Deep Tech Vista X Review by Desi Dunne - PART 2

03/12/2019

Beach


Being always curious and very interested in testing new detectors, I and went ahead and used them in both salt and fresh waters. There are recognised wet sand machines and the Vista X is not in this class.
The "Vista X" wasn't designed for that purpose nor is it advertised as such. It's more of a 'Relic' detector operating at 16kHz
I wasn’t able to Ground Balance on salt wet sand where I live. Your area might be different?
It demonstrated that single frequency characteristic: sounding off when the coil touches the wet surface and emits a constant sound even while manipulating the ground balance control, reducing Threshold, reducing Gain and all of that.
Having said all of that however, it does work very well and grounds balances over dry sand with careful attention and is quite the deep seeker, on coins.
Deep Tech are located in Varna, Bulgaria on the Black Sea and the ‘salinity’ of the salt water is 17psu, lower than the Atlantic where I was testing at a salinity level of 35psu. So maybe they got it to salt water balance more easily there? The Mediterranean and Gulf of Mexico have salinity levels of 35 and 36psu respectively so there too you will probably be confined to dry sand only. Not a bad thing because quite a few ‘bucks’ can be made searching dry sand beaches all year round.

First time out after an unsuccessful wet sand GB attempt, I headed to the drier sand and managed to Ground Balance and quieten the machine to a stable setting with little falsing. So a low Gain and slower than usual sweep speed had to be employed. I followed the sea wall along and got a loud signal that sounded good and then went ‘iffy’ and back to good again. I interrogated it for a few moments and pin pointed with my ‘red X spot’ system and began to dig. I took out two scoops and tested the area with my pin pointer. No reaction so I dug further and tested again still no signal. I went deeper and tested again and got a beep so I landed a last scoop and the target was a rusted 2c euro ‘copper’ coin (copper coating ferrous core) I was gob smacked when I used the “Garrett” pin pointer to measure the hole as the coin had been at nine inches depth, the length of the probe. Sensitivity had only been at 27 from the full 50. Great.
On a different day at a different beach after a gale force wind and high seas the day before a stretch of semi dry sand was searched with careful balancing of the controls, low Gain and Threshold off provided a fair share of mixed period coins from the ’50’s to the present day with a few older larger copper coins from the 1900’s. A few pull tabs and other ‘scrap’ non ferrous surfaced as fishing lures and parts of metal toy cars etc.
Depths were respectable and ranged from surface to the foot depth (large items) and had sharp ‘clack’ sounds.

River foreshore

One of my favorite areas to hunt are river foreshores and I took the “Vista X” and small 5.7” coil down onto the mud of a local tidal river estuary. Not for the squeamish as it is ‘a dirty business’ trying to recover targets as they are usually stuck in black mud and are hard to see. Invariably you have to wash them off in the river to identify properly. Ground balancing proved even trickier than I thought because I imagined the smaller coil would be much less affected by the small dimensions but no, it took a while to balance out and the control ended up completely anti-clockwise in negative balance (white area) with reduced sensitivity. The settings used:

Sens 30
Threshold 30
Disc 20
Alt Disc 25
Iron Volume 35
Volume 30

It provided a stellar performance with good iron rejection and sharp loud ‘clack’ short sounds on non ferrous while ferrous targets created a kind of elongated ‘off-set’ double blip on the left and right edges unlike the tight, sharp and short sounds created by the non ferrous targets. A few small items surfaced, buttons, scrap bits and other metals were observed on the surface.Taking the detector into the water to several inches depth it was evident the sweep speed required was slower than that over the ground and it still rejected and accepted targets as normal.
I was surprised to dig a few lightweight ‘coke rocks’ but the clues had been there for the asking and I wasn’t paying attention as they behaved much the same as ferrous targets albeit with a much lower signal volume. Once dug they barely responded.

Fresh water

A few shallow streams were waded into and yet again it was a completely new learning experience as I had to find the best settings.
If you get some signalling it might be best to adjust the ground balance in the red area only (positive) and find a quiet setting there. You might also have to reduce gain to find a quiet point.
It was good for me set to the GB knob to ‘twenty past’ (like a clock) setting.
Pay attention to the coil if you’re in a fast moving stream and tighten up the coil bolt that extra bit because the force of working with the flow can cause the coil to upend. I worked under a bridge in one stream and recovered a few modern small coins with the help of a hand held metal scoop.

If you are a New England fresh water searcher (I used to do a bit on the Cape) it should be a decent performer with an absence of salt and with the standard 9”x11” coil you might get some decent depths, with the octagonal coil. I was getting coins from 10" on dry salt sand so sand without salt content should theoretically be better?
Similarly, I wouldn’t anticipate an issue with using the smaller 5” coil for seeking small gold nuggets in slow flowing streams. Maybe someone will chime in about this? I did Test on a tiny gold coin and it sounded off nicely to at least 6" away from the coil and not at full Sens (a usual test piece a Fanam the smallest gold coin from India)

Pasture

I tend to revisit former ‘productive’ sites with any new detector because if any extra targets are found, shallow or deep, doesn’t matter, then I deem ‘Model X, Y or Z’ ‘a better machine’
So, after a few unproductive searches on one former good site where the grass was a bit too long, “Vista X” was beginning to show itself. It wasn’t doing it right away but as I put more time in and became more proficient with it, it began to work for me.
This particular site was very iron noisy and it took a while to go thru all the settings to banish the iron sounds to a level I was comfortable with.
To prove to myself that they were iron signals I worked in All Metal for a while. Ground balancing was easy and was at the ’2’ o clock position that gave me a kind of a low signal return with the coil an inch above the ground. So I had to use a very slow sweep speed to keep a stable detector as I had the Gain set to the pre set red dot 45 position.

Signals began to form and one unusually broad and high toned gave up a small cake tray foil from a few inches.
Two small screw caps from old whiskey bottles came up with good loud clean hits from the six inch level (I was working close to the road) and were easy targets and presented no problem to the Vista X

Another good sound revealed a green copper disc from around 4”
I heard a similar signal that was ‘low in volume’ with a 90% positivity and around 10% iron sound and knowing deep coins might mimic this exact sound decided to dig. It was late in the afternoon and a dull day when I saw the ‘red LED’ light up on the front panel indicating ‘low battery’. So I changed out the rechargable 2400mA batteries and installed ‘8’ fresh-from-the-pack “Panasonic AA’”
I began to dig. Went down eight inches and used a hand held probe which suggested deeper and went a further two inches to ten and then scraping revealed the telltale brown appearance of rust!
I pulled out a flat square piece measuring 4” x 4”. I wasn’t at all surprised because it wasn’t old so therefore hadn’t lost it’s magnetic properties.

I heard another target from a dipped area where cattle had trodden quite a lot and I guessed it would be another copper coin because the signal was so sharp, short and almost clipped, and dug out an older copper half penny coin dated 1889 that was missing about quarter of its edge having been cut in antiquity. A few other fragments of cans were dug from shallow depths with similarly good sounding signals. As it was approaching 5pm, with the light almost gone, I stopped for the day and went home.


Stubble fields

Most of us like to relic hunt and some of the best can take place in wide open fresh cut stubble fields.
The “Vista X” was quite at home on the stubble fields I searched. Unfortunately, the time of year was wet with almost incessant rains and colder temperatures that made for ‘construction site like’ soil conditions. It wasn’t easy to recover targets and the ground was gluey and thick.

I said in Part 1 that the best use of the “Vista X” is derived thru a good set of headphones with a Volume control. The two other important features of operation are (a) Threshold (b) Iron Volume
If you set these controls wisely it can help to audibly identify many iron targets that will ‘spit and crackle’ in your ear cups. You should also ground balance on every new field you venture into and the Gain control can dictate the amount of output power that’s best where you happen to be standing at this point. If you have ‘Gain’ too high it can upset things dramatically because it can bring in deeper iron targets that can misidentify as good or even worse, can cause minutes of head scratching wondering whether you should chase signals or not! So it is best then to have as quiet a detector as you can. Working stubble rows can upset a stable detector if the coil cable hits off hard stalks or gets entangled. So make sure the coil cable is tightly wrapped and if you have them use Velcro wraps to keep a taut cable but still with enough length to enable easy coil rotation. I noted when using the small coil around stubble it brought in some false signals because the cable was more prone to entangling in the stalks. Using the large coil I tended to avoid hitting them and you’re doing the opposite with the small coil, getting right next to and touching them because you can and should. I’ve often found good targets directly under stalks.

Signals were sporadic and were usually short ‘clack’ sounds if they were non ferrous items, small buttons, bit of other broken objects and so on. Iron was was usually identified quickly with broken stutter sounds. Larger bits were identified by either twisting the coil on edge or engaging the second discrimination. It could also be identified by that classic ‘double hit’ left and right sides of the sweep with a dip in the middle, almost as if it was moving. It hit really well on lead targets and in one field the Trash side of my finds pouch was filled up with it. I have no regard for lead: I like silver and gold.
In this field the stalks were still hard and made for difficult sweeping so I stopped and fitted the small coil. This was a good idea and made for much easier sweeping and several targets were dug in succession including a screw cap that was buried at 6" but still sounded off with the coil 5" above the soil! with almost full sensitivity set at 40.
At the high setting I had thought the detector would be noisier and full of chatter but no, quiet as a mouse.
If the target was deep, then the return signal volume would be quieter and therefore easier to determine depth (modulated audio) and to recover them. The field was very close to a working manufacturing facility, one of the largest around the area and no EMI was heard as it is such a well designed coil to match the available power on tap as Vista X is such a powerful analog design. It has huge raw power availability and is without many ‘power hungry’ features such as multi-tones and digital target ID screens.

Woodland

This was my preferred Vista X detecting scenario. I love being in the woods and the only downside usually is a deep layer of decaying leaf mould as the ground never seems to dry out and is continually wet. So targets can be buried deeply as you might have to penetrate a foot and more of ancient leaves.
It’s important to ground balance here and if the soil is wet even more so. The soil can vary from soft mossy dark material to dark stony clays and the damper it is the more instability ensues. However, I was able to get away with a high sensitivity setting of between 40 and 45 the entire time provided I didn’t scrub the coil on the ground.

I visited a small clearing in some woods where a few years before I had been lucky to unearth a gold sovereign which was a huge shock because the place had been liberally infested with foil from some idiots who chose the spot to dispose of their domestic rubbish. I had worked the area with a few other detectors. No other golds were found. So it warranted further exploration with the Vista X. I scrubbed the surface here and that produced two ‘iffy’ targets that I dug out...small ancient ferrous that might have been nails? Then I got three more ‘diggable’ signals which had been completely missed by the other detectors. The first was a low volume return signal and up came a silver three pence coin dated 1918 from around seven inches. Second up, a louder signal was a silver shilling from ten inches dated 1878 and the final target a weak signal was a copper coin that took about fifteen minutes to find as it had been edge on and underneath a thick root at about eleven inches, which I couldn’t identify as it was ‘toasted!’ Wow! Good depths!

In another ancient woodland full of that awful compacted mess of decaying leaf mould, at the 10” level after digging through lots of flat stone (you know the find will be good) the compacted layers gave up a copper half penny and I’m guessing an English coin from the reign of Charles the second or third…1690 perhaps? Soon after the shock of that another clanger of a signal from “a well worked pathway” gave up another copper half penny. Again I had to “saw” my way down through a thick inter-tangled root system (and again I knew it would be a good find as this almost guarantees antiquity) the coin dated 1805 was well worn but I was able to make out the right facing bust head and neck of George the Third.
I went on to find other targets “missed” on previous excursions. In the main these were low grade foil and a few broken pieces from tabs and cans e.g. the small round pieces that fold inwards when a drink can is opened. Several small gold colored euro coins surfaced from just beneath the leaf cover and a find that saddened me somewhat was a metal pipe for smoking weed. Yes, this small area was popular with kids who liked to drink beer and smoke weed! Some discarded plastic lighters were seen scattered over the area.

Rx coil winding trick

In Part 1 of the “Vista X Review”, I alluded to target identification “tricks” with the standard coil and other not usually seen useful ‘quirks’ with the small 5.7” coil as well. A useful trick was first observed during initial bench testing the day I received the Vista X. I already alluded to the large 9”x11” coil being able to ID ‘crown caps’ readily enough and easier than several other very popular detector models.
The small coil also possesses this quirk and I repeat, I had never seen this to be so consistent before. While being an early proponent of ‘coil edge pin pointing’ (even before “Explorer XS” which was good at it) it is something I have always done and continue to do to assist with pin pointing. So, playing around with the primary discrimination and alternate disc control and moving the coils around all the various targets I was introducing, I was amazed to see when the coil was turned on its edge in a 90 degree right angle and the right side of the coil (Rx winding is the one with the cable coming from it to the control box) was bobbed up and down above some trash targets, the tone generated was low. It just so happened that this appeared to work best on crown caps, square pull tabs and small ferrous materials such as nails. Scanning across targets with the coil flat on the signal was the expected high tone.

A few notes here, Iron Volume has to be set at least 30 or greater. Primary discrimination can be set at zero to enable the generation of low tones on crown caps, which don’t even have to be corroded. Alternative disc doesn’t come into play at this stage because if the low tone is generated then you may be dealing with a trash item. I took this a step further and changed the primary disc control to the preset red dot 20 and the alternative disc to 25 because this enabled the rejection of those annoying ‘copper euro coins’ that I hate to spend time on digging. Naturally I was excited to see this and I couldn’t wait to test in the field to see if the phenomenon translated to outdoor field use? You know what...it did! I was very pleased because it made working trashy modern fields a lot quicker to search and ignore many low tones. I wasn’t expecting jewelry finds so I was prepared to make that sacrifice.

Further testing has shown that square tabs can generate the low tone quicker than the ‘round edge’ ‘square’ tabs. The square tab can be identified even easier if they are buried at an east / west tangent. So too the rounded ones but they have to be almost at surface level. The squares can be identified at a few inches. So too are the crown caps and small nails. Larger ferrous shapes can cause the reverse of this and generate high tones. I couldn’t get modern ‘Zincoln’ pennies to generate low tones but many other ordinary rubbish items did.I was able to set up the Disc and Alternative Disc to remain High tone on Euro coins and go Low on square pull tabs. Brilliant.

Those lucky enough to have a “Vista X”, even if you have mastered it, should spend some time bench testing. Place the coil upside down away from any metals on top of a plastic table. It doesn’t matter if indoors or outside. Pay particular attention to the coil’s edges - front back, left side and right side and as it is a square shape it is easy to get targets right up to it.
On a low discrimination setting e.g. 15, it would spit and crackle on some ferrous items, rusty nails etc. Even at 0 disc it still did the same so you could always use it without any disc.
But then the ALT DISC may not see use and that is a ‘selling point’ of this detector: the ability to check targets with a second discrimination setting. So typically I set DISC to 15 and ALT Disc to 25 and so on. You’ll have to become very dexterious with angling the coil onto it’s edge and bob it up and down to check the target. However, if you don’t want to bother, rely on the standard discrimination and use the toe, sides and heel of the coil flat to ground as standard procedure.

Vista X limitations

There aren’t many to be considered.
Lack of a meter and, a two-tone audio operational sound system might be two?
A third (but not too important in my opinion) is an inability to work salt wet sand. There are other detectors that will cover this area and multi-frequency and pulse induction are best.
There are some other minor criticisms I would have of it and I’d prefer if the speaker wasn’t (a) so small (b) downward facing and (c) so close to the ground when you set it down because it doesn’t have any raised legs to keep it away from damp surfaces. So I would advise the use of control box covers. Deep Tech provide some camo green covers for the arm rest and battery box area as well as a clear plastic screen front panel cover.
A final criticism I would have (and probably unfair to even consider) is it’s almost too loud so a headset with a volume control is a necessity (you probably have a good set already)

In Conclusion

“Is the Vista X for you?”
I guess the key decision you have to make is whether or not you can do without a target ID meter.
Can you handle a two-tone output only?
“Where is my primary focus? Am I a coin shooter or a relic hunter? Am I both?”

As of today, just two coils are available and this in my opinion is somewhat limiting.
Competition in the market is hotting up so the Vista X is up against a lot. I’ve shown the standard ‘octagonal 9” x 11”’ coil might be too big in some situations e.g. multi target proximity, while the smaller 5.7” coil while being great may also be a tad too small. Having said that they both have their places and I am certainly using both to maximum advantage.

What’s needed to really set this detector ‘on fire’ is a 7” or 8” round coil and possibly an 8” x 5” elliptical coil. With an expanded coil selection it would give the Vista X much greater appeal and usability.
All of that aside, and dealing with what we do have, we have a fantastic metal detector. It’s pleasingly easy to use.

Why the better signal clarity? I’m thinking it’s all in the design of the ‘octagonal shaped coil’ as it behaves more like a ‘sharply focused concentric tipped detection cone’ than the ‘wider scan of the typical Double D coil.
In addition, and in Part 1 of the Review, I referred to the Vista X’ designer, Plamen Rashkov, he is the top analog circuit designer in Europe, what we term, ‘a boffin!’
He successfully merged an innovative coil design to a powerful and purpose built analog schematic creation. All things being equal there’s plenty of technology on offer here but may not quite match its rivals for outright ‘bells and whistle’ visual (and audible) wizardry! Look beyond that and you will see plenty to like about the Vista X.

I’m thinking a Vista X should be on the ‘consider’ buying’ list for many people.

Vista X summed up in a single word - Powerful

© Copyright

Desi Dunne
November 2019