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Compass / Clinometer

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Compass / Clinometer

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Frequently Asked Questions
  1. How to Use Optical Sighting Compasses[+]
  2. Suunto Repair and Warranty Service[+]
    Suunto Authorized Service and Warranty Repair

    Forestry Suppliers
    205 West Rankin St.
    Jackson, MS 39201

  3. What is a Clinometer (Inclinometer)?[+]
    A clinometer is an instrument that measures the angular distance in degrees from the horizon (0°) to an object below or above the horizon. The Suunto clinometer looks similar to the compass and is needed for accurate measurements of an objects height above the horizon.
    Wikipedia ]
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    Suunto Clinometer - PM5

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  4. How does a Compass Work?[+]
    We refer you to Marshall Brain's HowStuffWorks web site for a description on how a compass works.
    [ Wikipedia ]
  5. What are the Magnetic Compass Zones?[+]
    The horizontal and vertical components of the earth's magnetic field vary considerably at different locations on the Earth. To get an accurate reading from a compass, the compass needle needs to be "balanced", so it does not drag on the top or bottom of the compass capsule. Because of the variations of the earth's magnetic field, a compass needle that "balances" perfectly in North America will drag or stick in South America. To accommodate these magnetic variances, the compass industry has divided the earth into 5 "zones".
    [ Wikipedia ]


    Suunto makes compasses for 5 distinct magnetic zones. Compasses need to be balanced for the zone of the world that they will be working. This is due to changes in the magnetic field affecting the position of the compass needle. When you use ANY compass outside of the area it has been calibrated, you may receive false readings.

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    Zone 1
    United States (Hawaii is Zone 2), Canada, European Community, Turkey,
    Japan, Baltic States

    Zone 2
    Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, Columbia, Venezuela, Northern Africa,

    China, India, Southern Asia

    Zone 3
    Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Central South America, Central Africa, Thailand,
    Vietnam, Philippines

    Zone 4
    Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, South Africa, Southern Africa, Indonesia

    Zone 5
    Australia and New Zealand

    The horizontal and vertical components of the earth's magnetic field vary considerably at different locations. Most compasses are balanced for this magnetic inclination or dip by counterweights on the needle to prevent it from dragging on the top or bottom of the compass capsule. A compass needle that is balanced for use in North America will drag or stick in South America. For this reason Suunto balances compasses for 5 different zones. If the compass is used in an adjacent balancing zone, many compass pointers will tilt only slightly, however, the farther a compass is used from its correct zone, the more its pointer tilts. In extreme cases, the pointer will stick. For this reason it is extremely important to know in which zone a compass will be used.


    © 2001 Wide Screen Software LLC

    Here is a simplified example of what happens to a compass
    balanced for Zone 1 when it is taken into the Southern Hemisphere.

  6. What is Magnetic Inclination or "Dip"?[+]
    The Earth's magnetic field causes a compass needle to tilt or dip. To counter the effect of Magnetic Inclination, compasses are balanced to work in specific regions or zones.
    [ Glossary of Terms ] [ Wikipedia ]
  7. What is Magnetic Declination?[+]
    Magnetic declination is sometimes referred to as the magnetic variation or the magnetic compass correction. It is the angle formed between true north and magnetic north. Declination varies from 0 to 30 degrees in most populated regions of the world. These declination values usually change slightly over time, as the earths plates shift. By convention, declination is measured positive east and negative west (i.e. declination of -6 means 6 degrees west of north). A magnetic declination of 12 degrees West means that magnetic North lies 12 degrees West of true North.

    sunPATH can make Sun calculations taking into account the Magnetic Declination of a location, allowing you to use your compass without any corrections.

    [ Glossary of Terms ] [ Wikipedia ]
  8. How can I determine the Magnetic Declination?[+]
    National Geophysical Data Center Web Site
    Click here to go to their site to calculate the Magnetic Declination.
  9. What are compass deviations?[+]
    Compass deviation is a false reading from the compass due to outside forces. Steel and Iron objects as well as electric circuits close to the compass may cause deviation. Large structures like buildings will cause deviation at some distance. When using the compass, keep it well clear of metallic objects (knifes, wristwatches, light meters, lighters, steel rimmed eyeglasses and belt buckles); they can cause serious errors.
    [ Glossary of Terms ] [ Wikipedia ]