MineLab Electronics Pty Ltd
Applidyne Australia Pty Ltd
Cobalt Niche Design Pty Ltd
The F3 Compact is an easily collapsible, waterproof mine detector with uncompromised detection performance appropriate to the military environment.
Whilst Minelab were already recognised leaders in metal detection, their legacy mechanical platforms were not designed for ease of deployment and tolerance to military operational environments. The challenge was to deliver a small form-factor tactical metal detector to be used for locating landmines in hostile environments. The design process proved to be challenging both mechanically and electronically particularly with the challenges of Military Standard 810G compliance.
The F3 Compact is currently being used to save lives around the globe.
The F3 Compact cancels the interference effects of mineralised ground conditions allowing landmines to be detected in these soil types. Competitor detectors in compact form-factors are significantly degraded with respect to ground mineralisation immunity. The F3 Compact can thus detect targets at greater depths than competitor products in difficult soils.
Following extensive testing, the US Marine Corps stated "The F3 Compact is a definite improvement over current technology... Minelab's F3 Compact provides the opportunity to save Marine's lives on the battlefield."
The F3 Compact has the ability to operate to specification within an ECCM (electronic counter counter-measure) environment. An ECCM environment is one where a high-power broad-band jamming radio prevents remote control detonation to IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices). Such environments can interfere with the detector and compromise performance.
Ease of operation through only two controls - Power and Sensitivity. Distilling down to only two controls for ease of operation required innovative approaches to the electronic and embedded software design to optimise the configuration. Coupled with good ergonomic design provides convenient user control even with gloved hands, in an environment where a user error in control of the detector can lead to failure to detect mines.
The detector provides 6 hours of operation from C-Cell Alkaline batteries, or 10 hours from C-Cell NiMH batteries. It complies with military standards for environmental conditions (MIL-STD-810G) including shock, vibration, decompression, transformational cycling and is water proof to 10m IP68 irrespective of the transformational state of the detector.
F3 Compact is fully repairable; all parts can be replaced in the field. This ensures operational capacity is maintained and extends the life of the detector, avoiding the disposal of serviceable parts. Where practical, recyclable materials have been used and the ease of disassembly allows for different materials to be separated. Other than some key electronic components where performance and military specifications cannot be compromised, the detector is ROHS compliant, so hazardous materials that can impact on the environment have been minimised.