Kjetil Kjernsmo's illustrated guide on

How to use a compass


This pages contains footnotes to some subjects mentioned in the tutorial.


This material is of course copyrighted like anything else, but I grant you permission to print it out an use it for non-commercial purposes as long as my name is on it. And of course I am very happy for links! (Generally, one doesn't need to ask for permission to link, see what the inventor of them web says about it.)

If you wish to use the illustrations for something you make yourself, I'm sure that can be arranged too. If it is something made with the same intention as I have, public education in navigational skills and orienteering, I will most probably say yes. Please just send me a mail, give me credit and give a link to the compass pages. When it comes to putting larger parts of the pages elsewhere on the web, please see the section on mirroring.


Since these pages are going to be used in the USA, I guess I'll have to have a disclaimer, so here it is:
Outdoor activities can be dangerous, and even if you follow these pages in detail, you will probably find yourself lost from time to time. You are always taking a risk, and I assume no liability for things that might go wrong.

The UTM-grid

The Universal Transverse Mercator grid can be used for referencing to a particular spot between 84 deg.N and 80 deg.S, which is most of the earth.

On hiking maps in scale 1:50 000 you'll probably see it as a grid with 2 centimeters between the lines. This makes the real distance 1 km in the terrain.


This is about as bad is it can get without winds. The snow and the fog being both grey leaves absolutely no contrast. Everything is completely grey everywhere you look. It it impossible to aim at anything. You can't see how the mountains are, and you can't see if there is a sudden steep slope just under your feet. Could be dangerous. In fact, it gets very difficult to say if you are climbing slightly or descending slightly. If you are lucky, a rock is sticking up from the snow here and there. Then it is not really a white-out anymore.

Mirroring these pages

By mirroring one usually refers to putting a part or a whole website (or other internet site) on servers geographically separated. This is primarily to make the pages faster to download from people elsewhere in the world, and to decrease local network traffic. I do get a few inquiries from people who would like to copy whole or parts of this site, something that would be rather like mirroring.

I'm generally positive towards this. I have become an advocate of free software development, not only because it clearly results in excellent software, but because I believe technology best serves humanity when open, transparent and non-proprietary. Free software is not only free in the sense that it doens't need to cost any money but also in the sense that anybody may examine the inner workings of the software. In connection with this, I also believe that things like this tutorial is best when distribuated as freely as possible. For that reason, I have also considered licensing the pages under the e.g. the Free Documentation License.

It is however, also important to me that I can add to and modify these pages without having to notify a lot of people about changes, and additionally, I'd like to keep control over my HTML-code, because there are lots of poor code out there, that I think degrades the web severly. Now, my compass pages doesn't yet live up to my own high standards, that is because I haven't had time to do the real upgrade yet, but I plan to upgrade the code so as to be compliant with as many levels as possible of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.

These are, however, purely technical matters, and so does have a technical solution. First, I plan to myself put up a number of mirrors, working with a web server in such a way that the server chooses the location closest to the user automatically.

Second, I also plan to write a piece of software letting me control content and HTML code, but let other sites automatically download updated pages and insert their own navigational systems, so that the pages may appear as a part of a different site.

So, untill I get this working, I prefer that people link pages instead of mirroring them. However, I know many are eager to use this pages, and some day, you will be able to.

The next question is when will this be? I don't know exactly. Right now, I'm extremely busy writing a thesis. There are a few things I have to tend to after that, some are web-related and will therefore be related in some way to these pages.