Arduino And Wire Detects Metal

Our old math teacher famously said, “You have to take what you know and use it find what you don’t know.” The same holds true for a lot of microcontroller designs including [rgco’s] clever metal detector that uses very little other than an Arduino. The principle of operation is simple. An Arduino can measure time, a coil and a resistor will create a delay proportional to the circuit values, and metal around the coil will change the coil’s inductance. As the inductance changes, so does the delay and, thus, the Arduino can sense metal, as you can see in the video below.

The simple principle is also simple in practice. Besides the Arduino and the coil, there’s a single resistor. You want a small coil since larger coils won’t detect smaller objects. If you don’t want to wind your own coil, [rgco] suggests using a roll of hookup wire as long as the resistance is under 10 ohms.

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Precision Metal Detector Finds Needles In Haystacks

Full-size metal detectors are great for narrowing down a region to start digging through. But what if you had a smaller metal detector that could pinpoint the location? Then you could spend far less time digging and way more time sweeping for metal.

Metal detectors work because of the way metal behaves around electromagnetic fields. [mircemk] reused the ferrite core from an old MW radio to build the antenna coils. When metal objects are close enough, the induced electromagnetism changes the frequency, and the Arduino blinks an LED and beeps a buzzer in time with the new frequency.

[mircemk]’s handheld metal detector is quite sensitive, especially to smaller objects. As you can see in the demo video after the break, it can sense coins from about 4cm away, larger objects like lids from about 7 cm, and tiny things like needles from a few millimeters away. There’s also an LED for treasure hunting in low light.

Don’t want to pinpoint a bunch of useless junk? Build in some phase detection to help you discriminate.

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A Lawnmower That Looks Where You’re Going

As a kid, one of the stories my dad told me was about mowing a fairly large field of grass on the farm with a gas-powered push mower. One day, some sort of farm tool was left in the field and the old industrial mower shredded it, sending a large piece of sharp metal hurtling toward his leg. Luckily for my dad, the large plastic wheel managed to stop the piece of metal, destroying the wheel. My grandfather was frustrated that he needed to repair the lawnmower but was grateful that my dad still had both feet attached.

Of course, this story was used as a lesson for me not to gripe about having to mow the lawn when it was my turn, but there was also the lesson that lawnmowers can be dangerous. [DuctTape Mechanic] took it upon himself to see if he could prevent that sort of accident altogether and has created an automatic safety shutdown mechanism for his family lawnmower. (Video embedded below.)

This uses an inductive sensor that can detect metal before it gets sucked into the mower itself. The sensor trips a relay which forcibly shuts the mower down by grounding the ignition coil. While it doesn’t physically stop the blade like other safety mechanisms, it does prevent a situation from escalating by turning off power to the blade as soon as possible. Getting to the ignition coil wasn’t easy as it required getting deep into the engine itself, but now [DuctTape Mechanic] has a mower that could be expanded further with things such as with a capacitive sensor or more smarts to determine if it is detecting underground or above ground metal.

Someday we’ll have robotic mowers, but until then, we laud the efforts of hackers out there trying to make the world a little safer.

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Hackaday Podcast 066: The Audio Overdub Episode; Tape Loop Scratcher, Typewriter Simulator, And Relay Adder

Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys stomp through a forest full of highly evolved hardware hacks. This week seems particularly plump with audio-related projects, like the thwack-tackular soldenoid typewriter simulator. But it’s the tape-loop scratcher that steals our hearts; an instrument that’s kind of two-turntables-and-a-microphone meets melloman. We hear the clicks of 10-bit numbers falling into place in a delightful adder, and follow it up with the beeps and sweeps of a smartphone-based metal detector.

Direct download (~60 MB)

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Progressive Or Thrash? How Metal Detectors Discriminate

Metal detecting is a fun pastime, even when all you can find is a little bit of peace and a whole lot of pop tabs. [Huygens Optics] has a VLF-based metal detector that offers much more feedback than just a beep or no beep. This thing is fancy enough to discriminate between types of metal and report back a numerical ID value from a corresponding range of conductivity.

Most pop tabs rated an ID of 76 or 77, so [Huygens Optics] started ignoring these until the day he found a platinum wedding band without looking at the ID readout. Turns out, the ring registered in the throwaway range. Now thoroughly intrigued by the detector’s ID system, [Huygens Optics] set up a test rig with an oscilloscope to see for himself how the thing was telling different metals apart. His valuable and sweeping video walk-through is hiding after the break.

A Very Low-Frequency (VLF) detector uses two coils, one to emit and one to receive. They are overlapped just enough so that the reception coil can’t see the emission coil’s magnetic field. This frees up the reception coil’s magnetic field to be interrupted only by third-party metal, i.e. hidden treasures in the ground.

Once [Huygens Optics] determined which coil was which, he started passing metal objects near the reception coil to see what happened on the ‘scope. Depending on the material type and the size and shape of the object, the waveform it produced showed a shift in phase from the emission coil’s waveform. This is pretty much directly translated to the ID readout — the higher the phase shift value, the higher the ID value.

We’ve picked up DIY metal detectors of all sizes over the years, but this one is the ATtiny-ist.

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An ATtiny Metal Detector

A metal detector used to be an entirely analogue instrument, an oscillator whose frequency changed with the inductance of its sense coil when a piece of metal approached. [Łukasz Podkalicki] shows us a more sophisticated machine, but with judicious use of an ATtiny 13 it is not a complex one.

A pulsed induction metal detector induces a current spike in its search coil, and times the decay of the resulting oscillation. The coil is part of a resonant circuit with a capacitor, and any metal in its field will change its resonant frequency. In [Łukasz]’s design the ATtiny13 fires a pulse at his coil using a MOSFET, and the voltages at the coil are sensed by an analogue pin through an appropriate clamp circuit. His software does the timing, and sounds a buzzer upon metal detection. It’s a deliciously simple implementation, and while as he shows us in the video below the break its relatively small coil is more suited to detecting coins or wires behind the drywall than locating lost hoards, there is probably ample scope for further experimentation.

This isn’t the first project from [Łukasz] that has found its way into these pages, his history with the ATtiny13 goes back a few years.

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A Graph Plotting Metal Detector

Metal detectors can be a great source of fun, and occasionally even found wealth. They allow the detection of metal objects at a distance, enabling hidden treasures to be discovered. They’re also highly critical to the work of minesweepers and unexploded ordnance disposal teams. [Andrius] wanted to add such a device to his kit when motorcycling through the woods of Lithuania, and thus decided to undertake a build of his own.

The detector is a thoroughly modern one – fans of the 555 may want to look away now. A Collpits oscillator, built from two transistors, is used to generate a frequency that is passed through the detection coil. This frequency is measured by an Arduino that plots a graph of the received frequency on an OLED display. As the coil is passed near metal objects, the oscillator frequency changes, and this is visible on the frequency plot on-screen.

Not only is it a quick and easy build that is achievable from what are now junkdraw components, it’s also one that would be readily usable by the hearing-impaired, too. It’s a great project to tackle if you’re looking to get to grips with basic oscillators, frequency measurement, or just microcontroller programming in general.

Still need more inspiration? We’ve seen a similar concept executed before.