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Thoughts About Counterbalancing, and the Optional Counterbalance System for Steve's Equinox Carbon-Fiber Shaft...
Sat March 02, 2019 6:25 PM

Why counterbalancing -- is it necessary? Does it really help?

When I was working on designing improvements to the stock Equinox shaft system, one obvious area that I felt could stand to be addressed, was the ergonomic deficiencies/nose-heaviness of the unit -- something that becomes ESPECIALLY noticeable when employing one of the larger coils. Most folks who have swung the 6" coil on their Equinox report no issues; they feel that the machine is very comfortable/manageable with the 6" coil attached. However, despite the fact that Minelab has gone to great lengths to keep the 11" stock coil, and especially the 12" x 15" accessory coil, as light as possible, the fact is, nonetheless, that placing 500 to 650 grams (roughly 1 to 1 1/2 pounds) of weight at the end of what is essentially a long lever, will present some issues.

The "science" behind counterbalancing...

To illustrate the issue as it pertains to the "nose-heaviness" of the Equinox, we need to think back to the ideas of levers and fulcrums and leverage that were taught in high-school physics class, or even just picture the grade-school playground's see-saw/teeter-totter. As we know from science class, the situation with a metal detector is that we are placing a relatively large amount of "mass" (the coil) at the end of a long "lever" (the shaft). Therefore, the coil is essentially "using leverage to its advantage," so to speak -- with gravity acting on the coil so as to exert a multiplied downward force at the end of the shaft. And therein lies the issue. In order to keep the detector from resting in a fully vertical position (coil down, butt-end of the shaft up), due to the "downward" force applied by gravity to the coil, an equal but opposite force must be applied. So, how is that "counter-force" applied? Well, in terms of the Equinox -- a machine with virtually ZERO weight at the "butt-end" of the shaft, the detectorist must supply ALL of that "counter-force" needed, in order to keep the detector swinging in proper "detecting position." In other words, the detectorist must exert enough counter-force, with their wrist/arm/shoulder muscles, to counteract the "leverage" of the coil's downward force being exerted out at the end of the shaft. THIS is why the Equinox feels so "nose-heavy", and why counteracting that nose-heaviness causes discomfort for many users. And, again, thinking about the "fulcrum" and "lever" concepts, applying a counter-force AT THE HANDLE of the machine (i.e. at the "fulcrum,") means that the detectorist is not able to take advantage of the "leverage" idea, when applying this "counteracting" force. The ONLY way leverage could be utilized, would be if there were some force (i.e. weight) BEYOND the handle, near the butt-end of the shaft, acting to oppose the downward force of the coil. It is HERE, that the idea of "counterweighting" therefore enters the picture, to solve this dilemma.

How much counterweight do I need, and how long must my counterweight tube be?

Now that we have considered the concepts, it becomes clear that to achieve some ergonomic improvement, and reduce the "nose-heaviness" of the unit, one of two things must happen -- EITHER the coil end of the shaft must be lightened, OR counter-weighting must be applied, at the butt-end of the shaft. And so, unless we wish to swing the 6" coil at all times, a counter-balance of some sort becomes the most logical consideration, if improving the machine's ergonomics is desired. This is where the idea of my "counterweight tubes" sprang from. If some "downward force" can be applied at the butt-end of the shaft, the result would be a substantial reduction in the need for our wrist/arm muscles to do all the work in applying that "counter-force." In other words, with counterweighting applied, the machine would logically become much more comfortable to swing, with less stress on the user's wrist/arm/shoulder muscles. However, this still leaves the obvious question unanswered -- HOW MUCH weight is needed, and how SHORT can that counterweight tube extending from the butt-end of the shaft be kept (so that it is not excessively long/cumbersome)?

To answer this question, it should be acknowledged that a sort of "balancing act" exists (no pun intended) -- that being, the need to keep the counterweight as light as possible and as short as possible, while still achieving significant improvements in ergonomics (i.e. the "swingability" of the machine in terms of user comfort).

In an "average" scenario, achieving PERFECT balance requires roughly 28 oz. of weight if swinging the 12" x 15" coil, and 25 oz. for the 11" coil. Given the counterbalance tubes I'm using, this amount of weight requires a roughly 6 1/2" to 7" long tube. However, as mentioned earlier, adding this extra 1 1/2 pounds of weight, and a nearly 7 inch extension of the shaft, is NOT necessarily desirable for many. Though most might agree that "perfect balance" is good, adding that much overall weight to the machine is not something that many would wish to do. And along those lines, I'd like to note that PERFECT balance is NOT a requirement! What should be remembered is that for every ounce of counter-weight added, a direct reduction in the amount of muscular force you must exert on the control-box handle is effected. So, then, the next obvious question is, then "how much" counterweight is "enough?" Of course, this answer is different for each person, but I will offer some information that will hopefully help.

First, I will note that I have made the counterweight tubes CUSTOMIZABLE, in terms of overall weight/length; I can build the counterweight tubes to whatever length/weight a customer desires (up to a maximum of 6 7/8" long). Additionally, I have designed the tubes to be ADJUSTABLE, in terms of the amount of weight contained therein, by incorporating a threaded end cap on the tube -- so that weight can be easily added or removed by the end user. I provide small zip lock bags filled with lead shot, with the bags of a diameter that matches the inside diameter of the tube. These small bags of various weight (4 oz., 8 oz., etc.) can be added or removed from the tube quickly and easily, to accommodate any situation (coil changes, user fatigue, etc.) Therefore, EXACT amounts of counterweight do not need to be decided upon initially; the ability to add or subtract weight from the tube permits customer experimentation "in the field," to eventually arrive at the most comfortable weighting.

For any customer that is fairly certain that they do NOT wish to add the whole 1 1/2 pounds of perfect-balance weight to the Equinox, but WOULD like to add enough weight to feel a noticeable improvement, then a good compromise is 12 to 16 oz. of weight -- which could be contained in a tube as short 3 1/2" to 4 1/2" long. The reason I suggest roughly 12 to 16 oz., is because 15 oz. (assuming an "average" situation) is the amount of weight needed to make swinging the 12" x 15" coil feel JUST LIKE swinging the 6" coil feels. In the same vein, only 9 oz. of weight is the amount of weight needed to make swinging the stock 11" coil feel JUST LIKE swinging the 6" coil.

With all that said, I suggest that most customers select the roughly 4 1/2" long counterweight. This tube weighs about 5 oz. when empty. With the tube, I would include two small plastic bags of lead pellets -- one, with roughly 7 oz. of weight (i.e. the amount lead shot needed to bring the overall weight of the tube up to 12 oz.), and then a second, small plastic bag with an additional 4 oz. of weight inside. This way, the user has FOUR quick, easy weight adjustment options, without ever changing the amount of lead shot contained in either of the bags:

  1. run the tube EMPTY, for a total of 5 oz. of counterweighting;
  2. run the tube with ONLY the 4 oz. bag in it, for a total of 9 oz. counterweighting;
  3. run the tube with ONLY the 7 oz. bag in it, for a total of 12 oz. of counterweighting;
  4. run the tube with BOTH bags inserted, for a total of 16 oz. of counterweighting.

As mentioned, I can build a custom-length tube, as short as 1 1/2" long, or up to that full 6 7/8" long -- based upon any customer's wishes. For instance, if a customer KNEW they would want only 8 oz. of counterweight, and never any more than that, I would build that customer a roughly 2" long tube, with one "shot bag" containing roughly 3 oz. of weight, and this would satisfy their requirement. On the other hand, if a customer desires PERFECT balance, and doesn't mind the extra weight/length, I can build the full 6 7/8" tube, with 28 oz. of weight included. The point here is that the length/weight of the counterbalance is entirely customizable. Meanwhile, though, my recommendation for any who are not sure, would be to select the 4 1/2" long counterweight that will hold up to 16 oz. of weight -- which, again, will make ANY of the Equinox coils feel lighter/more balanced than the machine feels whenever the small 6" coil is being used.

Hopefully, this explanation helps to answer many of the questions a customer may have, in terms of how much counterweight (if any) they would like to consider, with their Equinox shaft. For additional information on counterweighting, or on the Equinox carbon-fiber shafts in general, please contact me at

Steve, Steve's Detector Rods

Steve's Equinox Carbon-Fiber shaft -- Button holes, or No Button Holes?
Sat March 02, 2019 6:21 PM

Choosing a shaft with, or without button holes -- are the button holes necessary?

You may have noticed that my "standard" Equinox carbon-fiber upper shaft does not include button holes in the shaft, to accommodate a "spring button," but -- including these holes is an option that a customer may choose, with any shaft purchase. So, why would my shafts come without any button holes, as the "default" or "standard" option? And if "no button holes" is the standard option, why does the option to include the button holes exist at all? And then finally, how would one decide which option is best for them?

To answer these questions, I would like to go back in time a bit, to the "design stage" of the shaft, last fall. One of the main goals at the start of this project -- in fact, the primary focus of the shaft design -- was to entirely re-design the clamping/locking system. The system used by Minelab -- which consists of a twist-lock system, PAIRED WITH the spring button/button-hole design -- is, in my opinion, a weak/inferior design, ESPECIALLY for heavy-duty use. Indeed, many Equinox users have experienced "shaft wobble" with the Equinox's stock shaft, as a result of this insecure locking system. My goal was to utilize a very strong, secure clamping-type cam lock, to eliminate any wobble potential, and ensure a very rigid/stable shaft.

The inclusion of such a secure/stable cam lock permits elimination of the spring button/button hole design from the shaft, and that -- in turn -- yields a very nice "fringe benefit," as well. And that is -- a shaft that does not require the spring button/button-hole design, also therefore does not limit lower-rod adjustment length to specific, fixed lengths, as dictated by button-hole locations. Instead, the lower rod adjustment lengths are "infinite," with the rod able to be adjusted to ANY length. So, in summary, a large focus when designing my shaft was to a.) incorporate a VERY strong/secure clamping-type cam lock, one which would b.) eliminate the need for utilization of the spring button/button hole design, and thus c.) yield the benefit of infinite/universal adjustment length of the lower rod.

Now that the design is complete, I can confirm that the clamping cam lock being employed is a "tension-adjustable" cam lock, and when adjusted to the proper clamping tension, it is an extremely strong/secure clamping system. This cam lock ELIMINATES any potential for shaft wobble (or twist, or any other movement), and therefore, by default, also eliminates any need for the spring button-button hole design, and thus, a user is no longer limited to "fixed" adjustment points, as dictated by button-hole locations.

Given all of this, it seems through various conversations that I have customers falling into three main camps:

  1. Customers that completely trust the cam lock design in terms of strength, and I LOVE the idea of universal adjustability of lower rod length.
  2. Customers that are not quite certain that a cam lock could be strong enough to totally eliminate the need for the spring button/button-hole system, in all situations.
  3. Customers who are "pretty sure" they can trust the cam lock alone, to lock the shaft securely, and LOVE the idea of universal adjustability, but have just enough uncertainty so as to not want to "risk it."

So, here is how I advise each of these "camps."

For customers in camp 1, I suggest the shaft without button holes. Even though I build my lower rods with a spring button installed, for "backwards compatibility" with the Minelab shaft system (unless a customer requests otherwise), the lack of inclusion of button holes in the upper shaft renders the inclusion of the spring button in the lower rod "moot," in terms of a "no-hole" shaft. Obviously, with no button holes for the button to engage into, the lower rod functions as though there WERE no button installed, thus permitting "universal/infinite" lower rod length adjustments.

For customers in camp 2, I suggest the shaft WITH button holes. Especially for folks who might use the Equinox in a "heavy-surf" beach-hunting environment, or other "heavy-duty" situations, I understand the desire for that extra "peace-of-mind" in having the spring button/button hole system available, just in case.

For customers in camp 3, I suggest the shaft WITH button holes. BUT, I also suggest that they try installing their coil on the rod with the spring button facing upward, instead of downward. This way, the button will not engage in the holes on the bottom of the shaft (and thus, the shaft/lower rod behave as if there WERE no button/button holes -- i.e. allowing the benefit of the "universal adjustability" of lower rod length. Then, if for whatever reason utilization of the spring button/button holes WAS desired, simply removing the lower rod, and rotating it 180 degrees so that the spring button is on the BOTTOM of the rod (and thus able to engage into the button holes on the shaft) is all that is required! Another option, is to simply remove the spring button from the lower rod, and re-install it if desired, to utilize the button holes on the shaft. But the option of simply rotating the rod 180 degrees (as was originally suggested by one of my customers -- Mike in Indiana) is an easier, quicker solution.

Hopefully this discussion helps to clear up the "do I want button holes, or don't I" question. I can obviously accommodate whatever a customer's needs/desires are, with any of these three options; it's really about whatever each customer feels most comfortable with. While I believe the design intent -- in terms of incorporating a strong/secure, adjustable-tension clamping cam lock -- has been fully achieved, I also wish to provide customers with options, should they have any uncertainty at all regarding the elimination of the spring button/button-hole system from the shaft.

Steve, Steve's Detector Rods

Minelab Equinox Complete Carbon-Fiber Shafts -- target date for sale MID-JANUARY!
Sat December 22, 2018 10:04 AM

Equinox complete carbon-fiber shaft prototype testing is complete, and parts have been ordered for the first production run!

Prototype testing of the two Equinox complete shafts (each one with a VERY similar, but slightly different clamping cam lock) is now complete! Both prototype shafts performed excellently, with rock-solid clamping strength noted with both clamps. This was a major focus of the design -- high-quality, secure clamping cam locks -- so as to eliminate any potential for "shaft wobble," (as was reported from some users with the Minelab stock Equinox shafts), AND to eliminate the need for the spring button/button hole design. I am happy to say that both of these goals have been successfully met -- with both shafts proving to be very solid/secure, and with this stability achieved without the use of button holes on the shaft!

I would like to note, however, that because my lower shafts do include a spring button (for backwards compatibility with the Minelab middle rod), any customer who wishes to utilize this spring button with my complete shaft, may place a custom order for button holes to be included on their shaft, if they so desire. While this may provide some users (especially salt-water hunters who encounter heavy surf at times) a bit of extra "peace-of-mind," the clamping strength of the cam locks is such that my "standard" shafts will not include button holes. One benefit of a shaft without button holes, of course, is that adjustment length of the lower rod is UNIVERSAL, instead of being limited to specific "adjustment points" at button-hole positions.

In addition to the shafts being very strong/sturdy, they will also be lighter, overall, than the stock shaft -- 129g vs. 189g, respectively. Given this lighter weight, the strong/secure/wobble-free attachment via the clamping cam lock, and the overall aesthetic appeal of carbon fiber, these shafts are an excellent upgrade to the stock Minelab shaft system.

The shafts will come in a few different configurations, with customization also possible beyond these specific configurations (including custom lower rod lengths, etc.) Each shaft will be 34 7/16" long, and will include four holes for arm cuff adjustment, and one hole for the control-box handle. Each will also include a clamping cam lock, for securing a lower rod to the upper shaft, and an end cap at the butt-end of the shaft

Here are a few of the expected configurations that will be available, and initial, preliminary pricing for each...

1. Carbon-fiber upper shaft, no lower rod, permanent end cap.
$79.00 plus shipping

2. Carbon-fiber upper shaft, plus 26" carbon-fiber lower rod, permanent end cap.
$129.00 plus shipping

3. Carbon-fiber upper shaft, no lower rod, threaded end cap (for compatibility with the optional counter-weight system)
$89.00 plus shipping

4. Carbon-fiber upper shaft, plus 26" carbon-fiber lower rod, threaded end cap (for compatibility with the optional counter-weight system)
$139.00 plus shipping

5. Spring button holes can be added to any of the above shaft, as a custom option.
$10.00 per shaft

Optional accessory design is also nearing completion!

Along with the shafts themselves, a couple of unique, optional accessories have been planned for the shaft system -- and I'm happy to say that success is being made on this front, as well!

A counterbalance system for the Equinox shafts is in the final testing stage

As has been mentioned in my past update, a counterbalance system has been "in the works," in response to ergonomic/nose-heaviness issues that have been noted by many Equinox users. I have worked hard to finalize the design, and at this point, can share some details. The counterweights themselves will be comprised of short lengths (up to a maximum of 6 7/8" long) of carbon-fiber tube, of a diameter that is a bit larger than the upper shaft. These tubes will screw into a threaded fitting installed into the butt-end of the upper shaft, and can be customized to whatever weight/length a customer may desire. Additionally, the tubes will be capped with a threaded end cap, which can be removed to access the internal weight (lead pellets). Therefore, the amount of weight is fully adjustable -- weight can be added, or removed, depending upon the scenario (different-sized coil being used, etc.) or the desires of the user.

Again, these counterweights will be offered in a few "standard" lengths and weights, but the length/weight can be customized at time of purchase per customer needs. I would also note, again, that the amount of weight can be adjusted "in the field," after purchase, simply through addition or removal of weight from the counterweight via the removable screw cap. This customization of weight that is ofered, the ease of installation or removal of the weight itself, and the overall balance improvement achieved through use of the counterweight, will hopefully make these counterwieghts a welcome addition/accessory to my complete shaft system.

"Herke" arm cuffs will be an optional accessory for the Equinox shafts!

For those of you familiar with Herke arm cuffs, and in particular those who have used Herke cuffs on one or more of their machines in the past, you know the quality that is built into these lightweight, sturdy, aluminum arm cuffs. These cuffs are top-notch accessories that have been available for years, produced for many different brands/models of detectors by Mr. Jeff Herke. I am pleased to announce that Jeff and I are partnering to offer Herke arm cuffs for the Equinox, as an optional accessory with my complete shaft system! At first, the cuffs will be a "limited time only" offering, as only a small, initial batch of the cuffs has been produced. However, if customer demand for the cuffs exceeds current supply, additional production of the cuffs may result in them becoming a permanent offering! Additionally -- as has been the case with Herke cuffs designed for other units, an optional, padded neoprene cuff cover will also be available

As with the counterbalance system, I believe that the quality, durability, and adjustability of these Herke arm cuffs will prove them to be an excellent accessory for my complete shafts!

Please stay tuned for announcements regarding the date when the first of these shafts will become available for sale. Current target date for the shafts, and the Herke cuffs, is mid- January, with the counterwieghts available very shortly thereafter.

In summary, if you are interested in a wobble-free, perfectly balanced, high-quality, complete carbon-fiber shaft system for their Minelab Equinox, please check back often for updates. In addition, if you know of anyone else who may likewise be interested, please share this information with them -- either via this website, or through my Facebook business page at

Happy Hunting!

Steve, Steve's Detector Rods

Minelab Equinox Complete Carbon-Fiber Shafts, COMING SOON!
Wed November 21, 2018 7:33 PM

Steve's Detector Rods has some exciting news to share with anyone who may have interest in a complete, carbon-fiber shaft system for their Minelab Equinox!

I have been at work for the past couple of months on design of a complete shaft system for the Equinox, and am happy say that the design is now very close to reaching final, production stage. I have contracted with two separate companies to produce similar, but slightly different, clamping cam locks -- the key component of this shaft system. These two cam locks, plus the necessary carbon-fiber tubing and a few other parts, are now being produced and will be shipped soon, and once they arrive, I will build two prototype, complete shafts. Once built, the shafts will then undergo a short period of final testing, and assuming no adjustments to the design are needed, this testing will be followed shortly thereafter by initial product launch!

This complete shaft system will be a very high-quality, all-carbon-fiber setup, comprised of a one-piece "upper" shaft (which will replace both the middle and upper sections of the Minelab stock shaft), in conjunction with one of the lower rods that I currently produce. Alternatively, the upper shaft will be compatible with the stock Minelab lower shaft as well, for anyone who wishes to purchase the upper shaft only.

The shaft design will include an extremely sturdy/secure clamping cam lock, constructed of injection-molded plastic and stainless-steel fasteners/screws. This locking system will eliminate Minelab's "twist-lock" system, and thereby eliminate the "wobble" issues which some Equinox users have experienced with the stock shaft. This design, due to the very secure, tension-adjustable clamp-and-lever design, will ALSO permit elimination of the spring-button-and-button-hole design that is used on the Minelab stock shaft. While button holes can be included on the upper shaft for any customer who prefers to continue to utilize the spring button on the lower shaft, the clamping lock system is designed to permit rock-solid, secure attachment of the lower rod to the upper shaft without the need of the spring button/button holes. Therefore, without the need for the button/button holes, this shaft will provide the added benefit of unlimited, universal adjustment lengths (similar to the shaft system employed by the Minelab CTX 3030, or other similar, univerally adjustable shafts such as those included on Minelab's FBS series of detectors, XP's Deus machine, etc.).

In addition to this high-quality, complete carbon-fiber shaft system, a couple of exciting additional, optional accessories are also planned.

One of these accessories -- currently in the late design stage -- is a unique counter-balance system. Because some users of the Equinox have reported ergonomic issues associated with the "nose-heaviness" of the unit -- particularly when using larger coils, this counter-balance system is being designed to address the uneven weight distribution of the unit and achieve perfect balance, and thus maximum ergonomic comfort. The weights themselves will be short lengths of weight-filled carbon-fiber tubes -- the same tubes used on the upper shaft so as to maximize aesthetic appeal. These weighted tube sections will be threaded, and will screw into a threaded fitting in the butt end of the shaft, facilitating quick/easy attachment and removal.

Since the amount of weight needed to perfectly counter-balance the shaft depends upon both the size of coil being used, AND on the length of extension of the lower rod (which of course varies based on individual user preference), several different weights will be offered, so that perfect balance can be achieved in virtually any circumstance.

Another possible future accessory being considered is a high-quality, lightweight aluminum arm cuff, which would replace the Minelab stock arm cuff providing increased durability, and better fit.

Pricing on the shaft system, while not locked in at this point, is expected to be quite attractive, more affordable than any other option on the market! This has been the goal of Steve's Detector Rods from the beginning -- high-quality, hand-made, custom products, tailored to the needs of the individual user, at a competitive, affordable price.

Please stay tuned for full product details -- including pictures -- within the next few weeks, once final testing of the prototype is completed.

In summary, if you are interested in a wobble-free, perfectly balanced, high-quality, complete carbon-fiber shaft system for their Minelab Equinox, please check back often for updates. In addition, if you know of anyone else who may likewise be interested, please share this information with them -- either via this website, or through my Facebook business page at

Happy Hunting!

Steve, Steve's Detector Rods

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