View Full Version : Digital Compasses: Love them or Hate them?

09-13-2007, 12:59
I've been checking out information on the newer computers with digital compasses. So I want to know from those using them:
1. Do you like them?
2. Are they reliable?
3. Would you dive with ONLY a digital compass?

From what I've read from other boards, the digital compasses seem to be OK for simple use, but not great for serious navigation. Because they use a lot of battery power, it seems most models don't allow you to stay in compass mode for a lengthy time. So that would negate any serious compass use (for instance when doing search and recovery patterns).

Am I correct, or off base. I would consider spending the money on a new computer with digital compass if I thought the compass was truly reliable and easy to use.

Thanks for your thoughts and experiences!

09-13-2007, 22:16
I've been computer shopping as well. I've been playing with the suunto vyper 2 and the compass is very sensitive. It also works well when not 100% horizontal to the ground which is cool. good luck

09-14-2007, 00:18
As a Professional Land Surveyor, I cannot stand electronic compasses. They are a very poor yet expensive solution to a problem that was solved about 4000 years ago.

I have never seen an "analog" compass fail, unless induced to do so. I have never seen an electronic compass that made it through the day without failing at least once.

I am far from being a "Ludite", as most of my friends will confirm. If there's an elcetronic version of a gadget, I have it. The ONLY exception to that is an electronic compass.

California PLS #7010

09-14-2007, 01:53
I am far from being a "Ludite", as most of my friends will confirm. If there's an elcetronic version of a gadget, I have it. The ONLY exception to that is an electronic compass.

I will second the above except I'd add "SPG" to thew list of things that MUST by mechanical.

I don't mind to much if stuff fails under water. I've have all of mine and my buddy's lights fail at night, (that one was funny we were both laughing under water we just couldn't believe it as we pulled out two dead backups. After a while whacking on one of them fixed it.) computers have gone out. Once a depth gage. But if my SPG failed I'd be headed straight up to the surface. I can finish a dive with just about any other piece of equipment failed. Yes, once my SPG broke. A brass case OMS gage flooded.

09-14-2007, 10:47
I'm with Ian and Chris.

I'm all for electronic compasses (and SPGs) but only as a backup to the real thing, both of which have been proven extremely reliable of time. (a LOT of time, in the case of the compass!)

09-14-2007, 12:29
I have an electronic compass in my patrol vehicle and it does not update and goes out on me all the time. I have since gone back to a analog.

09-14-2007, 14:17
I have a digital compass in my watch. Its good for getting an initial heading, and that's about it. It doesn't refresh automatically. I still use my analog compass on my console for navigation.

09-14-2007, 14:37
SK7........enough said.........

09-14-2007, 14:49
No not quite - SK7 in a DSS mount

okay now enough said :D

09-14-2007, 16:11
i prefer mechanical gauges especially if my life depends on them. many many years of proven service. i know that computers are digital and if it fails we'll just surface slowly but I've seen digital devices fail often and would minimize their use underwater.

09-14-2007, 17:01
i got a digital compass on a Tisot Touch... pain in the ass!! sometimes it's perfect!! others... not so perfect. and some times just completely wrong!

09-14-2007, 19:50
Digital compass in my Suunto D9. It works. I prefer to go diving and look at the fish than at my computer or compass all the time.


09-15-2007, 00:06
Are there any stand alone digital compasses for diving out there? I tried one of the Highgear models that was RW to 50M. Well it left much to be desired. I took at back and picked up an Oceanic SWIV /BC retractor setup.

09-15-2007, 00:38
I have seen a compass/watch combo. The back part of the watch was the compass.

09-16-2007, 17:58
I would much rather have the regular compass. The digital compass is just another thing to break. I find the less bells and whistles, the better...

09-16-2007, 21:48
is there such thing as digital compass that is good and as accurate as a mechanical compass??

09-17-2007, 00:20
Uwatec had a stand alone digital compass out a few years ago. It was really hard to find in the US. It cost something like $250.

09-17-2007, 00:59
My polar watch has a digital compass, it will freeze after a few minutes of using it and it often requires calibration, I'll stick with an analog compass under or above the water.

09-17-2007, 09:17
is there such thing as digital compass that is good and as accurate as a mechanical compass??


There is a very short magnetic needle i nthe electronic compass. There is also an electronic sensor that senses where the needle is pointing and an electronic display. The needle is too short and too prone to hang-ups and errors in poiting. The sensor is prone to misreading the needle.

There are really expensive electronic compasses that are actually GPS receivers and use the GPS satellite constelation to determine Astronomic North, Geodetic North and, from them, Magnetic North. However, GPS signals cannot penetrate water t obe of use to divers.

A cheap, oil-filled compas/zipper pull is a better tool than the "best" electronic compases. Why waste the money on electronic that are doing a poor job of what I can do myself?

09-17-2007, 10:24
is there such thing as digital compass that is good and as accurate as a mechanical compass??

Currently? No.

Someday? Who knows?

It's not there yet. And by the sound of these posts, it's a ways off...

10-03-2007, 12:35
Thanks for all the comments! Pretty much what I figured. I just thought if I was buying a new computer anyway, that if the electronic compass was decent then it might be worth the extra cost.

So, I'll be sticking to my current gear setup and when I need to buy a new computer I'll skip the compass featured ones.