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The Gyroscopic Compass: A Non-Mathematical Treatment
At this date it is, or should be, unnecessary to open an account of the gyroscopic compass with a discussion of the defects of the ordinary magnetic compass. These defects are too well known to require mention. Recent advances in naval architecture, particularly in warship construction, and very especially the building of submarines, have resulted in the magnetic compass becoming less and less useful for accurate navigation, primarily because of the upsetting influence exercised upon it by masses of steel or iron in its neighbourhood. It may still serve, perhaps, for the surface navigation of submarines, but for submerged runs the use of a gyro-compass is all but essential. In warships the weight of the guns and turrets is now so heavy that the magnetic compass can hardly remain unaffected by them and is materially influenced when the guns are trained to different directions. The shells themselves as they are discharged are also said to be a cause of error in the reading of the magnetic compass, for they tend in most positions of the ship to drag the needle after them by magnetic attraction as they pass along the bore of the gun. The value of the gyro-compass is not, however, recognised2 only in the worlds war navies. It is becoming increasingly appreciated in the mercantile marine, and there can be but little doubt that the device will soon be extensively employed on passenger liners and merchantmen generally. In the following pages we attempt to give an account of the working of the gyro-compass and to describe the forms assumed by the device in practicesufficiently fully to illustrate the theory without going into any great detail on the constructional sideand to do so without depending upon the readers possessing mathematical knowledge. It is to be remarked that it is much easier to treat the gyroscope and all its practical applications mathematically than non-mathematically, and that the avoidance of mathematics generally leads to a discussion of this essentially mathematical device which is unscientific, unsound, and of very little practical value. We trust that our account will be found to avoid these defects and that it will prove useful and enlightening to those who have so far failed to understand the behaviour of the gyroscope and its applications by reason of the fact that hitherto all trustworthy descriptions have been couched in a highly mathematical form or have been mere mathematics thinly disguised in written words. It is admittedly not easy to understand gyroscopic phenomena either with or without the aid of mathematics, but on the other hand many of the difficulties of the subject are largely artificial. Thus the mathematician, when dealing with it, seems to be much more concerned with his equations than in creating a mental picture of what they represent; yet every one of his equations can be or should be capable of being represented physically. Those who set out to avoid mathematics do not usually succeed in giving a discussion sufficiently complete to be of any practical service afterwards to their readers. Thus in dealing with3 the gyro-compass the so-called popular description in most cases begins and ends with an explanation of why the device possesses directive force when it is set up at the equator. It is quite easy to demonstrate the existence of such force at the equator. It is not so easy to show non-mathematically how the directive force is generated and applied when the compass is situated north or south of the equator. The necessity for damping the horizontal vibrations of the gyro-axle and how the required damping force is applied in practice are still more difficult to explain, while the errors to which the gyro-compass is opensuch as the latitude and the quadrantal errorsare even more trying to make clear. The latter subjects are usually neglected in the popular account of the compass. Yet without some means of damping the vibrations referred to or of eliminating or allowing for the various errors, the compass, even though it can be shown to possess directive force in all latitudes, would be utterly uselessespecially on board shipas a direction indicator. ......Buy Now (To Read More)
Ebook Number: 57200
Author: Chalmers, T. W. (Thomas Wightman)
Release Date: May 22, 2018
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