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29 April 2009

The Metal Detector Circuit

This design has not been called a GOLD detector as this name has been left for the more complex detectors that actually discriminate been gold and other metals. There is an enormous difference between detecting gold and ordinary metals (called base metals). How the detector work? The circuit is an oscillator and the way it keeps oscillating is due to positive feedback. This is the case with all oscillators and the component that provides the feedback is the 1n capacitor between the collector and emitter of the transistor. It may seem unusual that the transistor can be turned on via the emitter to keep it oscillating, but in fact it does not matter if the emitter or base receives a signal as the important factor is THE VOLTAGE DIFFERENCE between these two terminals.


If the base is kept fixed and the emitter voltage is reduced, the transistor sees a higher voltage between the base and emitter and it is turned ON harder. If the voltage on the emitter increases, the transistor turns OFF as the difference between the two is reduced. This is exactly what happens in this circuit. The 1n capacitor between the collector and emitter influences the voltage on the emitter to turn the transistor on and off. It does this by constantly monitoring the voltage on the tuned circuit and passing the change to the emitter. In this project, the TUNED CIRCUIT is the parallel components consisting of the inductor (the search coil) and the 1n capacitor across it. This is called an LC circuit in which the L is the inductance of the inductor in Henries (or mH or uH) and C is the capacitance of the capacitor in Farads (or uF or nF or pF). We start when the transistor turns ON and allows a pulse of energy to enter the tuned circuit (later you will see how the transistor turns on). The pulse of energy (current) starts by trying to entering both the coil and capacitor. You would think the coil has the smallest resistance but the capacitor is uncharged and presents a theoretical zero resistance and begins to charge. When a small voltage appears across it, you would think the coil would become the least resistance as it consists of only a few turns of copper wire.

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