Electronic compasses

Discussion in 'General Bushcraft Discussion' started by wallflash, Oct 7, 2018.

  1. wallflash

    wallflash Supporter Supporter

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    Took my grandson camping this weekend. It was a new place, unfamiliar with the layout, and so after he crashed I sat out on the truck looking at what stars I could see through the trees. There was no moon up yet, and the only easy constellation I could see from my vantage point was Cassiopeia , due to the Big Dipper lying low on the horizon this time of year, and so I pulled out the cell phone to check the compass heading. The compass that comes standard on the iPhone had N in what seemed to me to be a funny direction, so I switched over to the GPS app and sure enough they were off 90 degrees from each other. After a few switches back and forth the basic phone compass moved to agree with the GPS compass, but then a little later the GPS compass had moved N to about where the standard compass first had it. Sunrise confirmed that the standard compass was off by 90 degrees the initial reading, and therefore the GPS compass was off at the point it gave a similar reading, though the GPS one was correct the first reading done with it.

    The moral of the story is that I am getting a real magnetic compass.
     
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  2. Outdoor Dauber

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    Solid idea...make a decision on what brand and model yet?
     
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  3. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    Electronic compass are trying to work against them selves having a battery and wiring all around them.
    Our captain laughs at an incident that happened on a search
    They laid out the map on the hood of the truck and held it down with magnets laying their compasses on the map they proceeded to argue about which way north was.
    This also happened in the squad room, every one laying their compasses on the tables and all reading differently neglecting to realize the steel framework that the tables were assembled with .
    To me this was a no brainer because I use my compass to indicate iron or a working AC adaptor or an alternator , any thing that is passing an electrical charge produces a magnetic field.
    I have cheap compasses for handing out at random, to kids that can tell me the boy scout motto.
    Almost any cheap magnetic compass works, and it is easy to fix one that has been reversed,, no big deal.
    The silliest thing I ever saw was a very small compass attached to a fixed blade camp knife handle on the scale, not the end .
    As a preteen I knew what made a compass work, and the ignorance of others then, baffled me.
     
  4. Leshy_apprentice

    Leshy_apprentice Supporter Supporter

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    @arleigh Yeah, I see what you mean, and I can use a compass better than "average" too. But I'm as dumb as a rock in some other fields of study. We all have out strengths and weaknesses...knowledge and ignorance.
     
  5. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    Perhaps I'm mistaken, but wouldn't a cell phone rely on satellite information rather than the earth's magnetic field for its orientation?
     
  6. ReallyBigMonkey1

    ReallyBigMonkey1 Scout

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    You are correct. I've been told there's no magnetic detecting device in a cellphone that they triangulate off satellite locations. I'm a old fashioned compass guy myself
     
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  7. EternalLove

    EternalLove Guide

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    I with cell phones, you need to move a bit in one direction for it to orient itself. You may walk the wrong direction from where your cellphone says you are facing but after a while it will figure it out and correct it. This can be frustrating to people who rely on you to navigate for the group as they may not understand this or care.
     
  8. IA bbmw

    IA bbmw Scout

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    Depending on the phone, it may have both GPS and a magnetometer, mine has both. I don't know if this works on all phones or not, but to calibrate the magnetometer, you wave it in a sideways figure 8 pattern a few times.
     
  9. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    Thanks, very interesting. Like @ReallyBigMonkey1 I'm an analog guy myself.
     
  10. wallflash

    wallflash Supporter Supporter

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    Not yet . Any advice would be appreciated as long as I am not being recommended a Cadillac brand . My use is pretty basic local stuff, no wilderness treks hundreds of miles from civilization.

    I would like to have one that is adjustable for declination .
     
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  11. wallflash

    wallflash Supporter Supporter

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    On the old iPhone compasses you had to calibrate them by holding the phone vertical and rotating it 360 degrees. This one is the same model but without the ability ( so presumably not the need) to calibrate it . The one in the GPS app has no means of calibrating it also.

    I will be sticking to good old fashioned basic stuff from now on . Usually simpler is safer and more reliable .

    On my way to being a Luddite ! ( proclaimed via typing on a website using a cell phone :) )
     
  12. ReallyBigMonkey1

    ReallyBigMonkey1 Scout

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    You taught me something new today! https://www.rotoview.com/magnetometer.htm
     
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  13. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Scout

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    Check out the UST mirror compass for a budget option. Under $10 and has adjustable declination. The clinometer is a bit sticky on the one I bought for my daughter, but it's not bad
     
  14. wallflash

    wallflash Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks, that looks like just the ticket for a couple of basic starters for myself and the grandson .
     
  15. Guttersnipe

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    I have a few made by Suunto that are nice. One has a magnifying lens and cost about $20-$30, if I remember correctly. Not quite sure of the models they are though.
    Also have a nice military compass my best friend gave me when he retired from the Army not too long ago. It's a little heavy, but I like it.
     
  16. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Scout

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    The Suuntos are really nice. While not "Cadillac" they aren't "Chevette" either. Prices I found are between $35 and $50 for an MC-2 mirrored compass.
     
  17. Coryphene

    Coryphene Guide

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    As someone who drives using the GPS as part of my job, it doesn't so much rely on the direction but your heading. Doing a pickup and stopped then waiting for the rout, the direction will be off 50% of the time til you move a bit. (moving on roads in straight lines, 50/50 chance of telling you which way you are facing).

    As @EternalLove stated, just start walking and it will show you the correct direction.


    I have a GI tritium compass that was a gift from my sis that I LOVE and wear on my neck for a quick heading while driving. (I drive nights so sun is less than reliable)
     
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  18. riokid87

    riokid87 Scout

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    I like the military lensatic one I've had for 30+ years. New they are 50 to 90 bucks depending on tritium or not. You don't need that. An inexpensive silva will work.
    If you have not had any instructions on how to use it esp in conjunction with a map you may be wise to get some instruction from a vet.
     
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  19. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    I've rarely had to replace the battery in my mag compass. I imagine though, an EMP would probably frog the pooch for mag or electronic compass.
     
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  20. riokid87

    riokid87 Scout

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    P.S., a little off topic but to the old vets, did you ever wonder our maps were kilos but odometers miles?
     
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  21. marbleman

    marbleman Supporter Supporter

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    A cellphone compass can show bearing, while moving. Sitting still, not so much.
     
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  22. slysir

    slysir Guide

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    I find the down side to electronics is....electronics!! :cool:

    -John
     
  23. IA bbmw

    IA bbmw Scout

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    The GPS is limited to showing correctly only when moving, but if you have a magnetometer it should show the correct direction while stationary.
     
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  24. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    Either way its important to know the territory your venturing into , identify peak's names and other land marks.
    Be ware that there are iron deposits that can throw a compass off , so moving while reading is valued.
    For the novice fallowing this thread ,know that there is what is call declination , the contrast between magnetic north and true north the apex of the top of the mapped earth.
    Magnetic lines are not even strait one end to the other so it is important to learn these lines if using them along with your compass.
     
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  25. marbleman

    marbleman Supporter Supporter

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    Thanks, I dimly knew what a magnetometer was, didn't know about it in cellphones. You learn something new every day!
     
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  26. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    I see I am late to the party.

    Yeah, get one of them compass things.

    Play with it, fondle (or “coon finger”) it. Think about it. Really think about it.

    Go on YouTube and search for ReallyBigMonkey1 about compasses.

    You should put where you live in your profile. We could be better friends and advisors if you did. The best compass in Denver kinda sucks in the Smokies.
     
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  27. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    Oh, and an “electronic compass” is a non-starter. Stupid idea from the get-go.
     
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  28. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    I am SO sorry... I just reread your OP. Everything I said was technically correct but so so wrong-headed. That moment you shared and then your thought processes are so right. I am an ass.
     
  29. K7JLJ

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    Just mentioned this topic yesterday on my blog. If you see yourself really learning night navigation, buy once cry once with the Cammenga, otherwise the Silva Ranger or Suunto MC-2 would be my second choice.
     
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  30. IA bbmw

    IA bbmw Scout

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    Yes, they are sticking all kinds of sensors in smartphones now, just about anything that you can think of. Even the same make and model of phone can have different sensors depending on what carrier you get it from.
     
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  31. Vecsus

    Vecsus Tracker

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    I don't like to rely on anything that uses batteries or a charge for my core survival needs - that would include a compass. Too many things can go wrong if they get wet, dropped, or (obviously) the battery fails.
     
  32. Seacapt.

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    Better chance of ending up in a war zone on foreign soil than the U.S.
     
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  33. K7JLJ

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    So when you vector mortar fire in close, 1/2 a grid unit means the same thing for the NATO ally supplying the boom boom. :) Not to mention how easily a 10base system divides.

    I'm sure the question was rhetorical, but just in case, that's my best offering.
     
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  34. Paveglass

    Paveglass Scout

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    I like the Suunto M-3 G baseplate compass with the adjustable declination. You can set the declination and forget about declination (east is least, west is best) when you work with the map.

    Some like a sighting compass with a mirror but I like a clear baseplate compass best. They are far superior for orienteering when compared to a sighting compass. If you need to count clicks to change headings in the dark or navigate in a tactical manner in total darkness, a lensatic is what most use.

    The M-3G has an adjustable declination, glows in the dark, has rubber feet to work best on the map. Lightweight and fits easily in your pocket since it is flat.

    Here is a pretty good video. I think he is demonstrating with an M-3G Suunto.

     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  35. MAD Punty

    MAD Punty Supporter Supporter

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    I do my best to avoid any unnecessary electronics, generally. Even to the point of buying an Eton emergency radio with an analog dial and face. I figure less complex = more reliable.

    In fact, I am eyeballing going to a strictly mechanical watch, too....but good ones are hard to find and not as cheap as you might think. Most are just toys for cosplay or something.....a good mechanical wind up watch costs hundreds of dollars!

    I got a Casio Protrek watch for a good price....it can do most anything, it is solar so will never run out of batteries....but damned if my old dog head can remember how to actually get it to do anything, and I can't understand the Chinglish instructions at all.

    If I could buy an automobile without any sensors or computer chips in it nowadays, I would. 9 times out of 10 when a modern vehicle starts to malfunction, there is nothing wrong with it except some damned sensor started failing!

    Basically, unless it is a flashlight, I am electronics free in the woods, outside of the occasional MP3 player that I bring from time to time, listening to some blues music while I drink coffee. But..that's a luxury item, so I guess it's OK.
     
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  36. kronin323

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    I've never used electronic compasses in the field, only magnetic ones. For most trips a protractor compass suffices if you have a map of the area, especially if you're staying on trails marked on the map.

    I did have some military training on orienteering / land navigation using a lensatic compass and still have a M-1950. It's nice to have for a much more precise reckoning when you're bushwacking.

    I think we did take an early model GPS once but we used it more to record where we'd been than to figure out where to go.
     
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  37. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    I think regardless of the toys we use one need to be smarter than the toys, just because things can go wrong .
    WE know the potential for pole shift exists . may be not today or tomorrow but the potential exist .
    I have been near iron deposits the totally mess up compass and radio and other things . point is to familiarize ones self as much as possible with what maps you've got and their identifiable land marks and maintain orientation , even if you navigating device is reading different .
    Worst case scenario is going down in a plane over unknown territory and not having all the toys we depend on .
    Can you still navigate ?
    The movies " The Edge" or "The Grey "come to mind .
    I have been lost and without the toys and I know what happens.
     
  38. Guttersnipe

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    When I was younger, I didn't have a compass. I used my head in conjunction with the sun , and/or stars, landmarks, etc. I never got lost. Turned around a bit sometimes, but that was usually due to doubting myself and second guessing.
    Now a days, I"ll always carry a compass as a backup, or because I may be wanting to get somewhere specific.
    Even on a day to day basis, while working (truck driver), I subconsciously, using the shadows and position of the sun, pretty much what time it is, and what direction I'm traveling.
    Similar to the terms "bushcraft" or "woodsmanship", it is something I've always done, just didn't know there was names for it.
    I've taken it upon myself to learn more about navigation, and plant and mushroom identification as I feel these are my weakest skills.
     
  39. BradGad

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    I’m not usually a jerk on this site but I was on this thread. I was rude. So... having already been a jerk, I’m going to repeat myself, more expansively, because this is an important topic.

    Get a baseplate compass, not a lensatic compass. Not an electronic compass.

    Don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money but also don’t cheap out.

    If you live out west, get one with a sighting mirror. If you live back east with all the trees, get one with a long baseplate and magnifier.

    Get one with adjustable declination if it’s in your budget, but ignore that feature until you “get” declination. And, try to learn about using a compass without needing to think about declination. That is, learn to orient a map to magnetic north.

    Get one that you LIKE and will want to play with and fool with while you’re hiking. Think about it.

    Look at your compass every time you go off trail.

    Put metal next to it and also try it out indoors. Learn when you can and cannot trust the reading.

    Go on YouTube and watch the videos ReallyBigMonkey1 (a bushcraftusa.com member) has done on compass work. Absorb that.
     
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