About a week before Christmas while talking with James from Tesoro Electronics, he asked how I liked the new Bandido II µMax. I told him about how good it was for relic hunting, both Civil War and old homesites, and for coin shooting. Naturally, the subject changed over to nugget shooting, which I had not had the opportunity to try yet. James asked if I would like to field test the µMax Diablo metal detector. Well he didn’t need to ask twice. I said that I would be glad to. Having tested and used most of Tesoro’s new µMax detectors, I knew I would not be disappointed.
The µMax Diablo arrived on the first day of the new year—just in time to start the new year off right. The first impression when unboxing the µMax Diablo was "where’s the beef?" It was so small and lightweight (just over 2 lbs) you could just about hide the control box in the palm of your hand. But when I took a second look, I noticed the quality and workmanship (anodized aluminum upper shaft, lower fiber pole and isolator tip, push pins with locking nut for adjusting the length of the shaft, padded arm rest). It was the same quality that I had found in all of Tesoro’s products.
After reading the owner’s manual cover to cover, I found out that this was a totally different machine from the original Diablo, which I had good luck with in the past.
After assembling the µMax Diablo (which was a snap) and installing the single nine-volt battery, which delivers typically 30 hours of battery life, I set the detector on the counter to get a good look at the control box. The first thing I noticed was that the µMax Diablo had six different controls on it. All of the controls were on the front of the control box where they should be for easy access to the operator: 1) On & off sensitivity, 2) Threshold, 3) Pinpoint switch, 4) Hot rock—normal ground—black sand mode selector switch, 5) Ground balance control, and 6) Hot rock adjustment control. I was already familiar with most of the controls, but there were a few I was not. This was where the owner’s manual came in handy. (No matter how good or how much you think you know, you should always read the owner’s manual.)
Let’s start with the sensitivity control, which basically means how small a target is & how deep it is located. In other words the further clockwise the sensitivity, the deeper it will detect a target; also the smaller the target it will detect. The setting will vary depending on ground conditions and interference.
Threshold—this is the control that you adjust clockwise until you get a tone that is just audible for your hearing.
Pinpoint switch—this is a push button switch, which turns off the audio tune circuitry allowing the operator to stop over the target and maintain a tone making the target easier to locate.
Mode selector switch has three positions. It normally stays in the center position, which is labeled “normal ground.” The lower position is labeled “black sand,” which is used for heavy minerals. The upper position is something new. It is labeled “hot rock.” This control works in conjunction with the hot rock adjustment control. In other words, you can put the mode switch in the hot rock mode position then adjust out a hot rock using the hot rock adjustment control and you will find that the detector will pick up a nugget thru the hot rock. If the mineral (hot rock) is tuned out or not seen, it only leaves the nugget, which for all practical purposes is the only thing left—no hot rock.
The only control left is the ground adjust. I have found thru the years that this is the hardest adjustment for most people to understand. This control is really simple. All you need is a slight tone that you achieve with the threshold control. Then you adjust the ground balance control for the same tone—both with the loop in the air and with the loop on the ground. What you are after is to have no change in tone. When you achieve no change in tone, the ground balance is set correctly.
Now comes my favorite part about trying out a new detector—field testing. About a week after receiving the µMax Diablo, my wife, Leslie, and I finally had some free time, so we loaded up our equipment in the jeep and headed to a spot in which we had found nuggets in the past. This was one of our favorite nugget hunting sites. We had tested a lot of different detectors at this site. When we arrived at the site we put on our hipwaders, grabbed our headphones, gold pan, pick, knife, plus the µMax Diablo. Then we headed for the creek.
Some of the reasons that we liked this spot for nugget shooting was the shallow water. It had lots of exposed bedrock, and it did not have a lot of overburden plus it was a prime location according to a reprint by the State of Georgia. (This is where the largest nugget in GA came from. Imagine the potential!)
Arriving at the creek, I turned on the detector, set my sensitivity and threshold and then adjusted my ground balance. We had only been detecting a few minutes when we received our first signal in a crack in the bedrock. Leslie was digging out the crack and putting the material in the gold pan. I was checking the gold pan with the µMax Diablo when we got a signal. The only thing left to do was pan out our target, which turned out to be a very, very small piece of metal. I was impressed because the target was very tiny, yet I still received a good signal with the µMax Diablo. We continued hunting the area for about 2 hours. We found three small nuggets. The largest one weighed about half penny weight. We also found one Wheat penny dated 1944.
Overall, I was really impressed with the performance of the µMax Diablo. It handled the ground minerals beautifully. The unit was very stable and required very little adjustment. All adjustments on the µMax Diablo could be done with the thumb of the hand holding the detector. Another feature that I really liked was the fact that the control box was mounted on top of the shaft. This was an added benefit because when you dig in the water and then pick up the detector with a wet hand, the water runs off of your finger and drips down. If the control box was underneath the shaft, the water could drip down and short-out the control box, which I have done in the past with several different detectors.
All in all, if you are looking for a good gold machine that is easy to use and that handles the minerals very well and also has a lifetime warranty, you might want to consider the µMax Diablo.