How to Build and Use a Compass

 

There are three easy ways to build a low technology compass.  The simplest and least accurate is with a stick.  Another way involves a using a suspended or free from friction magnetic pointer.  The last way uses a watch.

 

Stick Method

See diagrams HERE

Method A: Get a 2-3 foot stick and stick it in the ground in a flat area free of sun obstructions, i.e. not around any trees or buildings.  Mark the tip of the stick’s shadow and wait 30 minutes.  Again mark the tip of the stick’s shadow.  Draw a line between the two points, this is the east west line with the latter point toward the east.

Method B (better): Again place a stick in the ground in a flat area free of sun obstructions in the morning.  Draw an circle in the sand with a radius the same as the length of the shadow and center at the point where the stick enter the ground.  Wait until noon, 12pm, and mark where the stick’s shadow crosses the circle.  Draw a line between this point and the original shadow tip.  This is the east west line with the latter pointing toward the east.

 

Magnetic Pointer Method

See diagrams HERE

Method A:  Take a needle and a magnet (better) or a silk scarf. Once you have these items, stroke the needle in one direction from its eye to its point with the scarf or magnet 20-25 times and then suspend the needle by a thread half-way along its length. When the needle stops moving its tip will be pointing North.

Method B (better): Again rub the needle and then place it on a piece of paper, a leaf, or other light weight material and let it float in com water, like a glass of water or a slow stream.  When the object stabilizes the needle will point north.

 

Watch Method

See diagrams HERE

You must have a watch set to local time, without daylight savings adjustments.  In the northern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontal and point the hour hand towards the sun. Bisect the angle between the hour hand and the figure 12 or noon indicator on the watch, this is the North-South line.  In the southern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontal and point the 12 or noon indicator towards the sun. Again bisect the angle between the hour hand and the figure 12 or noon indicator on the watch, this is the North-South line.