soaked beach.

 

In comparison with most of today’s fancy digital detectors the ProMet II is relatively crude, being mainly analogue in nature. That’s not necessarily a disadvantage; manual controls give the user more flexibility, compared with fancy pre-programmed and automatic functions. There is a downside, though, and that’s all those knobs and buttons, and learning what they do, and the time spent twiddling them to get the best results, or rather, to stop the speaker screaming whilst it is being set up, can be a challenge. It does have a couple of automated functions but when it has been correctly adjusted it is actually very easy to use.

 

Once the telescopic stem for the search head has been extended and tightened the first job is to set the large Ground Exclude switch on the main unit. This has broad settings for Beach (dry sandy or saltwater) or Inland (normal or mineralised). The tricky part concerns balancing the settings on the three smaller knobs. They all interact with one another and getting it just right is as much an art as a science. From left to right they are Ground Exclude fine tune, Tuning and Sensitivity.

 

Tuning is set by holding down the Status/Tune button on the Meter stalk and turning the Tuning knob until the howl from the speaker dies down and the meter comes close to the centre position. If you are in a hurry there’s an Auto option that gets it more or less right, though sensitivity may not be as good as doing it manually. The Sensitivity control is an aid to discriminating between wanted and unwanted metal, and to some extent, the depth at which objects are detectable.

 

The controls on the meter stalk are a little easier to deal with; they’re concerned with automatic adjustment of Ground Exclude and Discrimination and switching the audio between a straightforward tone, and a variable tone that rises and falls in pitch as the search head passes over a metal object. With practice this can also help determine an object’s size, depth and even what it is made of.

 

The meter gives just a relative indication of signal strength. In other words it rises and falls with the tone from the speaker; it looks quite important but in practice it is of limited use. After a while you tend to ignore it and concentrate more on the sound, which can also be piped through a set of headphones – there’s a standard Jack socket on the front of the main unit. Power is supplied by two battery boxes, housed in a compartment accessible from the underside. They’re filled with 12 AA cells, which sounds a lot but they last a good long time and the weight, which is towards the rear of the main unit, helps with the balance.

 

Build quality is generally very good and it appears to be well protected against the elements. The only minor quibble concerns the size and shape. Even with the stem fully collapsed it’s still quite a lump and not something you can easily carry or transport without a car. This ProMet II came from boot sale in Surrey. It was in a fairly grubby state but it looked intact. There was no corrosion in the battery compartment so the £7.50 I ended up paying for it (haggled down from £10) looked like a fair deal, even if it was going to need attention.

 

It turned out to be in good working order and just needed a very thorough clean up. It had definitely seen a lot of service in muddy fields, some of them freshly fertilised, judging by the smell… With a full set of batteries on board it let out a loud howl, which just wouldn’t go away until I managed to track down a copy of the instructions on the C-Scope website. With its help I managed to sort out the controls and kill the noise, which only returns when the search head passes over some metal. Five minutes later, on a test run in my back garden I located the sunken piece of pipe for a long forgotten rotary clothes dryer, a Russian military coat or hat badge – I have no idea where that came from – two rusty bottle caps for Irn Bru (definitely not mine…), and some fragments of cast metal that I suspect is WW II bomb shrapnel. These items produced a very clear response but in the first half hour there were dozens of other less well-defined hits. With time, and a lot of holes in the lawn, I reckon that I could learn to determine if they are worth digging up. All that remains now is to give it a proper field test, as it were.

 

What Happened To It?

C-Scope, based in Ashford in Kent, has been in the metal detector business for more than 40 years and in addition to manufacturing an extensive range of hobbyist products, like the ProMet II - all designed and built in the UK -- they also make specialist instruments for tracing utility pipework and cables, and hand-held 'friskers' for security applications.

 

As far as I am aware metal detector collectors are few and far between, though there is a healthy market in vintage military instruments, such as WWII mine detectors. The earliest consumer models began to appear in the early 1960s. This was largely thanks to the development of the transistor, which made simple metal detectors light and affordable. Those very early examples stand a fairly good chance of eventually becoming collectibles but the value of later models, like this one, lie in them still being useable. ProMet Ils turn up on ebay from time to time and they can fetch anywhere between £30 and £80, depending on condition, so this one was a really good buy. Had there been a fault in the custom-made search head or the electronics it might have been a very different story. A fair number of the parts are no longer made and could be difficult to source, so unless you can see one working, or it's ridiculously cheap, buying one on spec could be a bit of a gamble; being an optimist really does go with the territory...  


GIZMO GUIDE (Manual)

First seen:                        1985-ish

Original Price:                  £50.00?

Value Today:                    £30.00 (0717)

Features:                          Programmed/Manual Ground Exclude (Inland/Beach - saltwater/mineralised) Audio or Meter Discrimination, variable sensitivity, manual/auto tuning, waterproof search head, 3-section telescopic stem, built-in speaker, headphone (std Jack) & charge sockets (3.5mm Jack)

Power req.                       12 x 1.5 volt AA cells

Dimensions:                     Main unit: 450 x 120 x 250mm, Search Head: 205 x 30, Telescopic Stem:  280mm (collapsed), 750mm (fully extended)

Weight:                            2.9kg

Made (assembled) in:      England

Hen's Teeth (10 rarest):    6



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