Camping Canada Campgrounds - Making your own compass

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Camping compassMaking a compass!  In this page, we will show you how to build a compass so that if you ever get lost in the forest without a regular compass, you'll be able to find your way out. As you will see, a compass can be built using a needle, a stick or even your watch. For the stick and the watch compass, you will also need a little help from Mother Nature... in this case, the Sun. Just remember that to find a direction when the Sun is shining, the old rule of thumb is that the Sun rises in the East and sets In the West, and at midday, it will be roughly South in the in the Northern hemisphere.

Take you time and read carefully because you never know when you might end up in a survival situation.

Making your own compass with a needle  

Method A: To make this compass, you need a needle, 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. Once the needle stabilizes, its tip will point North.

Making a compass
Silk scarf
Making a compass
Making a compass
Method B: Another (and more accurate) method involves filling a container with water and having the needle float on a leaf, a piece of grass or even paper. Again, once the needle stabilizes, it's tip will point North.
Compass using a needle
Making your own compass with a stick  

Method A:
To make this compass, all you need is a 2-3 feet long stick (a wood stick, a branch, a metal rod....) and.... some Sun. Next, find a flat piece of ground and hold the stick upright in the centre of the ground. Mark the tip of the stick shadow with another stick or a stone (point A in our diagram), wait 30 minutes and then repeat the process (point B in our diagram). Draw a line between the two points (A & B in our diagram).... this line will run from West to East, with the first point being West.

Making a compass
Method B: This method will take you longer but will be more accurate. Mark your first shadow tip as in method A in the morning. Measure the distance from point A to point B and use it to mark point C. Now draw an arc (using the stick as the centre point) starting at point B and crossing over point C (see diagram). In the afternoon, mark the exact spot where the shadow touches the arc at point D. Now join points B and D and this will give you a West to East line with the morning point being West.

Making a compass
Making your own compass with a watch  

This method of telling time only works if you have a watch that is set to true local time (with no local adjustments for summer or fall).

In the northern hemisphere, hold the watch flat and point the hour hand towards the sun. Now bisect the angle between the hour hand and the figure 12 (ie. noon) on your watch to give you a North-South line.
Making a compass
In the southern hemisphere, hold the watch dial and point the figure 12 (ie. noon) towards the sun. The line that bisects the angle between the hour hand and the figure 12 is the North-South line.
Making a compass
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