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What if the sonde consumes more battery?

What if the sonde consumes more battery?

If you think the sonde has become fast to drain batteries then this article is for you. There are three main causes for the fast discharge of batteries:

  1. Sonde malfunction is the main cause of an unexpected increase in current consumption.
  2. Unreliable or dead batteries — confidently take the second place.
  3. Poor-quality drill head — less often, but it happens, especially if homemade.

Cause No.1: Faulty sonde

A faulty sonde is the most common cause of quick battery drain, in case earlier everything went normaly. There is either the malfunction of electronics, or the poor contact in the battery compartment. Poor contact can occur either due to dirt in the compartment (follow the blog on how to clean the battery compartment),or due to weak compression of the batteries by springs, especially during drilling in heavy soils. But before you replace the sonde or send it for repair, check whether this really is the case with the sonde. Just measure its power consumption and if it exceeds the norm by 50%, then the sonde is faulty.

To measure the current consumption of the sonde, you will need a multimeter, the sonde itself and the new batteries which you are going to work with. Measurements are carried out outside the drill head.

How to test the sonde and measure the current consumption?

  1. Turn on the multimeter and switch to the DC measurement mode of 10 A or 20 A (depending on the multimeter).
  2. House NEW batteries.
  3. One contact of the multimeter touches the battery compartment, the second — presses the batteries, then slightly shake the sonde.
  4. After 5-7 seconds, the sonde enters the operating mode. Remember the average value of the current consumption.

Step-by-step instructions are shown in the video.

All the sondes have different power and, therefore, different power consumption



Current consumption of the original sonde

Current consumption of the new sonde by Nagovitsyn

DigiTrak Mark 3, 5

DT yellow



DX red



DigiTrak Eclipse

ET black



EDF dual-frequency lavender (1.5 kHz/12 kHz)

<170 / <100

<90 / <75

EXL long grey



DigiTrak F2/F5

FX12 grey



FX19 black



FX12/19 black


FXL12 deep-seated



FXL19 deep-seated



FXL12/19 deep dual-frequency


DigiTrak F5




DigiTrak Falcon



DigiTrak LT

LT green



DigiTrak SE

ST light green



Radiodetection RD-385L, DrillTrack, iTrack




Ditch Witch: SubSite 750/752, 8500 TK and TKq







What if the readings differ by more than 50 percent?

You won’t fix it yourself. The sonde needs serious repair or replacement. If you contact our company NAGOVITSYN ENGINEERING for repair, we offer you a similar new sonde in exchange for yours at the price of repair. Learn more.

Cause No.2: Unreliable batteries

For more than 20 years of communication with Customers we have developed 2 rules of recommending batteries:

  • If you choose for small punctures, then take proven brands: Energizer, Gp. Use batteries only of the newest production period (type designation 2031 on the body to use in 2021).
  • If you are preparing for a long puncture or for working with deep-seated powerful sondes, then be sure to use lithium batteries. These are special batteries for TWIN or SuperCell sondes (they are common as hundred-hour batteries for sondes). However, with deep-seated sondes SuperCell can behave unpredictably due to increased current consumption. For TWIN, the maximum recommended current is 500 mA at which it can work for 20 continuous hours, with the sonde for F2 or F5 it will work for more than 100 hours.

But even these brands are not a guarantee of reliability, it is still important to buy in proven stores, large supermarkets in which there will be no old or counterfeit batteries.

Cause No.3: Poor-quality drill head

The sonde current consumption in the drill head is always higher by about 1.5-2 times than in open space. The final consumption strongly depends on the material and its design.

  • Firstly, the socket for the sonde in the drill head should not be too tight and the sonde with its antenna (the length 110-130 mm, starting 20-25 mm from the border of the metal compartment) should be symmetrized to longitudinal slots. The length of the slots should exceed the length of the antenna by at least 1.5 times (continuously, without jumpers!).
  • Secondly, it is desirable that the slots are filled with an insulating material, usually a glass-filled epoxy compound to counteract torsion twisting. If the drilling head is with open slots and, moreover, it is old, or the work is done in heavy soils, intermittent jumping of the slots due to torsion is possible, which entails a twitchy depth signal and a sharp increase in current consumption.

Instead of a conclusion
Summary: if there is a suspicion that the sonde began to drain the battery, then first of all check the current consumption of the sonde with new batteries in the open space. If everything is normal, then check the condition of the battery compartment (springs, contamination). In case everything is in order there, then you should change the type of batteries to more reliable and new from a proven store. If this doesn’t help, then look for an external cause even if «Everything used to be fine!»

Author`s articles:

Nagovitsyn Aleksandr Leonidovich
Founder and Leading Engineer in repair, modernization and development of HDD location systems
My e-mail: sales@hdd-electronics.com

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