Picture of Urban Prospecting Detector
The project, called the Urban Prospector, is basically a modified metal detector outfitted with a combustible gas sensor that can be built for under 100 dollars. By scanning the surface of your neighborhood, you will be able to determine pockets of oil and other toxins.

Until recently, oil prospecting has been a field left to the professionals because it requires sophisticated tools for detection. But in much the same way gold prospecting empowered people to find small nuggets of profit, urban prospectors now have the potential to find small nuggets of oil near oil spills, abandoned gas stations, and industrial sites. Given the current high cost of oil, these urban spills or potential gold mines are waiting to be tapped.*-

Go to for more info.
[Video(, {width:425, height:350})]
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Compile Materials

Picture of Compile Materials
For this project you will need:

-TIF 8800 combustible gas detector
-Used metal detector (this can be ordered from
-Soldering iron and solder
-2 colors of 24 gauge wire
-electronics screwdriver kit
-hot glue gun
-wire cutters
-vice and pliers
-Dremel rotary tool

Using a used metal detector found at on ebay, one can remove the metal sensor and replace it with a combustible gas sensor. So, to get started on your own Urban Prospecting Detector you will first need to compile the materials and equipment specified in the list above.

Step 2: Disassemble TIF 8800

Picture of Disassemble TIF 8800
Start by opening up the TIF 8800 combustible gas detector to reveal the inside circuit board (to open it you will have to pull off the sensitivity pot on the face of the device). Once opened, pop off the red plastic tabs that would release the circuit board.

Step 3: Snip the Sensor and Battery Compartment Wires

Picture of Snip the Sensor and Battery Compartment Wires
After you have opened it, continue by snipping the wires to the battery compartment (red and white), and sensor (blue, black, and white).

Step 4: Remove the sensor

Picture of Remove the sensor
Remove the sensor at the tip of the metal arm. You may need to use the pliers and vice grip to remove this. Once loosened, you will be able to pull the sensor out of the metal arm with the wires. Once the sensor is removed you can break the metal arm off of the device. Then use a saw and cut out the battery compartment for later use.
aminrezaiee1 month ago
how I can upgrade and powerup to find gold better?
I need it to find peace of gold and silver at about 5 meter under ground

magnific, please contac me to

hakari3 years ago
please help me
i dont have a mastercard to give your payment, can i have a part list and pdf?

haz5 years ago
Great idea. I was thinking that a combustible sensor must be calibrated before use. Without a known concentration of gas being applied to the sensor the unit will not be accurate and will give wonky/false readings. How do you do your bump test or calibration? Would you use a 50% methane or a pentane equivalent? Haz gvince4
Adam Outlaw haz4 years ago
Hey haz, I would guess a caveman simple way to calibrate or tune that device might be to build a test air chamber out of a fully enclosed glass fish tank,etc. Then try putting various amounts/types of oil,etc in the controlled environment tank till you reach some useful & usable data. Hope this helps:)
Adam Outlaw4 years ago
Every problem ( finding its practical financial use) = a solution... (try going into business as an affordable property oil contamination inspector) = profits$$$

A good name4 years ago
How exactly are you making money off of this? It isn't economically viable to build a pump every time you find a small spill, and I'd assume the oil would degrade quite a bit after being left out in the open so long.
randofo5 years ago
You must be laughing all the way to the bank doing this in Greenpoint. You should add something to your Instructable about why Greenpoint is such a wonderful place to prospect (unless... of course... you are trying to keep the competition away). This project is the best thing I've seen all week.
splnlss (author)  randofo5 years ago
OH, i guess it might be important to note that underneath greenpoint is the largest oil spill in north america;..)) get rich! i'll post more info on greenpoint shortly!
scafool splnlss5 years ago
I liked the instructable after I read it. I liked it even more after I read Wikipedia about the Greenpoint oil spill lawsuits. Haz has a good point about the calibration of your sensor
Doveman5 years ago
How do you get it out of the ground? =I
Gage987 Doveman5 years ago
dig as in with a shovel,excavaitor,and/or mexicans paid with beer JUST KIDDING NOT RACIST DON"T CALL THE FCC
Gage9875 years ago
you could dig up the dirt and put vast amounts of pressure on it to get the oil and use/sell it
fly_boy_bc5 years ago
How exactly am I supposed to make any "untold riches" of of oily dirt?
1) get this detector 2) detect oily dirt 3) ?????? 4) PROFIT
This post reminded me of "The Underpants Gnomes" from southpark...
Same here!
This is a proof of concept.
It proves what exactly? That the author thinks you can make money on something that needs to be cleaned up at great cost?
It proves P.T. Barnum was a genius.
A yes PT Barnum. "This way to the fabulous egress" was his standard "exit" sign.
"Given the current high cost of oil, these urban spills or potential gold mines are waiting to be tapped." No they are NOT theare waiting to be cleaned up at great cost!
Proof of concept: He created an 'afforable' detector that the layman can make. It doesn't have to be some sort of UBER DETECTOR MAJIGGER. "Given the current high cost of oil, these urban spills or potential gold mines are waiting to be tapped." Whats the matter of having a little fun with the instructable?
leepinlarr5 years ago
hey it works !!!, look, he found a refinery
so where exactly do you go to sell the crude oil you find once you manage to somehow extract it?
Ebay! ;)
lol oh ok, in that case I'll sell my jersey oil 30 bucks a barrel below the saudis and make my own version of dubai on the jersey shore! thanks meg whitman!
I'm rather shocked that people here can't think of any uses for a device that detects environmental pollutants. Seems like a perfect addition to workshop cleanup equipment or for checking urban areas before gardening, hell a good way to keep tabs on local trouble spots, perfect for the environmentalist. great work here
camscam5 years ago
since everything about this instructable keeps saying "hipster this and hipster that" and everyone reading the project is thinking, "would this actually do anything for me? An oil-spill detector?" I'm sorry my friends, it's of no use. These "hipsters" only care about "irony."
jdkchem5 years ago
So you hack a metal detector by adding a combustible gas sensor and magically you're going to find oil, in Greenpoint of all places. More likely your going to find nothing more than the spot where someone has been dumping used oil or a leak in a natural gas line. Then there's the water treatment facility nearby.
wenpherd5 years ago
have you faund anything? if not then how do you know it works?
lil jon1685 years ago
they cost $179.00
Congrats on being featured on Gizmodo!
amaze5 years ago
Omg I live in greenpoint too but its starting to smell there
Oh neat! Untold riches! I'll just build me one of these and go prospecting for some dirty oil that some guy spilled while doing an oil change, then take it home to my REFINERY that I conveniently built one afternoon in my back yard and never pay for gas again! Untold riches!
zwheel5 years ago
Then what? Do you have a method of extracting the oil? Or is there a company which would pay you for the information about where to go extract it themselves?