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Makro Racer's Battery Life; "on the brink of 'LO' small target response; and Ghost Town performance."
Posted by: Monte
Date: March 21, 2015 05:48PM
Wow! Oregon Gregg just let me know there's a new Racer Forum separate from the Nokta Forum, so I transferred/re-posted the Racer post I made a while ago over here. I wonder, though, why it's not called the Makro Forum?

First off, let me remind readers of any of my years of forum posts that I prefer to use alkaline batteries and have never been a big fan of rechargeable batteries. When both my FORS CoRe and Racer arrived, I never checked or presumed the rechargeable batteries in the Pro Packages to be fully charged so, out-of habit, I installed some alkaline batteries I have on hand. We've all read about the suggested battery life of these models, and they do encourage the use of alkaline batteries instead of regular carbon-zinc batteries, so I used my depleting supply of alkaline batteries. Let me take a moment to comment on battery choices.

Several decades ago I started evaluating batteries. That was back when manufacturers didn't really specify or encourage alkaline batteries and the electronics used didn't need such a prolonged demand of quality battery life like today. You know, back when they advertised the "new" metal/mineral locators that had 5 transistors and 1 diode. :rofl: My, how times have changed!

Back in '89 and '90 I was especially comparing batteries, and battery run-time durations, of anything the hobbyists could buy at a local store, be it a Radio Shack or Safeway, variety store or drug store, just about anywhere. I figured many hobbyists seemed to be on a more limited budget, so I compared regular batteries, heavy-duty batteries and alkaline batteries. I had a small stop-watch I mounted on top of the detector housing and could keep track of the run time from when I turned a detector 'On' to when I turned the detector 'Off.' I had done this also just a few years earlier, just before and when I was working at Compass Electronics, and I found certain end-results to be about the same five years or so later.

What I noted about the three more popular labeled battery brands, the Eveready Energizer and Duracell Copper Top brands were very, very close in overall performance, with a slight 'edge' favoring Duracell. The other long-known big brand name battery was somewhere between poor and terrible. In the '80s there were a lot of battery evaluations done by various publicaations that compared batteries close to Christmas time, knowing that many of the toys and other devices 'Santa' might bring the kids would require batteries, so they evaluated "run time" and their results just about paralleled mine. Brand 'D' and 'E' were very good, but brand 'R' was usually not-so-good.

Defector manufacturers, as we have all witnessed, have either sold their detectors without batteries, or they have used an 'off-brand' battery, usually made in China, with their factory-shipped models, such as the 'Nova' or 'Panasonic,' etc. Well, using a lot of makes and models, especially White's brand, I found that the supplied batteries, while not being a Duracell or Energizer, seemed to provide satisfactory battery life and were of good enough quality for detector operation.

Not being financially set for life, I have also been somewhat cost-conscious and have tried to find batteries that were quality, long-lasting and affordable. Long, long ago, when shopping at a Costco and looking at flashlights, I noted the batteries at the end of the aisle and that they carried two primary brands. Duracell, my overall one-pick favorite, and Kirkland, a house brand. They had Duracell in several different battery sizes, but I only saw the Kirkland brand in AA and AAA batteries, and since most of my many flashlights use both, and most metal detectors used the AA battery, I bought a package of '48' Kirkland AA alkaline batteries.

The '48' pack sold for a very affordable nine-dollars and something but that, like everything else, has crept up in price and today I think a '48' Kirkland AA alkaline battery pack sells for about $12.49 or so. Still much lower than the Duracell battery and other top-name packs. Because I base AA alkaline battery performance against that provided by the Duracell, I did some run-time comparisons and noticed the Kirkland AA alkaline battery was just about on-par with the Duracell and Energizer. I did a check with Costco, as the 'Kirkland' battery is a "house brand," and I found they are made by Proctor & Gamble .. you know, the folks who make the Duracell batteries. :wink:

So, with that said, I would usually have either Duracell or Kirkland batteries in my detector accessory tote (which carries spare batteries, rod spring-clops, nut & bolts and washers for coil mounting, armcup foam and other handy stuff). Usually. But back at Christmas shopping time in 2011, I believe it was, we went to Lowes to look at decorations and in a catch-your-attention discount display they had a battery brand I have only seen carried at Lowes, and that was Utili-Tech. The holiday promotion was a '30' pack of Utili-Tech AA alkaline batteries for $4. Yes, just Four Dollars! So, I bought some. Five, 30-cell packs of them for only $20.

In Bountiful, Utah in May of 2012 I stopped to get some parts for a display and near the register were batteries and they had those '30' count boxes of AA alkalines. I checked to see the regular price and saw that they still had those promoted at $4 or $5 for a box of '30'!! Yes, frugal Monte bought another 5 of the 30-count boxes of alkaline batteries. Well, I used a couple of boxes as prizes at club meetings, and I gave some to kids for grandkids toys at following Christmas'. The rest have been used in flashlights and metal detectors, stuffing the Nokta FORS CoRe and the Makro Racer.

The first set I ran through in the Racer I didn't monitor the run-time, and forgot to keep track of the 2nd set of batteries after I had dropped 1 battery strength on the detector display. So, fast forward to Wednesday and Thursday out in the ghost town with Oregon Gregg, I knew I was putting more run-time on the batteries and could change them as they got low, but figured I would use the opportunity to test the overall performance of the Racer with weak batteries.


Things we all know or observe with standard, heavy-duty and alkaline batteries:

A.. Prolonged 'On' operating time can run batteries down faster than brief use periods, especially the standard and heavy-duty types.

B.. If turned 'Off,' a device can experience a little self-rejuvenation of batteries, but that little spark of life will not last too long after the detector has had a little 'Off' time for a break, etc.

C.. We should be alert when battery strength indicators suggest the battery is low in power because, sometimes with some makes and models, operation can be impaired, responses weak and there could be a loss of detection response and/or detection depth.


So, I have been using the "low cost" Utili-Tech alkaline batteries in the Racer. When out hunting I have used my Pro-Star or Killer-B II headphones, but for indoor bench-testing, or when doing indoor or outdoor demonstrations of the Racer, I have mainly just relied on the detector's speaker.

On this last set I have exceeded 22+ hours of operating time before I left on my trip to Utah on the 5th of March. Along the way I hunted for 1 hour plus in one old abandoned town site in Oregon. I used it for about 1 hour of park hunting in Idaho. Then another 2½ hours in a Utah ghost town. While seeing some of my kids and grandkids, and some friends, and doing a club presentation of the FORS CoRe and Racer at the TWAS club in Utah, of which I am a Lifetime Member, I had the time to do coin hunting at several parks and playgrounds, and work a couple of urban renovation sites for a few older coins, to include silver. Then on the travel back home I met up with Oregon Gregg at a northern Utah ghost town and the Racer & I put in another 4+ hours of hunting time.

As you can see, I was now close to a 30 hour run-time on the Racer. While at the Oregon site on the way to Utah, I noticed that I was down 1 segment from 6 to 5 lit-up on the battery strength display. During my hunts when I was in Utah I lost another segment of battery strength to show 4 of 6 lit-up. On Wednesday, when Gregg & I were hunting a ghost town he has permission to hunt, I noticed the battery strength had dropped a little and after about two to three hours on Wednesday I shut down with it kind of going back and forth between 1 and 2 bars of strength. I also noticed that, as the display dropped, I still hadn't observed any significant change in field performance. :thumbup:

Thursday we got to the old town and the Racer showed 3 bars of strength when I turned it 'On,' but that dropped to 2 bars within maybe ten minutes. I was mainly hunting in 3-Tone mode with a Gain setting of '85' and ID Filter setting of '23' to reject Iron nails, and sometimes switching to the 2-Tone mode which already was set-up at a Gain of '85' and I left the ID Filter at the default setting of '10.' Ground Balancing at several different spots at this town gave me a Ground Phase read-out between '73.20' and '76.60' and Iron Mineral reference of 4 sections to 6 sections of the 8-section 'pie' lit-up.

Some of the challenging rock areas did produce a Ground Phase of '83.40' to '86.00' and 6 or 7 Ferrous Mineral sections lit-up. So, it wasn't mild soil. While some areas were a little sparse of targets, most of where we hunted had a lot of trash, especially iron debris to deal with. We had hunted for about 3 hours, and while encountering a lot of trash targets, neither of us made a good find on Thursday, but we were kept busy with a lot of small, annoying pieces of non-ferrous trash to still investigate.

On to this weeks Racer performance and me pushing it to the limits, I wanted to see when I had any really noticeable drop-off on target responses as the battery life dwindled, especially since I had exceeded the '30' run-time on the last of the bargain-priced alkaline batteries I bought between November of 2011 and May of 2012. I was finishing up an area I gridded off because I had seen only 1 segment of battery strength for a while and I was going to head back to the van to change batteries. I was still hitting on targets, and I could not hear any real difference in signal response or notice much difference in the depths I was recovering targets from.

I figured I would see what happened when I got to the 'LO' read-out on the Racer display to alert you to change the batteries. I had a mid-tone target response close to a bigger piece of junk that gave me an overload audio. When I got these hits I noticed I had only 1 lit segment and then it would flicker to NO lit segments and then back to 1 lit segment, so I was on the brink of the 'LO' battery indication response, and it was still performing.

I used my Lesche digger to get down about the depth of a credit card to one inch beyond that and recovered a small round metal washer-shaped object. It was only about 3/16" in diameter. Upon recovery I made another sweep to be sure nothing else was in the hole and there wasn't, and I swept over the nearby metal to give the overload audio. I had zero segments showing and as I swept over the bigger metal iron nearby, the overload audio quit as the 'LO' indicator display came on.

What did I learn the most on this recent ghost town journey with the Makro Racer? I noted the following.:

The Racer performs excellent on 4 alkaline batteries, even if they are not a very popular brand or of noted higher quality.

The Racer exceeded 25 hours of operation and continued to work, and when pressed to over 30 hours of run-time, I still got good, clean hits on targets, even small sized, at impressive depths in some rather mineralized and ferrous mineral challenged ground.

Even on the brink of automatic shut-down, the Racer still responded well to a smaller target and produced the proper Tone ID that was strong and repeatable.

Also, it is good to stay alert when batteries are beginning to get weary because once the 'LO' indication comes on, the detector will not respond. Period. If it gets to 1 segment, you might want to change the batteries or be ready, because the 'LO' isn't just a warning, it is shut-down time for it to work.

So my Thursday 'lesson' as instructed by the Racer, was to expect splendid performance, trust the design, and be alert for when to change batteries.

My Wednesday lesson is that the Racer was quite a performer. Most of the sections of this old town that I planned to hunt were known to be trashier, so my search coil choice, naturally, was the smaller 4.7X5.2 "OOR" DD coil. Early on, in an area where Gregg said he has hunted at least to some degree, the Racer and I found (it did) and recovered (that was my part) a 1900 Indian Head 1¢. Later in the morning 'we' teamed up to add a thinly worn 1909 Barber 10¢ to our day's efforts.

In both cases these two coins, the Indian Head at a couple of inches and the Barber at only about 1½", provided very clean audio responses and the visual Target ID display was quite solid and reliable. To end the day, we added one more 'keeper' to the tally with a maverick Good For Trade Token. It also produced a clean audio hit, with a rather tight Target ID response, too. That one was about the size of a US 5¢ coin, was located about 4"-5" deep, and was off to the side of a bigger piece of iron junk about 3" to 4". The iron trash produced the overload audio; when directly centered, but I got the hit on the token workming the small coil around the area.

All of this at the end of the few hours we hunted at with only 1 or 2 segments of battery strength remaining.

Thanks to my friend Gregg, "Oregon Gregg" on this Forum, I now have my detector accessory tote battery compartment filled up with a fresh supply of Duracell batteries from a new package he just opened. .... "Thanks, Gregg" :wave: .... Now the Racer and I are ready for a Spring and Summer of detecting fun.

I started keeping track of the run-time of this last set of UtiliTech batteries, then I will run the time on a set of Duracell batteries for comparison. After that, I am going to do the same operating check with the Rechargeable batteries supplied with the Pro Package.

To all those who are now receiving, or are about to receive, their own new Makro Racer, let me encourage you to learn it well, read the Owner's Manual, use all the coils you have for it to know their strengths and weaknesses, and get to know the benefits of the 2-Tone and 3-Tone audio search modes. That way you will know when to pick the coil you feel will work best for you at any site. Use the rechargeable batteries or a quality alkaline battery and the Racer will provide you with very impressive performance!

I look forward to reading about your great experiences afield!

Monte



"Your EYES ... the only 100% accurate form of Discrimination!"

Stinkwater Wells
Trading Post

Metal Detector Evaluations and Product Reviews
'How-To' help for Coin & Jewelry Hunting, Relic Hunting and Useful Techniques.

My Regular-Use Detectors:
Nokta:
Impact, FORS Relic and FORS CoRe (Using mainly the 'OOR', 5", 4X7½, 5X9½ open-frame DD's or 7" Concentric coils as needed. Other coils on-hand.)
Tesoro:
Vaquero, Silver Sabre µMAX and Mojave (With either a 6" or 7" Concentric coil in use, or maybe 8X11 DD on the Vaquero.)

Other Specialty Use Detectors from:
Compass, Makro, Nokta, Tesoro and White's
Note: Detectors are listed alphabetically by Brand, NOT in my order of preference for use. Additional search coils on-hand in accessory bags.

Pinpointers: Using Nokta and Makro Pointers.
Headphones: Using the Killer B 'Hornet'.

*** All working well today to make memories for tomorrow. ***

monte@stinkwaterwells.com .. or .. monte@ahrps.org
(503) 481-8147


always check voltage of off brand batteries before use
Posted by: bugg
Date: March 21, 2015 08:00PM
I bought a multi pack of Utili- tech batteries at Lowes 2 years ago, and 5 batteries were 75% dead in the pack.

bugg, I agree with you for all brands ... and I'll clarify my post for those who didn't catch it.
Posted by: Monte
Date: March 22, 2015 10:27AM
As you read, I bought a LOT of the AA alkaline Utili-Tech batteries. Of them all, I had one, just one, that had a positive clip break off and it was also a defective battery with very limited power. One out of hundreds.

I stated in my post that I generally rely on Duracell batteries, or Costco Kirkland AA alkalines by the same maker because they also last long. Naturally Eveready Energizers are a top brand, and I suggested that folks use only alkaline batteries of good, reliable quality. As I commented, many manufacturers who do include batteries with their detectors don't use the top-end Duracell or Eveready brands, but what they use generally seem to work.

The real message I was trying to convey was that I was using an off-brand alkaline battery; I bought them in bulk and they were several years old; and now I've run through a couple of sets in the Racer and the credit really goes to the detector quality and performance for providing me ample run-time, even without top-end batteries.

Also to point out the fantastic performance of the Racer when batteries get weak, very weak to just at the brink of a 'LO' reading.

Yes, I agree with you that we should always check the voltage of the batteries we use ... ANY BRAND. And monitor their performance during the duration they are installed in our detectors, as well.

My supply of those batteries is now used up, but the Racer will continue on while I rest assured it will perform well and provide excellent run-time service .. from now on with top-end batteries I have long relied on.

Monte



"Your EYES ... the only 100% accurate form of Discrimination!"

Stinkwater Wells
Trading Post

Metal Detector Evaluations and Product Reviews
'How-To' help for Coin & Jewelry Hunting, Relic Hunting and Useful Techniques.

My Regular-Use Detectors:
Nokta:
Impact, FORS Relic and FORS CoRe (Using mainly the 'OOR', 5", 4X7½, 5X9½ open-frame DD's or 7" Concentric coils as needed. Other coils on-hand.)
Tesoro:
Vaquero, Silver Sabre µMAX and Mojave (With either a 6" or 7" Concentric coil in use, or maybe 8X11 DD on the Vaquero.)

Other Specialty Use Detectors from:
Compass, Makro, Nokta, Tesoro and White's
Note: Detectors are listed alphabetically by Brand, NOT in my order of preference for use. Additional search coils on-hand in accessory bags.

Pinpointers: Using Nokta and Makro Pointers.
Headphones: Using the Killer B 'Hornet'.

*** All working well today to make memories for tomorrow. ***

monte@stinkwaterwells.com .. or .. monte@ahrps.org
(503) 481-8147


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