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Some History on Fisher Detectors: Dave Johnson Essays+ The Relationship Between Fisher, BH and Teknetics :fisher:


Active member

5 Feb 09 Dave Johnson Chief Designer, Fisher Research Labs & First Texas Products

There's been a lot of nonsense posted on the forums about the relationship between Fisher, Bounty Hunter, and Teknetics. The nonsense doesn't seem to be getting cleared up through normal forum self-discipline, so I've decided to intervene with information from "the factory".

Fisher and BH/Tek (First Texas Products) are two separate business units which operate under the same roof and utilize mostly the same people. The product history of these two business units is different.

The present Bounty Hunter and related products mostly evolved from George Payne's designs of the 1980's. During the 1990's under a different company, the BH trademark earned a reputation for terrible quality. First Texas Products purchased the BH line in 1999 and got to work improving the manufacturing operations. After Dave Johnson came on board in 2003, the products were completely redesigned inside for improved performance and reliability, even though most were unchanged externally. Bounty Hunter is now, and has been for years, a quality product which offers excellent value. And if you trace out the circuit of (for instance) the venerable Quick Draw II or Time Ranger, you'll still see the "Payne target ID circuit" which was at the heart of the original Teknetics.

The Teknetics T2 introduced in 2006 was a totally new metal detector from the ground up, not based on any earlier design. The senior designer was Dave Johnson, and John Gardiner wrote the software. We called it Teknetics because we owned the trademark and because the goal was to be on the leading edge of metal detector technology and performance, just as it was with the original Teknetics.

Dave Johnson was the senior electronics engineer for Fisher (in California) from 1981 to 1995. Of the legacy Fisher products we still manufacture, most are Johnson designs. In 2006 the investment group here in El Paso bought Fisher from its parent company COHU, and moved operations to El Paso. Since that time we have introduced several new Fisher products. The F75 & F70 were major revisions of the T2 platform. The F4 & F2 are major revisions of a BH type platform which is a modern descendant of the original Teknetics designed by Payne. On these new products, Dave was the chief designer and John wrote most of the software. Nothing to be ashamed of there!

For several years we've had under development a totally new platform for use in products which don't have to push the extreme leading edge of performance. That platform was first brought into production as the BH Gold and Platinum. With major revisions it became the Fisher F5, and with further revisions the platform became the Teknetics Delta, Gamma, and Omega. Dave was the chief designer for all these products, but most of the actual development work was done by Jorge Anton Saad with assistance from other engineers.

SUMMARIZING: back in the Stone Age, Bounty Hunter, Teknetics, and Fisher were completely different products from unrelated companies. In 2009, these are brand names of mixed ancestry which became relatives through acquisition. Within the present extended family, there are several different basic platforms, and more platforms are under development. In the Fisher line, there is continuity of design engineering going all the way back to 1981.

DO WE EVER MAKE MISTAKES? Yep. In the last several years we've come out with more new products than the rest of the industry put together. If we had done nothing, we'd be out of business, but at least we wouldn't have made any mistakes along the way!

WHERE ARE OUR METAL DETECTORS MADE? Almost without exception, our metal detectors are manufactured in the United States. Most of our circuit assembly is done in Juarez just across the river, in plants just as modern as you'd expect to find in the USA. Several legacy Fisher models were manufactured in the Orient rather than in California: new Fisher management terminated that arrangement. One high volume low end BH platform series of products is manufactured both in the USA and overseas, giving us some flexibility on that particular platform.


Here's a brief sampling of the sort of malarkey that I occasionally see posted in forums. Some of this is so outright stupid you might think I'm making it up. Nope, I've seen all this on the forums, and lots else besides.

"Bounty Hunter is cheap junk." .....(was true a few years ago, but no more)
"BH bought Fisher in order to run it into the ground." .....(with Dave J. as the chief designer? Get serious!)
"The new Fishers and Teknetics are just rebadged Bounty Hunters." .....(hasn't happened yet, but if it does it's a good thing, not a bad thing)
"The new Fishers and Teknetics are made with the same parts as the BH's, so it's all junk." ......(we buy the same high quality electronic components that everyone else does)
"The new Fishers aren't 'real Fishers' ". ......(being new makes things not real?)
"They're all made in China, that's why they're junk." ......(made in China = junk? Where do you think most electronic stuff is made these days?)
"They're all made in Mexico in chicken-shed maquiladoras." ......(nope, someone's imagination is 'way too vivid)
"They cut costs by hiring a bunch of illegal aliens." .....(why bother? There are plenty of people here legally, experienced in the electronics industry, and willing to work)
"The person I talked to on the phone had a Mexican accent, must be stupid." .....(smarter than you think, and speaks better Spanish than you do, too)
"The 'old Fisher' did everything right, now look what happened!" ......(the "old Fisher" was a basket case, that's why COHU got rid of it)

There are sometimes posts about new products by people who hardly know anything, and are mostly just making up a bunch of stuff.

Sometimes forum denizens claim we do this or that for some particular reason, when in fact they know nothing of our reasons.

And then there's posts which demand that we say why we do this or that. We don't sell "whys", and therefore don't publish very much information about them. We sell metal detectors and do publish information about them.

There have been posts by people who were happy with their machine until we came out with an improved version, and then they're mad at us….. gee, if they want a metal detector with a guarantee that the company which manufactured it won't ever come out with anything new or improved, we're definitely the wrong company! They need to buy a Compass on Ebay, then they're safe.

A forum is place of discussion and disagreement, sometimes vigorous debate. There is no perfect metal detector, no two people have exactly the same preferences: therefore a machine that some people love, some other people will not like at all. So, some posts are going to be quite critical of our products. The negative posts which are based on reason comprise a valuable source of information for guiding development of new products. Heck, there are things about some of our products that even I don't like. Sometimes I print out a critical post from the forum, take it to company management, and say "See, I told you so." I don't have anything against a post being critical.


I have no respect for posts which deliberately spread misinformation about us and our products.

I don't even have respect for posts which deliberately spread misinformation about our competitors and their products. I've worked for several of those competitors, and on the whole I regard them favorably. Many beeperists own and use metal detectors from several different manufacturers.

I have no respect for posts by people who want to complain just for the sake of complaining, about things which are not problems.

I have no respect for posts by people who want to complain about something that is a problem, and love complaining so much that they then complain about attempts to resolve the problem.

I have no respect for posts which are not for the purpose of engaging in discussion of metal detecting, but rather are for the purpose of creating and maintaining personal conflict quite to the disgust of others in the forum.

There are probably quite a few forum denizens whose list of stuff they'd rather not see clogging up the forum is just about the same as my list.

There. I done said my piece.

--Dave J.

jim tn

Well-known member
There has been a lot of nonsense over the years. Thanks vlad for putting Dave J's essay up. HH jim tn

Jim Robertson

Well-known member
Fisher has been a great product for years it seems I have always owned at least one of there units. Please keep up the good work.