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  #1  
Old 06-21-2008
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Dead Compass! Alternatives?

G'day all,

Well, in addition to our Reversing Gear Slippage Issues?, our compass has lost its compass juice. It never ends, does it?

Here are pictures, complete with a ruler. Maybe somebody can tell me what size this thing is?




Here's the funny thing: The picture above didn't turn out like looking at it in real life did. I would've sworn the edges of the bezel (glass) lined-up with the 10" and 14" marks, when looking from directly above.

This compass is (well, was, anyway) mounted on a mast bracket that's secured in the mast track, a few inches above the deck. It is a Suunto. The tag on the back is trashed, so I've no idea of the model number.

Here are our choices, as I see them:
  • Get the current compass rebuilt. (I assume that's an option.) This would be the least expensive solution, I assume. About $150 is what this runs, no?

    Thing is: I can't really read it well, so I don't much like it. The Admiral, OTOH, does like it. Go figure. It's no good at night, as it has no lighting, even were there a provision to power it where it mounts.
    .
  • Replace it with a compass of the same size, in the same location. Probably the second least expensive solution. Perhaps around $350 or so? Certainly quicker and easier solution.

    I probably won't be able to read a replacement any better than this one, so I probably won't like it any better. The Admiral may like it, tho. There's currently no way to light it at that location, and getting lighting power there will be rather a PITA.
    .
  • Replace with a pair of smaller, bulkhead-mounted compass', one on either side of the cockpit. Probably the most expensive solution, at $500 to $700 for the pair, I'm guessing?

    This is one of my favourite solutions, as then we'd both be able to read the things and I'd be able to easily light them. (Some day I imagine we will want to sail at night.)
    .
  • Replace with a TackTick Micro Com_pass. Looks to be about the second most expensive solution.

    We saw one of these, or something like it, in action on a boat we looked at buying. We both thought it was a Neat Thing. We'd both certainly be able to read it. It would be the second-easiest replacement solution. I understand these have software useful to racers, and we do race--some. But it is electronic, and I've got this traditionalist streak that says we ought to have a Real, Live, Honest-To-Goodness Compass on the boat. (Tho I do have a hand-bearing compass, if push came to shove. Still...)

    Do these things have back-lighting? Also: I thought I read once the batteries aren't user-replaceable: Is that true? Would be a BIG negative, for us.
    .
  • Other?
What do y'all think?

Thanks,
Jim

Last edited by SEMIJim; 07-17-2008 at 01:13 PM. Reason: Compass pics location changed
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Old 06-21-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post
G'day all,

Well, in addition to our Reversing Gear Slippage Issues?, our compass has lost its compass juice. It never ends, does it?

Here are pictures, complete with a ruler. Maybe somebody can tell me what size this thing is?




Here's the funny thing: The picture above didn't turn out like looking at it in real life did. I would've sworn the edges of the bezel (glass) lined-up with the 10" and 14" marks, when looking from directly above.

This compass is (well, was, anyway) mounted on a mast bracket that's secured in the mast track, a few inches above the deck. It is a Suunto. The tag on the back is trashed, so I've no idea of the model number.

Here are our choices, as I see them:
  • Get the current compass rebuilt. (I assume that's an option.) This would be the least expensive solution, I assume. About $150 is what this runs, no?

    Thing is: I can't really read it well, so I don't much like it. The Admiral, OTOH, does like it. Go figure. It's no good at night, as it has no lighting, even were there a provision to power it where it mounts.
Probably your best bet. You'd be amazed at how inexpensive a proper repair can be.
Quote:
Replace it with a compass of the same size, in the same location. Probably the second least expensive solution. Perhaps around $350 or so? Certainly quicker and easier solution.

  • I probably won't be able to read a replacement any better than this one, so I probably won't like it any better. The Admiral may like it, tho. There's currently no way to light it at that location, and getting lighting power there will be rather a PITA.
  • Also, would probably have to drill more holes, etc.

    Quote:
  • Replace with a pair of smaller, bulkhead-mounted compass', one on either side of the cockpit. Probably the most expensive solution, at $500 to $700 for the pair, I'm guessing?

    This is one of my favourite solutions, as then we'd both be able to read the things and I'd be able to easily light them. (Some day I imagine we will want to sail at night.)
  • Nice, but expensive, and getting the compasses setup properly would be a pain, since you'd have to use one as the primary, or keep converting between the two readings... chances are pretty good that they wouldn't have the same variation/deviation problems.

    Probably best not to make a basic navigation instrument one that is completely dependent on power. Electronics have a nasty habit of failing just when you really need them most. IIRC, the units are sealed, so no user-replaceable bits in them. BTW, I have TackTick instruments on my boat, so am familiar with them. Yes, they do have backlighting, and the batteries inside the unit are supposed to power them for up to 300 hours without additional sunlight charging. That is without backlighting though..and the micro-compass might be a bit less..maybe 200 hours.

    Quote:
  • Replace with a TackTick Micro Com_pass. Looks to be about the second most expensive solution.

    We saw one of these, or something like it, in action on a boat we looked at buying. We both thought it was a Neat Thing. We'd both certainly be able to read it. It would be the second-easiest replacement solution. I understand these have software useful to racers, and we do race--some. But it is electronic, and I've got this traditionalist streak that says we ought to have a Real, Live, Honest-To-Goodness Compass on the boat. (Tho I do have a hand-bearing compass, if push came to shove. Still...)

    Do these things have back-lighting? Also: I thought I read once the batteries aren't user-replaceable: Is that true? Would be a BIG negative, for us.
    .
  • Other?
Quote:
What do y'all think?

Thanks,
Jim
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Last edited by sailingdog; 06-21-2008 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 06-22-2008
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I added light to my (wheel post mounted) compass - a little red led from Radio Shack in rubber housing, on the side of the compass does wonders for lighting at night (wired to the rest of my night lights).

This does not help with your issue, but I thought I'd mention that lighting can be had for a cost of about $2 and some rubber (in your case, perhaps it could be installed inside behind the compass - no gaskets then)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Probably your best bet. You'd be amazed at how inexpensive a proper repair can be.
Yeah. We'll look into that.

On replacing with a new compass:
Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Also, would probably have to drill more holes, etc.
Not a worry. It's an aluminum bracket mounted to the mast track. In fact: Here it is:



For aesthetics I'd prefer none of the existing holes to show from the front, but that's it.

On dual compass', either side of the companionway:
Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Nice, but expensive, and getting the compasses setup properly would be a pain, since you'd have to use one as the primary, or keep converting between the two readings... chances are pretty good that they wouldn't have the same variation/deviation problems.
Perhaps. Good point. This is our least-likely solution, given the potential expense, anyway.

On replacing with a TackTick:
Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Probably best not to make a basic navigation instrument one that is completely dependent on power. Electronics have a nasty habit of failing just when you really need them most.
That they do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
IIRC, the units are sealed, so no user-replaceable bits in them.
Yes. It seems the batteries are surface-mounted to the circuit board.

The TackTick Micro is not suitable for navigation, anyway, as it has no adjustment for local deviation. The TackTick Master, which does, is up in the $1,000 range. Out of the question.

If we replace, we're currently leaning toward the Suunto B-116. Perhaps the white card version.



Looks like it and that bracket were made for one another, and perhaps the black-on-white will be easier for me to read. It seems so from looking at that image.

Jim
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Get a red lamp for the white card, and you'll be amazed at how easy it is to read at night.
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Old 06-22-2008
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I might be inclined to go with a single bulkhead mount of a size that is readable from either position. It will be in a much less rigorous environment than on the mast and will be much easier to light. Installing one is much easier than might be imagined. PM me for some tricks and techniques for doing so. If you elect to go with two, one on each bulkhead, and get quality compasses I see no reason that you should not be able to adjust the deviation close enough so as to be of no significant difference. It will depend mostly on the amount of ferrous metal near each of them. Variation will effect both equally so it's a non-factor. There are also compasses that can be mounted within the deck as well though I'm not sure that your boat has a spot for that which would be readable but not cause an obstruction to foot movement.

And you could always add the second bulkhead mount later if you found it necessary.
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Old 06-22-2008
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I might be inclined to go with a single bulkhead mount of a size that is readable from either position. It will be in a much less rigorous environment than on the mast and will be much easier to light.
There is that. And for maintaining an established bearing, I suppose you don't need to be directly behind the compass.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
Installing one is much easier than might be imagined.
Cut a hole of the desired size, orient compass upright (might be the trickiest part), mark screw holes, drill, mount?

I wonder if my RotoZip has a bit suitable for fiberglass? Make a template out of that thin, brown fiber board (can't think what it's called atm) and Bob's your uncle.

Do most people just hook compass illumination and the like to their running lights circuit, or use a separate switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
PM me for some tricks and techniques for doing so.
Will do. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
There are also compasses that can be mounted within the deck as well...
Yes, I just saw two very large ones on the side decks of a J35 last week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
... though I'm not sure that your boat has a spot for that which would be readable but not cause an obstruction to foot movement.
Nope. Intriguing thought, tho .

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
And you could always add the second bulkhead mount later if you found it necessary.
True.

The boat once had a bulkhead-mounted compass on the port side, below the knotmeter. The PO upgraded the traveller to windward sheeting and moved it up to just behind the companionway. Apparently the bottom block must've given the compass a whack, because one day, whilst racing, he noticed it leaking. So he replaced it with the larger compass up on the mast.

To avoid that, were I to go that way, I'd see if I couldn't put the new compass up above the knotmeter. (Above the depth sounder on the starboard side.)

Then again: I wanted to upgrade the radio to something that would have a RAM. I was kind of thinking that bulkhead would be a good place for the RAM. Could be a problem for a compass. Then again: Maybe I don't want a RAM there, as I can just see the mainsheet coming across on a broad reach gybe, getting caught up in the RAM's coiled cord and ripping the whole think right out of the bulkhead.

Decisions, decisions...

And bringing that up just reminded me of something else: The DC switch panel is on the cabin side of the starboard bulkhead. Hmmm...

Jim
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Old 06-22-2008
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Get a red lamp for the white card, and you'll be amazed at how easy it is to read at night.
Noted. Thanks

Jim
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Getting the compass aligned fore-aft with the boat is also going to be a neat trick.
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Old 06-23-2008
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Getting the compass aligned fore-aft with the boat is also going to be a neat trick.
Hadn't thought of that. I wonder what the odds are that the aft cabin bulkheads are square to the axis of the centerline?

Jim
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