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Metal Detectors: Do DIY Homemade Detectors Really Work?


Homemade metal detectors come in different types and are made using different metal detector accessories . The most common ones, however, are:

  1. Radio and calculator metal detector
  2. Detector made using a coil

The question that most people ask is if their functionality can be ascertained. DIY metal detectors are made using parts that are cheap and easy to acquire, if not already in our possession. The functionality of the detector relies wholly on the parts it is composed of. When we question the mechanics of the metal detector accessories , we are therefore really questioning the mechanics of the parts that make it.

In this article, I look at the key parts of a simple homemade metal detector and explain what about this part may cause a metal detector to work or to fail.

The Age Of The Radio And Calculator

According to sciencebuddies.org, the radio and calculator metal detector may fail to work because the radio and calculator used in the making of the detector are too recent. Newer radios are a more digitalized version of their predecessors. A digital radio derives its intermediate frequency from a divider circuit, while an analog radio derives its frequency from an oscillator circuit. An oscillator circuit is more likely of the two to interact with the clock chip of the calculator, which is what records a disturbance in the radio frequency when there is a metal in the vicinity.

A calculator may be too new to do the job in the sense that it is a solar powered calculator. When making a DIY homemade detector, you want to use a calculator that is battery powered. This is because solar-powered calculators consume less power when in use as compared to battery powered ones. While this might be an effective quality when crunching numbers, it is far less effective when treasure hunting. A battery powered calculator will serve as a better metal probe and is highly recommended for use in this project. However, this is not to say that the equipment should be physically old, just technology-wise.

In a radio and calculator metal detector, the calculator functions as the metal detector while the radio functions as the output device that lets us know when a detection has been made. A calculator may detect a metal; but in some instances, the radio does not amplify the finding because it is probably too old and has ceased to function properly. When making this gadget, it is a good idea to use equipment that is still in good condition. It goes without saying; well functioning parts make a well functioning gadget.

The Coil-Making Process: Take Your Time And Do It Right

Just because it’s homemade does not mean it cannot be made meticulously. Our metal detectors fail to work at times because of the manner in which the coil is made. The coil is the most important part of the detector (in detectors where the coil is used). The wire we use in making the coil is a copper wire of a smaller diameter.

Copper wire is highly recommended because it has low resistance. Therefore not much current will be lost when the gadget is in use. Copper is also an extremely good conductor of electricity.

The diameter is small for efficiency. A smaller diameter conducts current faster than a wide diameter.

The copper of metal detector accessories should be turned in repetitive concentric circles. When making the coil, you should try to lay each turning as close to the previous one as you can. The tighter the coil is packed, the better it is at conducting charge. Also, try and lay them out as neatly as possible and avoid overlapping them.

Also, the turnings of the copper wire made should be as high as possib

le. In the sources, is a link to an instructional video to explain graphically a good way to do the coil.  If you dont know how to get started with metal detector click here .


Using batteries with higher current will ensure that there is a higher power supply to the gadget. The higher the power supply, the wider the range of the metal detector. The most effective batteries we can use are D cell batteries. They give high current at low resistance, which makes them ideal for a project like this.

In addition, they do not discharge easily, which is a shortcoming of some other types of batteries we use. Be sure the vicinity actually contains metallic elements. Sometimes, the metal detectors we make may be extremely up to the task; 

There is just very little metal to be detected in the vicinity. This sends the best of us back to the workshop; taking our project apart, trying to find out it’s a problem. If you have successfully tested the gadget on metallic materials, there should be no cause for alarm.

It is also a good idea to test it out on various types of metals. Different metals will definitely produce different frequencies on the radio and calculator metal detector. Some frequencies may be hard so similar it becomes hard to distinguish them; other frequencies may have a low pitch that makes it hard to even recognize as a frequency. In an area where there is no frequency to be found, it’s probably the place, not the detector, to be questioned.

In the same vein of metallic aspects; a detector may fail to work because the radio and calculator are made out of metallic casings which block them from external influences, thereby causing the detector to fail to function. When building a DIY metal detector, examine the materials used to make the parts you want to use. Probably, the only thing wrong with your detector is the fact that it is limited from receiving emissions of metallic substances because it is shielding itself.


To answer the question: do homemade metal detectors really work? The answer is yes. The more important question should be whether you have with you parts that are effective and efficient, not only in their functionality but also in the functionality of the metal detector. What’s good for the gander just might not, in this case, be good for the goose.

The difference between a homemade one and a store bought one is the difference in range and clarity. Lots of us pit our homemade gadgets against those that are industry-made; forgetting the complexity of the latter and the simplicity of the former.

Attached is a link to a video that shows us the strength of a DIY metal detector.

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