Author Topic: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass  (Read 7949 times)

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Offline PetrifiedWood

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Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« on: September 24, 2012, 01:24:16 PM »
Well I decided to take a shot on one of the dealextreme compasses and see how it stacks up compared to the CST/Berger pocket transit.

http://www.dealextreme.com/p/professional-pocket-geology-compass-with-leather-carrying-pouch-37796?item=32

This one shipped in a bubble wrap mailer from Hong Kong. The box and manual are in Chinese so they are pretty much useless. As with the CST/Berger, you can just download instructions for a Brunton to learn how to use it.

This model cost $39.77, and it took about three weeks give or take from the time I ordered it for it to arrive.

There are some interesting differences right away. First, the hinges are bulkier, but appear to be adjustable using the included tools. They have a hole through the main lid hinge that will accept a little steel rod tool included with the compass. Also, the hinge has an adjustable stop screw that can be used to make sure the lid opens out flat and stops.

Surprisingly, the needle does have a jeweled bearing, but it appears to be just a magnetized steel needle. The Berger and Brunton transits are induction damped and both have either AlNiCo, or Neodymium magnets which will make them last far longer before needing replacement. However a steel needle like this one can be removed and remagnetized. The balance seems to be acceptable for my latitude but it can be fine tuned by removing the metal snap ring that holds the glass window in place, and moving the copper wire counterweight in or out on the south end of the needle. Incidentally, the south end of the needle is black, and the north end is white on this model.

The graduated ring inside the case has a bit of side to side play which will affect accuracy. Like the Berger and Bruntons, it is adjustable for declination. Also, the case does not have any slots milled in it to allow use with a ball mount. The only way to use this instrument with a tripod would be to mount a flat level platform on the tripod to rest the case on.

As I mentioned above, the needle is not damped like the Berger or Brunton models. This means you will need to be pretty patient as it settles down. You can help it along by gently pressing on the needle lifter button to slow it down, but make sure you release the button fully before taking a reading.

The cover does not close fully, leaving a slight gap, and the hinge for the short sight seems to be slightly misaligned on the case. The short and long sights do come very close to meeting so they are not too far out. The long sight appears to be centered with the line on the mirror. Due to the lack of tripod capability, the accuracy achievable with the instrument is probably only in the plus or minus three degree range. Still very good for a compass, and exceptional for one in this price range.

The clinometer function appears to work as well as the Berger, but it doesn't have the vernier or the percent grade scale, only degrees. Still, it should be good enough to use for measuring slopes, height of tall objects, etc.

What's interesting is that the other model that appears on the box looks like it's the same as the CST/Berger. :D














All in all for about 1/10th the price of a Brunton it's a great deal. It's never going to be as nicely made or as precise, but I believe it's a good value. If you were teaching a class on how to use a Brunton transit, you could buy ten of these for what it would cost to buy one Brunton, and pass them out to your students.

Thanks for looking.


« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 09:45:46 PM by PetrifiedWood »

Offline greyhound352

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Re: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 01:55:42 PM »
Thanks for the review. I imagine we will be seeing some knifes be made soon to offset all of the compass purchases. LOL
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 05:09:36 PM »
Doesn't look like you got hurt too bad on that deal, PW :thumbsup:   It's too bad you can't hook it up with a tripod, but the rest of it looks very usable.  I think they all have their shortcomings......e ven the Bruntons :-\.   My Brunton is an 'international' model and is supposed to be waterproof, but I doubt that it is.  One thing I dislike about it is that both the dial and the needle's 'south' end are black, making it difficult to see when sighting through it as a handheld mirrored sighting compass and you use the south end instead of the white-painted north end.  I guess that's why they make Cammengas and KB-14s, but it's really cool for everything else on a tripod 8).  Your needle looks like it will be highly visible in all modes from the photos.   

You mentioned the Chinese instructions, so I thought I'd bring the Brunton instructions to your thread.  I'm certain you are familiar with them, but thought others might find them interesting and 'instructional' just to see all of the things these instruments are capable of.   Here they are.....

http://www.kooters.com/pdf/BruntonTransit-inst.pdf
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Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2012, 02:45:43 AM »
Thanks for linking the instructions. :thumbsup:

I'm looking forward to the real Brunton to see if it makes a big enough difference to justify the cost.

After conducting a little more research it seems both the dealextreme and the berger are made by Harbin Instrument Corporation in China. Berger rebrands it. You can buy them for about $120 a pair on ebay. So I overpaid for the Berger, but that particular model is quite a bit better than this one.

Offline TwinBlade

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Re: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2012, 12:27:40 PM »
By chance did you check the accuracy of the levels PW?
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner.  Liberty is a well-armed lamb.

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2012, 08:46:00 PM »
By chance did you check the accuracy of the levels PW?

Yes and no. I did verify that the bullseye level was close enough to ensure that the needle moves freely in all directions with the bubble centered. But I did not check the clinometer vial. Interestingly, on this model the clinometer vial is attached to the pointer with a screw so if it is off it can be calibrated by placing the compass on its side on a level surface, zeroing the clinometer and then centering the bubble in the vial. So if it isn't right it can be made so.

Offline upthecreek

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Re: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2012, 08:56:30 PM »
Making my head hurt again. I do enjoy that I'm learning as I read along. I always thought I was a pretty good compass reader...but man...
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Offline TwinBlade

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Re: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2012, 10:41:26 PM »
Mine too UTC.

PW, I read a review on it stating that brass wire on the needle acts as a balancer by sliding it back and forth. So with what you said, if it doesn't come quite tweaked, it has that ability. Pretty neat.

Is the quality good enough that you would trust it in your kit as much as your best knife, stove or any other item?
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner.  Liberty is a well-armed lamb.

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2012, 01:44:03 AM »
Good question...

It's a compass with a jeweled bearing. I would trust it to point north. I also would trust cheap knives to cut and carve, so long as I know their limitations and work within them. I think it is as capable as any other compass in the price range.

Offline TwinBlade

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Re: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2012, 12:55:03 PM »
I may have to pick one up when I have some available funds. Thanks :)
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner.  Liberty is a well-armed lamb.

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: Review of dealextreme pocket transit compass
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2012, 09:53:28 PM »
Just a minor update. I checked the clinometer against a 4 foot carpenter's level and it appears to be right on.

I also popped the glass out and moved the copper wire out away from the center of the needle a couple of millimeters and it is now balanced almost perfectly for my latitude. It's an easy fix so there's really no reason not to.