Are you looking for a lighted compass?

I’ve posted some pictures and instruction on how to make a fairly inexpensive compass (the kind that bungees on the deck)lighted.



I use this
compass and have some of these lights. I was going to mount them like navigational lights (red, green, white) but never came up with a way to mount them that would make them meet regulations.

Thanks for a totally great idea on how to make them more useful!

Looks good.
The compass lighting looks like a great way to go, provided its not too far forward that you have to peer closely at it in the dark and loose track of the wave patterns. Looking at some of your notes attached in your site, 8-11 MPH on the bike with boat should be able to be improved. Do the Sea wind wheels for the portage have bearings in them, or just greased bushings? The wheels could be increased to match the bike wheel diameter, decreasing the drag, increasing overall speed. If most of the pedal portion of the portage is paved (except 100-200 yards), then it makes sense to go to large diameter, skinny tires for the SeaWind. Tractor tires are not needed on the road.

Good luck on the event.

uccdds, great idea.
I have a couple of Suunto compasses and I sure like your idea and your photos, thanks for posting. I also have a Dahon Presto bike and my wife and I have matching chili red Dahon single speed Boardwalks too. We love 'em!

great idea
and thanks for sharing!

The biggest problem with your system
is the fact that the battery and metallic components in the LED will introduce variation into the compass. I made a set up a couple of years ago identical to what you have. It has worked on some occasions but on others seemed to throw out some odd readings. On the night of my latest BCU assessment(exactly when I didn’t need a failure) it threw off an error of about 65 degrees. I now no longer use the LED but instead buy the small red glow sticks at West Marine and zip tie them along the shock cord. Simple and no variation.

LAtely, I have bought a small Princeton Tech LED flashlight and a small red lens. It rides on my front hatch clipped to the deck lines and shines on the compass. Works just fine and now may not carry the extra compass.

Augustus Dogmatycus


Compass Variation
I appreciate this information and will do some testing on this. I occasionally checked my GPS compass to verify the information, and in every case I had no variation, but agree, the probability for error is there.



You may want to consider…
putting the Suunto Orca on a flat surface without the LED and comparing it to a hiking compass and/or your usual marine compass. Make sure there aren’t alot of things like computers, wireless modem links, speakers from stereo’s, cell phones, etc., around. Then, add your LED to the Orca and turn it on. Make sure the others are far enough away from the LED to not be affected by the magnetic field of the battery or the metal bits in the LED. See what kind of readings you get from all the compasses. Note what changes may have occurred.

To do a simple test of variation, just wave another compass over your Suunto Orca and note how the 2 compass readings jump around. I have done the system nearly identically to what you described and on my last outing it was clearly influenced heavily by variation. It took a few minutes to clear back to an accurate reading. I now no longer use it that way. We need to be able to trust our compasses implicitly. My illuminated Orca should have been tested far more rigorously than I did before taking it out on assessment day. That was really dumb. I recovered by clicking on my headlamp every minute or so to make sure I was on track, but thank God for good eyesight. Good luck with your training on the challenge, that looks like a tough trip.

Augustus Dogmatycus