Detecting made simple: Neil Jones gives the CTX3030 a full review

On his last blog, Neil Jones talked about taking the Minelab CTX3030 out for the first time, and his finds on a building site in Buckinghamshire. Now Neil takes the CTX out for a full review, giving you the full lowdown on Minelab’s new metal detector…

It was Monday night and I couldn’t sleep, the anticipation was getting to me.

I had ordered the CTX3030 from Joan Allen that morning for next day delivery, so my imagination was in overdrive. I couldn’t not have one after having a go with Gordon’s prototype machine on the building site a few months previously.

I finally nodded off into detector dreamland. At around 11pm I got a call from my mum that a parcel had arrived, I always use my mum and dad`s address for parcels as one of them is always likely to be in.

I couldn’t get there till late afternoon but when I did I started the unwrapping routine to eventually expose all the parts of the new machine. I laid the instructions on the floor at the side of my kneeling down position and followed them to the word.

To my surprise and for a change I sailed through the assembly without a fault so well done Minelab on that one.

As usual at this time of year there was nowhere that wasn’t in crop to test it so I got in the car and headed for the woods in my local area.

I decided to start on a footpath I had done lots of times in the past that leads to some moorland that has flat mossy grass patches in between the heather where lots of people in the Victorian and Edwardian times used to picnic and walk on there weekends off from work, as there were also stone-built tearooms nearby.

I switched on the machine and heard the Minelab jingle, I purposely left the machine in factory settings to get the general gist of it straight from the box.

I began to swing steadily at the beginning of the path, straight away noticed the low tone of the iron which was immediately interrupted with a high pitch feep feep signal and at 8” there was a well rotted pre-decimal penny. The signal was strong and not the least bit faded as it would have been with the Etrac, and the pinpointing was precise, I didn’t need to use the pinpoint button, I moved on and got several more signals that were all over the 8” mark but no keepers.

The path goes past a small area of moorland I described at the beginning and where my next search began.

I started on the first heather bare patch I came to, after a few minutes I got a strong signal and dug up the top of the handle of a pewter spoon or fork, then another signal got me a small butterfly charm and again the signal was strong and loud.

This is too easy I thought. Most of the signals I get here should be faint but this was not the case with the CTX3030. I carried on for a while and found more coins etc. one hole gave me £4.20 so that gave me a good buzz.

The target trace was precise on all but the deepest coins although even at depth you could make out a faint red smudge.

I decided to finish and go on the laptop to fine tune things and put my own program in. I downloaded Exchange 2 and started tweaking, which is straightforward to do for a change. I used combined and put conduct 708, 614, 511, 288, and ferrous 1191, this made the signals all low to medium tones which would be pleasant and iron was a high tone, response-smooth, recovery-deep, target separation – high trash,sensitivity manual, gain 24, volume limit 30, threshold pitch 1.

I took the machine to a local park and onto a patch of grass I had been scanning for a couple of decades every now and then. I decided to systematically search up and down an area half the size of a tennis court.

The high sound of iron was obvious from the off and an instant loud medium tone, as was beginning to be usual it sounded near surface but wasn’t and was a Edwardian half penny at around 7”. I carried on and at near the edge of the grass border I got a crisp signal with a lovely red splodge on the screen, I dug the turf and flipped it back on the hinge and saw a thick root from the tree in the border.

I started to angle the spade under the root scraping the soil left to right and emptying the hole till I got a signal from the spoil on top revealing a nice 1916 sixpence, I carried on and the machine kept pulling out coins and artefacts including a solid silver 1920’s watch face with enamel dial and gold numbers, when I got back home I looked up my search pattern on geo hunt to see how thorough I had covered the area.

I was really surprised to see how often I had veered from the left or right! What did I miss? This feature is fantastic for those of us who are devout winklers on good Roman, Medieval etc hotspots, this to me is a great tool. Managing all this on the computer is even easy for a computer muppet like me.

I decided to put 50 conductive tones all metal, sensitivity manual, gain 30, volume limit 30, threshold pitch 1, response-smooth, recovery-deep, target separation – high trash which is really the same set up as I had on the E Trac.

Now I was right at home and ready to push the machine to its limits, I went back to the first footpath mention and slowly searched the same length.

The first signal I got was a slight low tone, after taking a little soil out I noticed a tiny turquoise stone set in a tiny silver mount, I was chuffed with this find as it shows how sensitive the machine is.

My next signal was a small medium tone just showing through in-between the high iron signals, at around 6” I could see silver, it was the corner chape of a wallet or something similar with a nice hallmark and a most welcome find indeed.

After a few small shapeless bits of metal and a penknife I got a dodgy iron surrounded low signal and retrieved half of a silver earring and this is certainly a find that does show the prowess of the CTX, a few signals later I got a tiny round silver loop that that wasn’t joined together, now my trust in the CTX was complete!

I cannot wait till the crops come off the fields to try for the older stuff, my next search is going to be 3 days on Blackpool beach which should be interesting.

This detector is so so easy to use, right from beginner to pro it covers all needs from the off, it really is detecting made simple.

Have you used the CTX3030 – what are your thoughts? If you’ve been out detecting recently, let us know and share your finds on the Joan Allen Facebook page.


Neil reviews the Minelab CTX3030 and shares his top detecting finds

The Joan Allen blog would like to introduce Neil Jones, who will be talking about his latest finds and exploits from the world of metal detecting.

In his first post, Neil talks about using the Minelab CTX3030 detector and seeing if it lives up to its hype.

CTX 3030 – First trial

Two months before the release of the new Minelab CTX3030 I was asked by Gordon Heritage (“Iron Hearted Gog” on the forums) if I would like to have a go with it.

It didn’t take much persuading even though I had to travel down to Buckinghamshire for around four hours detecting time due to Gordon’s work schedule.

I arrived at Gordon’s and had one of his famous filtered coffees which livened me up a little too much, as I’m hyper anyway and that isn’t good for Gordon as he’s sort of laid back.

We set off for the site which was only fifteen minutes of Gogg time away (35 mins). The site was a muddy building site which had been heavily detected for around a month so this would be a good test for the machine.

Building site:

As soon as we got out of our cars to get set up it started spitting which made Gordon speak a colourful language as we walked to the site.

I was to use the CTX 3030 and Gordon was to use my E Trac. He started me off on a basic setting which he soon changed for me to his tadpole program as that was more to my style of searching.

I set off swinging steady and carefully, I could hear the iron as the site is very mineralised and straight away a low tone which sounded like it was a surface signal ended up being a piece of lead at around 6”, which surprised me somewhat.

The next signal was a similar tone but this time was a hammered half penny at approx 5” and again sounded like a near surface signal. It was lovely seeing the the thin edge of the small grey disc just peeping out of the small clay clod – that’s one of my fave parts of detecting, the slow opening of the parcel while taking clodcam pics I just love it.


I gave Gordon the hammered sign and got the thumbs up then carried on. After a few bits of lead I got a medium tone signal, it was surrounded by iron but was surprisingly clear. I dug out a roman coin of Constantine in quite good condition.

The CTX was so easy to use and understand, searching for finds seemed like taking candy from a baby it was that easy.

The coins just gave themselves up willy nilly, lots sounded like the were just under the surface but were 6 and more inches down.

I got twelve Roman bronzes from that tight area then moved down to a water flooded part of the sight and got a smooth medium tone. I dug a large lump of shiny wet sticky yellow clay from about 2ft in to the puddle and started trimming the lump carefully with my spade till I revealed a tell tale round disc which was a Henry VII sovereign penny. Wow I thought two hammered from the site and its been visited loads by other detectorists.

 Sovereign penny:

Another Hammy sign to the Gogmeister and I carried on, I decided to detect a big area behind a long mount of soil. There was more trash here than the other part but I carried on, a smooth high pitch signal stopped me in my tracks.

Gordon had the CTX set so the highest signals were larger finds and the iron was a few octaves lower. At around a foot I could see a green round disc, the coin was Roman and cruddy but a welcome find at depth and it wasn’t even faint!

Green disc:

I found a few medieval buckles and mounts but the heavens opened and it poured it down making the site too sticky to work.

I saw Gordon stood under a tree so went to join him, on the way I heard another high pitched signal and retrieved a worn Lizzy sixpence. “That will do me”, I thought to myself, me and Gordon then stood under the tree for twenty minutes discussing the machine and our thoughts on it.

We drove back to Gordon’s house and he showed me all the set up on the computer, real hi-tec, I devised my own program and think its the mutts nutts.

My opinion on the CTX 3030 is that it’s the most versatile general purpose detector on the market, very easy to use even on switch on and very very well balanced so easy to swing for long periods. I have now purchased one as the urge was killing me.

I will give more in depth info in the very near future using the CTX on different sites including the beach. Happy Hunting folks!

Neil’s next post will be available on the Joan Allen blog next week. Let us know if you have been out detecting recently and share your finds on the Joan Allen Facebook page.


The Ultimate Metal Detecting Story: Introducing The Three Tiles

Well its taken 35 years of metal detecting, research and I guess life experience to write and have my first ever novel published.

This is something truly different; an adventurous account concerning a small Oxfordshire village. The plot is stuffed full of local gritty characters, fate, legend, myth and of course a healthy serving of fact.

This is a tale about luck and fate but also one of sheer determination that eventually leads to a monumental outcome. This outcome finally establishes once and for all the factors behind an important historical event of prime importance to the culture and heritage of Britain.

Starting in the 17th Century, it takes the reader through World War One with its tragic effects and then into the 1940`s ferocious overhead aerial combats that formed The Battle of Britain.

It then looks at the archaeological excavation of a shot down German bomber in the year 2018 and then delves backwards two thousand years to explain the incredible findings.

If you really like mysteries, with fascinating timeline connections back and forth throughout history, things that get lost and then found with an outcome that will make your jaw drop, then I believe this book may well be for you.

The fascinating thing here is that in reality any one reader or group of readers could well become entangled in the plot of this book and go on to actually become an important part of the story being told here.

The aim of this work is to feed interest and give hope of success, even when times are tough luck and fate are always unavoidable factors in anything that happens to us.

So I hope everyone will enjoy reading this just as much as I have enjoyed writing it. In addition I don’t deny that this book is also dedicated to the thousands of people who each day spend their lives to trudging around the fields and uncovering clues to our past. Without whom this country`s subsequent rich and enhanced knowledge of our heritage would be a very bare boned entity indeed. These people know full well who they are and those who know me well enough will surely know exactly to whom I am referring.

“The Three Tiles” by Julian Evan-Hart is available at all established retail book outlets and Internet based outlets such as Amazon. For more information please visit

The Top Finds From Our Metal Detecting Community This Month

It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an expert when it comes to the world of metal detecting, you want to be showing off your latest finds that you have discovered when out detecting.

Whether you want to identify a find, want some detecting tips, or wish to browse other people finds as inspiration, you can find that on the Joan Allen Facebook page.

We’ve got a great community of detectorists on our Facebook page that are constantly sharing all of their top finds.

Here’s a selection of those finds from the last few weeks, and remember you can see these (and a lot more) at

Julian Evan-Hart

These images show the excavation of Jozef Jekas Hurricane that was shot down in 1940 over Sturminster Marshall. Jozef was shot down on the 5th November 1940 by the famous German Ace Helmut Wick. The Control Column was located as well as fragments of flight maps preserved in the mud for nearly seventy years.

Darren Mehegan

My roman coin cleaned – It’s a silver denarius of the Roman emperor Domitian showing Minerva 81-96 AD.

Julian Evan-Hart

Frequently we detectorists unearth stunning treasures and hoards but also there are tons of lesser finds. Even the most basic can be historically important to someone.

However my good friend Jack has once again found something not of national importance but is certainly the best example I’ve seen. It’s a mid-Georgian seal in the form of a Romanesque Dolphin a real stunning example – What a find!!!!

Phil Chapman

Had a couple of hours battling through the long stubble with the CTX 3030 this afternoon on a trash infested field that I thought I’d pretty much covered. Finds were scarce but I managed half a dozen buttons & this broken Henry II short cross hammered silver penny which was found just over 8 inches down in packed clay right next to a big iron nail…..RESULT!!

Leigh Hand

I started detecting on a new farm yesterday. The best find so far is this George II 1737 farthing.

If you’ve been out detecting recently, share your latest finds on the Joan Allen Facebook page or tweet us photos on our Twitter page.