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Thread: Split box question

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    Member FreedMan's Avatar
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    Default Split box question

    Hola to the vine!

    Been a while since I've posted, prefer to lurk in my corner most of the time, but I need some info.

    A buddy of mine, a seasoned locator pushing 20 yrs in the game tells me I need to get a split box to help solve some problems I've run into with cast iron water main and such. Split boxes are cheap enough, but I've never used one. I'm looking at Fisher's M-Scope, and Goldak makes a similar type, both with the long handle to do a one man sweep. Any input on these beasts from those who know would be helpful.

    For the record, I've already got an 810, rd400, surelock, and an old pipehorn on the back seat, so would this thing just be redundant or is there something this can do for me that the others can't. I'm hoping to be in a position to drop a wad of cash before the end of the year and get something newer with more power and more freqs. too.

    So should I drop a few bills on a split box (if so, which) or would I be better off saving my milk money for a bigger toy later on.

    Thanks!
    "You have enemies? Good! That means you've stood up for something sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Split box question

    When I locate gas I use a Detectron Pipe and Cable locator. It is a split box. I use it for gas because it will back feed. If you are locating a trace wire from a meter out to the street, and it just isn't locating because maybe the wire was cut close to the meter, go across the street and hook up to that trace wire and you can locate trace wire on the original line all they way up to the break in the wire.

    Another thing about the split box is you don't need a ground I only hook up the positive (red) to the trace wire and locate like that. With no ground you don't get the bleed off that you get with a grounded locate. I know people are going to say you can't locate if there is no ground because there is no return path for the signal... but it works. I'm here to tell ya.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Member FreedMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Split box question

    I know for a fact that in some scenarios with the proper frequency you don't need a ground. I've used a direct lead, ungrounded, for years with my old pipehorn to push more of the signal unto a target (usually a trace wire or a drop), so yeah, it can work in some cases. I find a pipehorn usually does anything I need in the back feed department.

    Does the instrument you're talking about use the handle I've seen (where the TX & RX are mounted at either end) so you can sweep and locate large metal objects such as tanks ro abandoned iron pipes. I did a little research the other night, and the Fisher instrument linked above is also sold to the treasure hunting hobby folks under the name Gemini III and oddly enough sold for a bit less than the locator version. Comparing the web info the two instruments look almost identical and the spec sheets match pretty close.

    I'm hoping someone here has some experience using these things in that manner and can offer some insight. How deep will this thing operate? etc.

    I'm a bit peeved with Goldak since I sent their sales folks an email two weeks ago or more and haven't gotten a reply yet. They don't seem too eager to sell their toys, and from what I hear, that's what they are - toys. If anyone knows different I'd be interested in hearing about your experience.
    "You have enemies? Good! That means you've stood up for something sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

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    Default Re: Split box question

    It occurred to me that you can get enough current on a line using an ungrounded transmitter by attaching the ground lead to a capacitor. You do not have a completed circuit but the capacitor will be charging and discharging roughly at the transmitter frequency. The charge and discharge current will also go through your connection lead and via this through the line you are locating. This may provide a signal with minimum bleed off.

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    Member FreedMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Split box question

    So are you saying the capacitor is just kinds hanging out there in space with the ground lead connected to one leg, or a different set up. I'm gonna have to think about that a while.

    Looks like I'm not alone in having lots of time in but none on the old split box sets.
    "You have enemies? Good! That means you've stood up for something sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Split box question

    Hey Freed,

    Welcome to the vine. I'm not only a user, but a big fan of the "split box" locators. My main one is an AquaTronics A-6 Tracer. I've had the pleasure of using the Fischer. Both work the same, but the Fischer is a bit smaller and has a canvas strap so the equipment can be closer to the ground when scanning. I think all private locators should have one. I can give you more info if you would like.... just let me know.

    Mke

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    Default Re: Split box question

    Thanks Mke,

    I'd be glad to hear anything you have to say on the subject. I've read many of your posts over the last year and have come to respect your (and many other) opinions hear on the tech side of things. My main questions involve depth and the metal/mass detection aspect of these instruments, but any insight you can add is welcome.
    "You have enemies? Good! That means you've stood up for something sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

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    Default Re: Split box question

    I don't see any specs on the AquaTronics site, what freq does this instrument use?
    "You have enemies? Good! That means you've stood up for something sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Split box question

    You know, I'm cruising through the manual (more like a leaflet) and it doesn't denote a frequency. If you were really curious, i'd recomend calling AquaTronics and talking to Merle. He's the owner and inventor and wouldn't mind talking shop....and some hunting.

    As for my personal experience (and i'm going only off of what I have personally done with the A-6) I've found MH's at about 4 1/2'. I've Also Found an 8" Water line at 12'. I was at a High school and there was a 6' retaining wall, and the water line was on one side or the other. and the crew needed to know which side so they could dig appropriately. If the water line was on one side it would of only been down 6' or so, and if it was on the other side it would of been 12' down. So they really needed to know. The 810 couldn't trace it out reliably so I asked the crew to removed all the stock piles near the area and proceeded to walk accross the assumed path. And the A-6 "pinged" on the water line. I stopped by the next day and poof, right where I had it painted.

    The biggest thing you have to understand about the split box is that it is only as accurate as you are. You need to understand how calibrate it, and how the different utilities are picked up by the equipment. If it is a Metal lid or a Reinforced Concrete pipe, it will pick up with the front box. If it is a linear cable or pipe it will pick up the location by the back box. The way you figure this out is to walk accross it putting a spot mark for reference by either the front box or back box.

    The another situation typically use this for is Big Open fields..... You walk it with the splitter, than you go back and induce with the 810.

    Mke

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    Member FreedMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Split box question

    Sounds like just what I'm looking for. I emailed them fro some info last night and got a reply from Merrill Haddon this morning. He's supposed to be sending me a price list and some info today.

    I take it your preference is the A-6 over the Fisher unit. Thanks for the info.

    JH
    "You have enemies? Good! That means you've stood up for something sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Split box question

    Both machines are real similar, once you know how to use one, you can use the other. The A-6 is a local beast. Merrill is from Oregon, and just recently moved his company over to where he's at now.

    Mke

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    Default Re: Split box question

    Just wrote a check this afternoon for a new Aqua-Tronics A6 split box, it runs 117.85k. I'm looking forward to seeing how this new beast does. Merrill spent well over thirty minutes on the phone with me this morning and answered all my questions. They guy is a wealth of information. The instrument set me back a few hundred more than the M-scope would have, but I'm convinced it's going to be a superior product and having ready access to the manufacturer is a big plus. I'll follow up in a few weeks after the honeymoon's over.
    "You have enemies? Good! That means you've stood up for something sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Split box question

    I'm excited for you. Can't wait to hear what you think. I believe a split box is more useful than most locators know.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Split box question

    I agree Steve.

    I took an "advanced" Locator Training Class not too long ago, and we had 7 or so people in the class. It was interesting that most of the locators were not Contract locators, they were pipeline, city and private locators. None used the split box, and only one guy had one in his truck, but he admitedly did not know how to use it. I asked him to bring it in since this was a hands on class and had time in the field to play with multiple pieces of equipment.

    The funny part was that the instructor conceptually knew how the split box worked, but didn't really know how to tune it to make it preform the way it should. With in minutes I had it up and going for everyone to try out. My point is, its a great piece of equipment but is usually looked at as a joke.


    Freed, If you have any questions feel free to PM me. Tuning it takes some practices and knowing the ins and outs helps as well.

    Mke

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    Default Re: Split box question

    Thanks Mke, will do. Merrill said he is sending two videos with it containing a lot of training info (2.5 hours I think he said). I feel a bit better knowing that I'm not the only vet out there who hasn't ever used a split box. I think a lot of people see it and think it's a dinosaur or something when in truth it's almost another species of instrument altogether. My check should arrive in Idaho this afternoon, so with luck I'll have my new weapon next week. I've got a couple of sites in mind already to go try it on and cut my teeth so to speak.
    "You have enemies? Good! That means you've stood up for something sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

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