After some unsuccesful attempts, I’ve finally had the chanche to interview one of the most important personality of the metal detecting world, Monsieur Alain Loubet, founder and chief designer of XP Metal Detectors, french manufacturer of some of the most worldwide well respected detectors as their GoldMaxx Power or the famous DEUS.
Making himself available, Alain replied to all my questions, even the “spicy” ones, and also replied to the ones sent to AMDTT email by our readers. Our guest have clearly demonstrated a very pragmatic and straightforward attitude, showing a true and bold passion for his job and for the wonderful hobby of treasure hunting.
Thanking Alain for his generosity, I also would like to thank Massimo/”Gladiatore”, our Field Search Expert (but he’s also gaining a lot of experience on Beach Hunting) for the precious help by translating from French.
Have a nice reading!
Director AMD Tech Team
LC: Hello Alain! We’re so happy to meet you and ask some questions that, I hope, will fulfil our readers’ curiousity. From this perspective, I’ve collected some of their most desired questions and some from our team members. Before going on with the interview, I’d like to thank you for your kindness and for your precious time. Just to begin, as I’ve done with the other people who I have talked to, could I ask you about your academic and professional background and why you’ve had the idea to create the XP Detectors?
AL: After working in the audiovisual market, I’ve created XP in 1998. As a metal detecting enthusiast since I was 13 years old, I’ve intensely used a variety of models and I’ve felt the wish to propose different machines to perfectly fit hunters needs.
LC: XP is worldwide famous as producer of metal detectors especially focused on reactivity, depth, lightness and ease of use. How much is important, in your creative process, to be a “European” company, inspired from very different hunting environment compared to American and Australian ones?
AL: As you perfectly know, European hunting sites are often very peculiar and very difficult to detect, this is specially due to the ancient geological activity of our continent that lead to a massive soil’s iron mineralisation and such. As a passionate detectorist and also very close to our customers, this gave us some hints to develop succesful machines.
LC: Our XP & Electronics expert, Sergio, has sent you asking to add the VDI value in your latest X-Y Screen (the one with the polar tracing), introduced in DEUS’ firmware release 2.0. XP has added this requested feature in firmware 3.0! Sergio’s so happy you’ve accepted his tip and gratefully thank you a lot. A part from this single case, how much you care about customer’s requests?
AL: As I’ve said before, we’re very close to our customers since we share the same passion for treasure hunting. We receive suggestion on a daily basis and, if possibile, we try to implement them.
LC: Almost every reader of our blog is wondering if XP will produce a underwater detector or, at least, that could be used in saltwater with a good performance. Up to day, you are the only one, between other major manufacturer, that doesn’t have a true underwater machine in the catalog. Why?
AL: I’m sure XP will produce a model that will be able to operate in saltwater, anyway DEUS is already good when used in fresh water and, thanks to its wireless miniaturised chassis, it’s so practical to be used underwater. A simple coaxial cable (that could be used to drive the signal) allows to use the machine in fresh water. You just need to place one end of a shielded coaxial cable on the coil, near the LED, and the other end close to the remote control. A waterproof sealed case, used to protect common smartphones, could be sufficient to protect the remote control. You can already find this accessory, including an audio output and a headphone, on the market. XP will introduce one of them in Fall 2013 that will also feature a clip for the signal driver.
After placing the earbuds under your wet suit’s cap, and the remote control inside the suit itself, you will just have the detector rod in your hand. The screen will still be visible under water and also the remote control’s keyboard could be operated through the soft PVC cover. You can find further information here:
LC: One of the features that made your fan so happy was the DEUS capability to be upgrated for free through a PC and a simple USB connection. Anyway they were less happy (read: lots were very disappointed) when you’ve told them to use a cutter to rip the coil to change an exhausted battery pack. Do next generation coils will use a less invasive system?
AL: After evaluating different solutions during design to allow an easy access to the battery, we’ve discovered they were all bulky and they failed to be waterproof if the customer didn’t close the casing the right way. As you know, coils are utilized in extreme conditions: underwater, with bumps and hits, on difficult soils; they are not as mobile phones, they are very often treated in a rough way. Our locking system is miniaturized (thus making it very light) and very reliable thanks to a ultrasonic welding method. Our customers won’t have to worry about it for many years. You can actually change the coil’s battery yourself but it is not compulsory! Our customers can ask their dealers or to the XP to operate the change: cost is fixed to 45 Euro (Included VAT) for the battery and the labor costs.
But I want to say it again, it’s not like a smartphone that you use every day. The battery has a longer lasting life if correctly used. We use them on the WS1 and WS3 wireless headphones since 2004, so we have lots of feedbacks that assure us they have a lifetime longer than 5 years in the majority of the cases.
It should be noted that, compared to other detectors that use conventional battieries, our system allow the user to save hundreds of Euros after 5 year and also we’re proud to say that we’re the only factory that, for our lithium battery, has a two years full guarantee (covering the battery itself and the labor costs)
LC: In my latest interviews, I’ve asked the engineers if they think that VLF/IB technology has almost reached its theoretical limit. Do you think you can further enhance your detectors’ performances in a significant way or will you soon be forced to enter different path? I was always wandering why XP never had a Time Domain machine in its catalog, since engineers assured us that Pulse Induction has still a lot to say…
AL: If you focun on DEUS’ ability to separate targets, enhanced in the latest 3.1 firmware release, you will notice that VLF are not “at the end of the road” yet. DEUS digital signal processing (with a special enphasis on DAC sampling) has allowed us and will surely allow further enhancements.
Talking about the Pulse Induction units, they can be interesting only on highly mineralised soils and, above all, with not too much iron trash, because Time Domain doesn’t really allow a “true” discrimination. Gold prospecting does fit PI in a perfect way because those soils are very minerlised and iron trash is scarcely present. But bringing the competition on iron infested soils, VLF units have better performance with also a 10 times less battery consumption, less weight and, above all, a “true” discrimination.
LC: Will XP introduce a VLF Multifrequency machine in its catalog? Are you working on that?
AL: Our Development Team is always working to give you the best…But I cannot reveal our plans…
LC: Just another little curiousity, again coming from our XP and Electronics Expert, Sergio. He would like to ask you if DEUS factory settings have some “hidden” parameters, that cannot be modified, that could allow to push the performance to the limit. Here’s an example: if I modify the BEACH factory setting for my own purposes: changing tones, reactivity, gain etc, I will anyway have a “relaxed” and stable setting that could never be neither extreme nor unstable. If I want an extreme setting, I’ll be force di to start from something like BASIC1 or DEUS FAST or MITO setting, because I will never reach the same perfomance with the BEACH factory setting. Can you tell us more about it?
AL: No, there are not any “hidden” menu that can enhance performance. There are only some hidden calibration menu (that should not be touched by final users) and for secondary features.
Talking about available settings (not the hidden ones), I think it’s quite reasonable that they could push the DEUS performance on your specific soils; they are there for that specific purpose.
LC: One last little question before saying goodbye to our great guest… Will we see a colour display XP? And what about some new DEUS coils? What we should expect from your company in the near future?
AL: Up to day, color displays bring us more CONS than PROS; that’s why we have chosen not to use them in our products. Main problems are tied to more battery consumption and less readability when used outdoor that will force us to a powerful and energy wasting backlighting.
In addition they imply the needing of great computing power. Needed microprocessors to perform all that are litelally energy greedy. We prefer to focus on light weight and compact size as you see on DEUS, that’s only 900 grams. A normal color LCD screen takes, just by itself, 2 times the battery needed from the whole DEUS.
This will also need a specific new software, a larger battery, a new dedicated mainboard and bigger case and the weight will probably raise to 1,5/2,5kg. Do you really want this? I don’t believe so, and neither DEUS owners do, as we can see from its success.
Talking about the new accessories, we will soon have a 28 cm (11″) coil, available from september/october 2013, a shock absorbing, waterproof silicone remote control cover and also a watertight cover with headphones that will allow to use it underwater. All these at the end of the year.
From the technological evolution perspective, we cannot forecast the new discoveries we will make. A new discovery, as you know, can completely overturn previsions. But we’re sure that “totally digital” DEUS technology will help us with research, developing and evaluation of new strategies.
LC: Thanks a lot Alain! We were honored to have you as guest on the AMDTT blog!
AL: You’re welcome!