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    Digital Compass

    note: this page is a place holder until a better tutorial is written

    Basic Description
    The digital compass gives measurements based on Earth's magnetic field for robot navigation. Inside this commonly available MEMS are tiny nano-structures that bend due to electromagnetic fields. When this MEMS experiences any form of EM field, the tiny structures bend by an amount which can be electrically detected. Cheaper digital compasses usually have a resolution of around +/- 5 degrees, but newer and better ones can detect with a better accuracy.

    Availability and Cost
    Easily available for $30-$100. It is best to buy them with supporting circuitry included to avoid any interference from bad electrical design.

    Power Requirements
    Minimal, typical logic only.

    Tips and Uses

  • Keep digital compasses far away from anything that emits EM, such as motors, transformers, inductors, etc.
  • Large conductive items significantly altar magnetic fields (cars, fridges, steel plates, etc.)
  • Use this device to help for navigation, such as robot race tracks or navigating a maze
  • because the Earth's magnetic lines of flux "dip" in declination, the compass must remain level for the readings to be accurate. Some electronic compasses employ a 2-axis gimbal in an attempt to keep the compass level, but these are problematic in the rough off-road environments

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