Pinpointer buying guide - do I need one and what should I look for?

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Oxgirl
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Pinpointers are an essential tool for many of us but others don’t think they are necessary. So if you are new to detecting you may be asking “should I fork out for one?”

Okay let’s start at the beginning and explain what a pinpointer is. It’s simple really, it’s a mini hand held detector. They are about the size and shape of a carrot. Generally they are sensitive at the end of the pointer and along the main part of the length.

They work by letting you hear (audio mode) or feel (vibrate mode) a stronger signal as you get closer to the target. They don’t generally offer any discrimination so it’ll sound the same whether you are detecting ferrous (iron) or non ferrous targets; the only exception to this is the Minelab Pro-point 35.

Why not just use the machine’s pinpointer?

Most detectors have an in-built pinpointer. This function is great to more precisely target where to dig. The drawback though is that once you dig your hole and you know the target is still in there do you keep digging down or is it in the side of the wall? That’s where a hand held pin pointer will be very useful. They are not as powerful as your detector but they are much more precise and will quickly locate where the target is in the hole, reducing the risk of damaging the target as you dig. They also minimise unnecessary digging or, if the target is out, help in locating it in the spoil. For example if you have a small target, like a cut quarter, finding it in sticky mud is hard work and a pinpointer makes life a lot easier.

Features to look for

Good make - You are taking pot luck if you are buying an unbranded one and we really wouldn’t recommend it. They are often unreliable, have low sensitivity and poorly constructed. There are a few manufacturers of GP pin-pointers (it seems to be a generic name used by a few) so can fall into this category, although some manufacturers of this budget version are pretty good! The main makes are listed below.

Waterproof - There’ll be times you are in torrential rain, you drop it in a puddle or it’s caked in mud and you want to scrub it properly that you’ll be very happy you have this feature. Generally these also have better sealed speaker units too so you won’t be cursing the muffled sound and the surgical mud removal process when it gets soil in it.

Wireless - some pinpointers can connect to your headphones so you hear the signal through them rather than using the speaker built into the device. This saves you taking your headphones off to hear it properly. This feature might be built into your detector (higher end machines only) or you can buy an aftermarket widget (such as the Z link system for a Garrett). Certainly not essential but they do allow you to be a silent ninja on the field (if you prefer audio to vibrate) which is rather nice. Note the wireless function will only work with the same make of detector and not necessarily all models, so check! They work without the wireless function too.

Sensitivity adjustment - the ability to make your pinpointer more or less sensitive. High sensitivity sounds great but it can be a pain in highly mineralised soil and iron infested areas. You can adjust the sensitivity whilst in operation too. You press a button and it will eliminate the background signal allowing the item to be more easily located.

Light - in-built small light for times when the surrounding light is low.

Audio and vibrate options - In addition to one or more sound options some pointers offer a vibrate option. This is useful when there’s a lot of background noise, or you prefer not to make a lot of noise yourself.

Power source - All pinpointers used to be 9v battery powered but some now have rechargeable lithium ones instead. There are pros and cons to both power options.

Lost mode - great feature if you drop the pinpointer and need to locate it in long grass or a big field!

And finally…

Please buy from a trusted source who’ll offer good advice and answer any questions. There are lots of fake ones out there and so if it’s listed cheaper than anywhere else proceed with caution!

Note these tables enlarge when you click on them - much easier on the eyes :geek:
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DaveP
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Oxgirl wrote: Wed Jul 15, 2020 9:05 pm
Most detectors have an in-built pinpointer. This function is great to more precisely target where to dig. The drawback though is that once you dig your hole and you know the target is still in there do you keep digging down or is it in the side of the wall? That’s where a hand held pin pointer will be very useful.
Good post and review.

Couple of extra points if I may:

1. When digging deeper holes where I don't want to expand the hole sideways and make a crater, I use the PP to know when I'm approaching the target. As you get closer the signal gets stronger (more beeps - continuous tone) so you can take more care with the last few bits of soil.

2. The Nokta Pulse Dive (which I use on land just as a PP) is a PI detector/pointer. It doesn't detect hot rocks - well not here. When you have a pile of dirt that your coil says has a target but the Nokta says it isn't there you have to go back to the waving handfuls of dirt approach.
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alloverover
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Never had one personaly and have no intentions of getting one, have never felt the need as I can find a signal pretty quickly withought, only reason i might get one is if I was detecting someone that I like's lawn :D :thumbsup:
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Easylife
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DaveP wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 7:05 am
The Nokta Pulse Dive (which I use on land just as a PP) is a PI detector/pointer. It doesn't detect hot rocks - well not here. When you have a pile of dirt that your coil says has a target but the Nokta says it isn't there you have to go back to the waving handfuls of dirt approach.
So are you just saying that the Nokta Pulse Dive is not so sensitive to small stuff? :?
Good things come to those who wait.
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Easylife
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alloverover wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:54 pm Never had one personally and have no intentions of getting one, have never felt the need as I can find a signal pretty quickly without, only reason i might get one is if I was detecting someone that I like's lawn :D :thumbsup:
I get what you are saying for arable land as it's easy to quickly oink out spadefuls and maybe have the target in the shallow spoil. But for very deep targets they are pretty much an essential in my book to avoid any spade scars. :o :thumbsup:
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DaveP
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Easylife wrote: Thu Jul 30, 2020 2:13 am
So are you just saying that the Nokta Pulse Dive is not so sensitive to small stuff? :?
It finds the small stuff well with the exception of some small, 'non metallic' material.

The sensitivity is fine and as good as anything else I've used or seen used. Below is a 'first' review I did for elsewhere.

I bought a Pulsedive (pinpointer only) just before lockdown to keep in the car for when I'm on rocky beaches looking for fossils or fishing so I can have a mooch around the little gullies. So far it hasn't been to the beach and I expect it will be some time before it gets there.
In the meantime I've been using it on land and here are a few thoughts.

This is a PI unit and will work in salt water. I paid £109 from Unearthed.

On the plus side:
It turns on instantly - I have another Nokta pointer that takes a second or two and I notice the delay.
Sensitivity is adjustable. If you have it on 3-5 make sure your spade is a good foot or more away!
It finds small items of all metal types with ease and good distance and I can't fault its sensitivity and accuracy.
Very solid build.
Buttons (3 of) have rubber covers so we’ll see how they stand up to normal use.
Holster is good and easy but best put on the belt loops and not just the clip.
Rechargeable internal battery seems to give more than enough life but haven't tested full time.

On the picky side:
It's a little heavier than my other pointers but you soon forget that.
It has missed two hot rocks. If you happen to dig a small one and try to locate it in the soil heap it won’t find it. Your VLF detector will which, at first, leads to a bit of confusion.

Sound - are the folks at Nokta deaf! It comes with two end caps - one solid and waterproof, the other with holes in. I don't see the point in the second as it's plenty loud enough with the waterproof cap and, it keeps is waterproof! With the other cap you could alert folks in the next county and I hate very loud pinpointers

On the negative:
It interfered with my T2. You can frequency shift the T2 and the pinpointer. The T2 doesn’t remember but the pointer does and I’ve found a happy setting for them that works in AM and programmes. (Update - this is no longer seems to be a problem - maybe just the way I use it now)
The T2 interferes (sort of) with the pointer and I would guess other detectors might. On a couple of occasions I had put the T2 over 60 cm from the dirt pile. Searching with the pointer it started to pulse as I moved to one side of the dirt pile but I couldn’t find the target. It was picking up the detector. I’ve checked it and now make sure the detector and spade aren’t close.

Overall, I prefer it to the standard waterproof Nokta pointer. On that one I dislike the button position, the delay to start, and the fact the sound started a fault just out of warranty. That had 2 years of average to low use and didn't affect the T2.

When I eventually get to the beach I’ll do an update but it won’t be soon.

If you need it weighed or any distance tests done just shout. I'll do them here and you could probably hear them there!
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Bors
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Not that I will be buying one , but I thought that was quite an interesting read Chris. :thumbsup: it was nice to hear a " wart`s an all " view by an owner.
I used to have a pinpointer that was a tad noisy , all I did was place a thin bit of black electricians tape over the speaker hole. That also served to keep any dirt from getting inside the hole in that particular pinpointer . Not very pretty a bit of tape stuck on the probe but ,very effective and can always be renewed easily.
I have had a Nokta Pin pointer which was I thought built like a "tank" . However, I hated the position of the on/off control on the top end of the pin pointer as opposed to on the side like most pin pointers are. I found it really annoying when holding it in one hand and my detector in the other ,that really for a smooth on /off action ,you need the controls on the side of any pin pointer so as your holding it in your hand ,you can just use the on/off control with your thumb or forefinger while holding it.
Now when the on/off controls on the top end of the pin pointer as with the Nokta type ,I found it very difficult to do that easily as you really have to hold the pin pointer with one hand and then use your other hand to switch it on and off because of the positioning of the control , which is awkward if your holding your detector with the other hand, so I wasn`t happy with that arrangement .I Sold it on and then bought a Quest Xpointer Pro , but now use a Minelab Pro-find 35.
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Another little update.
1. The holster on the Pulsedive has a belt hook. When you crouch down, I never kneel, it lifts off your belt hence the need for the belt loops. All was well until the warm weather. Detecting in a T shirt I could feel the belt hook sticking in my side - pop rivets drilled out and the belt hook has gone. It was a nice idea but not functional.
2. It has an internal rechargeable battery. I had my first low battery experience where I couldn't easily change the sensitivity and it seemed to stay on the lowest, least sensitive, setting. And, it wasn't reacting over the whole of the probe with a pin. No big deal but I now know the symptom.

Overall, it's still a good PP but is it better than any other waterproof pointer - not really as they are all much of a muchness. However, as a PI PP it will be happy in salt water - when I get there!
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I have had the:
Fisher F-Pulse pointer- while it was good at the start it falsed a lot and I had to keep dumping the batteries to reset it.
Garrett Carrot- I have had this for a few years and it can sometimes make noises while in the air but overall my favourite.
XP MI6 - Loved that it would pair with the Deus headphones but found it still wasn`t as good as the Garrett
Cheap Chinese junk- only worked when you had the item in your hand :thumbdown:

I keep my Carrot attached with a lanyard and in my waist bag rather than on a belt, works for me.

If you read my post about my journey to owning a Nox you will see I am a gear collector and reseller but the Carrot is here to stay.
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i've only used them for the past five years there handy to find those small item's such as pellet's etc when out of the hole but could manage without . I've been using a gp pointer for the past 18 month's which to be honest as never let me down and was on par with the two garrett pro pointers i had previously which both packed up just after the warranty ran out. strange that won't be buying garrett again. if your looking for something cheap go for gp pointer but they are made in china so 50/50 chance on getting a good one or a bad one lol.
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Very detailed guide, Cath.
In the No camp regarding a pinpointer.
Find that the built in PP on the 400i is spot on every time.Know immediately when the target is out or which side of the hole it is in.
Same when i use the Bounty Hunter, which has no pinpoint.
Think it is down to no hearing loss as yet and can identify the strongest signal.
Also down to keeping my machines and knowing them well.
Don`t think i will ever get a Pinpointer and one less piece of gear to carry.
Having said that, i do appreciate the effort, detail and time you have put into the guide.
Regards, :thumbsup:
Dave.
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