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Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Pipe and Cable Locators

 

1.  When is High Frequency (480 kHz) most advantageous?

2.  When is Low Frequency (9 kHz) most advantageous?

3.  What do you mean by "simultaneous transmission of both 9 kHz and 480 kHz on direct connect locates" and how is that advantageous?

4.  What are the 6 Pipehorn Steps?

5.  How far can I locate with a Pipehorn?

6.  How deep can I locate with a Pipehorn?

7.  Can I estimate depth with a Pipehorn?

8.  How close can I work to the transmitter when I am not directly connected?

9.  What are some examples of difficult conductors that often require a very high frequency?

10.  How can I minimize signal bleedover?

11.  What is the best way to maximize signal strength on my target?

12.  Why is it bad to cross an adjacent conductor with your ground stake cable?

13.  What is common bonding?

14.  How do I know when it is time to change my batteries in my 800 Series locator?

15.  How long do the batteries last?

16.  Why did my 800 Series receiver "die" when minutes before it was operating properly?

 

Maghorn Magnetic Locators

 

1.  What is the difference between a metal detector and a ferromagnetic locator?

2.  How deep will it detect ferrous metals?

 

Support and Training

 

1.  What is the User Hotline?

2.  What kind of training is available?

3.  Where do I send my equipment to be repaired?

Answers

 

When is High Frequency (480 kHz) most advantageous?   back to top 

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When direct connection is not possible.

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When sweeping areas for unmarked lines. 

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When tracing difficult conductors such as: cast and ductile iron pipe with electrically resistive joints, inserted services, worn or broken tracer wire, tracer tape, short side services, and street lighting.  

 

When is Low Frequency (9 kHz) most advantageous?   back to top

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When direct connection is possible, locators should always start with the 9 kHz signal.

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When locating in congested areas for better isolation.

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When tracing continuous conductors to locate greater distances.

 

What do you mean by "simultaneous transmission of both 9 kHz and 480 kHz on direct connect locates" and how is that advantageous?

When direct connected, both high and low frequency signals are being applied to the conductor.  Either signal can be checked with a flick of a switch on the receiver. 

Always start with low frequency and keep it there as long as signal is present (better isolation, better distance). 

 

If the low frequency signal can’t get through a break in a wire or a joint in a pipe, switch to high frequency and continue the locate. 

Many times low frequency is traceable from a service to a main and down the main in both directions.  The low frequency may or may not want to travel down the next service.  If so, easily switch to high frequency to try to get down the next service.

   

What are the 6 Pipehorn Steps?   back to top 

Following these 6 Steps in order will provide good information about the reliability of your locate:

Pinpoint - Adjust receiver gain to a steady tone (No Sound: turn it up; Beeping: turning it down). Keeping receiver upright, scan left and right to determine location of strongest signal.

 

Determine Direction - At the pinpoint spot, slowly twist the receiver in your hand.  At strongest signal, the handle is IN LINE with the conductor.

 

Determine Signal Source - Raise the receiver and point it at the transmitter and toward any other potential nearby sources (overhead lines, fences). If the signal from your underground target is the strongest, proceed to the next step.

 

Balance - Place your foot at the pinpoint spot.  Keeping your receiver upright and in line with the conductor, slowly move to the side of the pinpoint spot until the receiver tone stops.  Note the distance from the spot.  Without adjusting the gain slowly move it from the pinpoint spot to the other side.  Note the distance from the spot.  If the distance from the pinpoint spot is equal on both sides then your pinpoint is directly on top of the conductor (a symmetrical magnetic field) and you can proceed to the next step.  If the distances are not equal then your pinpoint is not on top of the conductor (an asymmetrical field) and you must change the way you are putting signal on the conductor (do something different with the transmitter).

 

Estimate Depth - Touch the receiver to the pinpoint spot.  Adjust the sensitivity until the meter reads 10.  Raise receiver, staying in line with the conductor. Stop when the meter reads ZERO.  The distance from ground to tip of receiver is an estimated depth from the ground to the center of the conductor’s diameter.

 

Verify - Mark the conductor away from your starting point.  Place the transmitter on that mark.  Trace back to your starting point to confirm that you are still on that conductor.

 

How far can I locate with a Pipehorn?  back to top 

Locate range from the transmitter depends on things such as:

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The strength of signal applied to the conductor

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The frequency being used

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The type of conductor you are tracing

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The depth of your conductor

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The soil conditions – moist/dry, sand/clay, packed or loose

 

You might trace miles in ideal conditions (low frequency, direct connection with a strong signal to shallow tracer wire in moist compact soil), or 

You may have to move your transmitter every 50 feet in poor conditions (high frequency, inductive locate, on deep worn-out tracer tape in dry sandy soil).

   

How deep can I locate with a Pipehorn?   back to top 

Detection of deeper lines depends on things such as:

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The strength of signal applied to the conductor

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The frequency being used

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The type of conductor you are tracing

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The soil conditions – moist/dry, sand/clay, packed or loose

 

You might detect signal over 20’ deep in ideal conditions (direct connection with a strong signal to a copper phone cable), or 

You may not be able to detect signal more than a couple feet deep in the worst conditions (high frequency inductive locate on worn-out tracer tape in dry sandy soil).

 

Can I estimate depth with a Pipehorn?   back to top

Yes. 

 

Pipehorn can provide a reasonably accurate depth estimate in ideal conditions.  As with any locator, the accuracy of Pipehorn depth estimations depends on several factors including the presence of signal directly from the transmitter or from adjacent conductors that may alter the shape of the magnetic field.   For depth estimation procedure, click here.

 

How close can I work to the transmitter when I am not direct connected?   back to top

High Frequency (480 kHz) allows you to start about 5 times the line depth away from the transmitter.  That’s much closer than lower frequencies will allow.  Always verify the signal’s source before continuing with the locate.  If you’re too close, the signal source will be primarily from the transmitter instead of your target.  

 

What are some examples of difficult conductors that often require a very high frequency?   back to top 

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Cast or ductile iron pipe with electrically resistive joints

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Worn, corroded, or broken tracer wire and tape

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Inserted services, short side services and stub outs

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Disconnected power lines (parking lot or street lights)

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Fiber lines with minimal metallic content

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Conductors with paint or insulation at the point of connection.

   

How can I minimize signal bleedover?     back to top 

Bleedover is another term for unwanted signal on an adjacent conductor. 

 

Sometimes the signal is on the adjacent conductor because that conductor is in the return path for the target signal.  Sometimes the bleedover signal comes through a common bond with the target and sometimes from induction by the transmitter or the target conductor itself. 

 

To minimize this you must:

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Maximize signal on target line and minimize signal on adjacent lines

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Make the difference in signal as large as possible

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Use the transmitter at a different point or in a different way to better energize your target conductor

 

What is the best way to maximize signal strength on my target?   back to top 

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Not “Hooked-Up” (Inductive)

Proper placement of the transmitter: Place the transmitter in line with and as close to the target conductor as possible, but maintain a minimum 2 inch separation between the bottom of the transmitter and the conductor.

 

Avoid interference: Do not place the transmitter on top of objects such as metal covers or valve lids.

 

Avoid confusion: Avoid placing the transmitter at the end of a conductor (stub outs, 90s, tees, dead ends).  Also, inducing on very short line lengths may result in a weak signal.

 

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Directly Connected (Conductive)

Grounding: Stretching ground leads 90 degrees to the run of the conductors (without crossing adjacent conductors), increasing grounding surface area or depth, wetting area around ground stake in dry conditions.

 

Connection: Remove any paint or rust at the connection point that might reduce the signal applied to the target.  On the 800 Series, listen for the good-connection tone.

 

Interference: If authorized, temporarily disconnect any common bonding that would allow signal to get on unwanted conductors.  Another method is to use a double-ended transmitter connection.  Connect to the target as usual at an access point and then “ground” via a long wire to the target at an access point farther down the direction you want to locate.

 

Why is it bad to cross an adjacent conductor with your ground stake cable?   back to top 

The adjacent conductor becomes part of the return path carrying the tracer signal.  This could create a distorted signal (bleedover).  

What is common bonding?   back to top 

When common bonded, utility lines are electrically connected or grounded together.  This could create a distorted signal (bleedover).

 

How do I know when it is time to change my batteries in my 800 Series locator?   back to top 

The transmitter will emit a beeping tone when batteries drop below the optimal voltage.  You can still locate, but distance will continue to deteriorate.

 

Low receiver batteries do not affect tracing distance.  With low receiver batteries, the tone may become intermittent or inaudible, and the meter needle may be erratic or non-responsive.

 

So that the locator is ready when needed, put fresh batteries in both the transmitter and receiver at least every 6 months.

 

How long do the batteries last?   back to top

Battery life varies depending on factors such as:  type of batteries, type of conductor, the grounding situation, and how you apply the signal.

 

Below are some typical guidelines for the 800 Series line locators:

 

Receiver:   25 hrs (continuous use)

800-H Transmitter:            Inductive – 68 hrs            Conductive – 125 to over 200 hrs

800-HL Transmitter:          Inductive – 68 hrs            Conductive –   13 to over 45 hrs

 

Why did my 800 Series receiver "die" when minutes before it was operating properly?  back to top

The usual reason is that the power switch was left in the ON position and the receiver timed-out after about 5 minutes of no use.  Simply power-off, then power-on the receiver to return to normal operation.  

What is the difference between a metal detector and a ferromagnetic locator?   back to top

A metal detector is good up to about 1.5’ deep.  A ferromagnetic locator can detect some signals up to 8’ deep. 

 

A metal detector detects every metal including aluminum cans, pop tops, coins, metallic foils.  A ferromagnetic locator detects ferrous metal only (iron and steel) - worthless as a treasure hunter, but much more effective for locating valve lids, manhole covers, property pins, etc.

How deep will it detect ferrous metals?   back to top 

It depends on the amount of vertical metal.  It might detect a lid on a concrete or plastic pipe up to 4’ deep. It might detect a valve stem or a cast iron valve box up to 8’ deep.

What is the USER HOTLINE?   back to top

Call toll-free (800-952-3710) for live assistance with all locator/locating related questions M-F 8:00 am to 4:30 pm CT.  

What kind of training is available?   back to top

Operator training sessions are provided free-of-charge at our facilities in Birmingham Alabama (weekly) and on-site wherever and whenever our schedule permits.

 

 

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Last modified: 01/08/2016

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