What is a fluxgate compass

Despite the availability of GPS and inertial measurement units, the compass in an electronic fluxgate implementation is still a viable and needed navigational tool.

what is a fluxgate compass

The classic magnetic-needle compass is not getting much respect or attention these days. Between the Global Positioning System GPS and the Inertial Measurement Unit IMU system, the compass — whether it is a traditional magnetic needle, or an electronic, no-moving-part version — seems like a redundant and unneeded navigation tool.

Maybe, or maybe not. Katelyn Davidson. So it behooves us to have that redundancy.

what is a fluxgate compass

This FAQ will look at the fluxgate compass, an electronic version of the magnetic-needle compass, Figure 1.

A: GPS can be spoofed, interfered with deliberately, or suffer outages due to electrical storms and lightning. GPS can derive heading once it has two distinct location pints, of course, but one you are stopped, it can show if you have turned in place.

Gyrocompasses do indicate heading, but they have moving parts and their technical performance is better suited for shorter-term navigation rather than long-term.

Fluxgate compass

While IMUs are absolutely immune to any sort of external interference after all, they are inertialthey also excel at showing motion velocity and acceleration rather than heading, whether they use the mechanical gyroscope, fiber-optical laser, or MEMS-based techniques. The only way to keep an instrument from sensing the field is to create a special shielded room. Of course, the field is distorted b the metal of a ship, for example, so a one-time correction and calibration is needed for a given installation location in that particular ship.

A: Actually, no. Further, the field alignment actually drifts over time, so regular corrections are sent to the navigation system. A: No, but they are similar and share underlying physics and magnetics principles.

The magnetometer measures magnetic field magnitude scalarbut not its direction vector ; the compass, by definition, indicates the direction heading.

A: Fluxgate compasses were practical from the s since they are based on well-known magnetic, non-electronic principles. Early fluxgate compasses used vacuum tubes for excitation and amplification, and were therefore large, power-hungry systems. Many small aircraft use them due to their performance and reliability, and newer ones with an embedded processor simplify all aspects of the operation.

A: A typical fluxgate compass has three small coils of wires, each wound around a core of highly permeable magnetic material. One coil is driven by an AC waveform typically, Hz but can be higherand the other two are used as sense coils. When the sense coils are aligned with the external magnetic field, the voltage induced on each by the driven coil is balanced, and there is no net output, Figure 3.

This allows the placement of the units in an optimal location for each. Part 2 of this FAQ looks at fluxgate-compass error sources.A compass is a device used to ascertain directional orientation. The most common type of compass is a simple magnetic compass that utilizes the magnetic pull of Earth's North Pole to determine which direction is north.

A fluxgate compass, on the other hand, is a more sophisticated, electronic version of the magnetic compass that requires electricity to operate. A fluxgate compass may be used on a on a boat, aircraftor any other vehicle that requires a navigational system. The electronic output of the compass allows it to be used in more ways than the traditional magnetic compass.

The most obvious use of the fluxgate compass is for steering. When used in this manner, a digital display alerts a pilot or driver to changes in direction so that he or she is able to make adjustments and remain on the proper course. Others connect the compass to autopilot equipment. When an autopilot system is in use, the compass sends a digital signal to the autopilot, which then prompts the machinery to make steering adjustments.

The digital signal generated by the compass can also be used in conjunction with other navigational tools such as chart plotters and radar. Like the traditional magnetic compass, the fluxgate compass determines direction by assessing Earth's magnetic fields. However, rather than relying on one small magnet, fluxgate compasses are typically made with coils of wire that employ electricity to amplify the directional signal.

Unlike the traditional magnetic compass which relies on a moving needle that is placed atop the magnet, the fluxgate has no moving parts. Rather than pointing towards the North Pole, the compass measures electric currentand it is this current that is used as a signal that can be translated and by other electronic devices.

The fluxgate compass has both advantages and disadvantages. The most obvious disadvantage is its need for electricity.

What is a Fluxgate Compass?

Most users keep a traditional magnetic compass on hand as backup for situations that cause a loss of electricity. They are also less stable and have more chance of malfunction due to faulty electronic components. Most navigators consider the advantages, such as the ability to connect to other navigational equipment, worth these risks.

One other advantage over a traditional compass is that the fluxgate can be placed in remote locations. This is a major plus because the magnetic influence of other equipment can erroneously alter the reading of either type of compass. She also manages an electronic publishing business that allows her to develop her skills in technical writing, graphic design, and business development.

Flux Gate Magnetometer

Hillary has a passion for satirical writing and enjoys traveling, especially to places of historical importance. Please enter the following code:. Login: Forgot password?A compass is a device that helps to correctly pinpoint the geographical direction while on a sea going vessel. A fluxgate compass is a very important and unique tool in marine navigation as it does not operate automatically like other magnetic compasses.

Technically a fluxgate compass is an electromagnetic compass which solves the purpose of a conventional compass. The fluxgate compass is used in ships mainly for the purpose of steering.

Since the compass is an electronic one, the scope of errors is greatly reduced. In addition to manual steering, such a compass can also be utilised when the ship is on autopilot.

Even chartplotters and radars use this system to provide them with accurate geographic indications. The difference between a magnetic compass and an electronic compass is that in the former variety there is a pointer that constantly moves indicating the direction. However, in an electronic compass there are no pointers that specify the direction.

Electric currents that pass through coils of wire that are kept inside the compass indicate the geographic direction through signals that are displayed digitally. There are two coils of wire that are located perpendicular to each other around a permeable magnetic material. This completely eradicates the problem caused due to the interference of the magnetic north is completely avoided. Another advantage of installing this type of compass in the ship is that these types of compasses are unaffected by their placement on the ship.

They can be placed anywhere and the directions pointed by the compass can be relied on completely. Fluxgate compass can prove very useful during rough seas as they are unaffected by position and unusual movements. However, the disadvantage of having an electronic compass is that if there is a complete lack of electricity on the ship then the device will not function making the shipmen rely again on the magnetic compass.

Another important point to be noted about the electronic compass is that the parts used in the compass have to be constantly checked. If there is any problem even with a small part of the device, the directions provided by the compass will be faulty leading to a lot of problems for the captain of the ship.

what is a fluxgate compass

But in spite of the disadvantages, there can be no denying that the fluxgate compass is one of the best navigating technologies that are available in the marine industry. Tags: Navigation devices. Your email address will not be published.

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Login — Register. Threaded Mode Linear Mode. Post: 1. I cant seem to calibrate my ST Autopilot. I follow the manual instructions and it keeps directing me to keep doing circles, i did about 20 circles tonight before giving up.

I did many 2 minute circles at less than two knots but it wont move on to the next stage. The compass heading on the autopilot doesn't match the boat compass so the autopilot keeps sending me off on a crazy direction every now and then. The autopilot is hooked up to a Raymarine C Any help would be appreciated. Post: 2. Jefreg, Should the autopilot not be able to complete the deviation circles when turning at no more than the maximum specified rate of turn, then it is recommended that the compass be tested per the FAQ found here.

Post: 3. Thank you very much for your response. I performed the Fluxgate test and these are my results on a ohm scale: Red to Green There is a bare wire in there that i think is a ground but I'm not too sure about that. How would I test Blue to Screen? Is there any point as it seems like the green wire is reading way too high? Clearly there is not an open but would this reading be considered a short? I really love my current raymarine system and really want to keep it do you sell replacement parts for this?

Post: 4. Jefreg, When identifying the leads of the compass, please note that the bare wire is commonly referred to as the screen lead. However as you have suggested resistance of the green to yellow lead is out of spec, indicating a failed fluxgate compass.

The M Fluxgate compass may be ordered from an authorized Raymarine dealer. English American. Jefreg Junior Member. Posts: 6 Joined: Mar Reputation: 0. Chuck - Raymarine - Moderator Administrator. Posts: 14, Joined: Oct Reputation: RE: ST Calibration Jefreg, Should the autopilot not be able to complete the deviation circles when turning at no more than the maximum specified rate of turn, then it is recommended that the compass be tested per the FAQ found here. RE: ST Calibration Jefreg, When identifying the leads of the compass, please note that the bare wire is commonly referred to as the screen lead.The basic fluxgate compass is a simple electromagnetic device that employs two or more small coils of wire around a core of highly permeable magnetic material, to directly sense the direction of the horizontal component of the Earth's magnetic field.

The advantages of this mechanism over a magnetic compass are that the reading is in electronic form and can be digitised and transmitted easily, displayed remotely, and used by an electronic autopilot for course correction.

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To avoid inaccuracies created by the vertical component of the field, the fluxgate array must be kept as flat as possible by mounting it on gimbals or using a fluid suspension system. All the same, inertial errors are inevitable when the vessel is turning sharply or being tossed about by rough seas. To ensure directional readings that are adequately stable, marine fluxgate compasses always incorporate either fluid or electronic damping.

An alternative is to use a 3-axis fluxgate magnetometer to provide a 3D flux vector, with the magnetic heading derived from the flux on a plane perpendicular to gravity, thus providing immunity from pitching and rolling.

Fluxgate compasses and gyrocompasses complement one another nicely. The fluxgate provides a directional reference that is stable over the long term, apart from changing magnetic disturbances, and the gyrocompass is accurate over the short term, even against acceleration and heeling effects. At high latitudeswhere the Earth's magnetic field dips downward toward the magnetic polesthe gyro data can be used to correct for roll-induced heading errors in the fluxgate output. It can also be used to correct for the roll- and heel-induced errors that often plague fluxgate compasses installed on steel vessels.

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what is a fluxgate compass

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Getting Your Bearing Straight with a Fluxgate Compass

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