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Compass question

Posted By: Sloansailing

Compass question - 05/16/12 02:38 PM

OK, given that F18 rules don't allow GPS based heading indicators, what do folks use for a compass? The options I have seen that are legal are:

-TacTic micro compass
-NovaSail w/GPS disabled
-card compass

All of them seem to have their deficiencies. The TacTic micro is expensive and doesn't last very long. The NovaSail is expensive,complicated and has too many buttons. A card compass needs to be level and be able to be seen from the wire.

So I'm wondering what folks use. I've been wanting a good reliable (and legal) compass since we got our boat but there is nothing out there that seems to fit.

Thoughts?
Posted By: rexdenton

Re: Compass question - 05/21/12 12:38 PM

The NovaSail 360+ is probably the best value for the money, with a three axis flux magnet and has the option to shut off the GPS. The buttons are pretty intuitive, but the major drawbacks are that there is not a good mount for a cat with a rotating mast, you will want it on the spin, meaning that the thing is mostly inaccessible to the buttons anyway. Finally, because our world council ruling body does not have command over the English language (and therefore cannot write a clear rule ), the strictest interpretation of the GPS rule as written, as it applies to compasses, may mean that if there is a GPS functionality, even though it is turned off, may make devices such as NovaSail illegal. So, best ask the fleet for permission before you race. Frankly, this is idiotic, but they are a stubborn bunch.
Posted By: John Williams

Re: Compass question - 05/21/12 02:40 PM

Rex is right - we've had to cover this ground before. If there is GPS functionality, it isn't legal.

I love my SpeedPuck... but I can't use it in the big races, so I've been doing without.
Posted By: Tony_F18

Re: Compass question - 05/22/12 07:59 AM

Originally Posted by Sloansailing

The Tacktick micro is expensive and doesn't last very long.
Thoughts?

Just curious, but why do you think that?

The best non-GPS compass is probably the Tacktick T070 Race Master, it gives you an easy readout of lifts and headers due to its mean-wind function.
[Linked Image]
Posted By: Sloansailing

Re: Compass question - 05/22/12 02:05 PM

I've heard the TackTick micro has battery problems. The battery is not replaceable which means if it goes bad, the whole unit is toast. I've seen them start to go south with the battery dieing, numerals getting hard to read and intermittent. Maybe I'm wrong. It is certainly the only thing out there that seems to do what I want...
Posted By: Sloansailing

Re: Compass question - 05/22/12 02:09 PM

Tony do you use the Race Master? We use one on the Melges with boatspeed, and the compass function seems to work well. About twice the price of the Micro Compass.
Posted By: Tony_F18

Re: Compass question - 05/22/12 03:23 PM

No I dont use it, the standard Tacktick is fine for me (although if it breaks I might upgrade though).
Never heard about the Tacktick's battery issue, I guess northern europe is a kind environment for solar cells smile
Posted By: wildtsail

Re: Compass question - 05/22/12 04:49 PM

I've had my Tacktick Micro for 6 years with no issues. Given, I don't use it a lot of the time.
I don't think the units with GPS being disabled are considered legal since they have the software to be able to do GPS. Therefore the Micro really is the only way to go.
I remember when the micro was only $250 about 8 years ago, unfortunately I put that one on the roof of my car and drove away, Do'h!
Posted By: rexdenton

Re: Compass question - 05/22/12 06:34 PM

Originally Posted by wildtsail
I've had my Tacktick Micro for 6 years with no issues. Given, I don't use it a lot of the time.
I don't think the units with GPS being disabled are considered legal since they have the software to be able to do GPS. Therefore the Micro really is the only way to go.
I remember when the micro was only $250 about 8 years ago, unfortunately I put that one on the roof of my car and drove away, Do'h!

Tack-Ticks are overpriced relative to virtually equivalent but lots cheaper satellite based nav sets. I personally think GPS units should be reviewed and an approved list assembled, specifying legality based on review of the product. A guy watching speed and angles using a speed puck has not the same type of advantage read-out as the guy with the RayTech RNS 6.2 Navigator...

Additionally the way the dumb rule reads, a cell phone is not legal, either, as everyone of them has a GPS for emergency 911 (a good thing to have). Add a smartphone with a racing/tactical app, and the rule makes the World Council look like they really don't know what they are doing.

BTW, I have your shrouds, and thanks!
Posted By: Karl Funk

Re: Compass question - 05/23/12 09:52 AM

John,

Just to clarify - as I am new here - the Novasail 360+ is illegal because it has GPS capability - despite the fact that it can be completely turned off through the software?

Cheers,
Karl
Posted By: John Williams

Re: Compass question - 05/23/12 01:58 PM

That is correct. Even without the wording in the International rules, each time the US Class has discussed the issue with regard to US Prescriptions, the majority has voted to keep GPS devices off the boat. I don't like the Tackticks and I made the best argument for devices like the SpeedPuk based on price, battery, etc., but I got voted down when someone made the point that the SpeedPuk could be reprogrammed to do things we don't want done, like VMG.
Posted By: rexdenton

Re: Compass question - 05/23/12 02:44 PM

How many iPhones/Androids are on the water in waterproof cases, brought it out for safety. Does the RC check apps like those listed below?
http://gps.motionx.com/live/activities/sail/
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sailoraid/id456531378?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/marine-instrument-display/id457903555
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=rs.pstech.sailing.beta

...and about 30 others....
heck, there are entire bulletin boards dedicated to the topic...

http://www.macsailing.net/fbb/showforum.php?fid/5/

...in other words, phones are illegal...
BTW, at North Americans, every boat had a GPS tracking unit in it. According to the rule, every participant should be disqualified.

The rule is dumb, only serving to disqualify those who want an inexpensive compass built for sailing, or boost TackTick sales figures.
Posted By: John Williams

Re: Compass question - 05/23/12 05:55 PM

Hi Rex -

I didn't make the event last year (first time since the first one), but I'm pretty sure I sent them language for the SIs that required the trackers and made an exception to the rule to allow their specific use. The same language is going into the SIs for Worlds here in September.

edit: I agree, the rule is dumb. But you and I are in the minority, and majority rules.
Posted By: Tony_F18

Re: Compass question - 05/23/12 07:55 PM

In terms of functionality what are the advantages of a GPS device over a 'smart' magnetic compass like the Tacktick Race Master?
Has anyone actually seriously used one for bouy racing?
Posted By: John Williams

Re: Compass question - 05/23/12 09:48 PM

Hi Tony -

For me, the functionality, price and the conventional battery were all pluses. On top of that, you could see your top speed for the day (fun to compare over beers) and dump the data for a good debrief. Import data from several units into SpeedPlay and you could do a fleet debrief.

Personal preference - I like the Puck. Big numbers, reliable, simple display and way cheaper. And illegal.
Posted By: rexdenton

Re: Compass question - 05/24/12 02:37 AM

Tony, its mostly cost, but recording tracks, speed and tacking angles (and tracks, for those that record them) are big pluses for those persons looking to improve racing techique. The other difference is that the magnetic compass gives you 'heading' vs GPS device's'course'. For those units that have both, the difference between heading and course can be used (on long tacks) to determine how much the tide is knocking/lifting, or even facilitate understanding boat performance issues pertaining to alignment/foil lifting. Many GPS units will also calculate the velocity made good to a given target, which lots consider cheating, (but if you are staring at VMG on a catamaran in a buouy race, you are too deeply thinking about the boat, as the speed of cats makes that value rather hard to put into any real practice in a short length race). Many of the GPS units will also calculate distance to the line, which is definitely a contentious advantage 'issue' in big fleets, where the start can mean the difference in race outcome.
Posted By: Tony_F18

Re: Compass question - 05/25/12 08:58 AM

Personally for me a device would need to have a magnetic compass so that rules out the Speedpuck.
I like the Novasail line of products since they have both and are still affordable.

Since most of the GPS devices are highly programmable what do you think would be a maximum set of features?
For me tracking, speed, and heading would be about it.
Not sure if distance-to-line, VMG, preprogrammed marks/gates and a good idea.

Same goes for the smartphone apps where the possibilities are basically endless (have phones on the water exchange data with each other etc).
Posted By: rexdenton

Re: Compass question - 05/25/12 01:33 PM

Programmable, only to the extent you can manage waypoints to a VMG or location standpoint, but thats about all. If you are using anything more than that, you probably aren't racing...

I think you have the features that are used just about right. A countdown timer is nice, if you can access the unit to set the thing.
Posted By: Baltic

Re: Compass question - 05/30/12 07:29 PM

Originally Posted by Tony_F18
No I dont use it, the standard Tacktick is fine for me (although if it breaks I might upgrade though).
Never heard about the Tacktick's battery issue, I guess northern europe is a kind environment for solar cells smile


+1 - I have mine now for four years and never had a problem.
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