Why can't they make a compass that's easy to read?

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Why can't they make a compass that's easy to read?

Postby hewhocaves » Mar 8, 2006 5:47 pm

Seriously. I grant you that suuntos are easier to use than bruntons, but for me it's the lesser of two evils. And never mind trying to explain to someone who has never used a compass how to use it.

At the very least, there should be a larger viewing area where you can line up the two points on a station and see them directly against the measurement.

And we need a better way to light the darn things. Maybe some really hard transparent plastic shell rather than metal.

Anybody want to engineer a new compass??

John

PS: many of the same things go for clinometers
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Postby NZcaver » Mar 8, 2006 8:40 pm

Yeah, I know how you feel. :hairpull:

Have you tried a Suunto Twin?
http://www.bapequipment.com/cat_75.html (See the item at the top of the page.)

Image

I just looked on the Suunto website, but I can't seem to find it listed. It may have been discontinued, but they're still available here and there. It's a combo compass/clino, but unlike the more common Suunto Tandem it has prisms to sight into. I've discovered on recent expeditions that not *everyone* likes using these, though. Some folks prefer to squint into the standard sight on the Tandem or separate Suunto compass/clino units, and some prefer these.

Conveniently lighting it in a cave can be a challenge, the same as with any survey instruments. However this model actually has luminous dials - you can "charge them up" with your headlamp for a few seconds, and maybe get a minute or so of usable light for sighting. I do use that feature on mine occasionally.

Hope this helps. :grin:
Last edited by NZcaver on Mar 10, 2006 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ian mckenzie » Mar 8, 2006 9:50 pm

Used to be a Suunto clone called Sisteco that was quite easy to read, larger numbers etc., and cheaper...
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Postby hewhocaves » Mar 9, 2006 12:23 am

i remember the sistecos. i never had one, nor did i know their reputation for easy reading.

i got a suunto simply because everyone i knew had one. when my friend asked about survey gear, i told him to try out as many brands as possibe. he's got the joined suunto model. i thought it was cute, but o verall not a great improvement.

John
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Postby tropicalbats » Mar 9, 2006 1:34 am

ian mckenzie wrote:Used to be a Suunto clone called Sisteco that was quite easy to read, larger numbers etc., and cheaper...


I set the NSS record for loop closure error on hand-held Sistecos back in the 90's. It has since been bested by Art Palmer with a Brunton, but those Sistecos were some fine instruments to work with.

Keith
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Postby ian mckenzie » Mar 9, 2006 11:54 am

tropicalbats wrote:I set the NSS record for loop closure error
Record for largest error, or smallest??
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Postby hewhocaves » Mar 9, 2006 12:05 pm

ian mckenzie wrote:
tropicalbats wrote:I set the NSS record for loop closure error
Record for largest error, or smallest??


lol

I'm going to guess smallest. I've been surveying with Keith and those were scary-good trips. Plus, I think he won the survey contest at OTR once with some microscopic closure error. It thoroughly annoyed someone from my old grotto who had some really good closure as well and figured it was in the bag.

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Postby ian mckenzie » Mar 9, 2006 1:37 pm

My 'record' was a 60m closure error during a surface survey linking eight nearby entrances. The wind was bowing the tape and we had to finish up with our headlamps due to nighfall.
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Postby tropicalbats » Mar 10, 2006 12:11 am

ian mckenzie wrote:My 'record' was a 60m closure error during a surface survey linking eight nearby entrances. The wind was bowing the tape and we had to finish up with our headlamps due to nighfall.


Sure Ian, but I bet you coulda got that down to a reasonable 40m error if the wind wasn't blowing. Hey, you didn't shoot instruments on any of the Panama caves we did a couple of months ago, did you????

My error in the NSS contest was just over 5 inches on a 300-foot loop with something like 17 stations. I should also credit Jim Kennedy, as he set stations and worked the tape, so obviously he did a bang-up job and it was "our" record not "my" record. I should also discredit GeoDash and BAshbrook for mercilessly feeding me beer and generally being disruptive goons while I was on the course.

So, when are we going to see survey competitions again at Convention? Always was a good time.

Keith
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Postby tropicalbats » Mar 10, 2006 12:28 am

hewhocaves wrote:I've been surveying with Keith and those were scary-good trips.


John,

Good trips indeed. You should trundle back to Virginia one of these days and we'll have at it again. It's been a long time.

Jen says "Hey".

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Re: Why can't they make a compass that's easy to read?

Postby cob » Mar 10, 2006 8:40 pm

hewhocaves wrote:Seriously. I grant you that suuntos are easier to use than bruntons, but for me it's the lesser of two evils. And never mind trying to explain to someone who has never used a compass how to use it.

At the very least, there should be a larger viewing area where you can line up the two points on a station and see them directly against the measurement.

And we need a better way to light the darn things. Maybe some really hard transparent plastic shell rather than metal.

Anybody want to engineer a new compass??

John

PS: many of the same things go for clinometers


John,

just exactly what is the problem? Not being flippant, seriously asking. For instance, I use the "narrowness" of the view to my advantage by lining up the filament within the window at a distance of 6" to 12" and then moving my eye in to read the #'s for a very accurate reading... a very bad explanation of my technique, I know, but the best I can do at this moment of a very long day... maybe I can do better tomorrow.


tom
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Postby hewhocaves » Mar 10, 2006 9:18 pm

Tom,

It's not a flippant question at all...
I can use the Suunto all right and I get good results. Part of the problem is that I find it a little counterintuitive to explain to newcomers. They look through the finder and they expect to be able to see through the unit to the station in the distance. Several people I know have made that assumption, and I don't think it's an unreasonable one to make.
Personally, i think that these peoples' ideas is a better solution than the current model. In other words, dumb it down as much as possible.

Secondly, the size of the numbers have, I've noticed, increasingly become a problem with older cavers. Their eyes arent what they used to be and this computer-screen society we live in isn't helping. Take into account also that people get tired on surveys and many surveys have a substantial investement in time to get to and from the survey and people want to get the most out of their survey session. Slightly larger numbers helps in this regard as well as it would reduce the number of transpositional blunders in reading.

Thirdly, the light situation is a problem which is a symptom of using terrestrial surveying tools for subterranean surveys. It does on occasion become a bit of a problem to light the instrument and I find that the internal lights in the later Suunto (which I have) are inadequate.
Actually, to that end, I wonder if a keychain flashlight would do a good job of lighting the compass without causing major reading changes.

Like I said, it's not a terrible design, more of a mediocre one. But would you pay $200- for a mediocre light source? We pay that for the suuntos becuse there really isn't anything else out on the market. The dowside is that there probably aren't enough surveyors to make making your own equipment worthwhile. Of course, one of the reasons people don't like to survey is that its such a pain in the butt.

John
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Postby cob » Mar 17, 2006 12:34 am

hewhocaves wrote:I can use the Suunto all right and I get good results. Part of the problem is that I find it a little counterintuitive to explain to newcomers.

Secondly, the size of the numbers have, I've noticed, increasingly become a problem with older cavers. Their eyes arent what they used to be


Thirdly, the light situation is a problem which is a symptom of using terrestrial surveying tools for subterranean surveys.


Like I said, it's not a terrible design, more of a mediocre one. But would you pay $200- for a mediocre light source? We pay that for the suuntos becuse there really isn't anything else out on the market. The dowside is that there probably aren't enough surveyors to make making your own equipment worthwhile. Of course, one of the reasons people don't like to survey is that its such a pain in the butt.

John



Sorry it took so long John, been busy with work, parents class MVOR etc.

1stly my girlfriend has been surveying with me for a year and a half, and about 3 mos ago I said something that finally made it all click for her (wish I could remember what it was)

2ndly the eyes ain't the only thing that ain't what they used be...

3rdly I have said the same thing about electric lights for many years (now with the Sten light maybe????)

As for the last point... I pay 160 (thank you Dave Taylor) really I don't know what the answer is.... Deal with it? Good and bad in everything.

bed calls... cave 'oftly... tom
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