Is Your Detector Really Necessary?

From the 19th century story, Dick Whittington and His Cat, we got the saying that ‘London Streets are paved with gold‘. Alas the phrase, expressing the land of opportunity, is partly ironic. When Dick went to London he saw that the streets were uninspiring and grimy. Eventually, with persistence and a dollop of luck he became successful.

It turns out that the streets of New York really are paved with gold. Meet the urban prospector Raffi Stepanian, the guy with the same qualities as the good detectorist – persistence, determination and luck. Please note he doesn’t have to be a good videographer.


The Street Gold Miner

I know it sounds incredible, but Raffi walks down the streets NYC looking for gold and precious metals. The pieces that have fallen off people help Raffi
to make his living.

He explains that “Materials fall off clothes, from the bottom of shoes. Drops off jewellery, and it all falls in the dirt and sticks to the gum on the street. People are always running around and dropping stuff without realising it. And, by the time they realise, the fallen-off bits may have already been scattered to a different place as a result of wind or rain.”

Once Raffi was visiting a diamond exchange near 6th Avenue. He noticed that there were gold scrapings on the floor. This made him realise that if there are precious scraps on the floor of the exchange, there might very well be bits of precious metals lying around outside. This is especially true near the jewellery shops and exchanges that can be found in abundance on 47th Street.

Now that his success has reached the media, it may not be long before we have another gold rush – especially when we learn that Steffi’s earnings were over $1000 in just 15 days. Even so, that doesn’t attract me. I’m out.

Modify Your Detector and Find Black ‘Gold’

Now, where do I start? Like my first story, this could only happen in Barnum’s America.

If you are going through a lean spell, not finding much and need a change, why not engage in a bit of lateral thinking and detect for the black gold that is oil? A project called the Urban Prospector, tells you exactly how to make lots of cash. It works like this…

You purchase a second-hand detector from eBay although they call it pre-loved over in the States, and modify it. Full instructions are given. They also add some green LEDs, which supposedly don’t do anything except make your contraption look way cooler than usual. If you’re going to tote around ridiculous equipment, it might as well look futuristic with lots of lights, right? Basically, you remove the ‘metal sensor’ and replace it with either a benzene or hydrocarbon sensor. Maybe easy for you, but I’m lost already. Have I just removed the coil?

Finding Black Gold

For the experts still reading this, the analogue data emitted by the sensor will be analysed by a microchip that will interface with the main computer running the detector. That’s okay, then. Even I can see that using a basic machine as the host and using its many built-in features such as sound response will create
a useful tool. Simples.

Until recently oil prospecting has been a field left to the professionals, because they require sophisticated tools for detection. But in much the same way gold prospecting empowered people to find small nuggets of profit, urban prospecting now has the potential to find small nuggets of oil near oil spills, abandoned gas stations, and industrial sites. Given the current high cost of oil these urban spills or potential gold mines are waiting to be tapped.

You know, this all sounds very neat. I might try converting my old machine and go prospecting for dirty oil some guy dumped while doing an oil change. Then take it home to my refinery that I conveniently built in the back garden and never pay for fuel again. Untold riches!

Raffi basically uses a modified metal detector outfitted with a combustible gas sensor that can be built for little money. Supposedly, you will be able to determine pockets of oil and other toxins. Or not.

Trust Mrs John to bring me back down to earth. She’s just said that if it does work and I manage to find crude oil, how will I manage to extract it and where will I sell it? Good point. Trust a woman to put the kibosh on a good idea!

‘They also add some green LEDs, which supposedly don’t do anything except make your contraption look way cooler than usual. If you’re going to tote around ridiculous equipment, it might as well look futuristic with lots of lights, right’

Urban Prospecting

Go to UrbanProspecting for more information including, for the adventurous, a useful step-by-step guide to converting your old detector. Good luck!

4 thoughts on “Is Your Detector Really Necessary?

  1. John;
    Many , many years back I did a research on where the street water outlets were in Victoria.. I managed to obtain a very old map showing the outfalls and compared it to the new outfalls.

    Once I had these maps, I headed out to the sites where the drains emptied into the oceans and bays.. You almost could not believe the amount of goodies I found.. The mud was disgusting to dig through… But I was rewarded with many, many rings [some junk… but a great many gold and silver], coins, bills.. glasses… You name it, I somehow retrieved it.

    I used a screen , a shovel and water.. I did find a few loose stones [still have them somewhere].. but it does show that a detector really is not a critical item when it comes to treasure hunting



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