Autonomous metal detector lets you sit back, get rich

thunderbird7-autonomous-metal-detector

As a kid, metal detectors seemed like great fun. Every commercial I saw beckoned with tales of buried treasure “right in my own back yard” – a bounty hard for any kid to pass up. In reality, the process was both time consuming and tedious, with little reward to be had. [Gareth] liked the idea of scouring the Earth with a metal detector, but he liked sitting and relaxing even more. He decided he could easily partake in both activities if he built himself an autonomous metal detecting robot.

He stripped down a hand held metal detector, and installed the important bits on to the front of an R/C chassis. An Arduino controls the entire rig via a motor shield, allowing it to drive and steer the vehicle while simultaneously sweeping the metal detector over the ground. He fitted the top of the rover with a camera for remotely watching the action from the comfort of his patio, along with a laser which lets him pinpoint the location of his new found goods.

Continue reading to see a short video of the robot in action, and be sure to check out his site for more build details.

Comments

  1. Wm_Atl says:

    just need an army of them to comb the beach. Wonder if this could be used for land mind detection and removal.

  2. In reality, the process was both time consuming and tedious, with little reward to be had.

    I’ve been metal detecting with my dad now for 4 or 5 years and it’s a TON of fun. The hunt can be hard on the body at times, but the desire to find the next old coin, relic or piece of jewelery keeps you going! Not to mention you are up off your ass getting some exercise.

    As for the bot, nice build. Since it has a fairly limited depth range, you might as well add a recovery device. How about a turret on top that holds the metal detector wand on one side, and an excavator bucket with 5/8″ holes (just smaller than a US dime) on the other side? GPS, stepper motor wheels, and then you could REALLY kick back and relax.

  3. Alex Rossie says:

    Might be better if it was a mine detector :)

    How cheap would they need to be to superseed third world child with 5 minutes training and no parents to sue you.

  4. War_Spigot says:

    I agree with what Brett W. said. Either that or it carries around a bunch of joule thieves and drops them when it detects something

  5. cyc4015 says:

    I think it’d be cool if it had a flag dropper that stabs out those cheap surveying flags. I don’t know how tricky that’s be, but it’d be a fair bit more visible than a bunch of scattered LEDs. Or, hook it up with a gps and twitter account and have it tweet coordinates whenever it finds something.

    • GPS accuracy is approximately 1 meter, which is a huge area to be digging up looking for one coin. Even if you could get GPS more accurate (it would need to put a 3″ diameter radius on the target so you are not wasting your time poking around), your handheld GPS device would surely not bring you to each target very easily. GPS is out ;-)

      If you put down flags, and sat back and waited… let’s say you were on a beach. You better be doing this at night or the kiddies will be pulling up your flags, coins and running off whilst laughing their asses off.

      Better for the BOT to just retrieve the target right then and there… besides, it’s right under the surface with this design. A simple scoop will do it. I’m sure the FIRST robotics students would love to meet this challenge ;-)

    • Dave G. says:

      this was my first thought as well. even a gps unit that recorded the co-ords would let you come back to a ‘strike’ later.

  6. von_11 says:

    Or you could add a small spray can marker so when it finds an object it tags the spot (or near it), then moves on to keep searching leaving you to just pick up your new found glory :)

  7. austin says:

    it needs a dog suit…

  8. jaqen says:

    no need to dig, if it has a gps, it can just log the interesting spots, and you just have to follow up with shovel and sifter

    • GPS accuracy is approximately 1 meter, which is a huge area to be digging up looking for one coin. Even if you could get GPS more accurate (it would need to put a 3″ diameter radius on the target so you are not wasting your time poking around), your handheld GPS device would surely not bring you to each target very easily. GPS is out ;-)

      Better for the BOT to just retrieve the target right then and there… besides, it’s right under the surface with this design. A simple scoop will do it. I’m sure the FIRST robotics students would love to meet this challenge ;-)

  9. avoid says:

    nice job,
    let it go with a grid of gps and then transmit the objekt position on a pc to create a map of objekts.

    • This is why I suggested GPS… more for mapping approx. where the BOT has been, and general patterns with where the finds were… and keeping it from going back over the same spot in the same direction too soon. However, if the BOT found a concentration of targets… it could be programmed to return to that area griding it in multiple directions until all targets were recovered.

  10. tom says:

    if you’ve watched The Gadget Geeks on uk’s satellite channel Sky1 you’ll see they did this too. Old wheelchair, arduino guts and a DifferentialGPS station so it could report finds back. It spraypainted tge floor too!

  11. John U says:

    Surely this is the ideal job for a Roomba?

  12. soopergooman says:

    cool you should call it K-9. nice build. maybe a small siren goes off when you get a find. other than that wouldnt change a thing.

  13. soopergooman says:

    TWOONIES, are you Canadian eh?

  14. Z says:

    Not a twoonie

  15. richard wishart says:

    Hi there. I have a couple of questions:
    Does your bot follow a specified scanning pattern?
    What depth can the sensor scan to?
    Can it determine between ferrous and non-ferrous metals?

    I only ask because I want to build a tracked offroad version!
    I liked the flag plant idea and I thought that writing some code that zeros in on the strongest signal (interupting the scan the scan pattern) would make sifting through loads of dirt a lot easier!

  16. Walid says:

    I have few questions:
    1- is it for sale and for how much ?
    2- how easy is to build it for a beginner ?
    3- what is the approximate cost if it is built ?
    4- how deep can it find stuff. Can it work for land mines ?
    Thanks
    Walid

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