My Search Programs for Minelab E-Trac & CTX 3030 Metal Detectors

SEARCH PROGRAM #1: Level 1 - "High Discrimination/Low Noise", page 2

The following combination of program settings along with Discrimination patterns provides a relatively quiet operation of your Minelab E-Trac or CTX-3030 metal detector while maintaining an average operational depth range.

This Level-1 search program allows you to
• detect shallow and easy-detectable coins and artifacts lying in between iron trash;

• rid the search area of most large-sized ferrous and non-ferrous junk targets (of course, if you dig them out);

• locate the "hot pockets" (clusters of coins) at the site;

NOTE 1: While all the E-Trac functions, program setting and modes are given in black, the program settings of the Minelab CTX 3030, references to their description pages in the CTX-3030's Instruction Manual, and my detailed explanations of their use in this program are given in this pink font color. However, the CTX-3030 users must not read only "pink text" as lots of useful info is given in "black text" as well.

Silver Coin Found with CTX 3030NOTE 2: I ALWAYS operate my metal detectors with headphones.

NOTE 3: A SLOW sweep speed is the basic principle of the search coil discipline when operating any Minelab FBS metal detector at the iron littered site. With current program settings and Discrimination pattern, slow coil movement allows to detect and isolate good targets lying not too close to iron nails, and hear responses from small targets.

NOTE 4: Any suggestions are WELCOME!

Small search coils (for E-Trac: 4.5 x 7" DD EXcelerator ("Sniper" type), 6" DD EXcelerator EQ 2 Pro, Minelab FBS 8", 8" EXcelerator Concentric, and 8x6" SEF (Butterfly); for CTX-3030: CTX 06 Smart Coil), should be used with this First-Level program; however, as this program is also suitable for less adverse detecting conditions, a standard (stock) 11" DD search coil (for CTX-3030: 11" DD Smart Coil) will do.
With the Second- and Third-Level programs, both 8" and 8 x 6" search coils (E-Trac) and a standard 11" DD search coil (11" DD Smart Coil) should be used for detecting the deep-buried and masked coins and other non-ferrous targets.


NOTE 5: Summary Tables for the Level-1 program settings are shown at the bottom of page 8.

DETECTION SCREEN - PATTERN Screen (to select this mode, press "Detect" button; page 23 of the E-Trac Instruction Manual)
The DETECTION SCREEN mode is not available in the CTX-3030

If you know the FE-CO numbers of targets you seek, you can solely rely on the Digital Screen readings shown in large digits, especially when using the 2-Tone or 4-Tone Audio. But if you are used to the Multi Tone ID as your prime tool in dealing with target responses, I recommend to use the Pattern Screen as an effective accessory to the E-Trac's efficient Multi-Tone in Conduct Audio.

The Pattern Screen is very useful when it comes to dealing with questionable signals. Not only you can see how and where the target cross hair moves on the Smartfind window when you sweep a search coil over a detected target, but also you can simultaneously observe the FE-CO readings appearing in a small window on the Pattern screen. Add the Conductive Multi-Tone Audio and Pinpoint mode here, and you have FOUR quite efficient tools making it easier for you to figure out what is under the search coil and whether you should dig detected target(s) or not (all details are given in my article - "How To Decipher Questionable Signals").

And if you can perceive slight differences in tones, hunting "by sound" - using the Multi-Tone Audio for interpreting the target properties, will save you lots of metal detecting time because the human brain processes the auditory information faster than the visual. The E-Trac's Multi-Tone in Conduct Audio enables you to learn the sounds of any specific targets you seek and identify them without looking at the screen.

It saves a lot of time if you consult the screen as little as possible (it comes with practice) unless you come across many questionable signals. The QuickMask window provides additional visual help when one needs to 1) confirm ferrous properties of a rejected iron junk target that has emitted a high-pitched response, and 2) identify or confirm Conductive properties of a coin partially masked by an iron nail or in close proximity to it.

Frequent consulting the E-Trac screen is necessary when 4- or 2-Tone Audio mode is implemented, and if one has hearing problems and/or one's decision whether to dig is primarily based on visual information given in the form of both target's FE-CO coordinates and the Target Crosshair's position on the Pattern Screen.

A big advantage of the Digital screen is that it shows the FE-CO values during pinpointing unlike the Pattern screen, and the FE-CO readings are accurate most of the times.

CTX 3030:
DETECT Screen (page 7 of the CTX-3030 Instruction Manual)
The CTX-3030 does not have either a Pattern Screen or Digital Screen. All visual information (Discrimination patterns, Target's FE-CO coordinates, etc.) is presented on the Detect Screen which can be accessed at any time by pressing the Detect button.

The FE-CO numbers and Target Depth readings can be shown in large sizes if a large format of the Target ID Panel is chosen through the Display Menu (page 46 of the Instruction Manual). The large Target ID Panel will only appear on the Detect screen when a target is detected.

Just like on the E-Trac's Pattern and Quick Mask screens, on the CTX-3030 Detect Screen, a Target Cursor (Target Cross Hair) of "Accept" or "Reject" type is positioned in relation to the FE-CO properties of a detected target: the cursor takes the same spot where it would be on the E-Trac screens.

For example, when the CTX-3030's Audio is set to "50 tone CO", and the the low Co (Conductivity) readings correspond to Low tones, the Target Cross Hair moves toward the left of the Smartfind 2 window. When the high Co readings correspond to High tones, the high-conductive targets cause the Target Crosshair to appear toward the right of the window. Thus, the Co readings range from 01 to 50 on the horizontal axis of the Smartfind-2 window.

In FE tone 35 mode, Fe (Ferrous) coordinate readings range from 01 to 35 on the vertical axis of the Smartfind-2 window, and the FE tones range from the LOW "blaats" (a Target Cursor is positioned on the bottom of the Smartfind-2 window) to HIGH-PITCHED "Squeaks" denoting non-ferrous targets with a low Fe number (a Target Cursor is positioned on the top of the Smartfind-2 window).

Unlike the E-Trac, the CTX-3030 is equipped with two great features - TARGET TRACE and TARGET TRACE PINPOINT (activated in the Detect Screen Quick Menu, page 11 of the Instruction Manual), which are displayed over the Discrimination pattern.

TARGET TRACE shows a real time animation of detections per second that the CTX-3030 detector uses to identify a target, and travels between the FE-CO coordinates of detected targets shown on the screen. This is particularly useful when detecting targets lying in close proximity to each other or in cluttered environments. You can easily identify and isolate individual targets by using the TARGET TRACE display (page 11 of the Instruction Manual).

There are four types of the TARGET TRACE visual "paths":
1) Horizontal Trace indicates coins of LOW and HIGH CONDUCTIVITY.

horizontal Trace on CTX 3030 Detect Screen

2) Vertical Trace indicates the HIGH-CONDUCTIVE coins and FERROUS junk.

Vertical Trace on CTX 3030 Detect Screen

3) Diagonal Trace indicates the LOW-CONDUCTIVE coins and FERROUS junk.

Diagonal Trace on CTX 3030 Detect Screen

4) Erratic Trace (it looks like a bland splotch on the display) indicates the RUSTY JUNK.

Erratic Trace on CTX 3030 Detect Screen

Also, unlike the E-Trac, the CTX-3030 is a "visual detector". With the color graphics on the CTX 3030 display, you are better able to observe and follow the trace path of a target and determine its signal strength through the color-coded graphics. However, the TARGET TRACE feature is effective only down to 7" (≈18cm) in depth, and, for targets lying at greater depths, one barely gets any visual indicators. The TARGET TRACE PINPOINT may perform better and should be used in this case.
As for dealing with QUESTIONABLE responses, the CTX-3030 has more effective "tools" than E-Trac: "COMBINED" Tone ID Profile, "FERROUS-COIN Target Separation", Target Trace, and Target Trace Pinpoint.

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