Pin-Pointer Metal Detector - Arduino




About: Crazy about technology and the possibilities it can bring. I love the challenge of building unique things. My goal is to make technology fun, relevant to everyday life and help people succeed in building coo...

If you are a Metal Detector enthusiast or just looking for a handy workshop tool then you'll like this unique handheld pinpointer for narrowing down the specific location of a metal target.

Using four independent search coils, cool LED colors for signal strength and haptic feedback you can easily discriminate between multiple metal objects.

Step 1: Gather Materials

There are multiple variations of Metal Detector designs. This particular type of metal detector is a Pulse Induction detector which uses separate transmit and receive coils. Note: The circuit has just been simplified to reduce the need for signal diodes and improve sensitivity by employing 2N7000 FET devices on the TX coil.

  1. Arduino Pro Mini
  2. USB to Serial Module for Programming the Mini Pro
  3. LM339 Quad Differential Comparator Integrated Circuit
  4. Vero Board - 2 pieces (16x11 holes and 34x11) see photo for orientation
  5. BC548 NPN Transistor x 4
  6. 2N7000 MOSFET Switch x 5
  7. Piezo Buzzer
  8. Coin Vibration Motor for Haptic Feedback
  9. WS2812 RGB LED Module x 4
  10. 1k Resistor x 4
  11. 10k Resistor x 4
  12. 47 Ohm Resistor x 4
  13. 2.2K Resistor x 4
  14. 330pf Ceramic Capacitor
  15. 0.15uF Polyester capacitors
  16. Roll of 0.3mm Enamel Copper Wire (normally come in rolls approx 25g Weight)
  17. Push Button Switch
  18. 4 x Bamboo Kebab sticks 2mm Diameter
  19. Electrical Conduit Pipe 20mm diameter length 15cm
  20. Flexible Electrical Conduit Ducting 32mm Diameter length 15cm
  21. Electrical Conduit Reducer 25/20mm
  22. Electrical Conduit Reducer 32/25mm
  23. Plastic Waste Pipe 32mm Standard Size (32mm inside measurement)
  24. Electrical Conduit End Stop 25mm
  25. Waste pipe termination fitting 32mm
  26. Glue Stick
  27. Hot Glue Gun
  28. 2mm and 3mm Drill Bit
  29. Handheld Drill
  30. Label Gun or Sticky Tape suitable to label 16 separate wires
  31. Hookup wire
  32. 2200mha USB Rechargeable Power Bank
  33. USB Cable suitable to be modified

Step 2: Build Search Coils

The first Photo shows a finished Search Coil with 8 coils and 16 labeled wires extending down the center of the Coil Assembly. This may look daunting however is quite simple as I have provided a template and a method to easily construct.

The first coil is located at the end of the Coil Assembly so that you can pinpoint the target more easily. There are three separate pairs of coils on the side of the Coil Assembly.

1. Prepare the Coil Assembly

Cut a 15cm length of 20mm Electrical Conduit Pipe. Download the template provided, print out on A4 paper and then cut out and glue to the outside of the pipe. Take care to ensure the arrow is at one extreme end of the pipe.

2. Drill the Holes

Use a 2mm drill bit to drill the 16 holes marked on the template for holding the Coils in place. The diameter of these holes should be just big enough to hold a Bamboo Kebab Skewer as per the photos.

3. Channel 1 Search Coil

The first pair of search coils is located at the end of the Coil Assembly so that you can pinpoint the target more easily. This consists of an Outer and Inner coil as per the photo. The inner coil is 12mm diameter wound with 20 turns of copper wire. This is glued into place with hot glue. The two wires are passed down the tube with an additional 10cm length extending past the end of the tube. MAKE SURE YOU LABEL THE ENDS OF THE COILS SO THEY CAN BE IDENTIFIED EASILY WHEN CONNECTING UP TO CIRCUIT BOARD.

The Outer Coil is simply wound around the end of the 20mm Conduit with 20 turns of copper wire and the ends passed through the hole marked on the template.

4. Channel 2-4 Search Coil
The next 3 coils are located on the side of the Coil Assembly. Use 4 Bamboo Kebab Skewers to provide a stable point to wind the coils in place until they are glued and labeled. These are clearly marked on the template and are wound with 20 turns of copper wire then glued into place with hot glue.

Start with the inner coil first so that it won't interfere with the winding process when you come to the next coil.

The two wires are passed down the tube with an additional 10cm length extending past the end of the tube. MAKE SURE YOU LABEL THE ENDS OF THE COILS SO THEY CAN BE IDENTIFIED EASILY WHEN CONNECTING UP TO CIRCUIT BOARD.

Step 3: Build the Circuit

The outcome of this step is to produce the two circuit boards ready to connect to the search coils. This consists of two circuit boards to minimise size. I've attempted to provide multiple photos of both sides of each board to enable easier construction. I will attempt to produce a component layout in the next few week.

Step 4: Add LEDs to Coil Assembly

Print out an additional copy of the Coil Assembly template provided and use this as a stencil to get the LED spacing correct. Follow the method in the photos for positioning and carefully soldering the LEDs.

I used a strip of Duct Tape to hold the LEDs in place while cutting and soldering the wires. Take care not to overheat the LEDs and ensure that each LED connection is oriented as per the circuit diagram.

The WS2182 LEDs have a built in IC which enables them to be addressed by the Arduino using three separate wires however a broad range of colors and brightnesses color can be created by sending a command to the LED.This is done through a special library loaded into the Arduino IDE covered in the testing section.

Once the four LEDs are p\lace solder 3 wires for the Data, Positive and Negative connection to the PCB. Drill a 3mm hole in the Assembly and pass this back through the center of the tube as with the other wires. Ensure you label the wires correctly.

Step 5: Preparing the Enclosure

The construction of the enclosure has been made from parts that can be sourced from any good hardware store.

The photos lay out the approach to connecting the enclosure together using the provided materials.

The USB Power Pack is mounted inside the 32mm Tube and held in place with Hot Glue. The position of the USB ports enables you to connect a USB cable to supply the Arduino and at the same time provide access for charging through the removable end cap. See photos.

Step 6: Putting It All Together

1. Physical Assembly

The final step is the connect the circuit boards to the coils, LEDs, Power Pack and Power Switch as per the circuit diagram. The LED and Vibrating motor will not function when connected to the USB as they are powered from the Raw supply. However, this can be tested with the battery connected.

2. Loading Arduino Code and Testing

Before loading the Arduino code you will need to add the Library "FastLED.h" as a library to drive the WS2182 LEDs.

A series of Oscilloscope Traces have been provided for troubleshooting if there are issues.

3. Operating the Unit

The unit operates by calibrating after pushing and holding the power button. All of the LEDs will flash when the unit is ready to be used. Keep the push button down while searching. The LEDs change from Blue-Green, Red, Purple based on strength of target object. The haptic feedback occurs when the LEDs turn purple.

Now go and find some treasure!!

LED Contest 2017

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    25 Discussions


    11 months ago

    It seems to be a great project. I am working on your other 5coil and 4 coil metal detector projects.

    I have a question about replacing the 2n7000 for the bc548.

    Did you try replacing this on the Rx also ? - it might increase Sensitivity.

    1 reply

    Reply 11 months ago


    Yes I did try this and there was not a noticeable improvement. I am experimenting with other coil designs to try and improve sensitivity.

    Will keep you posted.


    Question 1 year ago


    I bread-boarded your circuit for just the end coils to start, and loaded the sketch. It seems to be pulsing the coil OK but the leds aren't responding nor the buzzer.

    I uncommented the serial port code and it shows ledthreshold1 always at .97, pcounterA at 12, and calav1 at 81. Is this OK? (The other reported variables are always 1000.)

    I wound the end coils with some bifilar wire I reclaimed from a microwave HV supply transformer. I assumed that was OK?

    Do you have a flow chart or description of how the code works so I can trobleshoot?

    Any help or hints would be greatly appreciated.

    Jon T

    1 answer

    Answer 1 year ago

    The pcounterA value should be much higher 200 to 800 at least. My advice is to focus on one channel. Try reversing the polarity of one of the coils as this often is the problem as the pulseIn function needs to have a clean leading edge to trigger the timing process. Ensure your breadboard connections to the coil are short and well grounded. If this does not work direct message me with a link to some photos of your setup and I will try to assist. Im just building a second unit so your timing is fortuitous as I can provide some test measurements.


    Question 1 year ago on Step 1

    What is the size of the 4400mha USB rechargeable Power Pack that you used and can you tell me the maker of it?


    1 answer

    Answer 1 year ago

    Actually my apologies I double checked and its actually 2200mha Power Bank. Ive updated the parts list with a link to the supplier. I suspect you can get on amazon or aliexpress. I'll update circuit diagram with changes.


    Question 1 year ago on Step 1

    Hi, I like your idea of 2 coils to simplify the electronics. One question: On your schematic you show the comparator + input as well as the BC548 collector pull-up resistor tied to the +5V supply. Does the comparator negative(-) input reach that level during a pulse, allowing the comparator output to go negative? I would have thought you would have created a lower and adjustable reference voltage for the comparator + inputs.


    1 year ago

    Have you done any field testing? I'd be interested in seeing, for example, how deep it can pinpoint a dime.

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hey I tried to show depth in the video which is about 30mm from the coils for a small coin. The intention is that you use this to pin point in a small area as opposed to do deep search of objects ts. However I am trying a few different coil confidential to improve depth.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Depth would be huge. A populate application would be for finding property pins.


    1 year ago

    Would this be suitable to detect nails in wood to keep from messing up a saw blade?

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hey, I did a quick test and found the tip of the detector will locate flat head nails and screws in Jib Board and Wood. (Heads are about 5mm diameter) The closer to the coil the object is the more likely it will trigger so I suspect reducing the thickness of outer cover would possibly mean the side coils would detect to make it easier. Hope this helps.


    1 year ago

    Love your tape measure :)

    I like the idea. I use recycled wood in projects wherever appropriate and possible. One of the concerns is hidden metal fasteners. I have a commercial metal detector but it is not particularly accurate in locating metal in wood, but it does give you a general idea which means I end up cutting well around it. It just isn't worth fragging a $100+ saw blade with a connection to save a centimetre (or even a decimetre) of wood!

    I'm glad you made this without the 3D printer. I don't have one and I frankly probably would not have thought of using conduit for this build so I would not have even thought to try this.

    Nicely done.


    1 reply

    Ha ha my favorite tape measure too. Sounds like a good application of the detector.


    1 year ago

    This is a great project, I used to be a professional metal detectorist and this would be great to use with some modifications, the rippled stem needs to be smooth because it will get clogged with wet sand, mud, clay, etc.. and the power needs to be stepped up to 7.5v or even 12v to get more penetration than the 30mm or one inch depth its supposed to be getting now.Those industrial strength windings are not working at their full potential yet! This pinpointer is capable of being world class. What about sound? These things are so much easier to use in the goldfields with the wind blowing, while wearing metal detector headphones. A screaming piezo transducer fixes that. lol Thanks for taking the time and trouble to do this for us, it's appreciated. redrooster

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Oh! Thats great then. Im going to have to make one of these, I still do a bit of prospecting now and then.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Great ideas thanks. I agree a smooth surface would be better. I was originally planning a 3D case however my 3D printer smoked over Xmas. There is an opportunity for another maker can build a 3D for their build!!