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Revised 30 Nov 2010


Standard Test Protocol

Suppose you buy a new device that claims it can detect buried metal. You turn this "metal detector" thingy on, adjust the settings per the manual, wave a silver dollar an inch from the coil, and... it does absolutely nothing. Would you dismiss this failure as a fluke, and assume that it will start working in the field? Or would you try to figure out why it didn't work, in such a ridiculously simple test?

So-called "long-range locators" have been around for a long time now1, with some manufacturers making all sorts of claims about what they can do, mostly revolving around an ability to locate buried gold at a long distance. I have accumulated quite a few LRLs, and have found them to be — consistently and completely — incapable of detecting anything at all, other than gravity2. Some of them appear to be outright money-making scams. However, I am willing to pay a large sum of money if any of those manufacturers, or anyone else, can prove me wrong, and demonstrate a working LRL.

The Challenge

I am offering a $25,000 reward to any manufacturer of a "long-range locator" device if they can simply demonstrate that it really works. I am also extending this offer to anyone else, with slight restrictions.

Originally this offer was made only to manufacturers, and the test protocol was left undefined, because I thought the fairest possible test to be one in which the manufacturer could specify the exact protocol that he felt would demonstrate his particular claim. Unfortunately, this concept was too difficult for some people to comprehend, and they wanted to spend more time arguing about the diabolical reasons for my offering flexible conditions, rather than just stating, "Here's what I can do with my LRL, and here's how it can be tested."

Since most LRL claims, explicitly or implicitely3, involve locating gold at a distance, I have decided to propose a standard protocol for testing this ability. Returning to the metal detector in the first paragraph, if I wanted to create a test to see whether a metal detector could fundamentally detect metal, then I might try something that should be ludicrously easy, like an axe head at a distance of 2 inches. Likewise, in testing a basic ability of an LRL to do anything useful, a test that would seem ludicrously easy is a good starting point. If an LRL can pass this test, then further tests can be designed to evaluate performance claims, such as distance and discrimination, if there is any desire to do so. This challenge is limited to basic functionality.

The Test

A summary of the standard protocol is as follows:

  • Place a target (manufacturer's choice4 ) at a randomly chosen location out of several possible clearly marked locations.
  • Use the LRL to determine which location the target is at.
  • Test will be repeated several times, in order to distinguish real performance from guessing.5

The full details of the test can be found on the Test page.

For manufacturers, I will still entertain other protocol suggestions. In those cases, it is up to the manufacturer to specify what his device can do, and to what extent, and to specify a test method that will demonstrate the claimed capabilities. There are a few constraints. The device should do something useful, like locating gold, not gravity2. The test must be objective and scientific, i.e., follow a double-blind protocol. And the results must be deterministic and self-evident; that is, if the device works, it should do so obviously, and no judging should be needed. Non-manufacturers are limited to the standard test protocol.

Besides a test of a device's ability to detect gold, I am also open to a test that demonstrates the existence of the so-called "signal line," which so far can only be described as a figment of the imagination of LRL manufacturers. This might be accomplished by testing an operator's ability to tell whether the transmitter is turned on, or off. Or, by using conventional test equipment to objectively measure a physical signal line to a buried target. Again, alternative tests are open only to manufacturers.


In the case of manufacturers, I will bear all costs of travel. This offer is open to the actual manufacturers of LRL instruments specified for treasure hunting, including pure dowsing devices:

  • Thomas Afilani aka Electroscope
  • Anderson
  • Vincent Blaines aka Ranger-Tell (Australia)
  • William Dunning aka Vernell (VR-series)
  • John Fales aka Scanmaster
  • Bob Fitzgerald (PPL)
  • Kellyco (Lectra Search, Gold Cross, & others)
  • Mineoro (Brazil)
  • Neil Pagel aka Vector Trek
  • Vernon Rose aka Vernell (VR-series)
  • Russ Simmons
  • Jim Thomas aka Treasure Scope
  • Tim Williams aka LRLMan
  • Dell Winders aka Omnitron
  • Bob Yocum aka Omni-Range

A manufacturer applicant may designate anyone they wish as the operator, including any dealer or customer, but all arrangements must be made through the manufacturer.

Non-manufacturer applicants must represent only themselves, and must bear the cost of travel to North Carolina. Except for manufacturers, I will not travel to the applicant's location. Non-manufacturer applicants are limited to the standard test protocol.

All test details will be written up in a legally-binding contract 6, and signed & notarized by both parties.


I have long been skeptical of LRLs, since I opened one up and found it was pure nonsense. I have since obtained quite a few LRLs, and found the same consistent nonsense in each one, and have written a number of reports detailing what I've found. Dowsing-rod-salesman Bob Fitzgerald once challenged me to "put your money where your mouth is," and so I have7. If I offered a challenge to metal detector manufacturers to prove that their devices can really detect metal8, they would score 100%, and my money would already be long gone. Let's see if any LRL manufacturers really believe in their products, or if they're just wallet mining.

The Test page spells it all out, and success should be incredibly easy if LRLs really work. Anyone interested in this challenge can email me for more information. Please fully read the test protocol and the FAQ page before contacting me.

I will list any significant events related to this challenge below.



1. Anderson Rods first started showing up in magazine ads around 1973.

2. Which I don't consider to be particularly useful.

3. Some LRL advertisements make no explicit claim that the device can do anything useful. However, the advertising is usually designed to give the impression that the device is somehow useful as a tool for treasure hunting.

4. I have a 1-ounce silver bar, a 10-ounce silver bar, a 1-ounce gold bar, and a 10-ounce gold bar available for testing. All 99.9% pure or better.

5. And so that a 100% success rate is not required.

6. So there is no way I can refuse to pay, if a demonstration is successful.

7. Since doing so, I have not heard a peep from Bob.

8. An axe head at 2 inches!

History of this Challenge
  • 12/4/2001: Initially posted this challenge at $10,000.
  • 3/19/2003: Offered the prize to "Ranger-Tell" (he doesn't give out a real name, for obvious reasons) on a forum. He proceeded to post all sorts of nonsensical theories, but didn't respond to the challenge.
  • 8/31/2003: Offered the prize to Dell Winders on a forum. His one word reply: No.
  • 4/12/2004: Dell offered a $10,000 "bet" on a forum, that his LRL could outperform my dowsing under test conditions. I immediately accepted his bet, at which point he fell completely silent on the topic. Apparently, the offer was a bluff, and the bluff was called.
  • 10/6/2004: Increased the reward from $10,000 to $25,000.
  • 10/15/2004: For a third time, directly offered the prize to "Ranger", after he sent me emails complaining that his real name (Vincent Blanes) in the manufacturer's list above is not correct (it is). And that is, in fact, the new excuse he cites for not taking the challenge.
  • 10/20/2004: Ranger suggested that he might be willing to try for the prize, if I would agree to maintain "strict confidentiality" regarding the outcome of the test. He cited concern for "the chance of interference etc on the day of the test," even though he continues to claim a 100% success rate for locating gold. When I asked what "interference" he was concerned about, he replied, "The phenomenology must be studied." I declined to keep the results a secret, because one of the primary purposes of this challenge is to show folks that when LRLs are fairly tested, they consistently fail, and even manufacturers know that. Ranger retreated once again, saying, "We simply have to: A. Find the time; B. Perfect our locator some more so we give it our best shot."
  • 11/23/2004: Someone supposedly representing a group of "remote viewers" ( posted an offer on one of the TreasureNet forums, to use remote viewing to locate treasure. Because they ask for consulting fees to be paid up front, and because their claims are a form of long-range locating, I replied to the post and offered them my $25,000 prize, if they could succeed in a legitimate test of their technique. The offer exactly matched their claims: locate a freshly buried cache within 100 feet. I suggested a couple of possibilities for a test protocol, but left it open for them to define. The offer was immediately rejected, because 1) the protocol was unfair (though I never defined a specific protocol); 2) I would not cover up-front expenses (true, $25,000 only if they succeeded); and 3) they don't need to prove their abilities.
  • 12/9/2004: Dell suggested a test where a gold coin is buried in a 10-acre field, and he is allowed 4000 attempts to locate it to within a certain area. His 4000 attempts would statistically cover 92% of the field, giving him a 92% chance of success just by guessing. For obvious reasons, this was rejected.
  • 12/17/2004: Dell suggested a test of his X-scan device, hiding a "metal washer" under one of 12 paper plates, and attempting to locate it from a distance of "a few inches". I replied that a minimum of 5 feet would be required, to prevent the use of a hidden conventional detector. Dell considered this distance unfair.
  • 3/24/2005: Created a standard test protocol, and expanded participation to everyone.
  • 4/18/2005: Attended a demonstration of an LRL by Bill Floto. Bill wanted to take a shot at my reward money, in a test that involved a single attempt at determining the radial direction of the target, to within +/- 2.5 degrees. I declined this protocol, as it would have a reasonable chance of success through simple observation and guesswork. I countered with an offer to do a standard double-blind test, with several attempts using a randomized protocol, similar to the one on these pages. That offer was rejected.
  • 5/20/2005: Dell states, "I claim my instruments locate nothing," and wants me to award him the $25,000 for non-performance.
  • 11/13/2005: Wayne Groller of Chicago issued a challenge to me on the Spindle forums. He suggested using an unnamed LRL to locate 3 pounds of gold in a 640 acre area. This was to be a two-sided challenge, where we both put up the same amount of money. At first the amount was $25,000 (the same as my challenge) but before I could accept his offer, he raised the amount to $50,000. Since this was essentially a "bet" where I had a phenomenally higher chance of winning than losing, I eventually accepted the higher amount. At this point, Wayne simply wanted to argue about the protocol on the forums, and refused to proceed with writing up a contract that specified the details of the test. I declined further forum debates over the matter, and Wayne has made no effort to continue with the challenge.
  • 12/10/2005: Michael Tune offered a challenge to me, concerning a device called the Treasure Tracker, with which he is involved. From a video demonstration of the device, it does not utilyze dowsing in any way, so technically it is not a candidate for my challenge. However, the device has the same sort of claims as dowsing LRLs, and even from the video it appears to be something other than what is claimed. Mr. Tune's challenge was for the owner of the device, Kelly Brown, to locate my 10-ounce gold bar, in a single attempt, in a 10-acre area and, upon success, he would get to keep the bar. I agreed to the terms, on the condition that I could select the 10-acre area and conceal the gold in total secrecy. Mike & Kelly balked at this, insisting at various times that they select the property, that the concealment phase be witnessed by someone of their chosing, and that they be allowed to pre-scan the property before the gold is hidden. I felt that any of these requirements would produce an opportunity to cheat. Mike & Kelly refused to even discuss protocol, so the challenge went no further.
  • 1/24/2006: A long-time employee of Kellyco, "J.W." (John White), was participating in a discussion on the Treasure Depot forum. On the forum, I offered JW my $25,000 prize if he could successfully demonstrate one of the LRLs that Kellyco sells. He did not reply. I sent him an email on 1/25/2006 repeating the offer, but still no reply. I sent a follow-up email 2 weeks later, but no reply.
  • March/2006: According to a testimonial on Kelly Brown's Treasure Tracker web page, sometime in March 2006 Mr. Brown gave a demonstration of his device to a client who lives a mere 30 miles from my house. Since Mr. Brown knew my location, I am surprised he did not make even the slightest effort to either meet me for an informal demonstration of the device, or to take a shot at my $25,000 prize.
  • 5/1/2006: Bob Yocum (Gardnerville, NV, manufacturer/dealer of LRLs) sent me a "Put Up or Shut Up" email, challenging me to "a public contest between you and your equipment and mine." I responded that I did not make or sell any equipment, but that I did offer a $25,000 prize for a successful demonstration of an LRL. Bob initially refused my offer, then accepted. We tentatively agreed on July 22 for the test, plus some kind of "public demonstration" Bob insisted on. I sent him a draft contract, we exchanged a few emails, but in the end the contract was not finalized in time for me to make the July 22 date. The contract is now finalized, but Bob refuses to respond to my repeated requests to set a test date. He is currently under investigation by the Nevada Consumer Affairs Division, for potential fraud.
  • 8/8/2010: Offered the prize to H3Tec. They refused.