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Old 11th August 2016, 13:36   #1
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Question Query about a Car Compass

I have bought a car compass. As you can see, it is the spherical kind that you view sideways. The problem is that the markings are such that it shows the opposite direction of what the car is facing. If you're facing north, you need to view it from above to see the needle point north, when viewed from the side, it appears to be pointing south.
The same problem is seen for other cardinal points, when it says SW and you're actually driving towards NE.
Has anyone else noticed this problem with car compasses? Is it a design feature, or a flaw in the one I purchased?
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Old 11th August 2016, 13:57   #2
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Default re: Query about a Car Compass

I guess this product is unsuitable for dashboard usage. 2 reviews in the product page say the same as well.
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Old 11th August 2016, 19:17   #3
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Default re: Query about a Car Compass

Just curious on what exact purpose does a car compass solve. Maybe a compass is of use in a boat in vast sea but on roads??

Is it used in off-roading? Sorry for the naive question.
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Old 11th August 2016, 20:08   #4
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Default re: Query about a Car Compass

Quote:
Originally Posted by saion666 View Post
Just curious on what exact purpose does a car compass solve. Maybe a compass is of use in a boat in vast sea but on roads??

Is it used in off-roading? Sorry for the naive question.
True, not that important now especially with GPS and Google Maps .

I have one in my car just for old times sake. It was something many cars had back in the 80's and 90's especially the small ball shaped one in water.
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Old 12th August 2016, 00:11   #5
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Default re: Query about a Car Compass

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Originally Posted by saion666 View Post
Just curious on what exact purpose does a car compass solve. Maybe a compass is of use in a boat in vast sea but on roads??

Is it used in off-roading? Sorry for the naive question.
Well, as tharian has said, the compass is not that important in the cars. Surely not needed for navigation. But one may keep out of liking. I felt need for a compass sometimes, when I wanted to know how many degrees the road has turned on a turn.

Another thing I wanted in my car is an attitude indicator (showing the pitch), to know the gradient of the road. I have seen this in old Pajero.

Last edited by Rahul Bhalgat : 12th August 2016 at 00:13.
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Old 12th August 2016, 00:38   #6
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Default re: Query about a Car Compass

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Originally Posted by saion666 View Post
Just curious on what exact purpose does a car compass ... ... ...
Have you ever spent time, maybe half an hour or more, driving on a strange road, looking for names, signs, anything helpful, only to find you were going the wrong way?

I have, more than once, and I always thought I'd get a compass. I wouldn't expect it to be accurate, but if it told me that I'm heading for one side of a city when I want the other, that would be good enough.

Now, as mentioned, there are phones with Google Maps; we don't even have to buy it. And there are compass apps (assuming the phone has a compass) that will quickly tell us if we are going in the right direction. They won't be accurate either, being surrounded by the same miscellaneous pieces of steel as the one stuck on the dashboard is, but they'll give you the idea.
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Old 12th August 2016, 07:24   #7
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Default re: Query about a Car Compass

all smartphones don't come with magnetic compass sensors these days. A lot of the cheaper ones rely on GPS for sensing direction, and are pretty useless when stationary
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Old 12th August 2016, 09:20   #8
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Default re: Query about a Car Compass

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Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
Have you ever spent time, maybe half an hour or more, driving on a strange road, looking for names, signs, anything helpful, only to find you were going the wrong way?

I have spent some and frankly I couldn't rely on a compass in that case. As a road which is going south may take two bends and go North and a road which turns west will turn again go south. Yeah until and unless you drive over woods and streams and unpaved roads (hence asked on offroading), going in a particular direction looking at a compass just like Christopher Columbus did is something I couldn't fathom.

I generally rely on locals in case of absence of GPS/maps etc, but then that's me.

Would definitely try the compass and the Pole Star next time when am lost. Thanks for the enlightenment.

Last edited by GTO : 12th August 2016 at 11:47. Reason: Typos
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Old 12th August 2016, 10:16   #9
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Default re: Query about a Car Compass

I think the use of compass in car for navigation is not so reliable solution. especially when we have plethora of devices. However in some difficult terrain which are not mapped by online maps, a car compass alongwith detail map would provide some solution. however IMHO compass without a map is of no use.
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Old 12th August 2016, 10:30   #10
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Mod note: Back to back posts, please use Multi Quote or Edit original post. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saion666 View Post
Just curious on what exact purpose does a car compass solve. Maybe a compass is of use in a boat in vast sea but on roads??
As others have said, you have GPS on your phone as well, but it requires a data connection to work, which may not always be available. Also I've seen Google Maps navigation sometimes spaz out with regard to the phone's compass. Suddenly the screen orientation starts shifting or spinning, at such times it's good to have a plain and simple GPS. My car has built in GPS, but one time while relying on it in the hills around Kodaikanal, it couldn't get a fix and the map area was shown blank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahul Bhalgat View Post
http://www.amazon.in/Type-Balance-Pi...0632175&sr=8-1
Another thing I wanted in my car is an attitude indicator (showing the pitch), to know the gradient of the road. I have seen this in old Pajero.
Take a look at this one, found it in the recommendations list

Quote:
Originally Posted by saion666 View Post
As a road which is going south may take two bends and go North and a road which turns west will turn again to go south. Yeah until and unless you drive over woods and streams and unpaved roads(hence asked on offroading), going in a particular direction looking at a compass just like Christopher Columbus did is something I couldn't fathom.
The compass in a car isn't for 'going in a particular direction looking at it'. It helps you orient yourself vis-a-vis the road, by observing the way it twists and turns, and can help you form a rough mental map of your route, so you're not 100% reliant on either GPS or a paper map(for the latter of which you'll have to stop to look at). More so at night or in cloudy weather when you can't see the sun.

Quote:
I generally rely on locals in case of absence of GPS/maps etc, but then that's me.

Would definitely try the compass and the Pole Star next time when am lost. Thanks for the enlightenment.
Locals aren't always reliable, most of them will either have no clue about a place that turns out to be in the next street, otherwise they'll be over eager to share their half baked knowledge and confuse you further. And depending on where you are, there may not be anyone around nearby to ask for directions. I've got blank looks from a vendor sitting right near the junction where I was to take a turn off the highway when asked which way to go when heading to Kodaikanal.

Last edited by Eddy : 12th August 2016 at 10:51.
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Old 12th August 2016, 13:35   #11
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Default Re: Query about a Car Compass

Quote:
Originally Posted by saion666 View Post
I have spent some and frankly I couldn't rely on a compass in that case. As a road which is going south may take two bends and go North and a road which turns west will turn again go south.
Yes! And it after so many turns that one might have lost one's sense of direction!
Quote:
I generally rely on locals in case of absence of GPS/maps etc, but then that's me.
Indeed: so do I. I have the disadvantage of not knowing local language (which after 11 years is entirely my fault), but auto/cab drivers usually manage to understand and help. And if wife is with me then she gets the directions.
Quote:
Would definitely try the compass and the Pole Star next time when am lost. Thanks for the enlightenment.
The last time I really used the compass was a lane inside Madras IIT campus. It was night, there was nobody to ask: I might as well have been on a forest road! But I knew which direction the gate would be in. Now, Google maps would start and GPS fix would happen almost immediately: back then it took minutes, but the compass was instant. These days, I probably wouldn't bother with the compass app. And I wouldn't be able to read a dashboard compass in the dark anyway.

Yes... these days, GPS wins. Compass obsolete.
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Old 14th August 2016, 18:34   #12
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Default Re: Query about a Car Compass

I guess a true car compass will have the markings reversed because you will be looking at it from behind not the top. So when you are heading north the N letter will be facing you but it will say S in the direcction that is actually north i.e. reverse of a normal compass
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Old 14th August 2016, 23:33   #13
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Default Re: Query about a Car Compass

See the images for Bulkhead Compass.

It will show the direction you are heading on the side it is designed to be viewed from. It just wouldn't make any sense to do otherwise.

It takes a bit of getting used to steering by a compass, for example at sea. The way to get a mental grasp of it is initially not intuitive, because it looks as if the compass card is rotating in the compass. The secret is to realise that it isn't! In fact, the compass card is remaining still, and the rest of the boat is turning around it!
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Old 16th August 2016, 13:32   #14
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Default Re: Query about a Car Compass

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
See the images for Bulkhead Compass.

It will show the direction you are heading on the side it is designed to be viewed from. It just wouldn't make any sense to do otherwise.
Automotive compasses work the same way, they float on a layer of liquid inside a transparent sphere. A regular compass would have markings the usual way, since it's designed to be viewed from above. A proper automotive compass should have the marking for N on the opposite side of the magnet, i.e. the S facing side, since we're viewing it edgeways. Unfortunately none of these sellers on Amazon got the memo :(
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Old 16th August 2016, 14:02   #15
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Default Re: Query about a Car Compass

All the car compasses I have ever seen are just cheap toys
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