Using your watch as a compass

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
nirakaro
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Using your watch as a compass

Postby nirakaro » 31 Jul 2020, 10:10am

OK, I know how to do it – point the hour hand at the sun, and split the angle between that and the twelve, and that's south. And I know why it works, because the sun does one clockwise circuit of the sky in twenty-four hours, while your watch does two clockwise circuits of the clock face.
But I keep wondering – is there a similar trick for the southern hemisphere, where the sun moves anticlockwise across the sky?

Jdsk
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby Jdsk » 31 Jul 2020, 10:15am

Yes, you point the noon mark on the face of the watch towards the sun, and bisect the angle to the hour hand.

But it's the noon mark that you need to use in both cases... that isn't always twelve.

And it's much more complicated if you're in the tropics.

Jonathan

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simonineaston
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby simonineaston » 31 Jul 2020, 10:52am

The day can't be far off when more folk carry a smart-phone than wear a wrist-watch. Having said that, any old wrist-watch, from Casio through to posh jobbies with 5-figures on the price ticket, are more reliable than any smart-phone / battery / no recharge combination!
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

Jdsk
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby Jdsk » 31 Jul 2020, 11:04am

You don't need an actual watch to get useful information using this method. You know roughly what time it is... and you can imagine the rest.

Jonathan

CliveyT
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby CliveyT » 31 Jul 2020, 11:53am

Jdsk wrote:
And it's much more complicated if you're in the tropics.

Jonathan


And you'll end up going entirely the wrong direction if you're north of the Arctic circle in summertime

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simonineaston
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby simonineaston » 31 Jul 2020, 12:05pm

You don't need an actual watch to get useful information using this method. You know roughly what time it is... and you can imagine the rest.
I agree - when I used to tour rural France quite regularly, I would simply use my shadow to see which way I was headed. The time of day is something you're just aware of, without giving it much thought. Often you don't need an accurate number of degrees - just a confirmation that you're heading in roughly the right direction - if there are only two roads in your vicinity, both heading in different directions, as they are prone to do! then a nod that your heading is, say, northwest is all you need. A combination of knowing which road I was on, and seeing local landmarks (you're never far from a church spire in northern France...) was usually all I needed to navigate successfully. Took a bit of practice to get there, though... !
Fast-forward to battery-hungry GPS units - what a different place!!
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

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simonineaston
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby simonineaston » 31 Jul 2020, 12:16pm

PS - I went through a stage of obtaining a pdf of the sun height / time for any given postion and date, from a website that specialised in film location work... It's behind a paywall these days.
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

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Mick F
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby Mick F » 31 Jul 2020, 12:39pm

Jdsk wrote:You know roughly what time it is... and you can imagine the rest.
I can, and you obviously can, but not everyone has an innate knowledge of direction.

I never get lost.
I don't need a map or a compass, as I seem to know where I am and in which direction things are.
Maps, compasses, smart phones, watches, are all "nice to have" but not strictly necessary ............. for some people.
Mick F. Cornwall

PaulaT
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby PaulaT » 31 Jul 2020, 1:06pm

Jdsk wrote:You don't need an actual watch to get useful information using this method. You know roughly what time it is... and you can imagine the rest.

Jonathan


And if you've got even a basic 7 function cycle computer you've got a pretty accurate clock built-in :)

I've only once ever thought a compass might have been handy. That was when navigation through a labyrinth of minor roads in Ireland using a large-scale map. It took me the best part of a minute to work out which junction I was at. A compass could have saved me a few seconds ;) The only time I have ever used a compass was a couple of winters ago on Kinder Scout. I wanted to visit Mad Woman's Stones (purely because of the name :D) and I used the compass to take bearings off the summit of Lose Hill and a trig point to confirm I'd reached them.

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Audax67
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby Audax67 » 31 Jul 2020, 2:09pm

Or, as was explained to me: you tie it to a couple of feet of string, whirl it round your head and let go. The watch has now gone west, and a simple 90° turn gives you north. Also works with digital watches.
Have we got time for another cuppa?

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Mick F
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby Mick F » 31 Jul 2020, 3:15pm

:lol: :lol: :lol:
Mick F. Cornwall

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simonineaston
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby simonineaston » 31 Jul 2020, 3:22pm

It's behind a paywall these days.
I was wrong... here's next week's for London, anyway.
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

Tangled Metal
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby Tangled Metal » 31 Jul 2020, 4:02pm

Despite the knowledge to locate North by a few methods I still prefer a compass and map if I'm somewhere I don't know well.

I also enjoy being somewhere I don't know well without map and compass relying on my innate sense of direction (as described by another but IMHO it's not innate but learned just like all those direction finding tricks).

I'm definitely contrary over this depending on my mood. It's really good fun letting my 7 year old son or even both of us letting our dog lead us around an area. Then deciding it's time to go back to the van and leading us straight back without map or compass. It's developing his trust in my abilities outdoors. Or it's witchcraft!!

axisofevil
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby axisofevil » 1 Aug 2020, 1:19am

For Sunrise/Sunset predictions there is https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/ (no firewall).

Carlton green
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Re: Using your watch as a compass

Postby Carlton green » 1 Aug 2020, 6:35am

Tangled Metal wrote:Despite the knowledge to locate North by a few methods I still prefer a compass and map if I'm somewhere I don't know well.

I also enjoy being somewhere I don't know well without map and compass relying on my innate sense of direction (as described by another but IMHO it's not innate but learned just like all those direction finding tricks).

I'm definitely contrary over this depending on my mood. It's really good fun letting my 7 year old son or even both of us letting our dog lead us around an area. Then deciding it's time to go back to the van and leading us straight back without map or compass. It's developing his trust in my abilities outdoors. Or it's witchcraft!!


Plus one.

I used to have a JR Terrier, sadly missed now but that’s part of the price of having them. Once he was a bit older and had settled down he became a great walking companion who had a good sense of direction. I will always recall taking him to one particular place that neither of us had been too before, occasionally some of the surrounding area but not within a few miles of that place. I had a little doubt in my mind about which route to take back to the car so I asked my Dog who happily took us along the correct route. Animals have a sense of direction which we seem to have lost or never developed.

I don’t doubt that you can ‘use’ an analogue watch as a compass; instead and as a rough guide I work on the sun being in the east towards the early part of the day, the south around mid day and the west in the later parts of the day. My walking bag and my saddle bag have button compasses in them, button compasses take up virtually no space and on occasion I’ve found them invaluable.
Last edited by Carlton green on 1 Aug 2020, 8:42am, edited 1 time in total.