Hello Navigators (and tinkerers)
Here and on other fora I came to realize that there are roughly two kinds of people using sextants:
1 - People who want to be able to have a back-up when all power is down
2 - People who just like maths and old-school stuff
I am in the first category. I even use a slide-rule for the calculations for exactly that reason! Today I was brushing up the "skills and drills" a bit when I had a thought...
There are digital calipers that can measure to a 1/10 of a millimeter accuracy. Just so you don't have to bother with the vernier. So why is this not in use on sextants?
Actually, when you think about it... it should be fairly easy to couple this measurement with a blue-tooth-unit and transmit the measured angle of a sight to a tablet. And since BT goes back and forth, have an app that tells you where to find a certain star, asks you to take a sight, goes on for two extra stars (with a nice star-map) and then simply tells you where you are...
Shouldn't be all that difficult right?
...In for a penny, in for a pound... To make it a bit more robust, one could think about integrating the sextant
and a display. So there is a watertight, touch-screen device, with a solar
panel on its back for power, all immersed in epoxy
and mounted on the body. It lets you select a celestial body of your choice, takes the measurements you took through the good old mirrors, asks some additional info (for example height of sight) and then spits out a position.
The tables can be uploaded (years) in advance via BT and with all the formulas not take up more space than an old floppy disk*. a simple quarts clock (with radio
time signal adjustment) for the time. The display is (of course) only in red&black so it shouldn't take that much power at all. Add some magneto compass
to help find stars and additional information could be displayed in the eyepiece (more up, more to the left) like a HUD to assist finding stars that are not on your standard repertoire.
So I wonder... why is such a sextant
not on the market? These calipers can be bought for next to nothing, add the electronics
and you have a reasonable sextant for say $200,- that is easier to use and does what the "modern man" expects. (i.e. take out that "difficult" math
) It surely is cheaper than most new sextants. Shouldn't this be the way forward as a backup to GPS
systems and as a way forward in CelNav? Provided of course that it is all water
tight. It's not that necessary to have it all too robust, the mirrors will always remain the weak spot of course.
So I ask: what are your thoughts on this little idea of mine?
*for the younger cruisers; a floppy disk is what we used in stead of a memory stick. It looked remarkably like the little square you nowadays press when you want to "save a document"