More years ago than I care to admit, I had the pleasure of testing the first small box detector offered by Tesoro. I used the adage, "good things come in small packages," to describe my feelings about that detector. After using the Conquistador µMax for a couple of weeks, I'll say with no reservation that "even better things come in even smaller packages" from Tesoro.
The Conquistador µMax arrived via UPS late one afternoon about a week after I was asked to do this field test. Since I am a Tesoro dealer, I quickly assembled the detector and headed straight for my test garden totally ignoring the operator's manual until later. Even though the area was bone dry, the Conquistador µMax hit all the targets with ease. Lightweight, very efficient and easy to use best describe this latest detector from Tesoro.
Since I am now semi-retired, I can swing a detector pretty much when I want to rather than when I could get some time off from the old 8 to 5 routine. With only an hour or so of daylight left, I took the unit to an old house site on my country property. That site has been hunted with several detectors over the past few years. I didn't expect to make any earth shaking finds, and I didn't, but I did discover several brass and copper targets that the previous hunts didn't reveal.
I began to wonder why the previous detectors missed those targets. I then started checking the dig areas in All Metal Mode and sure enough, each dig area contained a nail or similar rusted iron target that had masked those targets from the other detectors. The 9x8 coil that is standard for the Conquistador µMax has great target separation, which I find to be a plus, as I don't like to hunt with small coils.
In addition to being microprocessor controlled, the features of the Conquistador µMax are very similar to other Tesoro detectors with a couple of exceptions. This model features a frequency change switch that allows one to change the actual operating frequency of the detector. This switch, in center position, is the normal operating mode. A flip of this switch to either left or right will change the operating frequency 200 Hz above or below the frequency of the center position.
Some reasons that make an operating frequency change useful would be when hunting close to another machine that was on or near the same frequency causing interference or crosstalk with your detector. This could be another Tesoro detector or even some other detector that utilized the same operating frequency. A competition hunt with several Tesoro detectors nearby would be a great place to have this feature.
With all the radio transmitters (including cell phones) in use today, it is very common in urban areas to find that some unknown frequency will make it difficult if not impossible to use a detector in these areas. Moving the frequency switch to another position may make the offending interference go away. Another quick fix to eliminate outside interference in these areas can also be as simple as lowering the level of sensitivity.
A second feature, although standard on some Tesoro models, is a VCO All Metal Mode. In this mode, when the coil nears a target both the pitch and loudness of the audio increase. This makes for easy pinpointing, especially if the target is deep.
A third feature is a manual battery test. The most accurate test of a battery is after it has been used for 10 minutes or so. With this manual test feature, just push the switch left and release. Several beeps indicate a good battery. One or two beeps indicate you should soon replace the battery.
In addition to the above, other controls are the on-off switch combined with the sensitivity control, and a discriminate level control that ranges from all metal detection to a maximum level that will reject some clad coins. (For best results when hunting, remember to set the discriminate to as low a level as practical in the area you are searching.)
The other control is a threshold control and its proper setting is for a pleasing tone when the mode switch is in the All Metal position. This allows you to hear any slight change in pitch or loudness when pinpointing targets. After using your Conquistador µMax for a few hours, you might wish to try setting the threshold to a louder hum in All Metal Mode for making deep targets in the Discriminate Mode sound much louder as compared to the normal setting of the threshold control. (Please note that you must pinpoint in Discriminate Mode or reduce level of threshold in All Metal Mode for accurate pinpointing if this method is used.)
For those familiar with other Tesoro µMax units another noticeable change is the plastic faceplate with louvers instead of holes for the speaker audio to be heard. These louvers will help prevent dirt or light rain from entering the speaker area.
OK, I later took the time to really read the operator's manual to make sure that no features that I hadn't noticed were present. I had pretty much been accurate with my assessment of the features. On the rear cover of the manual, the "new" limited lifetime warranty is spelled out. Although this has been standard policy with the Tesoro warranty for 20+ years, it is now in writing. If, while the original purchaser owns the detector, a malfunction occurs due to failure of parts or workmanship, Tesoro will repair the detector at no charge. The warranty also explains the exceptions to this.
Now, I was ready to take the Conquistador µMax on a "real" outing. I like to hunt athletic fields, as there is always a chance to find nice jewelry items. I made my trip with a hunting buddy who uses a Tesoro Bandido µMax. After a couple of minutes hunting there in bone dry soil, my first target was a clad quarter. Since this area has only given up coins dating back to the late 30's and has been hunted hard, clad and maybe a jewelry item were the expected finds.
After a couple of hours, with my digging hand blistered from digging that concrete-like soil, I was just about ready to call it a day. On the way back to the vehicles, I got a real soft sound and decided to dig. No gold but a real nice silver ring with a heart-shaped design. Since I never turn my detector off until I detect my vehicle, I came up with several more coins.
Before my second outing, we received well over an inch of rain. This sure made digging easier. This trip was to an older school with a lot of real estate that has given up coins dating to the 1850's. On the same property is a softball field that has been used for many years. Since the best parking is near the softball field, I decided that since I was there, I would once again hunt the area near the bleachers. Although I've swung several detectors over this area in the last 35+ years, including Tesoro for 20 years or so, maybe something neat was still left for this latest Tesoro detector.
Well, there were a couple of surprises in store for me. After a few minutes of swinging as close to the bleachers as possible, the first target was a wheat cent about 3 inches deep. Gee, how in the world did all those other detectors miss that one? A couple of swings later, I got another very weak smooth signal. After digging about 6 inches, I found a 1941 Mercury dime. I even returned to the vehicle and retrieved a ruler to measure. The imprint of the dime was very visible in the hole and was a measured 6.5 inches from the surface.
A couple of wheat cents, a couple of toy cars and a hundred or more coins were found during the balance of this outing. Another outing netted a silver Washington quarter and many modern coins. I made about 6 trips with a total hunting time of about 18 hours actually swinging the coil. Over 500 coins, the one silver ring and several interesting trinkets were found during that time.
I even thought about taking the Conquistador µMax relic hunting, but then I thought about the snakes and those mean looking spiders and decided that this trip would be best postponed until cold weather when such critters are not present. I did visit a couple of house sites that are reasonably clean and found the usual farm implements and other discarded junk along with a few modern coins. The depth of detection on a couple of targets was exceptional, and as already mentioned, the ability to pick out a good target in trash was almost like using a small coil.
I also took the Conquistador µMax to a Gulf of Mexico beach and found that to my surprise, it would work very well on the wet salt sand at a higher sensitivity level than many detectors I've tried there. No gold, but a few deep crummy coins convinced me that if you own the Conquistador µMax, there will be little, if any, need for any other detector to use on a salt-water beach. (Note: Most beaches on the gulf in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi have low mineral content. Your results on other beaches could differ due to a higher mineral content.)
The Conquistador µMax is a turn-on-and-go detector that doesn't require hours of reading and rereading the operator's manual. It is lightweight and has one of the better discriminate circuits available along with the best warranty that I know about. Depth of detection is good, and it will only take a few hours in the field to become proficient with this detector.
One observation I made during the tests is that even though some of the areas I hunted are noted for having high mineral content, I was able to use the detector with the sensitivity control set past 10 and at least halfway into the "max boost" area. This will be a big plus for finding the deeper targets while using the Conquistador µMax.
That first "small box" detector that I mentioned field testing is still working and has never required any repairs. Occasional battery replacement is the only cost since 1983. I'm convinced that this Conquistador µMax has much better electronics, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to any customer who wants a detector of this type and in this price range.
When you get yours, please be sure to read the manual as it contains some very good points in addition to the "how to use" the detector section. The additional information includes how to properly retrieve a target and the Metal Detectorist's Code of Ethics. With all the "watchdog groups" now wanting to save the world, I feel that it is imperative that we all try to leave each area we hunt in better condition than we find it. This includes filling all holes, even those made by others, and properly disposing of all trash, whether we dig it or someone just tossed it up and walked out from under it.
(Tylon Brook is an authorized Tesoro dealer who operates Brook's Detectors located in Ramer, AL. He will be glad to answer any questions concerning the Conquistador µMax or other Tesoro detector. He can be reached at 334-281-1806 or email kenoTy@att.net.)