Israel Hands

Hand Bearing Compasses

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Don't see a thread newer than 2016 on this subject, and not much there...

Never had one other than a boy-scout-type model.  Is there a reason to have a marine hand bearing compass, as opposed to just a military-style one that's much cheaper? If so, what models are good without being overly expensive?

Thanks.

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It's just a matter of convenience. The marine models are well-damped, have a wide field of view, and accurate. You can get by with a military-style compass but it'll probably be harder to use when conditions get sporty.

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And, for as infrequently as they are used, the compass included on the iphone is pretty damn sweet!

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Pistol grip works if you are trying to hang on with one hand, and sight something from a bouncy deck... 

 

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i have several; pistol-grip.., hockey puck.., and electronic - they each have advantages and disadvantages, although it's likely we wouldn't agree on what they are.

for that reason, you kind of have to find the one that works best for you in your own circumstances by just trying them out.

the main thing is that you want to be able to get repeatable numbers and if the model you choose doesn't work ergonomically for you, on the boats you sail on.., your numbers won't be repeatable.

I do think that in general, the prism hockey puck compasses give more repeatable measurements than pistol grip compasses.., with autohelm-style electronic compasses somewhere in between, but closer to the hockey puck.., and sometimes as good as the hockey puck. i find the hockey puck to be the easiest to sight consistently the same way  - and consistently sighting the same way is what gives good repeatability.

I am currently using the Plastimo Iris 50, and I like it. But someone else may find the Vion -which is also very popular - more repeatable

I also have lots of terrestrial compasses, including a few Bruntons - i never take them on a boat.

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Whatever you do don't buy a used KVH Datascope off EBay,  etc.   KVH stopped selling them decades ago because the LCD readout segments disappear after a couple years or so (1 year warranty) whether they're in use or storage and they can't be fixed.  Stunningly bad kit for a MSRP of $700+USD.  I guarantee every KVH DataScope on the planet  is broken by now.

Too bad because when they worked they were the king of the handheld compass market,  with bearing averaging, bearing/datestamp storage, range estimation, and a host of other features for the racing sailor.  When mine died out of warranty @ year 4 I called KVH to get the bad news repair is impossible and the Rep' had the gall  to tell me "Well now you have a really nice monovision scope."

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I have a compass which is embedded in a set of binoculars which is great for taking bearings on faraway objects.

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On 2/10/2020 at 4:23 PM, Israel Hands said:

Don't see a thread newer than 2016 on this subject, and not much there...

Never had one other than a boy-scout-type model.  Is there a reason to have a marine hand bearing compass, as opposed to just a military-style one that's much cheaper? If so, what models are good without being overly expensive?

Thanks.

The tradition rubber skin hockey puck style is a very valuable tool 

cant remember the brand 

glow in the dark sight line 

 

They last so long you seldom purchase a new one 

 

8CCB7ACD-9C45-4149-9E73-80277A64668D.jpeg

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51 minutes ago, slug zitski said:

The tradition rubber skin hockey puck style is a very valuable tool 

cant remember the brand 

glow in the dark sight line 

 

They last so long you seldom purchase a new one 

 

8CCB7ACD-9C45-4149-9E73-80277A64668D.jpeg

Just like this one. The few times I have desired/needed a handheld compass that could do as good as the electronic compass in my instruments, this met my need.

If not evident from the picture, it has two modes
- bring it to eye level, and look through it towards your target, and see a magnified heading through a prism
- look down at it, while attempting to point at your target, and see a magnified heading
- place it on a flat surface, and look down to see magnified heading (the round rubber grip helps in your hands, and when placing on a surface)

 

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51 minutes ago, ryley said:

I have the Plastimo version. When I need it, it's great to have:

https://www.defender.com/images/800696I50BLU.jpg

Good kit. I think they have northern and southern hemisphere adjusted versions. The cards are somewhat constrained. I've bought and used versions in the north and the south. IME, when held level-ish the cards in the "wrong" hemisphere can run out of tilt and jam.

[edit] I looked it up. Yes, they do have versions with different adjustments: https://www.plastimo.com/en/compas-iris-1978.html

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2 hours ago, weightless said:

Good kit. I think they have northern and southern hemisphere adjusted versions. The cards are somewhat constrained. I've bought and used versions in the north and the south. IME, when held level-ish the cards in the "wrong" hemisphere can run out of tilt and jam.

Oh, indeed. My N-adjusted steering compass became unreliable at the equator: not jammed, rather couldn’t read the card in the normal way. Distressing. The binocular compass was annoying because the binoculars needed to be tilted away from the target to get the compass to swing. Same with the handheld pucks, many jam unless tilted.

Those intending to sail in the tropics should consider having compasses adjusted as neutral.

I had a handheld compass that reversed its poles. The red end pointed S. Bizarre. Led me to question my sanity.

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The dioptra application on an android phone works better than most handbearing compasses and is free.  It uses the camera and shows a reticle which you place over the object of interest, and it gives you a compass bearing.  I find it is accurate within a couple degrees.  Also shows elevation, GPS coordinates, lets you take screen shots easily.  Good for navigation and also for surveying bridges and other obstructions.  I find it is accurate to within about 1 degree.

I also have a compass on my binocs but haven't been on the water with them yet.  Also accurate to within about 1 degree.

And finally I have a Silva Ranger which is small, light, fairly inexpensive ($50).  These have a mirror which helps with accurate sighting.   Incorporates a protractor which can mean one less thing to carry.  Some people use them underwater though there are better choices.  I find the practical accuracy is only +/- about 5 degrees.  Useful on land, too, fits in a pocket.

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I have one of the old flat Autohelm jobs. You hold it and sight and hit the button and then read. Works a treat and has none of the issues of a moving dial that always made reading any rose type compass hard for me. With the Autohelm as long as you hit the button when it is aimed right the reading is good. Had one of the KVH's which was the best so long as it worked. The Autohelm is even older but keeps working.

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I have a W&P puck and and older Sarua/W&P hand-bearing compass. The latter is big, but very easy to use. Available on fleabay at reasonable prices in good condition. 

 

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On 2/13/2020 at 3:40 PM, ryley said:

I have the Plastimo version. When I need it, it's great to have:

https://www.defender.com/images/800696I50BLU.jpg

+1

Super easy to use, super easy to be accurate with. I know my phone has a compass, and I have a GPS. I still love that Plastimo. Might depend on how big your boat is and whether being on the phone while sailing is a plus or a minus to you. 

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so it seems like the Weems & Plath is the go-to puck-style compass based on my observations.  Is it "better" than the Plastimo?  Should I consider something else?

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On 2/18/2020 at 4:25 PM, 2airishuman said:

The dioptra application on an android phone works better than most handbearing compasses and is free.  It uses the camera and shows a reticle which you place over the object of interest, and it gives you a compass bearing.  I find it is accurate within a couple degrees.  Also shows elevation, GPS coordinates, lets you take screen shots easily.  Good for navigation and also for surveying bridges and other obstructions.  I find it is accurate to within about 1 degree.

 

Wow that is awesome thanks for that, super cool app for the boat!

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SUNNTO makes quality products. I have a tandem (compass & clinometer) that I use to place satellite dishes.

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On 2/18/2020 at 4:25 PM, 2airishuman said:

The dioptra application on an android phone works better than most handbearing compasses and is free.  It uses the camera and shows a reticle which you place over the object of interest, and it gives you a compass bearing.  I find it is accurate within a couple degrees.  Also shows elevation, GPS coordinates, lets you take screen shots easily.  Good for navigation and also for surveying bridges and other obstructions.  I find it is accurate to within about 1 degree.

Although I use a Plastimo hockey puck on the boat, it’s worth mentioning the Theodolite app for iPhone- also free, and just plain fun to use.

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23 hours ago, Grizz said:

Although I use a Plastimo hockey puck on the boat, it’s worth mentioning the Theodolite app for iPhone- also free, and just plain fun to use.

not sure where you see that,  it's $7.99   but he .99cent ProCompass by the same company looks interesting

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On 9/27/2020 at 9:00 PM, Grande Mastere Dreade said:

not sure where you see that,  it's $7.99   but he .99cent ProCompass by the same company looks interesting

Interesting- I've had the app since the iPhone 3G- it was free back then, and I guess they have always upgraded it at no charge. Either way, it's a very useful app.

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On 9/29/2020 at 8:33 AM, Grizz said:

Interesting- I've had the app since the iPhone 3G- it was free back then, and I guess they have always upgraded it at no charge. Either way, it's a very useful app.

good to know..    and i do like that about apple... i have apps that i purchased , on a company phone, and then when i left and bought a personal iphone a year later, I was able to download all my purchased apps..   i have one,  radarscope , that i use to track storms...

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2 hours ago, estarzinger said:

There are rangefinder/compass units like This: https://allterracentral.com/trupulse-360-laser-rangefinder.html out there . . . . basically the old KVH on steroids (in price also ofc).

If they integrated that with some stabilized high magnification optics, that could be a real winner. However, I'd still want a conventional puck and 7x50's as a backup for when the batteries go tits up.

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