Big Thanks to Silverfiend for this excellent Equinox 800 guestpost!

When I first read the announcement of the Minelab Equinox detector at the Detectival event in England, I must admit to feeling excited! What they promised was an affordable, multi-frequency, waterproof, lightweight detector which you could change from multi-frequency to a choice of single frequencies. I finally got to open my very own Minelab Equinox 800 detector on the spring equinox of 22 March. Even though I only have a few hours on it, I LOVE what I am seeing.

Even just taking all the parts out of the box, I could tell this was going to be a feather weight compared to the Minelab CTX3030 I have been using for the last 5 years. The fit and finish of the parts are nice, and if you’ve ever put a metal detector together before you won’t have to look at any instructions to figure it out. For anyone looking to buy one, PAY ATTENTION HERE: This detector does NOT come with a power source. You get a USB charging cable, but you supply your own USB power source. Minelab recommends a 5V 2Amp charger. Charge time is directly based on the power supply. The recommended power supply will take 4 hours to charge the battery from flat to full. My initial charge took almost that long. If you use a lower rated power supply, such as a computer USB plug it will likely require much longer to charge. You can download the full PDF user manual from Minelab’s website to read their recommendations and warnings on charging the detector.

Ergonomics can be the “make or break” of a detector. Because this detector is so light, most of the weight winds up being in the coil and that can make the whole setup feel “nose heavy” if not adjusted correctly. First, the lower rod can be extended a long way to accommodate someone who is tall. If you aren’t that tall, but still try to hunt that way then you are going to feel the consequences in your arm. Best practice (for this or any detector) is to shorten the shaft so the coil is right in front of your feet. Ergonomically, the closer you can get to your natural stance with your arm hanging loose at your side, the better off you will be. For anyone who wants to put the coil as far out as possible, adding a little weight under or behind the cuff is something to consider and it’s something I might play with to help with balancing. To Minelab’s credit, slots are made into the footrest to make it easy to strap external batteries, counterweights, or both combined.

One of the most helpful features Minelab has made available on recent detectors is the ability to have wireless headphones so that you are no longer tethered to the detector. This began with the CTX and the WM-10 module. The Equinox comes with a new version of the same technology, called the WM-08, however it also can connect to any Bluetooth Low Latency headphones. The EQX-800 stock wireless phones are what I have been using so far. One thing to keep in mind is that the Equinox uses 1/8 inch (3.5mm) headphone connectors instead of the more common 1/4 inch. If you have an older set of phones that you absolutely love and want to use with this, you will need a 1/4 female to 1/8 male adapter.

Of course, the first thing everyone wants to know is “how does it perform”. That is always a dangerous and loaded question. It’s difficult to offer a true, honest answer until you have a solid grasp of the functions and language of detector and THAT takes time. What I do feel comfortable saying is that I am VERY happy so far. You can read my first experiences with the Equinox and judge for yourself. Whenever people ask me for advice when starting out with any new detector, I always tell them to start out easy, don't hunt trashy sites. Even better to start in a tot-lot to learn tones, responses, pinpointing, etc. Jumping head-first into a trash filled site is never a good way to start. That is a solid, smart bit of advice aimed to help learning while preventing frustration. Of course, I didn’t follow my own advice. I went straight to a previous hunt site, one that is extremely trashed out. So why did I go there?

Because this was a place I had already dug a lot of old coins! It’s hard to resist the urge to see what you might have missed with an older detector. Predictably, the non-stop barrage of tones left me feeling like "what the heck have I gotten into? Is this thing any good? Am I even going to like listening to this?" The biggest obstacle to learning language of the EQX is that it is so sensitive and fast that trashy sites will lead to sensory overload. I suggest you learn from my mistake and head my long-standing advice. Start in the “bunny slope” level of sites and work your way up to hunting the expert level grounds.

Once I got onto a cleaner hunting spot, learning the tones of this new detector became much easier. I began learning to differentiate target sounds and the responses of deeper coins from shallow ones. I finally started digging old wheat-cents and then I dug my first silver dime (a Mercury dime) next to a chunk of iron. This was in a place I have previously hunted with the CTX, the E-Trac and my old partner had hunted with a DEUS. My second day to get out with the Equinox was at an old park where I previously never found anything old. My previous hunts only produced modern clad. So, I’m sure you are again curious “why I would choose this spot”. It was a 100+ year old park, in small town. It would likely have seen countless parties and celebrations with hundreds of people in attendance in its time but is far enough out of site that most detectorist would have missed it. Even though it hadn’t produced for me yet it still had great potential. My first hunt there with the EQX800 gave me a Barber dime (as well as some wheat cents), my first for the year and my first silver from this place. In these first trial runs, I learned quite a bit! At first glance, the depth meter seems completely unreliable. As you gain experience you see it is great if a target is alone. I think the problem people have with it is that it gets confuse in trash (and trash is practically everywhere). The VCO pinpoint really helps give you a great clue on the depth, and I think that this may be the best method overall.

My third hunt, I took it to a site that has been pounded hard by other detectorists. Its public, its old, its been hunted for decades. I dug 13 silvers from there in one day with my CTX (after which, other local hunters pounded it AGAIN). With the Equinox I pulled more deep, on-edge wheaties. I dug my first Indian Head from this site (and first for the year), I dug 2 Buffalo nickels and then I hit GOLD! A tiny, old, deep, gold pin with a 1929 date inscription. It was a measured 6 inches deep and still gave a solid nickel response. After that, I knew this detector was a game changer for me.

How would I summarize the first few days of using the Equinox? Simple, “We have a winner!” Everyone wants to compare the Equinox to it’s brother the CTX. I have been using the CTX since it’s release 6 years ago. So far I haven’t found anything that the CTX could see which my Equinox couldn’t. HOWEVER, the Equinox is worlds better at hitting low conductors like gold and nickels. I have dug more buffalo and V-nickels in a week with the EQX than I dug all last year with the CTX. The tiny gold I have dug are things the CTX could never find. Every detector has its niche, but the Equinox seems to be a very, very large niche in this hobby. If you are looking for your first detector, or just your next, I wouldn’t hesitate to offer this as a very strong choice to consider.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting, Silverfiend