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The world's most simple compass

3 simple ideas on how to build your own compass
Author: José Luís León, Fuengirola, Spain, [email protected]
Online since: 17/03/2009, Number of visits: 298521
Table of Contents

Simple magnetic compass

Material needed:
  • 1 disc magnet S-20-05-N
  • 1 waterproof red marker
Assembly: Draw a red dot in the middle of the magnetic north pole - done!
Application: Place the disc magnet on its side on a flat surface. The magnet automatically aligns with the magnetic field of the earth. The side with the red dot (=magnetic north pole) points at the magnetic south pole of the earth, which is near our geographic north pole.
(If this north pole / south pole story has you confused, please read the appropriate note in our FAQ).
This magnet is so strongly magnetised that it always aligns itself correctly, not matter how often you turn it (see video).
This compass works always and everywhere, because he doesn't need glass, needles or other material.

Cork compass

Addition from customer Alexey Kokorev, Gorod Twer (Russian Federation):
I hid one of your S-06-25-N rod magnets lengthwise in a cork. Now I can place the cork in a water jar or a puddle and let it go: Thanks to the low friction between cork and water, the cork will automatically point north.

Swimming Compass

Addition from T. and J. Staub, Binningen (Switzerland):
You will need:
  • 3-10 small cube magnets, e.g. W-05-N
  • a floating object (plastic bottle cap or something similar)
  • a soup bowl
The uniformly magnetised rod can be constructed by allowing the individual cube magnets to attract each other unhindered. The easiest way to construct the rod: place two cube magnets on a plate. Move them towards each other until they pull together on their own. In this way, the sides of the cubes that attract most strongly will automatically come together: the positive pole of one cube will automatically lie on the negative pole of the next cube.
Then fill the soup bowl will water and place the floating object inside so that it can move freely. Then carefully place the magnetic rod onto the floating object (being careful not to capsize it!). The compass is finished!
The magnetic rod will automatically bring the floating object into a position which points North.

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