I've done quite a bit of research into hand held metal detector technologies. Beat Frequency Oscillator (BFO) is quite old. Very Low Frequency (VLF) is 25+ years old technology. Pulse Induction (PI) technology is the latest technology out there for metal detecting, and good quality PI metal detector units can retail well into the thousands of dollars.
An excellent discussion of metal detection technologies can be found here: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/other-gadgets/metal-detector.htm
For those of us with ADHD who don't have the time/will/want to digest humbling technology write-ups, there are some excellent animations available here how the various metal detector technologies work: http://www.thomasathomas.com/How_Metal_Detectors_Work.htm
PI technology pulses a search coil with current. While the current is flowing in the search coil, it creates a strong magnetic field around the search coil, and this magnetic field imparts energy to any ferrous of non-ferrous object hidden in the soil within range. When the transmit current is rapidly switched off to the search coil, the object found in the soil will rapidly shed its newly excited energy. This shed energy is detected by the search coil in a listening mode. The best lay man's analogy is like sonar where a signal is sent out and it bounces off of an object and then received back at the point of transmission, but instead of using sound, such as sonar, PI metal detectors use magnetic coupling to transmit a pulse and then "listen" for a magnetic received signature.
With the fast sampling ADC contained on the evaluation unit, it should be fast enough to directly sample the received signal from the target object located in soil The received data is then crunched by the onboard DSP. Should this unit be used for gold nugget detecting, a sample must be collected within 10us of turning off the transmission pulse. Searching for coins and other metal objects makes for more forgiving (longer) timing margins. TX/RX receive circuit design is crucial to support fast unit step response margins. The most critical element of a metal detector is the search coil, and with proper construction, getting a valid RX signal within 10us after ending the TX pulse is possible controlling the inductance and coupling capacitance along with "tuning" the coil after construction. In geological conditions where BFO and VLF metal detectors cannot operate, the PI metal detectors excel in highly mineralized and magnetically "hot" soils because a relatively novel ground balance hardware trick is used and the magnetically "hot" soil's signature decays too rapidly for the metal detector to detect. The downside is that PI metal detectors cannot discriminate between ferrous and non-ferrous objects easily. If you are using a PI detector to hunt for gold, such as here in Arizona, discrimination is not wanted because there is very little trash in the soil for false alarms (such as beer caps), and gold has magnetic signatures of either ferrous or nonferrous materials depending on the mass of gold detected. Yes, here in Arizona, there is literally gold laying on the ground, or just beneath it.
Fortunately, for this author, the internet abounds in home built P.I. detector technology, however almost none of it is micro processor controlled. Those existing internet PI metal detector designs available usually use a low horsepower MCU, such as a PIC to control only the hardware timings of the TX/RX signals. Renesas' new high horsepower MCU with DSP capabilities offers new possibilities to light battery powered metal detectors.
Some existing PI metal detector designs:
The HammerHead - Quite a good reputation for a home build unit. Not MCU controlled. http://www.geotech1.com/cgi-bin/pages/common/index.pl?page=metdet&file=projects/hammerhead/index.dat
The GoldPic PI - a PIC controlled unit that attempts to directly sample data using an external ADC. http://www.geotech1.com/cgi-bin/pages/common/index.pl?page=metdet&file=/projects/goldpic/index.dat
The QED - A MCU/DSP "vaporware" development effort with a lot of unsubstantiated pre-hype trash talk that has been ongoing for several years now, but has never been released into the "wild". http://arizonaoutback.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=8339&st=40
Still curious as to your progress. This is the same information posted back in Jan. 8. http://www.renesasrulz.com/search.jspa?peopleEnabled=true&userID=&containerType=&container=&q=vlf Although the "Laymans" description is a bit off, but sufficient for those that don't work with EM fields and Metals.
Yes this was a copy/paste from my original checkin post. I am starting a construction blog and this was the first posting. I have some photos to post, but they are on my camera at home. More to be added later.
I have constructed a fast coil. Attached are construction photos.
Teflon coated wire and polyethelene wrap are used because of their low dielectric constants which is good for fast coil recovery times.
The wire insulation has thickness which is good for reducing interwinding capacitive coupling and speading up coil speed, as opposed to enameled coated wire.
Scotch No. 24 wire mesh is used as shielding because it provides EMI shielding while the mesh provides reduced capacitive coupling compared to a solid shielding.
I have configured MTU6 to output the two PWM outputs required to drive the coil and enable the amplifiers during the sampling period.
Attached is a screenshot of the pulse and the output sampling pulse.
Here is the breadboarded MOSFET driver along with the MOSFET used to drive the Coil pictured in photo. Flyback voltage of 400V was achieved with a 50us pulse of 10V. The coil is about 5 ohms which means about a 2A pulse on the transmit cycle.
Here is the coil and how it fits into the coil housing.
Notice how the number on the display represents 2^13 = 8190? Yes, a 13 bit virtual ADC has been created from the 12 bit onboard ADC. Anything for that extra bit.
A secret ingredient.
There's a couple of things youcan do for the pulse section. A resistor across the coil will help reduce ringing in the coil at the end of the kick-back pulse. Also you can use a .1 Ohm resistor in series to get an accurate measurement for the current. It will come across as a Triangle wave form, coil resistance is negligable for those, however the inductance tends to become an issue at the lower pulse frequencies.
My furnace controller does 16x oversampling on the temperature sensors to get sub-degree "precision". Despite the specs saying it's only good to 1C, it seems to give believable sub-degree results.
I think oversampling ADCs is a common thing to do... and the RX has a 4x oversample mode too! It must be a good thing to do :-)