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Use metal detector as cable tracer...?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Geir Holmavatn, Nov 10, 2008.

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  1. Hi,

    Say I have a disconnected electrical cable dug into the ground. I need
    to trace the cable to find out its route and where it ends.

    I wonder if it is possible to inject a signal from a signal generator
    between one of this cable's conductors and earth and walk away with a
    metal detector to trace the cable.

    Has anyone any experience or knowledge on this to share, and if yes, how
    deep in the earth will the detector be able to trace the cable?

    Thanks for comments on this issue ;-)


  2. Dave

    Dave Guest

    Why would a metal conductor be any more "detectable" with a signal on it
    than without using a metal detector?

    A metal detector won't work worth a damn if there's six inches of material
    on top of it. It won't do what you want it to do.

    What you want is a commercial cable detector. The good ones have a mode
    which detects 60Hz AC (or 50Hz depending on where you live) so you could
    just energize the cable and detect it with the detector. If you can't power
    it up, there's a mode which uses a transmitter to put an RF signal on the
    line which is then detected. I don't know if you can rent them, but any
    decent-sized excavation company will have one as will most municipal public
    works yards. They all read depths as well, and I've found them good to
    deeper than four feet, depending on the ground composition up to 6'.
  3. Bob F

    Bob F Guest

    I had some luck using an AM radio and a signal generator that imposed an audio
    tone on a RF signal in the AM band in tracking a break in a buried AC line.
    (Power off) It gave me a fair idea of the route of the cable, and a hint of the
    break location. Adjust the signal and radio volumes for minimum hearable signal
    for more accuracy. The other hint I got was by using my DVM to measure voltage
    or current from a probe stuck in the ground to a ground reference with the AC
    power to the wire turned on. Where a wire has failed, there is a significant
    leakage which can be picked up with the meter.
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