The Magnetic Field Sensor for Navigation

Do you spend much time thinking about magnetic fields? Perhaps you should. Magnetic fields are central to many forms of power production and necessary for the operation of many technological devices. The magnetic field created by the earth itself even protects the earth’s atmosphere from the destructive solar winds, and it is instrumental to navigation. The first step to utilizing magnetic fields for navigation is to detect and measure them, and that’s where a magnetic field sensor comes in. A magnetic field sensor can help to create a very accurate navigation system for many different applications, and Watson Industries carries a variety of these products.

How Does the Earth’s Magnetic Field Help Us to Navigate?
To find your way to any destination, you need a fixed point of reference. If you don’t believe that, try walking around in total blackness for awhile and see if you can get where you want to go. The earth’s magnetic field provides us with such a fixed point, in this case magnetic north, which will always be obvious to any magnetic sensing device. Once we’ve established north, we can then set all of the other points of the compass and move in whatever direction we choose with a great degree of accuracy.

How Do We Use Magnetic Field Sensors?
If you’re lost in the wilderness, a simple compass arrow pointing north may be all you need to find your way out. If, however, you’re in a jet somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in the middle of the night, you’ll probably need a bit more information. A magnetic field sensor can precisely measure the strength of the magnetic field, and how that strength changes as you move closer or further from true north. This data can be applied to a grid of known coordinates and magnetic field strengths to tell you exactly where you are.

Types of Navigation Systems That Use Magnetic Field Sensors
Basically, anything that needs to find its way around planet earth could benefit from magnetic field sensors, also known as magnetometers. Even some animals use a natural form of magnetic field detection to find their way. Magnetometers can be small enough to be used in a cell phone, but Watson Industries specializes in larger, more durable units that can be used in road vehicles, trains, ships and aircraft. These units often also use global positioning systems (GPS) for even more accurate navigational data.

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