Improvised Compass: How – Improvised Gear

In this series of blog posts, we are going to teach you how to make improvised gear. Of which one can find handy to make for and in survival scenarios. For this post, we’re going to discuss how to make an improvised compass.

The compass is a tool used for navigation and orientation. It shows direction related to the cardinal points (North, East, South, West). And this is usually via the compass rose diagram. Angle markings are also something shown on the compass with the North direction listed at 0 degrees.

The Chinese, Han dynasty, were the first known to use the magnetic compass.

How to make an improvised compass: First Way

One way you can make an improvised compass is with a piece of ferrous metal that you can shape into a needle or a flat double-edged razor blade. But not just that but rather that metal and a piece of thread or long hair from where to hold it. One can magnetize the metal by just gently stroking it in a single direction on a piece of silk or through your hair using some purposed strokes. Another way to polarize or magnetize it is by repeatedly stroking it  one end with a magnet. Remember to only stroke in a single direction.

If you have a battery and perhaps some electric wire, you can polarize it electrically. Further, insulated should this wire be. If it is not, wrap the metallic object in one, thin strip of paper or leaf to prevent contact. The battery should be a minimum of two volts.

With an electric wire, form a coil and touch the ends of it to the terminals of the battery. Repeatedly insert a single end of the metallic object inside and outside the coil. As so, the needle becomes an electromagnet. When held from a piece of nonmetallic string, or floated on a small piece of word, cork or leaf in water, it will then begin to align itself according to a north-south line.

How to make an improvised compass: More elaborate way

You can make a more complex improvised compass using a sewing needle or some thin metal object. Plus a nonmetal container like the bottom of a plastic container or bottle of soft drink and the silver tip of a pen.

To make this, grab a normal sewing needle and then proceed to break it in half. One-half of it will make up your point direction and the other will be the pivot point. Then push this pivot point portion through the center of the bottom of your container. Further then attach the center of the pointer portion on the silver tip of the pen using glue or another sticky substance such as tree sap and melted plastic.

Lastly just magnetize one end and then lay it on the pivot point.


Liked the post? Then how about reading this “piece of Survival Gear“.

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