I THOUGHT OF IT FIRST: Introducing the Korea Digital Sextant

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Jan. 29/2021:  I swear, I really did. Some 20 years ago, after I bought a Celesticomp nav calculator to save me from the misery of pawing through sight reduction tables when I used my sextant, I had a really cool idea. Why not install a celestial nav calculator and an accurate quartz clock in the handle of a sextant??? Take a sight on a celestial body, pull a trigger on the handle, and bingo! The calculator records the angle and time, does the math, and you get an instant LOP. Take another sight on another body, pull the trigger again. Now you have a fix and know where you are.

I described just such a device in my last book, The Sea Is Not Full, in the chapter on celestial navigation, on page 199, in case you don’t believe me. But I opined also there likely would never be a market for such a thing.

Now it seems some folks in South Korea are going to find out whether that’s true or not. The new Korea Digital Sextant, developed by Leeyoung SND Co., combines an integral celestial nav calculator and a super-accurate angle encoder with an Astra IIIB sextant. It works pretty much just like the device I imagined, but with one big difference. With the KDS you have to tell it what body you are shooting.  With my imaginary digital sextant, it already knows that. I know this is possible, because my old Celesticomp could do that. I was very sad when its internal ephemeris expired. The replacement calculator I got isn’t nearly as handy.

The Korea Digital Sextant

 

An antique Celesticomp calculator

One thing I’ve noticed is there’s no pricing yet for the Korea Digital Sextant, and you can’t actually buy one. I hope that changes, and I hope I’m wrong about there being no market for these.

Given all we know now about how vulnerable and easily jammed GPS is, and how the government has failed to back it up with an eLoran system, it just might be an idea whose time has come.

If only I’d applied for a patent!

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3 Responses
  1. John

    I’m surprised that your bud Ben Ellison hasn’t posted something about this over on Panbo. 😉

    At any rate, as you said, this may be the right equipment at the right time WRT the vulnerabilities of GPS

  2. Paul Daly

    The planet should be called the planet Briney.
    Based on your observation that calling it Earth is not appropriate given that it’s mostly sea.

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