Simple BFO Metal Locator

This circuit uses a
single coil and nine components to make a particularly sensitive
low-cost metal locator. It works on the principle of a beat frequency
oscillator (BFO). The circuit incorporates two oscillators, both operating at about 40kHz. The first, IC1a, is a standard CMOS
oscillator with its frequency adjustable via VR1. The frequency of the
second, IC1b, is highly dependent on the inductance of coil L1, so that
its frequency shifts in the presence of metal. L1 is 70 turns of 0.315mm
enamelled copper wire wound on a 120mm diameter former. The Faraday
shield is made of aluminium foil, which is wound around all but about
10mm of the coil and connected to pin 4 of IC1b.

Circuit diagram:

Simple BFO Metal Locator Circuit

Simple BFO Metal Locator Circuit Diagram

The two oscillator signals are mixed through IC1c, to create a beat
note. IC1d and IC1c drive the piezo sounder in push-pull fashion,
thereby boosting the output. Unlike many other metal locators of its
kind, this locator is particularly easy to tune. Around the midpoint
setting of VR1, there will be a loud beat frequency with a null point in
the middle. The locator needs to be tuned to a low frequency beat note
to one or the other side of this null point. Depending on which side is
chosen, it will be sensitive to either ferrous or non-ferrous metals.
Besides detecting objects under the ground, the circuit could serve well
as a pipe locator.

Author: Thomas Scarborough – Copyright: Silicon Chip Electronics

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