May 7, 2021

Iron Bias

Iron Bias
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This week I want to discuss Iron Bias or more Specifically the Iron Bias Features of the Minelab Equinox/vanquish Series of detectors. We look at FE and F2  I try to explain both simply and where i use it.

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Hey Everybody. Welcome! To Episode 59 of the metal detecting show podcast. My Name is Ciaran and I have been Metal Detecting for nearly 30 Years. This week I want to discuss Iron Bias or more Specifically the Iron Bias Features of the Minelab Equinox/vanquish Series of detectors.





Hey everyone before we start I want to thank you for listening to the podcast and I hope you enjoy the episode this week  If you want to support the show there are many options available from the links in the episode notes below and if you want to interact with me and the show that information is there too.  


but most importantly If you like this content please don’t hesitate to tell your friends and don’t forget to hit that subscribe button.




Hey Everyone Thanks for listening to this week’s Episode before we start into the main topic I want go give a few updates in my adventures in Metal Detecting. 


Still hitting the thimble beach with my own style of mudlarking and metal detecting with varying success but I know theres a few more great finds in there. 


I wanted to purchase the coiltek 6 inch coil for the equinox to help here but there like hens teeth at the minute and can’t be found anywhere I think Coiltek really under estimated the demand for this coil and possibly overestimated the impact of covid unless they got stuck in that container ship in the Suez canal either way no one has them in stock so I continue to sit and wait for it. 


I want to take a minute to shout out to all the detectorists who joined in solidarity of their love of the chop stick as an essential tool it gave me some laugh out loud moments over the last few weeks and it is safe to say just by listening you have all being indoctrinated into the Order of the Single Chopstick. Chop Sticks Ahoy……


I also want to thanks everyone for sending me ideas for coming episodes this really helps and takes the pressure off so keep them coming. With some ideas including an Equinox v the new Nokta multi frequency machine in a battle royal of the multi freq machines. Returning finds or finds retrieval, Hats, Mental Health and gaining permissions and ill commit to doing each and every one of these in the future.


Right onto the main topic this week and that’s the Iron Bias Feature of the Minelab Equinox Series of detectors.


So What is Iron Bias Well to put it simply Iron bias is a preference between ferrous and non-ferrous targets. 

Quick explanation of what ferrous means firstly you hear a lot of people refer to ferrous as the presence of Iron that is correct but chemically Ferrous is the presence of Iron in plus 2 ions so in it oxidised state. 

Outside chemistry, "ferrous" means generally "containing iron". The word is derived from the Latin word ferrum. Ferrous metals include steel and pig iron and alloys of iron with other metals. "Non-ferrous" is used to describe metals and alloys that do not contain an appreciable amount of iron. 


In metal detecting parlance Ferrous and Non Ferrous Objects are relatively easy to detect and ID and are generally considered at either ends of a scale. While complex Iron objects sit between these but are difficult to id whether they are a good find or a trash find.


However Detectorist have a preference on what or how they like to hunt for example.

Some detectorists like to get every good target out of the ground and will accept some ferrous targets to do this while at the other end of the scale we have hunters who want zero trash and only good signals and will be ok with the thought of leaving some good finds behind in the ground. 


Iron Bias on the Equinox allows you to specify what your preference is along its sliding scale of 0-9 on the Equinox 800 or 0 – 3 on the equinox 600. Or if your on the Vanquish you can select between High which is the default or low if you want to id coins amongst High Trash sites.


Point of note in the scale difference between the Equinox 600 and 800 both start at 0 however 3 on the 800 doesn’t equal 3 on the 600 it equals 9 on the 600. So the 800 scale is a multiple of 3 to the 600 scale. This means that the 800 has a more granular resolution of preference but both go to the same stat and endpoints. 


If your familiar with single frequency VLF machine a low Iron Bias Setting will feel natural to you while if your more familiar with a FBS or a BBS machine then A high Iron Bias will feel more natural to you.


let’s get into discussing the actual setting of iron bias if you’re not familiar with it you can select it but pressing down the settings key moving the settings selection cursor to recovery speed and then pressing the settings button for 2 second will bring you into the feature. Hitting the accept/reject button will toggle the iron bias settings between Iron Bias Fe and F2.  However remember that each feature is mutually exclusive in that selecting one disables the other.


So what are Iron bias FE and iron bias F2


Well starting with FE which was the original iron bias setting till the software update of 2.0 which was the birth of the F2 Iron Bias Feature which was pitched as the bottle top setting anyways back to iron bias FE this is a preference setting that provides some control over the Target ID response of the detector in other words it put the signal received from a complex Iron signal in a category that match’s your preference. 

Remember a detector will struggle with categorising a complex iron signal which sits between the easily identifiable non-ferrous and ferrous signals. 


So with Iron Bias FE if you want a complex signal identified as natural as possible then setting the iron Bias FE preference low will give you this and the signal will be identified as non-ferrous resulting in a higher likely hood you will dig it however if you want your complex ferrous targets identified as Iron increasing the Iron Bias FE setting will increase the likelihood of this but decrease the likelihood you will dig it of course this is the opposite if you’re looking for Iron finds or relics and want to dig them.


Putting it simply if you want your detector to emphasize a complex target with a high tone and high Target ID set your Iron Bias FE setting lower. If you want the opposite ie you want to emphasise a complex target with a low tone and target id set Iron bias High. 


Taking this to another level imagine you have a non ferrous target positioned close by a ferrous target resulting in an iffy signal we have all had them adjusting the Iron Bias low will emphasise the non ferrous target giving you a target id and tone that you will most likely dig while adjusting Iron Bias FE high will emphasise the Iron Target giving you a target id and tone that you probably wouldn’t dig.


This is also true for large iron targets that can give a high tone or any iron target that gives falseing in a high tone.


Ultimately it’s a trade off between where you sit on the scale of do you want to get every good target while digging some iron signals or do you want to only dig good targets and not have iffy signals to contend with but happy that you will be leaving some great targets behind. That’s why I call it a preference setting its all down to personnel preference my own preference is that I have it low at 3 because I’m happy to dig holes knowing that I’m not leaving stuff behind.


Looking at Iron Bias Setting F2 like I said previously came with the software update 2.1 and was pitched as the bottle top bias essentially marketed as being able to better identify crown cap bottle tops.  F2 effectively increasing the range of the Iron Bias, The Iron Bias F2 Setting provides better iron bias and discrimination to tricky ferrous targets like crown cap bottle tops, that Iron Bias FE is less effective for. 


It is an advanced feature that is not for the faint of heart as If you lower the F2 setting the iron rejection will be less effective while the iron bias FE setting lessens also but used in the right hand it can be an effective tool to notch out bottle caps so in this case the marketing blurb seems to be correct. The recommendation is to set Iron Bias F2 at 6 on a beach and 5ish if on land but like Iron Bias it is all down to your personnel preference and your ability to hear in inverted comma Iron in the first place. If your experienced at hearing Iron then you may want to lower your Iron Bias F2 setting right down so you can get all the target information in its unnatural form.  


And not to forget the Vanquish 540 this also has the Iron Bias Feature although it only exists in a high low format but this logic rings true here also. As the default is set at high this will mean that complex targets and large iron will default to an Iron Target ID and Tone. If you want a more natural response on the 540 set it on low especially if your happy to dig a few more holes to get everything.


Iron Bias is always on and is a great feature to adjust on high Iron infested sites such as beach and maybe old farm sites where you want to mask out the Iron other than that the defaults will be good enough unless your getting very specific on what your looking for. And Lastly remember and I see this mistake all over the internet even on some youtube videos demoing the feature if you are selecting Iron Bias Fe Iron Bias F2 will be off and if using F2 FE will be off they are not on at the same time there can be only one on at a time. 




Wrap Up 

That’s it for this week’s I hope you liked this episode of the metal detecting show podcast.


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Once again, I hope you have enjoyed this episode and we will chat to you all again next week. 

Get out there eyes down and Happy Hunting.