Top 12 Detectors

Treasure Commander Si Robertson TC2X Metal Detector

By Andy Sabisch

There's probably no one anywhere in the country that has not at least heard about the hottest show on cable TV today . . . Duck Dynasty! Following the Robertson family members who work in the Duck Commander Company, a company started by Phil Robertson some 40 years ago in rural Louisiana, millions of viewers tune in each week to watch the story of a family that works hard and plays harder. A regular on the show is Si Roberston - Phil's brother. On one episode, he pulled his metal detector out of the garage and with the help of his fellow cast mates, used it to find a jar of coins he had buried before being deployed to Vietnam when he was just 18 years old. Well that show caught the attention of Stu Auerbach, founder of Kellyco Metal Detectors, who contacted Si and discussed the possibility of producing a line of metal detectors that could bear the Duck Commander "seal of approval" and fit in with the look & feel that people have come to expect from anything that bears the Robertson brand. After discussing what features should be included in this new line of detectors, Kellyco set out to build the new detectors and the result is a line that currently features three different models. This field test will cover the Treasure Commander TC2X which sits in the middle of the series and is one two "Si Robertson Signature models."

Features

The Treasure Commander TC2X had the advantage of starting with virtually a blank slate in the design phase which allowed a number of features to be incorporated that are not typically seen on mid-range detectors.

The first thing that one sees when unpacking the TC2X is the RealTree Camo finish designed to fit with the myriad of Duck Dynasty themed products that have appeared based on the TV show's popularity. There have been other camo-themed detectors before but the finish on this one is clearly a step above yet does not make it look like you are trying to hide what you are doing which was a comment that had been voiced in the past.

Assembly was a snap (or in my case reassembly as the Field Test section will explain) including pulling the search coil cord through the shaft sections which on other brands that have a similar design requires a great deal of effort to thread the cord from the coil to the control unit. The TC2X comes with a unique pull-cord that allows the assembly to be done in seconds. Adjusting the overall shaft length is accomplished through the use of a lock-nut that is large enough to be manipulated even when wearing gloves. The search coil that comes with the TC1X and TC2X is a newly-designed 10" concentric coil that provides excellent coverage and detection depth yet is still able to provide target separation when searching areas containing a concentration of targets. The entire package weighs in at just a tad over 3 pounds making it easy to swing during a full day in the field. The TC2X operates at 7.8kHz which is well suited for all types of treasure hunting and combined with the Ground Grab circuitry, is able to handle a wide range of ground conditions.

The construction of the control housing itself deserves mentioning. On detectors with displays / meters (analog or LCD), users often comment on the fact that the angle of the meter face produces a glare making it difficult to see or requires the detector to be turned in order to read the information being provided. The TC2X allows the user to adjust the angle of the control housing to optimize visibility of the screen based on the ambient conditions and user preferences. This is just one of the innovative features built into the Treasure Commander series and shows that thought and input from active hunters went into the upfront design. A locknut that held the pod in position could have been added; however, it is easy to simply readjust it if it is bumped while in the field.

All of the TC2X's features are controlled using the 7 touchpads located on the face of the control housing. The touchpads include POWER, SETTINGS/DEL, ENTER, PP (Pinpoint), GG (Ground Grab), DIS(criminate) and GPS. The four touchpads situated around the center ENTER touchpad serve dual functions - they allow you to navigate through menu choices when the SETTINGS mode has been selected or simply adjust the functions that are identified in the individual touchpads. The touchpads functions are described below:

  • POWER: Pressing this touchpad will cycle the TC2X ON and OFF
  • PP: Pressing and holding this touchpad will switch the TC2X from the normal motion discriminate search mode to a non-motion all-metal mode that aids in centering the coil over the target. Releasing the touchpad returns to the search mode. When in the PP mode, target depth in inches will be displayed. It also moves the cursor to the left when in the SETTINGS mode.
  • SETTINGS / DEL: This touchpad allows you to navigate through the various menu options displayed on the LCD screen.
  • GG: When in the SETTINGS mode, it scrolls the cursor up to select specific options. When in the search mode, it activates the Ground Grab function which provides for a quick and easy method to adjust for adverse ground conditions under the coil. It takes just seconds and eliminates any complicated adjustments that might otherwise be needed to remove the affect of ground mineralization on detection depth.
  • DIS: Scrolls the cursor to the right when in the Settings mode or returns the TC2X to the Search mode after making any adjustments
  • GPS: Scrolls the cursor down when in the settings mode or activates the Global Positioning System (GPS) circuitry when in the Search mode . . . yes, the TC2X features a GPS function that allows you to mark locations and find your way back to them with a single touchpad. State of the Art technology incorporated into a mid-priced detector!
  • ENTER: This allows settings to be adjusted and saved in the field.

The LCD screen provides a wealth of information in an easy-to-understand format. The remaining battery strength is shown via the icon in the upper left and the GPS icon in the upper right is activated when the GPS function has been selected. Arranged in a semi-circle in the center of the screen are 8 LCD segments that provide the probable ID of a detected target. A useful feature is the ability to accept or reject individual segments based on what you are hoping to find and the type of unwanted targets that might be found in your search area. Creating a custom program to maximize the amount of good targets while minimizing the number of trash targets you recover is quite simple and provides users with a great deal of flexibility. Signal strength is displayed below the target ID segments and can aid in pinpointing targets without needing to switch to the Pinpoint mode. The current Sensitivity and Volume settings are displayed in the lower left portion of the screen with the target depth in inches (when in Pinpoint) or distance to a waypoint in yards (when the GPS function is active) shown in the lower right. Along the bottom of the screen are two rows of menu options that can be selected using the touchpads described above.

There are two separate search modes with each offering multiple adjustments that allow users to "dial in the detector" to meet one's needs when searching for any type of targets. The Discrimination mode allows you to determine how much rejection is applied at a given site. This is a basic circuit in that as you increase the discrimination level, you reject more and accept less. Unfortunately there may be targets you are hoping to find that will be rejected at higher levels which means you would need to balance out how much trash you were willing to recover versus how many potentially good targets you were willing to pass up. The Discrimination mode is a good choice if you plan on running with little or no rejection and is often used when relic or beach hunting. The mode most coin hunters will opt for is the Notch Discrimination mode. This allows you to accept or reject each of the 8 segments independently and in doing so, lets you ignore a specific type of trash that might register above the segment containing the type of target you want to recover. An example of where this comes in handy would when hunting around bleachers at your local school. You know there are plenty of coins waiting to be recovered but just looking at the ground surrounding this area, you know there are 100's if not 1,000's of pull tabs and screw caps as well. To hunt this area without recovering 50 pounds of scrap aluminum, simply select the Notch Discrimination mode and reject the segments that include the trash you want to avoid. Making adjustments is quite easy and the flexibility this mode provides makes it the one most hunters will use in their searches.

The TC2X's target identification capabilities will help you dig more treasure and less trash in the field. The first part of the target ID system is the 8-segment display on the LCD screen. When a target is detected, its composition is analyzed and a probable identification provided by illuminating one of the segments. The groups of metals covered by these segments include IRON, FOIL, NICKEL, PULL TABS, SCREW CAP, ZINC 1C, DIME and QUARTER. If you are primarily searching for other items such as old relics or jewelry on beaches, some testing on known targets will help you learn which segment will correspond to the type of targets you hope to find and just as importantly, the type you would rather not waste time digging. In addition to the visual display, the TC2X provides audio target identification by producing one of four different tones based on the type of target that has been detected. The tones are BASS (iron), LOW TONE (tinfoil, nickels, small pull tabs and some gold jewelry), MEDIUM TONE (larger pull tabs, screw caps, military artifacts, zinc pennies and small silver jewelry) and HIGH TONE (old pennies, higher denomination coins and silver jewelry). Combining these two systems, one can make an informed decision if a detected target is worth recovering based on the area being searched and the type of targets being sought.

The TC2X is powered by 6 AA batteries contained in a pod in the rear of the control housing. Alkaline batteries will provide approximately 25 hours of operation while rechargeable batteries (which can be used) will provide close to 20 hours. There is a full-time battery strength indication on the LCD screen which helps ensure you do not find yourself with dead batteries miles from the nearest store resulting in a lost day of hunting.

Field Test

Since one of the targeted markets for the Treasure Commander series was the group of people that wanted to give treasure hunting a try without having to skip a mortgage payment, I opted to let a co-worker, Mark Cook, who had expressed an interest in metal detecting take the TC2X home still sealed in the box it arrived in. Without giving him any guidance other than to see how easily it could be unpacked, assembled and operated, I was interested to see how he would do getting started in the hobby.

A few days later he said that he had put it together and that the instructions were well-written and simple to follow. He did ask for a few tips on possible locations to try it out and I recommended that the first spots should be where targets were plentiful and digging was easy such as wood-chip filled playgrounds, a small beach near his house and the bus-loading areas at the local elementary school. About two weeks later he brought the detector back so that I could finish the field test and as he pulled it out of his trunk in the parking lot, he held out a plastic bag filled with coins, keys and a few other neat finds. Despite having never used a metal detector before, he said that the TC2X had been easy to assemble and fun to use . . . of course, I'm sure that coming home with a bag of treasure did not hurt!

That evening I disassembled the detector and then reassembled it to see how easy threading the coil cable up inside the shaft would be and was quite surprised at how easy it was. The Treasure Commander series is not the first detector that routes the coil cable inside the shaft which protects the cable and eliminates snags when hunting overgrown sites but the combination of the cable material and the innovative tool that they provide to aid in pulling it makes it far simpler than what you might have experienced before. It definitely has a solid, well-balanced feel and the unique "pistol grip with trigger guard" design shows that sometimes breaking the mold is a good thing.

Local schools are always good test sites for detectors that are not being touted as "professional level" models. Targets - both good and bad - are plentiful and there is always the chance of finding a piece of jewelry or a few older coins that can make for a "Red Letter Day". There were a few schools nearby which had large expanses of grass so that was where I headed out to do some testing.

As with any detector, less discrimination is always the best option as unusual targets that might have value such as charms, odd-shaped jewelry, tokens, keys - the list is quite long - can be inadvertently rejected at high levels of discrimination. One can always increase the amount of discrimination if conditions warrant but starting low is always a good idea. Rejecting the first two segments, I selected Ground Grab and quickly set the TC2X for the ground mineralization present using the direction provided through the on-screen prompts. There was very little chatter or falsing even at higher sensitivity settings which was nice to see as that often frustrates new users who think they are passing up real targets. The target ID (visual and audio) worked as my testing had shown it would and it helped me ignore most of the trash I came across. Hunting the area where kids lined up waiting for the bus I was surprised at how many pulltabs were turning up. A few quick taps of the touchpads took me into the Notch Discrimination menu allowing me to reject the PULL TABS segment. Returning to the search mode, I was able to bypass virtually every tab while still picking up several nickels and a small gold plated heart charm. Accurate pinpointing took a little practice and I learned that having another target under the coil when you toggle to the Pinpoint mode will either make the target you were trying to zero in on disappear or result in a constant signal which can be confusing. In these types of sites, I found that lifting the coil straight up a few inches before switching to Pinpoint and then lowering it back to the ground greatly improved the TC2X's pinpointing capabilities. Practicing on targets in a test garden will pay off in helping you pinpoint and recover targets faster in the field.

At the second school I stopped at I opted to try the GPS function so before leaving the truck, I selected the GPS mode and saved a point that reflected where I had parked. When I was ready to try another site, I looked up and saw that I was on the opposite side of the school and a good distance from the truck. Going back to the GPS mode, I received a bearing (direction) to head in and a distance to my truck - pretty neat feature! While finding your vehicle in a parking lot adjacent to an open expanse of grass is not something you would need a GPS device for, if you do any relic hunting in an overgrown area, you can easily find yourself disoriented in the woods and the GPS function on the TC2X would help you quickly find your way back to your vehicle in even the densest of conditions or return to a "hot spot" that you come across.

The last few sites I visited before wrapping up the field test included an early 1900's home that I had received permission to search and a pair of wooded areas that had seen action during the Civil War. Several nice finds turned up at the homesite including a pair of Mercury dimes, five Wheat cents and a trade token from a business that had faded into the history books decades earlier. With very little trash present I was able to run with minimal discrimination and higher sensitivity resulting in impressive depth considering the TV2X's price tag. When I headed into the woods for some relic hunting, I found that the coil cable inside the shaft was a well-thought out feature as it eliminated the usual snags from branches one experiences on many other detectors in these conditions. I also liked the 4-tone audio target ID which let me search in heavy underbrush and not have to look at the LCD screen to see what had been detected. Three Minnie Balls, a Williams cleaner bullet and a piece of period brass were recovered and while it might not seem like a "killer haul", finding keepers at well-hunted relic sites is getting harder and harder so I was satisfied as I loaded my gear into the truck.

I found the Treasure Commander TC2X simple to operate and was able to make good finds at the sites that I tested it at. The menu navigation takes a little time to get used to as it is different than most other LCD-type detectors and as I mentioned, pinpointing has a slight learning curve but a few hours in the field practicing on actual in-ground targets will get you over that hump in short order.

Summary

It's been impressive to see the level of performance and the number of features that manufacturers have been putting into detectors that don't break the family budget nowadays. Less than 10 years ago, detectors that offered less in both areas would have cost twice what some of the new models do and the Treasure Commander TC2X is no exception. Solidly built, packed with features including some not found on detectors costing several times what the TC2X does, it deserves a close look if you are looking for a detector to get started with, a backup detector or even a primary unit that does what it claims to do. Si Robertson sums up the new TC2X that bears his signature with the following . . . "This detector is all I wanted it to be - easy to tune, easy to use and packed with features that will let you find more treasure while ignoring trash!"

The TC2X sells for $379 and includes a 1-year warranty covering the entire detector. For more information on the entire line of Treasure Commander metal detectors and to download a copy of the instruction manual, visit the Kellyco website at http://www.kellycodetectors.com. If you call them at (888) 535-5926 or (407) 699-8700, be sure to mention you read about the new line of metal detectors from the Duck Dynasty clan in Lost Treasure Magazine.


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