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Lesson 9: Magnetic and Gyro


Lesson 9: Magnetic and



Directional reference systems

The Magnetic Compass
Magnetic Error (Variation and Deviation)
Compass Conversion (T M)
The Gyrocompass
Gyrocompass Error

Applicable reading: Hobbs chapter 9.

Learning Objectives

1. The student will comprehend the basic

principles of the operation of the gyrocompass
and its advantages and disadvantages.
2. The student will apply correct procedures in
determining and correcting for gyrocompass
and magnetic error.
3. The student will comprehend the differences
between true, magnetic, gyrocompass, and
relative direction reference systems, and apply
proper procedures to make direction
conversions from any one system to any other.

Learning Objectives

4. The student will comprehend the basic

principles of operation of the magnetic compass
and its advantages and disadvantages.
5. The student will comprehend the reasons for
variation and deviation and how these affect
the magnetic compass.
6. The student will apply proper procedures in
converting from true direction to compass
direction and vice versa.
7. The student will apply correct procedures to
determine variation using navigation charts.

Directional Reference

Directional References
Relative Bearings (R) = bearings measured with
reference to the ships longitudinal axis
Magnetic Bearings (M) = bearings measured with
respect to magnetic north.
True Bearings (T) = bearings measured with
respect to true of geographic north.

Ships Head ( or heading)

a special bearing denoting the direction in which the
ship is pointing.

000 T
270 T

090 T
180 T

270 R

000 R

180 R

090 R

Magnetic Compasses

Operation Magnets within the compass tend to align

themselves with the earths magnetic lines of force.

Construction The compass consists of a circular card, graduated

with 360 degrees around the face.
A pair of magnets is attached to the underside of the
card, beneath the north-south axis.
The card floats in the fluid to reduce friction and
dampen the vibrations caused by ships movement.

Magnetic Compasses

Advantages of Magnetic

Little maintenance required

No power source required

Disadvantages of Magnetic

Does not seek True North

Affected by surrounding materials
Cannot be used near the poles

Magnetic Compass Error:


Variation: the angle between a magnetic

line of force and a geographic (true)
meridian at any location on the earth.
Variation exists because the earths
magnetic and geographic poles are not in
the same location.
Magnetic anomalies in the earths crust
also contribute to variation.

True North Pole

Magnetic North Pole

Notice that the
two poles
arent together.
The magnetic
compass points
to the magnetic
pole, and this
gives us

Magnetic Compass Error:


Variation also changes from year to year

as the earths magnetic poles tend to
Variation is printed inside compass roses
on all navigation charts.
Always use the compass rose nearest
your current DR position.

Magnetic Compass Error:


Magnetic Compass Error:


Deviation: the angle between the

magnetic meridian and the north line on
the compass card.
Deviation is caused by the interaction of
the ships metallic structure and
electrical systems with the earths
magnetic field.

A ships compass also
must deal with
magnetic forces from
the ship itself. The sum
total of these forces
pulls the compass
slightly away from
magnetic north,

Magnetic Compass Error:


Deviation can be compensated for but

never eliminated.
A compass table is used, which provides
the value of deviation for every 15
degrees of ships head.
Entering argument for the table is oM
and degaussing on or off (DG ON/DG

P. 154 in Hobbs

Swinging Ship

Swinging ship is the process used to

determine the ships magnetic table.
Swing ship around 15 degrees to measure
the magnetic deviation with each ships
Done when the deviation on any heading
exceeds 3 degrees.

Compass Conversions

Converting Compass to True

[Can dead men vote twice (at elections)?]

Converting True to Compass

C (AW)
[True virgins make dull companions (at weddings)]


A north-seeking gyroscope
The gyro spins at a very high velocity,
and its spin axis remains aligned with
terrestrial meridians.
The gyro has three axes:
spin axis
torque axis
precession axis

Gyroscope Theory
Page 160 in Hobbs


Seeks geographic (true) north instead of

magnetic north.
Can be used near the earths magnetic
poles, where magnetic compass is useless.
Unaffected by surrounding material.
Signal can be fed to other systems (INS,
fire control, automatic steering)


Intricate electronic instrument.

Requires a constant source of electrical
power and is sensitive to power
Requires periodic maintenance by highly
skilled technicians.

Gyrocompass Error

Although the gyrocompass is a very

accurate instrument, it normally has a
small error associated with its readings.
(normally less than 1o)
Like the magnetic compass, this error is
expressed as east or west.

Page 163 in Hobbs

Gyrocompass Error

To remember how to use the gyro error,

two memory aids are commonly used:
If Gyro is best (higher), error is west;
If Gyro is least (lower), error is east.


G.E.T. -- Gyro + East = True

Determining Gyro

Methods of determining gyro error:

Celestial Methods (to be discussed later)
Observing a visual range.
Observing bearing to an object while at a
known location.
Heading while pierside
Trial and error adjustment of three or more
simultaneous LOPs.
Compare to gyrocompass of known error.