Spectra V3i™ Field Report Lost Treasure Field Test White`s

Spectra V3i™ Field Report
Lost Treasure Field Test
White’s Electronics Spectra V3i
By Andy Sabisch
Originally founded in 1950 to build Geiger counters for the unfolding uranium boom and
transitioning to metal detectors in 1958, White's Electronics has become one of the most
widely recognized names in the metal detecting industry worldwide. Family owned and
operated since day one, the philosophy that started the company -"Give the customers
quality and value, treat your employees like you would like to be treated and the future
will be bright" - has remained constant over the decades and is readily apparent in the
wide range of cutting edge detectors they continue to produce and the blue-ribbon
customer support they provide. In early 2009, White's introduced a detector that set a new
standard against which other metal detectors would be measured. This detector – the
Spectra V3 – took the metal detecting industry by storm and the investment made by
White's before its release was clearly evident. Not resting on their laurels, the engineers
gathered feedback from end-users and after additional extensive in-field testing, took the
V3 to the next level in terms of usability & performance by introducing the Spectra V3i.
Features
The new Spectra V3i is an evolutionary change to its predecessor that utilizes the ability
to improve performance via software upgrades which was a capability designed into the
V3 as it first came off the drawing board. Not only did the ability to improve
performance and functionality through programming provide the engineers with a tool
that expanded the possibilities of future development but it benefited the consumer in that
a detector would not be obsolete soon after it was purchased (more on that benefit in the
Summary section). Following the philosophy of "If it's not broken, don't fix it", the
White's design team kept the proven features of the original Spectra V3 as the foundation
for the V3i – adding several new features that provided real benefits to the end user.
The Spectra V3i is a state-of-the-art detector that is unique in that it can operate on three
separate frequencies simultaneously for optimal all-purpose hunting or on any one of the
three frequencies when enhanced performance for specific applications is desired. The
frequencies and the type of targets they are optimized for are: 2.5 kHz (copper & silver);
7.5 kHz (brass or simply general hunting) and 22.5 kHz (nickel, gold or small targets).
As with all White's detectors, assembly is a snap and even with the rugged metal control
housing, the V3i is extremely well-balanced allowing for hours of tireless operation in the
field. One of the first features one notices on the Spectra line is the easy-to-read, highdefinition COLOR LCD screen atop the handgrip. Thanks to the talented software
engineers on White's staff, the V3i provides users with a wealth of information in an
easy-to-use format incorporating intuitive icons, user-customizable menu and display
options and a built-in reference manual. The last feature was added based on feedback
received since the V3 was introduced and provides instant assistance in the field when
one has a question as to what a specific option or adjustment is used for and is yet another
example of White's thinking of the customer when designing detectors! Another
innovative feature (especially for us that might need longer arms for reading) is the
ZOOM function which provides 4 levels of magnification for the text on the screen. You
can zoom in-&-out of any menu or help screen as needed with the touch of one pad. Both
the screen and the touchpads used to make adjustments are backlit allowing the V3i to be
used under all lighting conditions which is extremely useful if you hunt sites that are too
crowded during the day or find yourself in a "hot spot" you don't want to leave as the sun
starts to set.
The V3i provides users their choice of multiple screens for use in displaying target
information. When searching in any of the 3-frequency programs, the SignaGraph display
shows you which frequency is providing the strongest response which helps define what
the object is made of. This frequency response is also provided on the Sweep Analysis as
well as the new Vector Analysis screen in different ways allowing you to pick the one
that best "clicks" with your personal preferences. A number ranging from -95 (highly
ferrous) to +95 (highly non-ferrous) is shown on all screens providing additional
information to aid in identifying targets. An innovative feature first introduced on the V3
is that there are different libraries of icons which can be selected based on the type of
target(s) you are searching for. This allows different icons to appear; i.e., coins, relics,
prospecting, etc. based on the particular program being used. Holding the trigger in the
rear position activates the PINPOINT mode and target depth is displayed on the screen.
No motion is required to detect targets in this mode and the center section changes to
provide signal strength on each of the operating frequencies which is helpful when trying
to pinpoint a good target amongst trash.
The ability to fine-tune the V3i may seem intimidating at first to some would-be users
since virtually any setting can be adjusted for optimal performance and personal
preference; however, the engineers at White's created the 10 base programs using input
from many seasoned hunters around the world. Combine that starting point with a wellwritten owners guide, an instructional DVD and several active Internet forums that will
help reduce the learning curve on the Spectra, one can start using it to make first-rate
finds right out of the box. In addition, not only can any setting be adjusted, but changes to
the specific colors used on individual screens, tonal response from individual targets,
icons displayed for specific targets or groups of targets, as well as program names can be
made and saved. Any of the changes one makes can be stored in the on-board library with
unique names and recalled for later use and don't worry about fouling up any of the
factory programs as they can be reloaded with just a few keystrokes. If you are still just
looking at the V3i, visit White's website and download a copy of the Owners Guide
which will get you started on the road to understanding it before you pick up your new
detector. NOTE: All programs and settings are retained even when the battery pack is
removed.
Other new features found on the V3i not described in this report include five different
language options making it truly a detector for use anywhere in the world; a Prospecting
Scan display which shows ground mineralization beneath the coil in real-time aiding
prospectors in locating areas most likely to contain precious metals; continuous
indication of the search mode, program in-use and other options selected; and the ability
to tell the detector what type of soil you are planning to search in so that internal
processing changes can optimize performance automatically.
The V3i comes equipped with the 10" D2 Double-D search coil designed for general use,
particularly in highly mineralized soil. Six optional coils are available from White's that
expand the versatility of the V3i and come in both concentric as well as Double-D
designs. A new feature on the V3i is the ability to "tell" it what coil is being used via an
easily-accessible menu option which in turn optimizes the detector's performance and
calibrates the depth indication based on the coil in-use.
An accessory that was introduced on the original V3 and carried over to the V3i is its
unique wireless headphone capability. Have you ever stepped on your headphone cord as
you stood up after recovering a target or had them pulled from your head after the cord
was snagged on a tree branch? Well, with the optional wireless headphones, those issues
have become a thing of the past and are just another example of how White's has
incorporated in-field needs into their detector design process. A side-benefit of the
wireless system is that you can have multiple users listening to one V3i if a training
session is desired. Conventional corded headphones as well as the built-in speaker can
also be used.
The V3 comes with two drop-in battery packs – a NiMH rechargeable pack (with
charging stand) and one designed to hold 8 AA batteries. The standard charger provides
for trickle charging so the NiMH pack can be left on the charger without worrying about
damaging it. The NiMH pack provides 10-12 hours on a charge. The type of battery inuse can be selected from the menu for more accurate monitoring of battery life.
Field Test
The first site I took the V3i to was a local park with a large playground area frequented
by mothers and their children. I chose this location not so much to push the V3i to the
limit in terms of performance but to familiarize myself with some of the new features as
well as try the Loop Selection option with a few of the optional coils I had for my
original V3 and DFX. The basic COIN & JEWELRY program was selected and after
quickly ground balancing the V3i, I headed off to see what might turn up. Before the two
words in that last sentence – GROUND BALANCING - gets readers worried, the V3i has
a highly accurate automatic ground tracking circuit; however, it is recommended that one
starts out by quickly balancing the detector before starting to search. This is done by
holding the trigger switch, pressing the ENTER touchpad and pumping the coil up and
down for a few seconds until the threshold remains constant... release and start hunting –
what could be easier! I spent 3 hours at this location and other than a few "tweaks" to
options such as SENSITIVITY (targets were not very deep so lower values provided less
falsing), GROUND FILTERS (I prefer a slower sweep speed so a lower setting was used)
and RX GAIN (nearby high voltage power line interference was easily eliminated with a
lower value), I used the stock settings the entire time. The V3i was stable and the
accuracy of the target ID & depth indications was "dead-on" virtually every time.
Switching coils and checking marked signals, I saw that by using the LOOP
SELECTION menu option, the target ID (on all three screens) and depth indications were
in fact optimized to the coil in-use. Almost 45 coins, a few keys, matchbox cars and a
thin 10KT child's ring wound up in my pouch by the time I headed back to the truck.
The new stereo Mixed Mode audio option was one that caught my attention for some of
my relic hunting sites. Almost any site containing relics also contains a massive amount
of ferrous "trash" that challenges any detectorist regardless of the specific detector they
use. If you hunt in all metal, the noise tends to overwhelm you and if you increase
discrimination, you stand the chance of missing a great find due to target masking
(signals from unwanted items over-riding those from god targets). This new mode
actually allows one to hear all metal targets under the coil in one ear and those that are
accepted based on the Discrimination level selected in the other. While it takes a little
practice to get used to, it lets the user be the one that decides if a target is worth
recovering rather than the detector. It also is a great tool when scouting out new sites in
that you can identify ferrous targets which indicate human habitation at some time and
then slow down to find the non-ferrous targets such as coins, buttons, bullets and the like.
I visited three sites to explicitly try out this search mode including one from the early
1800's, one from the early 1900's and a small Civil War campsite. While the specific
settings I selected differed between the sites based on the ground conditions, the stereo
Mixed Mode option worked like a champ. For example, the campsite was heavily littered
with nails and boot tacks; however, the V3i easily picked out several non-ferrous targets
including 4 Minnie Balls, a General Service coat button and several pieces of camp lead
at impressive depths from amongst the iron. Similar results were experienced at the other
sites and I could see that for relic hunting (and possibly coin hunting in areas with high
concentrations of trash that other detectorists avoided), the stereo Mixed Audio option
could be the trick to make some super finds. As a side note, two of the sites were heavily
overgrown with new growth and the advantage of the wireless headphones was quickly
recognized. Having hunted sites like this in the past with corded headphones, I would
have been forced to hunt without headphones had I not been using the V3i's wireless set.
Over the next two weeks I had the opportunity to take the V3i to a few well-hunted sites
(schools & parks) in the surrounding area as well as a pair of old homes that I had
received permission to search from the owners. At one old park in a neighboring town I
bumped up the RX Gain and Sensitivity to the point just below where the V3i started to
false; i.e., "pushing-the-envelope" so to speak. The target response on extremely deep
targets was a bit different than what a coin at say 2" would produce but by squeezing the
extra performance from the detector I was able to find several coins at 8" to 11" from
areas I know I had searched diligently in the past (not to mention 100 other hunters
besides me). On the V3, I had preferred the Analyze Screen over the SignaGraph display
as visually, it provided the information that helped me identify targets and determine
which were worth recovering. The V3i added the Vector Analysis screen as yet another
way to display the information being processed by the circuitry. At an older school a
section of one field was littered with large rusted nails that on most detector registered as
a coin. Opting to see if the Vector screen would help distinguish the nails from keepers
that had to be there, I scrolled through the menu and made the requisite changes. After
digging several nails to confirm the "looping" display in fact indicated a ferrous target, I
slowed down my sweep speed and methodically scanned a heavily-infested section of the
field. After a few hours of working this area, I had 7 wheat cents and 3 silver dimes
which may not sound like much but from this area, it was more than I had found in the
five previous trips with other detectors. At one of the private homes I opted for the Deep
Silver program which utilizes only the 2.5kHz frequency to focus on higher conductive
targets I hoped were present. Making a few adjustments to the stock program, it worked
well and once again, several wheat cents, 4 silver dimes and a silver quarter were
recovered. The versatility of the V3i can be seen in these examples and being able to
tailor it to fit literally any site you come across is something not seen on other detectors
currently on the market.
Throughout my testing I made extensive use of the Live Controls feature to make
adjustments to several of the factory preset programs built into the V3i in the field. When
a target was detected I could scroll through the various options at the bottom of the screen
and as I swept the coil back-and-forth, adjust the detector to optimize the response
received on a real-time basis. Once the detector was "dialed-in" for optimal performance,
a few taps on the touchpads allowed me to save the new setting with a name of my
choosing (thanks to the pop-up keyboard on the LCD screen) and then retrieve it in the
future. This is yet another useful feature found only on the Spectra series!
Unfortunately with the space constraints of this article, there are a number of features I
was not able to cover in the level of detail I would have liked; however, this information
along with details of my in-field experiences and specific adjustments made in the course
of the testing are provided in the Subscribers section of the Lost Treasure website.
Summary
White's Electronics has clearly seen the advantages of incorporating state-of-the-art
computer technology into their metal detectors with the Spectra flagship being an
impressive example of how the customer benefits from this in the field. Featuring a
rugged yet lightweight construction, enhanced options and improved performance under
adverse conditions, the V3i builds on the reputation of the original Spectra V3 and clearly
has set a bar against which other detectors will be measured.
Owners of the V3 can have it upgraded to a V3i for a nominal charge and is just another
example of how White's sees the benefit of continually looking at improving their
detectors while not forcing the customer to purchase an entire detector when simply
installing a new version of the software and performing some in-factory tuning will keep
the user at the cutting edge in terms of technology and performance.
The V3i is a detector that offers the versatility to meet the demands of virtually any
detectorist ranging from complete novice to seasoned professional through its
customization capabilities. I found the factory preset programs provided me with an
effective starting point which produced a number of keepers from impressive depths at
well hunted sites; however, with precise adjustments at specific sites, I was able to obtain
even more performance in terms of depth and target identification and then save the
settings as custom programs for use in the future. Almost every time I get out with the
V3i I learn something new that helps me get more out of the detector... making it a piece
of equipment that will remain on the cutting edge for some time to come.
The V3i comes with the standard 2-year transferable warranty, two battery systems &
instructional DVD. It retails for $1,799.95 with the wireless SpectraSound headphones or
$300 less without them. A full line of accessories and optional coils are available.
Contact the factory at 1011 Pleasant Valley Road, Sweet Home, OR 97386; (800) 5476911 or visit their website at www.WhitesElectronics.com for more information and be
sure to mention you read about the latest addition to the Whites line in Lost Treasure
Magazine.