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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 09-09-2006
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Magnetic Compass

I was just about to mount a small (14" x 20") cabinet on the wall directly behind the magentic compass. The cabinet was supposed to be aluminium but it turns out it is powder coated steel. Assuming that the steel will eventually be magnetized by the earth's magentic field, I guess this would be a pretty bad idea or am I assuming incorrectly???
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Old 09-09-2006
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Any steel regardless of how long its been there will affect your Mag Compass. No one is going to recommend that you go ahead and blindly mount the cabinet, but you can at least do a simple test to start with.

How much does the cabinet affect the compass . . .
Hold the cabinet near the compass and watch for swing as you bring it in close or pull away. Then put the cabinet in position while you or someone else watches the compass for swing. I'm betting that you will in fact see some swing.

Prepare for a bunch of advice on this thread, but here are four course of action to address interferrence.

1. Don't put that cabinet in there. Swith to a non-ferrous material. (aka wood/palstic)

2. Move the cabinet to a new location.

3. Move the compass to a new location.

4. Install the cabinet and have the compass deviation recalibrated. (Sometimes called a "compass swing" and often done on dry land).
  • a. Point the boat to magnetic North and note the actual reading on the compass. That reading now becomes your "new" Mag North heading.
  • b. Repeat this for all cardinal headings (N,S,E,W) as well as for any intermediate intervals. (recommend 10 degree intervals).
  • c. Write these numbers down on a peice of paper, and that becomes your "Compass Calibration Card". Keep it handy for navigation. Some even mount this card next to their mag compass. Interpolate when using for headings between calibration points. (i.e. Heading 127 deg Mag)
  • d. I'm sure a boat yard can pull your boat out of the water and charge you a hefty $$$$ to do a compass swing for you.

Don't forget to apply reasonable-man theory and consider your require accuracy. Will you need this compass for ocean navigation, coastal nav, or are you in a small body of water and rely mainly on your GPS or the big day time star.

Good Luck
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Old 09-09-2006
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I agree with Shack. You also have to consider what you're going to put in the cabnet. Radios with speaker magnets would be a obvious problem...

Mike
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Old 09-09-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CellNav
I agree with Shack. You also have to consider what you're going to put in the cabnet. Radios with speaker magnets would be a obvious problem...

Mike
. . . it might sound good though!
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Old 09-10-2006
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The other issue is that you may accidentally store something, like one of those flashlights that are shaken to power them, in the cabinet by accident and cause your compass to not function properly. I think you'd be better off leaving the area around the compass free of storage areas, as much as possible, since you aren't the only person that will put stuff in the cabinet. Someone else may, and not realize that it will affect or even damage the compass—which may affect or damage your boat.
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Old 09-10-2006
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Dog - good point.

-handheld radio . . .
-flashlight . . .
-power tool . . .
-box of metal hardware for the boat . . .
-magnet collection . . .
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