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Dexter Industries dCompass


dcompassDexter Industries seem to really crank ‘em out lately with all the new sensors.  This time they’ve made a really nice compass sensor based on the Honeywell HMC5883L 3-axis digital compass IC.

I’ve had the pleasure of playing with this little beauty for a little while now.  A preliminary driver will be part of version 2.5 of my driver suite.  I plan to add some cool new features like calibration and all that fun stuff (much thanks to Aswin for explaining to me how to do that) in the release after that.

Here are some of the cool features the sensor has:

  • 3-axis measurement; combine this with information from an accelerometer like the dIMU and you can mount the sensor in any direction you want and still be able to figure out what your magnetic north is.  Admittedly the math for this is beyond me, but there are a lot of very smart people out there who could figure it out. Using the X and Y axes, you can use it as a regular compass, just make sure it’s mounted horizontally.
  • The readings are 12 bit with a 2 mG resolution in 8 Gauss fields.  That will allow you to get 1-2 degree accurate readings.
  • Up to 160 readings per second.
  • It has 8 gain settings, so depending on whether you’re trying to measure fields next to your MRI machine (or whatever other evil contraption you are building on your quest for world domination) or if you’re in the middle of a field trying to make your robot go east, this sensor will fit the bill.

Don’t take my word for it, though; for all of the nitty gritty details, I recommend you check out the datasheet, it’s quite extensive.  To buy the sensor, download drivers for NXC, NXT-G, user manuals, etc, please check out the dCompass page on the Dexter Industries site.  The sensor is priced at a super low $29.99 and you can pick one up here: [LINK].

About Xander

Xander Soldaat is a Software Engineer and former Infrastructure Architect. He loves building and programming robots. He recently had the opportunity to turn his robotics hobby into his profession and has started working for Robomatter, the makers of ROBOTC and Robot Virtual Words.