When I first heard about the soon-to-be-released “Vista X” from Deep Tech in April of 2019, I was very excited about it. Not a ‘fancy Dan’ all ‘bells n whistles’ metered digital metal detector but an analog machine with good ‘old fashion’ knobs and trigger’s minus a meter to be gazing at but with a 21st century twist.
Information about it was scant so I acquired one to test: it’s my first time having a “Deep Tech” detector.
Analog machines can produce ‘nuanced’ audio and can be a lot more informative to the user than their digital counterparts.
Not only that, the circuitry of the Vista X was designed by one of the Top 10 ‘analog’ circuit designers in Europe, Mr. Plamen Rashkov.
Some of you might remember they started trading in 1990 and in 2000 they designed their first PI circuit detectors with the “PI Penetrator 5500” being the most well known and marketed by “Accurate Locators Inc” in the USA.
In 2003 the company then registered the trademark, “Deep Tech”. It’s a small outfit and all circuit designs and assembly are done in-house while the coil housings are made by two outside companies while another manufactures the PCB’s.
The carbon rod tubes are imported.
The detector comes in a top-opening box measuring 23”x12”x5” and is colorfully embossed with detecting scenes and there is a plastic handle to carry it from the store to your vehicle. Everything inside the carton is snugly fitted into cardboard cut out holders and the coil is hidden from view beneath. A sealed packet of 8 AA alkaline batteries, nuts, separate bolt and 2 velcro ties were included.
There is no paper manual instead this is supplied on a ‘wafer USB memory card / stick’ and was the first time I had seen one. How to use it has presented mild confusion to some, so on October 20th, ‘Deep Tech’ put out a short video on Facebook showing how to open it. It looks exactly like a credit card and the USB part folds out and slots into a USB slot on a computer.
The Instruction Manual once opened is about 17 pages, not thoroughly detailed with the basics covered along with how to set it up and ground balance. There are several other Files with contributions from some well-known tester’s like “Keith Southern”, from the USA and “Sven Stau” from Canada, along with “Aaron Cooper” UK and another person I am not familiar with named “Michal Majchro” and two offer ‘alternative setup’ instruction with videos from Keith, Aaron & Michal.
Build, Front Panel Layout and Power
The build in my opinion can only be described as ‘drop dead gorgeous’
Very carefully crafted and put together, it is a beautiful thing to behold.
I love the carbon fibre rods: the smooth finish imbues a wonderful impression of longevity.
It’s a very tight assembly, no looseness or rattles whatsoever.
Assembling can take a while (a few more minutes than normal) to line up the squareness of the coil flush with the square control box. You’ve to gaze down the rods and twist to line them up.
If not lined up the control box will be at a different angle to the coil and awkward to use correctly.
Be careful of the ‘wheel and clamp’ assemblies as these can come apart and end up in separate parts and you could lose them. The first time this occurred was after loosening one when breaking the detector down into a rucksack and I saw four plastic parts on the ground next to my bag. The locks are simple to reassemble but you will have to have all four pieces. So make sure you keep these ‘semi tight’ which makes the poles that bit harder to push in to their respective slots.
There are seven rotating buttons on the front panel and each one is marked out in increasing numeric increments. There is spacing between 0-15-25 thru to 50 and the white lines in between the numbers indicate an increase of 0.5
The buttons are surprisingly tight to turn and while I would prefer if they rotated more easily, being hard to turn prevents being moved by hitting off clothing or other obstacles such as rough undergrowth. I found the DISC knob the easiest to turn as it moved freely. While bench testing, I used a magnifying glass to help see the spacing better to construct my separate discrimination windows via the ‘ALT Disc’ (alternate discrimination control) as the rotating movement can be ‘jerky’ due to the tautness of the buttons. I wanted precision and got it because the “Vista X” is very tightly calibrated and a tone change or a discrimination rejection or acceptance occurs very precisely indeed. The buttons have white arrows that point to exactly where you want to set them to and you could easily 'share settings' with others if you both set them to the same numeric increments. I hadn't seen arrows on any buttons of a detector since way back in the early '80's
There are two trigger switches under the control box and they each do the same things.
It can benefit left handed users as well as right handed people. Pull back for All Metal, middle position is Search DISC and push forward to initiate the alternative discrimination and hold it forward while checking targets in ALT DISC. When searching make sure both triggers are in their desired positions because if they are opposing then you will be in the wrong search mode.
It’s an ‘S’ bend stem and I found it extremely light and comfortable to use and the octagonal coil was easy to keep flat to soil and keep a straight line of detection. The neoprene hand grip didn’t fully meet up with the hard plastic control box’ rod mounting and I had to twist to move it up to prevent my finger getting pinched by a gap.
The battery door is tight fitting: just pull out the plastic holder, insert eight AA’s and align, slide in and press on and twist. It might take one or two tries as it’s such a tight fit.
The On/Off switch is to the right of the battery door and a simple press up/down arrangement.
The headphone jack plug is on the left and allows straight and angled plugs. NB: I used two different sets (i) Troy headphones with individual Volume control on both cups (ii) the “Garrett Z-Lynk” with WS3 headphones. Audio was the loudest I have ever heard from any detector with full Volume on both speaker and headphones.
A few things of note: (a) the control box is bare devoid of any logo stickers and I feel they could have added more color and overall appeal to the design of the detector had they included some (b) the speaker is small (nearly an inch smaller than that in X-Terra) Its also down facing so the Volume without headphones is inclined to ‘die away’ quickly and its hard to hear the audio nuances this machine is capable of. The slide in battery holder prevents the audio from resonating around the large chamber as the speaker sits just beneath it. So its vital to use the detector with headphones if it is windy, to block noise from waves and trees rustling (c) the arm rest doesn’t have a soft material lining so is bare plastic. Thankfully it does include an arm strap but this is long and fiddly to tie up. The bonus: it caters to those folk with big arms and wearing thick coats (d) There’s a red LED on the front panel left of the GAIN button that illuminates on power up/down and when the batteries begin to deplete. I hadn’t noticed it in any video or photograph.
The coil is described as ‘octagonal’ and is not the ‘standard’ round, elliptical or ‘out of round’ shape. Again, it is beautifully constructed and is supplied with a coil cover (easy to remove, clean and put back on) and weighs a lightweight, 534grams or 1.25lbs (incl skid plate)
It is somewhat deceptive and may have been incorrectly referred to in videos as an “11” coil. Yes, it is eleven inches, that is true but the actual diameter (width) of the coil is just 9” dead. It’s the ‘footprint’ that is 11” - from toe to heel. So essentially, its a 9” Double D coil and that’s why it has such great separation being just a nine inch L>R
The coil cable is just shy of four feet and has a robust thickness to it and a wonderful solid feeling connector part plastic part metal with tiny pins but don’t worry, they’re not as fragile as those in the “Garrett AT Pro” detector. The coil finish is outstanding and is of a high pour standard not usually found across the industry as so many coils are mass produced in huge quantities. Being a smaller manufacturer, quality control is much better. There are two velcro coil ties included and these can help reduce false signaling from a loose or floppy coil cable. There is no serial number present and the only detail is a red X on the toe of the coil and this is noteworthy and I will explain more on that later. The Serial Number is present only on the underside of the detector handle (as well as the shipping carton exterior) and is common to both parts i.e. control box and coil are the same.
The small 5’7” coil continues the fabulous attention to detail in the pour as the epoxy is so shiny you could use it to see your reflection and have a wet shave!
It comes with a coil cover and is 15mms deep without the coil cover on. It bears a Serial Number and in the middle there is that ubiquitous red “X” label.
It air tests very well and is reactive across its surface and has a few tricks up its sleeve too!
Trying to stay ‘in shape’ (I’m pushing on now and can’t shift the pounds like I used to Lol...) I cycle to a few sites around my village. The Vista X and everything required for a day in the field fits into a backpack measuring about 26” in length and is light and easy on my back. I’m talking, two diggers, headphones, pin pointer, batteries, thermos, sandwiches, camcorder, gloves and detector and more. Driving into farms I carry it fully assembled in a long black vinyl carry bag, and this is the preferred option.
The shafts measure around 20.5” for the lower rod - 21.5” for the middle one. The ‘main body control box’ measures approximately 22” It’s quite lengthy fully extended and tall people will be happy with it I keep it short and I’ll explain why a bit later.
I also received the small accessory 5’75” coil without a second lower rod so I mocked one up easily enough from a shaft from a previous detector test review. To ensure tightness I rolled a layer of electrical tape around it. The second rod made for quick coil changes in the field.
Always a crucial aspect of getting to know a metal detector and is important to do before heading out to your site. The Vista X is an interesting machine and you will quickly see there are a few ways to set it up.
With the larger coil, testing small to half dollar size coins across it produced good hits from 8” to 10.5” and you can achieve extra ‘air depth’ and ‘whispers’ with slower hand passes. A ‘designer cologne’ tin measuring 6”x3.5” inches hit well even as much as two and a half feet + away from the coil.
In the field, I found it went deeper in-ground than in air tests and that took me by surprise when I dug the first coin! We saw similar things before e.g. the “BBS Sovereign, the "FBS Explorer XS”, didn’t air test well but were extraordinary deep seekers in the ground.
You can use the detector as a single tone silent search machine by turning off Iron Volume and increasing discrimination.
It even begins to ‘spit’ discriminate out small rusty nails set at ‘0’ disc. Increased to 25 its the same. Set at 30 the Iron Volume begins to kick in as a Low Tone and becomes increasingly louder at 35 Hence two Tones: Low for ferrous High for non ferrous.
Again, with Iron Volume off passing non ferrous targets across the coil and increasing Discrimination will silence detections and by increasing Iron Volume those will become either high or low tone depending on their conductivities.
The ALT DISC should be set higher than the main DISC and depending on where its set the conductivity of the target determines the Tone. You don’t have to use this alternative discrimination at all if you don’t want to. You can rely on your own ‘ears’ and the regular discrimination characteristics as it is quite good at rejecting iron set to 0 as described earlier. However, it has to be one of the best attributes of the Vista X
With the help of my magnifying glass, I carefully found settings that would accept all the gold colored euro low value coins (10c, 20c, 50c) and bi-metal Euros ( €1 and €2 Euro) and reject the square pull tabs. I wasn’t too concerned about crown bottle tops at this juncture because I discovered a way to easily identify them even if they ‘accepted’
Alt Disc 34.5
Iron Volume 30
Ground Balance didn’t matter during bench testing.
Trigger - middle position
I played around a few hours making adjustments, scanning targets, readjusting, turning things up, turning things down or off altogether and soon began to figure out the “Vista X”
The next morning I went to my first coin shooting site - a ‘fete’ summer time event area (I have exclusive permission) where many surface and shallow finds abound as well as some older deeper targets as I had discovered on prior visits. It had been open farmland pasture fields in the main and ‘may have seen some army training’ as there is a multitude of ammunition present.
Regarding crown bottle tops, if they signal when a low disc is used in conjunction with a mid level Iron Volume setting 30 for example, they will probably signal with high / low tones too. They can be but not necessarily ‘spitty’. They should be easy to distinguish from coins and other targets.
You can ignore them by increasing discrimination and turning off the Iron Volume but, that’s not the way to go with this detector. Remember the Alt Disc can also be used here if the following doesn’t work on deeper targets.
To help identify them properly draw back the coil to where signals stop and then very slowly at the same time push forward and pull back but increasing the push distance as you go and if the cap is shallow 3” or so, when the front toe of the coil [is approaching ‘it’] the tone can drop to a low one. It’s all in the wrist movement and that’s why I prefer to use the Vista X in a short length format.
The distance to push and pull is 2.8” to be precise.
Don’t get the edge of the coil across the cap. Somewhere in that two point eight inches the magic happens. I have to emphasize at no point should the coil be anywhere ‘over’ the cap: it is approaching it when the tone drops.
In addition and this is one of the more beneficial operational traits that appears to come into play much of the time, ‘walk’ your targets in a full circle and back if need be.
Move around them as you go and you will be pleasantly surprised by how quickly a high tone will change to low and remain so.
No ‘Equinox’ crown cap confusion here and all done without a meter!
In a multi-target scenario, you could pull back the coil from the area and even raise up the coil to minimise the responses. You could then begin to use the ‘push/pull’ method to “find” the individual targets. Then “walk” the spot a few times, ‘push sampling’ to determine how many targets might be there? It’s in these situations that I felt the 9”x11” was overkill and the option to switch to a round 7” or elliptical 8”x5” would be a great addition.
The small 5.7” is good (and we’ll cover that later) but for large “congested” areas it’s not really the best option. There isn’t a pin point button on the Vista X
The first foray was to a few fields that host summer events and a circus that had been on the site for a few weeks had packed up and was gone.
The place is great to test any detector because it’s loaded with targets modern mostly but can throw up older finds, buttons mostly and the odd coin from the 1800’s. Last year I did well with modern coins and it was a bit like ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ as I could see thru the grass as the €1’s and €2’s were shining in the sun (us detectorists have this ability because I suspect we’re always looking down). The ‘gold colored’ smaller denomination coins were harder to spot due to their yellow color blending in with the roots of the grass. This time around it rained for almost the entire time the circus was there. Indeed the caretaker on the way in said, “It’s like a bog in there!” I didn’t hold much hope to find anything. I’ve been on site several times these past few months and have always come away with a good pile of coins and other bits and pieces including a silver ring a few weeks ago found with a ‘Deus Lite’
I set about ground balancing the Vista X (more on this later) and set only one DISC @ 15
I kept the sensitivity low as well and had the Iron Volume @ 30
The guy was right! It was a bog!
Huge furrows loomed up where the tractor trailer had hauled the fun fair away. Photos on my iPhone showed where the ‘Ticket Office’ had stood. It was impossible to search there as the whole area had been churned up. Where it was possible to scan, the coins I had been expecting to come didn’t! So I progressed further into the site and towards where the ‘big top’ had been and was bombarded with low tones as I could see silver and gold ‘foil’ everywhere as the audiences must have munched thru hundreds of chocolate bars and discarded the wrappers (larger discarded materials had been collected previously by a clean up crew) Then, a high tone and I picked up a small child’s ring (junk). It was to be the only signal.
So I then headed towards the area where the trailers had been for the circus crew to sleep and it was more of the same, mud city. Oh, I saw a discarded fork! So I packed it in for that day.
Returning early the next morning I headed for an established productive area and went to Ground Balance the “Vista X”
There are a few ways to do it and can be done in All Metal or Disc
Gain to red dot: Threshold to 45: GB control all the way to the left: pull the trigger towards you: bob the coil up and down all the while adjusting, Gain, Threshold & Sensitivity to where the machine goes quiet.
Alternatively, you can retain the settings above and readjust the GB button to mid way and then ‘scan across a clear patch of soil’ and adjust the GB control and if necessary readjust any of the other controls as well. This is the method I chose and the detector was perfectly quiet as I went.
I adjusted the Visa X to go high on euro coins and low on square tabs on Alt Disc. Tabs were the offenders here, with occasional crown caps and foil. The tabs ‘sounded like’ euros on the Deus and I wanted to see could I avoid digging them?
With Gain @ 30 the very first signal was a loud ‘banger’ and retained high tone in Alt Disc and straight away I knelt down and turned on the “Garrett AT Pointer” to the spot the coil’s X indicated and didn’t get a response. I did get a few blips from the detector as it ‘adjusted’ to the Garrett’s probe frequency but after that nothing more. I dug to around four inches and still the probe was quiet. Unusual as ‘most coins’ would have been out by now I thought!
Digging further still (deeper than usual) a dark round shape rolled around and up came a €2 coin from 6” The signal had been “loud” and unmistakable in comparison to the “Deus Lite” used here normally (also an “X-Terra 505, both machines weren’t as loud)
Several more coins were dug and one was a surprise with occasional low tones in Alt Disc but walking around it was more highs than lows so I dug. I was very surprised to retrieve a €1 euro coin in two parts. The inner core had parted with the outside and close examination showed it had been hit. It was something that I have never seen before on any bi-metal coin and didn’t expect to find ‘a broken coin’
The coin signals were very pronounced, sharp and loud: unmistakable with a resonance around the inside of the headphones. I’m positive it was punching deeper than other detectors used there as the 50c coin was very prolific and at depths again deeper than I had been to prior. The 10c coin was ‘sharp and short’, and a doddle to pin point using the front of the coil. Draw it back where it stops signalling, push forward two to three inches, move it around in tiny moves, get the loudest ‘clack’, and the coin is usually under the red “X” of the coil. Great.
I’ll discuss other pin pointing methods later on.
Then another good signal checked out in both disc circuits, and a tiny square piece of tin (after magnifying glass analysis) was recovered with the aid of the probe and I couldn’t believe something so small had created such a loud audio. I dug out more soil and scooped the side wall and scanned the pile of dirt but nothing more was found. You can see this piece in a photo second line of finds to the left of the clay pipe found on site that day.
That was another story. Mechanical diggers had been in and dug out trenches around three feet deep and the earth was piled up on the sides. I scanned the piles and then walked in and detected the excavations, saw the clay pipe fragment and chased just one target that ‘fooled’ the Vista X turning out to be a rusted nut (I think) and that’s bottom left above the wrench left side photo. The wrench too came out after loud positive signals ensued and wasn’t much deeper than 4”. I pretty much knew it would be a large item as it was possible to trace the length of it with the probe set to its second sensitivity level. Remember, this was a Test not necessarily a treasure hunt! I was digging everything. The octagonal coil was very quick to get used to and I didn’t find it strange at all. On the contrary, it was surprisingly easy, even scanning the earth piles up and down, not at all tiring or difficult. I noticed that I wasn’t hearing any EMI unless I jacked up SENS to Full which, I didn’t because I was trying to get used to the detector. Even then it was barely perceptible with Threshold on. This was the same site a few years ago, an American made detector was affected so badly I had to stop as it became intolerable to use.
Similarly, the tabs all second checked with low tones after an initial high and all were dug out.
The “Energiser” battery checked out in both disc circuits as positive. The zipper high tone too.
The ‘Bud’ cap was high tone which I had dug out before I remembered to use the alternative disc. The “Nissan” badge went from high to low tone but as it was so ‘wide’ was dug to check! The green screw caps (from small wine bottles) remained positive and another piece of flat iron also checked out as non ferrous. A broken screw remained positive and that impressed due to its tiny size. Several large cartridges also double checked and they weren’t deep, and again with the aid of the probe I knew they would be long items.
More trash targets were dug and discarded as I don’t like a full pouch as it drags down with the weight and I disposed of numerous tent pegs and other large bits and pieces crushed cans, can slaw for example.
At home later I checked the ‘Deus’ on all the targets in the photo: it didn’t register the “Energiser” battery and the small “square piece” was a non detection - it just didn’t see it.
It spat rejected on the wheel nut and gave low/high tone spits on the wrench. The ‘Bud’ cap was a high tone.
....to be continued
Deep Tech Vista X Review by Desi Dunne - PART 1