Listen up for rich pickings

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Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
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Imagine going over ground other prospectors had already combed with their metal detectors and finding gold they had missed.

Just like the old Electrolux salesmen who found more dust in the carpet than your own vacuum cleaner, Waggrakine prospectors Greg and Elizabeth Miller said they manufactured headphones that allowed them to find more gold.

Mr Miller said the idea for the headphones came in 1991 when he bought a new metal detector.

“It was a very good machine but its biggest downfall was the headphones they supplied — they were very cheap and nasty,” he said.

Mr Miller said he tried several different headphones and then several kinds of speakers to install in the headphones, eventually finding the right component.

“When I built these into the first set of headphones I was blown away, it was more than I expected,” he said.

“I did extremely well with the gold but I couldn’t find the component again, it was obsolete.”

Undeterred, the Millers searched the internet for several days.

“My wife found the components that were an exact copy of what we got,” Mr Miller said.

“I built a set of headphones and thought ‘you ripper’.”

Mr Miller said he and his wife still manufactured the headphones themselves and sold 350 to 400 pairs a year online and via retail outlets nationwide.

Although he still sources the speakers from overseas, Mr Miller said he bought his headphone casings from Atom Supply and other compo-nents from Leading Edge Electronics.

Both are Geraldton businesses.

Leading Edge proprietor Peter Svensson said he and his wife Sue were the only electronic components suppliers in Geraldton and many customers came to them after unhappy online shopping experiences.

Mr Svensson said other people had taken an interest in electronics at a later stage in life and had started repairing things.

One of them, Steve Percy of Penguin 3D Print, repaired discarded machines that would otherwise go to landfill.

Economic and demographic data modelling group REMPLAN predicts a bright future for local high-tech businesses.

After analysing the latest census data, REMPLAN noted strong business and economic connections between Geraldton and the Pilbara.

“Cutting-edge science and technology will complement mining activity in the region and bring a variety of economic, training and education opportunities for its residents,” the REMPLAN report said.

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