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Lectra Search Model X-50 Report

by Carl Moreland
Also read The Case Against Kellyco

Fig. 1: Lectra Search X-50

Lectra Search is a brand of so-called "long range locators" marketed primarily by Kellyco in central Florida. It's difficult to know who makes the Lectra Search, or even where it is made. The people at Kellyco refused my request to provide contact information for the company, stating that "they do not want to be contacted", and telling me that the manufacturer is located somewhere in Europe. I called another metal detector distributor who used to advertise the Lectra Search and was told that the manufacturer was located in central Florida, but they also declined to provide contact information.

As far as I can tell, Lectra Search hit the scene around 1989 with four models: the X-50, X-60, X-90, and X-400. This report is on the X-50, which has now been discontinued. Figure 1 is a picture of this unit. A collapsible antenna is on the front, a swivel handle on the bottom, and the top side has a meter, LED, switch, and a "sensitivity" knob. It is very similar to the Thomas Electroscope in appearance and, as it turns out, function.

Four screws hold the case together, and each screw was covered with a blob of epoxy to prevent casual disassembly. I used a Dremel tool with a small cutter to carefully remove the epoxy. Figure 2 shows before and after pictures of one of the screws.

Fig. 2: Epoxied screws to keep out prying eyes.

Inside the unit is a circuit board and some wiring that connects to the top-side controls. Figure 3 shows a view of the interior. One thing I noticed is that a ribbon cable runs around the perimeter of the interior of the case; the brown wire of this cable is soldered to the antenna and is not connected to anything else. At the other end of the ribbon cable the purple wire is soldered to the circuit board but nothing else. In other words, the antenna is not actually connected to anything other than a single piece of wire! The remaining wires of the ribbon cable are also unconnected. Figure 4 is a photo of the ribbon cable removed from the case.

Fig. 3: Inside the X-50. Note the colored ribbon cable that wraps around the inside of the case. The circuit board is mounted crookedly.

Fig. 4: Ribbon cable. Note the top wire (brown) is connected to the antenna, bottom wire (purple) on the far side is connected to the circuit board.

Upon close inspection of the circuit board it became obvious that it is a dummy. In fact, it is a heavily damaged reject from some other device - even one of the holes for mounting the board in the case had been drilled right through a circuit trace (Fig. 5). The board is made to look like a working part of this unit by soldering a lot of wires to it. The wires are simply soldered in a way that connects them with one another, and the circuit board serves no other purpose. It is not powered in any way. Figure 6 is a photo of a section of the board where wires are soldered - you can see that the solder pads on the PC board do not go anywhere else.

Fig. 5: Outstanding workmanship: mounting hole drilled through the circuitry.

Fig. 6: Wires are very crudely soldered to connection pads on the PCB. The rest of the circuit board is entirely non-functional.

The remainder of the Lectra Search interior is the top-side components and the wiring that connects them. A full schematic of this circuitry is shown in Figure 7. Note that the controls do nothing but vary the current through the meter and LED. Again, nothing is hooked up to the antenna.

Fig. 7: Complete circuit schematic. Note that the antenna does not connect to any of the circuitry.

The complete enclosure (with antenna) is mounted on a swivel handle and functions just like an ordinary dowsing rod. The handle is made with ball-bearings so the case/antenna turns smoothly. Figure 8 shows that the handle is made from an ordinary piece of PVC and a bicycle grip.

Fig. 8: Details of the handle.

It is plainly obvious that the Lectra Search is nothing but a dowsing rod with some do-nothing circuitry. Yet, this model originally sold for $595 with other models as high as $2195. Interestingly, the X-50 actually has a negative balance, such that if you slightly tilt the antenna down it will swing around and hit you in the face. All of the models except for the X-50 have a heavy brass chamber on the antenna, which the ads call a "choke filter". The weight of this brass chamber is needed to create a positive balance as expected in a dowsing rod. Perhaps that is why the X-50 was discontinued; it doesn't even properly function as a dowsing device.

After opening the X-50, one thing I noticed is that the potentiometer is marked "Mouser", the name of a U.S. electronics distributor. I checked their catalog and found all of the parts used in the Lectra Search, including the exact case, strongly suggesting that the device was not made in Europe. Total parts cost is around $45. The workmanship of the X-50 is absolutely horrible. The circuit board was mounted crookedly because, instead of drilling two properly placed mounting holes, the manufacturer used one of the board's original holes and drilled one more, clean through the circuitry! The soldering is some of the worst I've ever seen.

Lectra Search is still sold by Kellyco. In fact, I was told by Kellyco that they are the authorized dealer and repair center for Lectra Search, so they surely know what is inside one. The other distributor I spoke with admitted that the circuit board used in the Lectra Search does not do anything - he called it a "static" circuit board. When I pointed out that the circuit board does nothing he replied, "Isn't that what static means?"

Advertising Claims

According to the ad, the X-50 features "automatic discrimination", is "ground balanced", and has a "range up to one (1) mile, depths to 8 feet". A footnote states that "distance can vary based upon size of target, length of time in the ground and atmospheric conditions." A later statement in the ad claims "up to many miles" and "depths of 20 feet", so there is little consistency even within the same ad space. I'm not sure how the X-50 can claim to have any kind of discrimination or ground balancing as the circuitry in the device does basically nothing. These appear to be buzzwords thrown in to make the Lectra Search sound like a metal detecting device, which it is not.

The ad goes on to call the Lectra Search an "electronic locator" which can "locate coins, caches, and treasures from a few feet or distances up to many miles." It is "a compact hand-held electronic locator incorporating a series of antenna loops with an electronic detecting circuit and a special filter device." Perhaps the series of antenna loops refers to the ribbon cable that wraps around the inside of the housing. However, they are not in series; in fact, all but two of the wires are completely disconnected. As shown above, one of the wires is connected to the antenna, the other to a dead-end pad on the circuit board. And, of course, the so-called "electronic detecting circuit" is just a dead scrap circuit board. The special filter device probably refers to the external "choke filter" featured on the other models but not on the X-50. The only conclusion one can reach is that these claims are absolutely false.

Finally, the ad states that Lectra Search is "guaranteed to be as good or better than any comparable product." If the Lectra Search is just a dowsing rod, and all the other long-range locators are also just dowsing rods, then they will all have equal performance and this guarantee it easily met.

Copyright © 2003 Carl W. Moreland, all rights reserved.