A compass is one of those tools you should never go out in the wilderness without. They are a life saving essential tool. The compass is designed to always point north. If you can find your bearings and you know how to use them properly, you can find your way to safety. The compass is also considered to be one of the oldest tools that paranormal investigators use which is why it is the perfect choice for the next Old School Challenge.
The Earth is essentially one big magnet. In very simple terms, the compass magnet is drawn to the Earth's natural magnetic field. All magnets have a north and south pole which are attracted to one another. The north pole of the magnet inside a compass is attracted to the south pole of Earth's built-in magnet. This is why your needle will always point to 'North' on a compass as it is attracting the 'North' magnet.
Almost (and I say almost) but almost every investigator out there will have some sort of tool which measures EMF. Whether it is a K2, a Mel Meter, a Rook, or an EDI, they are likely to have some sort of tool which is designed to read EMF. The problem with these pieces of equipment is that they read natural and man-made EMF. Essentially if you don't know how they work and what they are picking up, they are useless. Mobile phones, power points, GPS units, radio frequencies, and all sorts of things can measure a reading on these devices. This is why it is important to understand how they work, what they read, and most importantly, what can give false readings. It is for this reason that a lot of people find these devices to be unreliable. Ask a lot of investigators what they think of a K2 meter and you will soon find out why. Old school investigators didn't have this problem because these devices weren't yet invented. They also didn't have to worry about mobile phones either. They would use a simple compass. While a compass obviously could not give a reading in MG it is thought that the compass would pick up disturbances within the magnetic field. A compass will always point North, but it was thought that if it were to detect paranormal activity, the compass would either spin or point in the direction where the activity occurred. It is not going to pick up interference and it doesn't run on batteries so it won't go flat. Now, of course, you can buy a compass pretty cheap on eBay and most smartphones have a compass app but that just isn't any fun. So here is how you make your own old school compass at home on the cheap.
Making your own compass it actually a lot easier than you think! Here is what you need to get started.
A small bowl - that will later be filled with water
A cork or a lid - something that can float
A sewing Needle (or you can use a safety pin, paper clip or even a nail - something metal that can be magnetized)
A magnet (even a fridge magnet will work)
First, you need to magnetize your needle (I didn't have a needle handy so I used a nail). You can do this using a fridge magnet. A more powerful magnet will work faster and a lot better if you have one, but everyone has a fridge magnet. Rub the sharp end of the needle against the magnet (on the actual magnetic part if it is a fridge magnet). You only need to do it around 5-10 times if you have a powerful magnet. If you are using a fridge magnet, you have to do it around 20 times for it to be properly magnetized. (I rubbed the nail on the magnet back and forward for around a minute and that seemed to do the trick).
Cut the bottom off the cork so that it resembles a small round disk. Or you can use a lid - something round is ideal - to resemble a compass. It just has to float. Either tape the needle to the top of the cork or stick it through the cork. For the sake of the exercise, I used a round milk bottle cap. Some people even use a leaf (as it has a point on the end). Label the floating device with N, S, E, W, and make sure you put the end of the needle/nail which you magnetized to align with N (as if done properly it will point North). I stuck the nail on the top of the lid with clear tape.
Fill the bowl with water and put the floating device with the needle attached in the water. Make sure it is not affected by wind as it will blow around. A deep bowl will help with this. If the needle has been properly magnetized, the lid will move around, and eventually, the point will point to north. Double-check it works with a compass or even a compass app on your phone to make sure it is pointing north. If it isn't, it means the needle has not been properly magnetized.
So there you have it. Easy and inexpensive! It is also a great experiment to try with your kids to teach them about how compass's work. It sort of works as a bit of a double whammy out in the field too. The water in the bowl will also pick up on vibrations so it doubles as a compass/vibration sensor!
If you don't want to use water, you can also use a jar and hang the needle from a jar on a piece of string like the picture below.
Good luck and send me your photos of your own homemade compass!
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