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a bit of beep history (cross-posted from Fisher Classic forum)

Dave J.

New member
The Fisher 1260-X was the first 2nd derivative motion discriminator, introduced May 1982. That discrimination method, whether in circuitry or in software, is still the foundation of single frequency discriminating metal detector design. all the way from the Bounty Hunter Junior to the Fisher F75.

Its mechanical design was also revolutionary. Although the design method was "seat of the pants", the ergonomics came out so good that it later became the inspiration for the scientifically ergonomically engineered Teknetics T2 introduced in 2006. In 2015 it's still the only ergonomically engineered metal detector design on the market, complete with published ergonomic specifications.

In the early 1980's market dominated by VLF/TR, manual ground balance non-motion all metals operation, with the occasional "whipper" narrowband motion machine, and dominated by U-handle mechanical design, the 1260-X was revolutionary. No manual ground balance. No static (non-motion) modes and no retune button. If you stopped over a target, the sound stopped, you had to keep it in motion. It wasn't obvious from a picture what made the newfangled mechanical package better. We'd taken away most of the stuff everyone thought they needed and were familiar with, and replaced it with an expensive for that time (about $500) mystery.

It was so revolutionary that nobody knew quite what to think of it. For about 6 months, everyone was waiting for someone else to spend the money and find out what the heck it really was. This was before the Internet, word didn't get around overnight. A few dealers got the guts to take the plunge, and quickly decided they liked what they had in their hands, the thing was for real. A turn-on-and-go machine so easy to use that you could hand it to someone who'd never used a metal detector before, and in 60 seconds they could be beeping stuff out of the ground. And although it weighed over 4 pounds, it was almost effortless to swing. About November 1982 it was like the floodgates opened, we were backlogged for about 2 years.

By modern standards, its performance wasn't much. Air test about 7 1/2 to 8 inches on coins. The superficially similar 1265 and 1266 platforms that came later were far hotter, the '66 being in the 12 to 14 inch range air test. But in the early 1980's the "whipper" motion machines were only good for about 6 inches, and you had to really know what you were doing to get that 6 inches. Some VLF/TR disc machines would air test in the 10 inch range, but in many soils getting 5 inches required very careful technique. What was new with the 1260-X was fairly decent discrimination depth on buried targets, with no skill required.

The first 1260's had an drawn aluminum Zero can electronics enclosure-- expensive, but didn't require an expensive injection mold. After demand hit, we had enough money to do an injection molded plastic housing. People whined "Fisher had a rugged aluminum housing, and then went to cheap flimsy plastic, is nothing sacred any more?" What they didn't know was that the aluminum cans were constantly getting banged up, they dented and bent. The plastic version gets banged around and bounces right back. Here we are more than 30 years later still using those plastic boxes on the Gold Bug 2, in production for 20 years and it probably gets the roughest use of anything we manufacture.

* * * * * * *
The 1980's were an era of rapid evolution in the metal detector industry. Although I didn't know it in 1981, I wasn't the only engineer developing a second derivative motion discriminator. Jack Gifford and Charlie Garrett were doing the same and it wasn't long before they also had 'em on the market. The BFO's, TR's, and VLF/TR's that had been the mainstays of the 1970's all died a sudden death. Meanwhile George Payne pioneered sampled second derivative target ID with the early Teknetics: we're still selling revisions of the "Payne platforms" in the legacy BH line, and in the Fisher lineup as the F2 and F4. And it was during the 1980's that behind the scenes, both Fisher and Minelab were developing their respective multifrequency technologies , both introduced to the market in 1991 and the foundation of both companies' multifrequency products to this day.

I swung my first multifreak prototype in 1983. With only 6 inches of air hots and everything fiddled to make that particular unit work, it was far from being a marketable product. But it did what it was supposed to prove could be done: it discriminated in mineralized ground that rendered singlefreakers almost useless. In the mid 1980's I was also experimenting with ground cancelled PI, but for the purpose of a fully static target ID machine. Wrong application, all we got out of it was the Impulse underwater machine. Meanwhile others were playing around with PI's for gold prospecting especially in Australia, and that led to Minelab's intro of competitive PI gold machines in the mid 1990's.

The old timers often complain that the new crop of machines aren't any better than the ones from 20 and 30 years ago. I'd disagree with them on that, but there's some truth behind it. Most of what's being done now is based on work done in the 1980's, and some 1990's products were so good that they're still regarded as competitive and still being sold.

Life has been good to me. In February of 1991, the Fisher factory was shut down for a month due to lack of orders to fill, and I'd never in my life swung a metal detector. Nobody could have known that it was the right place to be, at the right time. But that's how it turned out.

--Dave J.
 

Tom_in_CA

New member
Dave,

that is an excellent recap of the late '70s through the '90s. I recall all those evolutions exactly, from the consumer's end. There was a time, from the mid '70s to the mid '80s, that it seemed like, if you had a detector that was a mere 2 yrs. old, YOU HAD A DINASOUR ! And your friends were kicking your b*tt. That speed of technology increase is nowhere near that today. Today you can have a machine 10 yrs. old, and it's just fine for the competition.

Your post should get flagged or marked for a very authoritative inside look at any future nostalgia article studies on the subject. It has all the various technologies, company's names, engineer's names, etc...... Great post for a look at that era in the technology of the hobby.

I remember that the 1260 , from the ergonomic's perspective, signaled the end of the old U-handle and whites-type box (the old 5000 and 6000 first types). Prior to that, people used to hipmount their machines, but that was a pain 'cuz the chord would always get stressed and wires fray from constant movement. The new style was vastly superior, and hipmounts became a thing of the past. And I remember a guy in our area had the 1260 in time for the 1982-83 El nino beach storms. The machine didn't go very deep in the wet salt, but .... he did ok with it. The 1266's fabled depth was riddled with "gotchas". That depth only seemed to be good in clean white sands or VERY non-mineralized grounds of some sort. And the discrimination ability hit a brick wall at about 6" . Beyond 6", and everything sounded the same. I know some people liked that machine (and perhaps still do), but it was a very noisy son-of-a-gun.

And are you saying, at the end of the post, that you personally didn't detect till 1991 ? If so, I guess you were getting your feedback from those that did detect, as for the pro's & con's of the various steps ?
 

vlad

Active member
My distributor there for Fisher was Hickory Valley Detectors and they stopped by to demo a 1260. I took it to the yard next door
because there was a piece of iron, mostly mineral, that made a R.Baron or Whites motion unit do something funny in the motion
mode, gave a good signal-but when you went to pinpoint the detectors nulled. Well the 1260 said good too and I showed them.
I worked around into the back yard of this hunted house and got a softer but strong signal-at 9" I dug a 1902 Canadian penny,
deepest coin I ever dug with that size loop. I ended up ordering a detector, but did not keep it long--sold it to the first guy I showed
it to. [seems they showed how to change something on the ground internally]
Frank Ball and Dorian Cook had left Garrett a few years earlier and bought D-Tex, and Frank flew into Memphis with a new prototype
the GCD to show at a hunt in Jackson Tenn. [years later Frank made a licensed copy of the 1266X that could lock into either
disc 1, or 2] There was one guy in the hunt using the new 1260 and everyone was looking at him sort of funny--not so crazy though,
he tore the place up with that configuration and walked away with some nice prizes. I think more people were paying attention after
because he showed it to a lot of people-soon after all the relic hunters were using one--and Tenn. had bad neg. ground.
At that same time Eric Foster had sent two Gold Scan prototypes to his stateside rep. Tony Spooner in Florida. I got one to test out
as I already owned one of his units, the PPD1, a hi-power pulse with ferr/non ferr by meter and pull tab disc. But the meter did not
analyze below about 3-4" in mineralized ground-it read coins as ferrous. The Gold Scan had a ground balance mode and worked as
advertised-this was a no motion unit-but in that mode was set up to only accept low conductors-that was a wicked notch, hit foil, but
not a silver dollar. I sent it back in after testing but recommended a full accept mode be added. The other Gold Scan went to Ca., and
heh heh, Tony never saw it again as the guy he sent it to disappeared--guess it worked just fine for nuggets.
At some point I think a pinpoint was added to the '65, and a bigger coil-then the 1266X and take down hit, and no one hardly used
anything for CW or hard hit coin sites.
After George built the Mk-1 he came up with an auto ground balance, and said it worked perfectly-but was never put into production
as it added over $100 more to the price. I remember through the '80's constant rumors that Fisher would release a 1266X TID, but
it never appeared.
...it would have owned the market.:beers:
 

Dave J.

New member
vlad said:
I remember through the '80's constant rumors that Fisher would release a 1266X TID, but
it never appeared.
...it would have owned the market.:beers:

There was never a 1266-type target ID machine under development. During that era (at Fisher) there were two target ID technologies under development: pulse induction (which was almost ready to go into production until the distributors saw it and said they hoped never to see it again), and multifrequency which became the CZ6.
 

Tom_in_CA

New member
Seeing as how the 1266 seemed to "hit a brick wall" at 6" in most soils (all but the most mineral free), I can't imagine how a TID put on there would be of any use. If everything sounds the same after 6" (can't tell a nickel from a dime from a nail, etc...), then logically so too would the TID be "all over the place".
 

Dan-Pa.

New member
Although I never could get the hang of the snap-crackle-pop of the 1266 its probably one of the most ergonomic units ever.
My buddy mastered one and dug some mighty deep silver....even though most felt it was a relic machine.....
 

vlad

Active member
and a 1265/66 was deeper in mineral than a VLF/TR, even using time consuming reverse discrimination.
Use tones, and meter to measure target angles instead of loading up the loop with resistance,
and you have a difference in target signatures. DD loops were around, Compass and AH Elec. had them-
Whites had one in the '70's never went into production.
And add a grd. adj.--it would have been competitive price wise, and more so in performance-push the envelope.
The X-100 was around 14kHz and that higher frequency seemed to work well in mineral, even in 2-filter position.
The 1200's had a fanatical following for a reason--still does.
Dave took what was known some place new, design, ergonomics and performance, and even made it simple.
That is what is missing today-new direction in Freq. Domain, its just subtle finesse of what has long been out-what is next?
A new look at the PRG?:nerd:
On the P.I. front Whites has done wonders with Eric Foster's GS-5, and there are things cooking with the TDI
by some after market people, like Reg Sniff that are revolutionary. George Payne said the new developments in P.I are huge, but
probably too expensive for hobbyists-with the GPZ at about $10k and selling, I think the market can support a lot.
...interesting times:twodetecting::beers:
 

HaroldILL.

New member
I always heard the 1265 had better Modulated audio then the 1266? But the 1266 was a little hotter. Dave J. Made Detectors have the best Modulated audio IMHO.
 
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