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Simple BFO Metal Locator

This circuit uses a single coil and nine components to make a particularly sensitive low-cost metal locator. It works on the principle of a beat frequency oscillator (BFO). The circuit incorporates two oscillators, both operating at about 40kHz. The first, IC1a, is a standard CMOS oscillator with its frequency adjustable via VR1. The frequency of the second, IC1b, is highly dependent on the inductance of coil L1, so that its frequency shifts in the presence of metal. L1 is 70 turns of 0.315mm enamelled copper wire wound on a 120mm diameter former. The Faraday shield is made of aluminium foil, which is wound around all but about 10mm of the coil and connected to pin 4 of IC1b.

Circuit diagram:

Simple BFO Metal Locator Circuit Diagram

Simple BFO Metal Locator Circuit Diagram

The two oscillator signals are mixed through IC1c, to create a beat note. IC1d and IC1c drive the piezo sounder in push-pull fashion, thereby boosting the output. Unlike many other metal locators of its kind, this locator is particularly easy to tune. Around the midpoint setting of VR1, there will be a loud beat frequency with a null point in the middle. The locator needs to be tuned to a low frequency beat note to one or the other side of this null point. Depending on which side is chosen, it will be sensitive to either ferrous or non-ferrous metals. Besides detecting objects under the ground, the circuit could serve well as a pipe locator.

Author: Thomas Scarborough – Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics

Tags: metal detector

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