Tutorials - (New)
COMPASS For DOS
What is COMPASS?
COMPASS is a cave mapping software package designed to edit,
process, analyze and view cave survey data using an IBM PC
compatible computer. The programs in the system allow you to
enter cave data, revise the data, generate statistics on the
cave, close loops, view plots from various angles on the screen
and finally, print finished quality plots on almost any of dot
matrix, laser, ink jet printer and a variety of line plotters.
COMPASS has hundreds of powerful features, including a configurable
survey editor, high speed real-time 3D passage wall modeling, GIS and
data base compatibility, sophisticated loop closure and blunder
detection. COMPASS is extremely fast capable of animating of
caves in excess of 150 miles in length. It is also very easy to use,
with built-in wizards and tools that make it easy for novice users to
manage and work with large cave systems. COMPASS
will run on any modern version of Windows ranging from Windows 95 to
is constantly being refined to add new features and take advantage of the
Latest Revisions and Features.
Update - 5-24-17
Version of CaveXO 3D Cave Viewer
CaveXO is now many times faster than
previous versions. Caves now load and
animate much faster.
1. Load Speed.
For example, here are the load speeds
for 124 miles (198 km) of Lechuguilla Cave:
Old Version: 32
New Version: 6 seconds.
That is more than five
2. Animation Speed.
Here are animation speeds for
Old Version: 2
New Version: 16.4 Frames/Sec
Old Version: 1.7
New Version: 16.7 million triangles/sec
The increase in
display speed makes it much easier to
animate large caves like Lechuguilla.
These times are for a somewhat older
graphics card, newer computers and
graphics cards should be much faster.
Labels/Marks. The old version displayed
station labels with text that was drawn
using scaled lines. This meant that if
you were zoomed out, the text was too
small to read and if you were zoomed in,
the text could be too big to read. Also,
the labels only faced in one direction, so
you couldn't read them from the side and
would be backwards if you looked at them
The new labels are a
fixed size, no matter how much you are
zoomed in or zoomed out. Likewise, they
always face toward the front, so they
can be read from any angle.
Finally, in the old
version, station marks consisted of a
small cube or tetrahedron, which was
very small when you zoomed out and got
progressively larger when you zoomed in.
In the new version, station labels stay
the same size whether you are zoomed in
or out. They also face the same
Although the Compass
Editor has always allowed you to set the
order of the shot measurements, the fore
and back compass and inclination
measurements were always grouped
together. The new version of the editor
allows complete freedom to put the
measurements in any order you want.
Update - 12-11-16
Display Closure Exclusions and Length
Exclusion. The Viewer now has
the ability to high light shots that
have been excluded from loop closure.
The option is enabled by selecting the
"Display->Show->Show Closure Excluded
Shots from the Viewer menu bar. All
shots that were excluded will then be
highlighted. It also has the option of
highlighting shots that have been
excluded from the length totals. The
option is enabled by selecting the
"Display->Show->Show Length Excluded
Shots" from the menu bar.
These options are useful when you are trying solve
loop closure problems, find errors and
looking at an overview of how the survey
data is organized.
Update - 10-22-16
Patterned Lines. The Viewer now has
the ability to draw plot lines using
combinations of dotted and dashed lines.
This makes it easier to distinguish
different parts of the cave,
particularly when the cave is printed
using black and white colors.
You can use different
dot/dash patterns for different surveys
or sections of the cave. The
dotted/dashed lines can be combined with
other properties such as color, and line
thickness to emphasize or distinguish
certain part of the cave.
|There is a
standard set of dotted and dashed lines.
In addition to the standard line
patterns, you also create custom
patterns. The patterns created by
specifying widths of the lines and
spaces that make up the pattern. You can
enter up to 16 widths to form
complicated patterns of dots and dashes.
This is useful printing on high
resolution printers where the pixel
resolution is too high for the dots/dash
to be seen.
|There have 10
other improvements and bug fixes to Compass in
the last year. Click
here for a complete revision history
Update - 9-5-15
Manipulation Tool. The Survey Manipulating
tool has several improvements.
A. The Up/Down arrow
buttons can move multiple surveys at once.
If you have more than one survey
highlighted, all of them will move when you
press the up/down arrow buttons.
B. You can now drag and drop multiple
surveys at once. If you have multiple
surveys highlighted all the highlighted
surveys will be moved.
C. You can now delete multiple surveys at
once. If you have multiple surveys
highlighted all the highlighted surveys will
be deleted. The program will warn you before
the files will be deleted.
D. The Up/Down arrow buttons will auto
repeat if you hold the button down. This
speed up the process of moving surveys into
2. Project Manager Error Log.
The "Error Log" in Project Manager is no longer on a
separate page. It has been moved to the bottom of the
main window. This avoids the need to switch back and
forth between the two pages to compile or look at error
3. Passage Models. The Project
Manager now generates more accurate passage wall models.
In the past, when Compass processed junctions, it used
the last LRUD for all shots radiating from the From
station. Now it uses the LRUD associated with each
shot's From station unless the data is missing. If the
data is missing it uses the best LRUD for that station.
4. Line Size. The Viewer now allows you to set
the line size for the shot lines, features and the
passage walls separately. These sizes can also be saved
5. Help Files. All the Compass help files have
been improved by adding dozens of new screen images of
the Compass programs, dialog box and screen displays.
This should make it easier for people to following the
instructions in the help files.
6. Pocket Topo Imports. I have
fixed several problems with the Pocket Topo import
Update - 8-22-15
Merge File Tool
|The Project Manager now
has a tool to make it easier to merge two or more survey
files into a single survey file. You simply create a
list of the files you want to combine, specify a
destination file and Compass will merge the files into a
The files can come
from any where so you can combine different directories,
different drives and different devices. You can also
drag the files to the list from any Windows file folder.
The files can be combined in any order. The input file
list can contain the output file because program does
not overwrite the output file until all the files have
merged together. This allows you to add or concatenate
new files to existing file. To protect you from
accidently overwriting valuable data, the program
creates multilevel backups for the destination
Update - 2-24-15
out earlier, the Compass programs and installation
packages are now digitally signed with a Windows an
Authenticode Certificate from
This allows anyone to check the authenticity of Compass
files to insure that they haven't been tampered with or
corrupted. The purpose was to prevent antivirus programs
flagging and removing Compass files. It turned out that
this was not enough to deal with all the antivirus
programs. As a result, the Compass installer has been
upgraded to one that is recognized by antivirus program.
This has eliminated almost all downloading and
Click here for more detailed
information on the problems and how to deal with them.
Update - 2-14-15
|Compass can now import PocketTopo
files and convert them to the Compass data format.
Compass Files Digitally Certified and
Windows and Antivirus programs are now
getting more and more picky about what programs they
will allow to be installed on a computer. Many antivirus
programs rely on the creation date of a program to
determine how safe the program is. New programs are
often flagged as unsafe because so few people have used
them that they the antivirus program will be worried
that the file might not have made it into the
virus/malware databases. Since I frequently update
Compass with new features and bug fixes, Compass
programs are often just a few weeks old. As a result,
they are often flagged as suspicious.
|To solve this
problem, all Compass executable files are
digitally signed using an
Authenticode Certificate from
Before I could get the certificate, I had to
verify my address and business credentials. Once
I had the certificate, I could sign all my
executable files with a code that cannot be
forged. The certificate ensures that the file
came from Fountain Computer and that it hasn't
been tampered with. As a result, Antivirus
programs are less likely to flag it and Windows
won't warn you about the trustworthiness of the
file. There still may be some issues at first,
but as the Fountain Computer digital signature
makes it into more databases and develops a
trustworthy reputation, the problems should
If you have any question about
the authenticity of any Compass executable file,
you can verify that the file right from Windows
in a few seconds. Just right click on the file,
choose the "Properties" option and select the
"Digital Signatures" page. If the Digital
Signatures page does not exist, it means the
file has not been signed. If the Digital
Signatures page does exist, it will give you
detailed information about the certificate.
All the details should match Fountain Computer
Update - 1-10-15
Declination Models. The magnetic declination models have
been updated to use the latest data. Compass can now
calculate declinations for any date between 1900 and
2020. The new data has improved accuracy for dates
between 2010 and 2015. The changes apply to the main
Compass distribution package and the Dem Reader. You can
down load these programs
Update - 11-20-14
I. Hidden Shots
Each shot that is entered into the Editor can be marked
so it is excluded from plotting using the "P" flag. You
now have the option of displaying those hidden shots. To
display hidden shots, select the "Display -> Show ->
Show Hidden Shots" option from the menu bar.
"Hidden Shots" mode is enabled, the program will display
and highlight the excluded shots. The Highlight Color is
controlled by the "Feature Highlight" color in the
"Color/Fonts Dialog Box" "This option does not display
shots that were flagged with the "Total Exclusion"
"X-Flag." When hidden shots are displayed, all other
options are enabled. For example, if station labeling is
enabled, station labels will be displayed along with the
hidden shots. The Hidden Shot feature does not support
Note: You must recompile your caves with the
latest version of the Compiler before the feature will
be available. Old versions of plot files and older
versions of Compass don't support this feature.
Here is an image of Fulford Cave showing
small, nearby caves disconnected from the main cave.
This is because the surface surveys are hidden using the
"P" plot-exclusion flag.
Here is an image of Fulford Cave showing
the hidden shots.The hidden shots are highlighted using
a user-selectable color.
Update - 7-6-14
I. Loop Viewing Improvements
Loop option in the Viewer has been enhanced. It now
shows two different types of loops: Standard and
1. Standard Loops are
the same loops used to close the cave and the same loops
used by the Project Manager to calculate loop statistics
and locate blunders. They have the same name and order
as the loops shown in the Project Manager. You would use
this option when you are trying to understand loop
errors or fix blunders.
2. Optimized Loops are calculated on
the fly from the compiled data, optimizing the loops for
minimum overlap and minimum size. As a result, the order
and configuration of the loops may be completely
different from those presented in the Project Manager.
Certain loops, such as those that are closed via Fixed
Stations, will not appear in the Optimized loops.
Likewise, shots that are excluded from plotting won't be
shown. You would use this option when your are trying to
find minimum sized loops for resurvey work.
II. Viewer Menu Reorganization.
The menu system in the Viewer has been completely
reorganized to make it more logical and easier to use. Since people
are used to the old system, they may not be able to find certain
features. To solve that problem, I've created an
alphabetized table of commands
that will help figure out where the your favorite features have
moved. The table of commands is also available in the Viewer help
Plot To Dat Converter
Compass utility allows you to
reconstruct surveys from Compass PLT
files. This is useful when the original
survey files have been lost and you only
have access to PLT files. The Program
generates a Project File and all the
individual data files for the Project.
The program won't
generate an exact duplicate of the
original survey files. This is because
compiling survey data into a PLT file
may change things in the data. For
example, loop closure, magnetic
declination and UTM convergence alter
the station positions so that when the
surveys are reconstructed, shot length,
compass and inclination angle will have
changed. Nevertheless, compiling the
reconstructed survey files will produce
an exactly duplicate of the original
Cave Volume Tool
Compass now has a special
tool to more accurately calculate cave
volume, rock volume, overall cave density and
porosity. The Tool is built into the CaveXO 3D passage viewer.
Points. The program
starts by extracting a set of points
that correspond to each station in the
cave. Those points define the boundaries
of the cave.
The image to the below shows a simple
cave, with the blue lines representing
the survey shots and the yellow points
representing the survey stations.
program then breaks these points down
into a set of triangles. (This set of
triangles is called the Delaunay
Tessellation.) The triangles for sample
cave are shown in the image below.
The triangles will be used analyze
the points and will be used to create a
bounding box that closely approximates
the shape of the cave.
Convex Hull. The
program then uses the sides of the outer
most triangles to enclose the points in
a polygon. This polygon is called a
Convex Hull because no part of the
polygon is concave. In other words, no
part of the polygon deviates into the
cluster of points. The image to the
right show the cave enclosed in a Convex
Hull. Because the cave may have gaps
in the mass of points, the program needs
to generate polygon that traces these
gaps. A Concave Hull will follow the
gaps. A Concave Hull is generated by
selectively removing outer triangles and
drawing the polygon into the space left
Only triangles with an exposed sides
longer than a minimum length are removed
and the triangles with longest exposed
side are removed first. By adjusting the
minimum length, you can control the
depth of the concavity.
The image to the right shows the same
cave passage and stations with a Concave
Hull around it.
the program works by analyzing the
positions of survey stations, the Hull
may sometimes cross the passage. That
would mean that part of the cave would
fall outside our bounding box.
To solve this problem,
the program has the option of adding
extra points along the path of the
passage, For example, you can add points
that represent the Left and Right
passage walls. You can also subdivide
passages that are longer than a certain
length This helps prevent the passages
from falling out the of hull.
In the bottom center of
the first image above you can see
the hull crossing the blue shot-line. In the
next image, the passages have been
subdivided to add additional points have
been added along the length of the
passage. Points for the LRUD passage
dimension have also been added.. As you
can see, the hull no longer crosses the
caves are three-dimensional object,
different levels of the cave can have
different outlines. For this reason, the
program allows you to process the cave
The first images to the
above shows a cave without any layers.
The next three pictures show the cave
enclosed in one, two and four layers of
Concave Hull. Generally speaking, the
more layers, the more exactly hull fits
3D Display. CaveXO
allows you to visualize the 3D bounding
box. The bounding box is represented by
a transparent outline that shows how
each layer is wrapped around the cave.
This allows you to see how close the box
conforms to the cave passage. As you
make adjustments to the bounding box,
the display is updated in real-time so
you can instantly see how your changes
affect the the bounding-box. This
allows you to make adjustments to more
fully wrap the cave passages. You have
control over the transparency and the
color of the bounding box.
Reports. The Reports
Dialog allows you to build text-based
reports of the Rock Volume, Cave Volume
and Porosity that includes all possible
Convexity Settings and all possible
number of Levels. In other words, the
program will calculate the values for
each Convexity 1, 2, 3, 4 all the way to
100 and all Levels 1 through 10, for a
total of 1,000 values.
The values will be displayed in the
box on the right side of the window.
Blunder Detection Tool
The Compass Blunder
Detection tool has been improved to make
it easier to find the worst loops in a
cave. You can now click on any column in
the loop list to sort the items in the
column in ascending or descending order.
This makes it is easy find the worse
loops in terms of the various measures
of loop quality shown in the tool. For
example, in the image shown below, the
Vector Standard Deviation error column
has been sorted from worst to best. This
put the worst loops a the top of the
- 2-20-14 - Cumulative Update
Viewer Line Width Option.
The Complex Survey features of the
Compass Viewer now supports the option
of selectively setting the line width
for Survey and Sections. This makes the
passages stand out from the smaller
lines in the rest of the cave.
The feature is useful
for highlight routes and to make them
more visible in a cave map. It is also
useful for emphasizing an area of the
cave for presentations and publications.
Like other features in the Complex
options, the line-width feature can be
combined with other features for more
dramatic effect. For example, the image
to the right combines yellow coloring
with and a 3-pixel line-width to
emphasize a particular route through the
MapToDat survey-reconstruction tool has
been improved so you can generate branch
surveys and survey loop. Branches are
created by going back and selecting a
different starting station. Once this is
done, the next time you click on a
location a line will be drawn of the
selected station to the new point,
thereby generating a side branch.
Loops are generated by
selecting one station of the
closing-station pair, holding down the
Alt key and clicking on the other
station. There is more information about
MapToDat further down the page.
Anomalies. Magnetic Anomalies can
have large effects on cave surveys, even
causes big distortions to a cave map. If
you have backsights and a bit of
additional information, you can find and
correct these anomalies. John Halleck
has written about extensively, but the
process is a bit complicated and there
are a lot of important details you have
to get right. As a result, I have
written a tutorial with step-by-step
procedures for finding and correcting
Click here to read the full
Saving Quad Maps.
You now have the option of saving the
plot data from each section of a quad
map. This is useful when you are working
on a project where individual
cartographers are assigned to to
different quads. It is also useful for
exporting the individual quads to Shape,
DXF, KML or VRML files.
for more information on Quad Maps.
Back Sight Correction
Factors. Compass now supports
correction factors for back sight
instruments. You can correction factors
for Compass and Inclinometer that are
applied to the values separately This is
used the case where a separate set of
instruments is used for back sights.
There were also 20 updates during 2013
that included bug fixes, improvements
and new features.
For example, you can now
adjust the position of station labels in
the X and Y directions separately. You
also have control over the shot line
width. For a complete list of changes,
Tool. I've had a number of people
report that they are working caves where
some of the original survey data has
been lost and all that is left are paper
maps or sketch maps. Often times these
surveys are in remote parts of the cave
that are difficult reach or in parts of
the cave that are not actively being
explored or surveyed. It can be
difficult to get surveyors to return to
the area and resurvey the passages. In
these situations, the only recourse is
to reconstruct the surveys from the
MapToDat is a
program that allows you to reconstruct
cave survey data from a paper or scanned
map when the original data is lost.
Ordinarily, recovering cave survey data
from a paper map would require manually
measuring the station positions, compass
angles and shot lengths using rulers and
protractors. After that, you'd need to
perform a series of trigonometric
calculations to convert the measurement
to cave data. Finally, the data would
have to be entered into the Survey
and simplifies the process. You simply
load a scanned image of the map into the
program and then click on the survey
stations in the map. The program
automatically calculates compass angles
and shot-lengths for each shot. If have
both a Plan and a Profile map, the
program can also calculate inclinations
from the Profile Map. If you don't have
a profile. you can also manual enter
elevations or inclinations.
The resulting data can then be saved to
Compass DAT files.
Click here to download a copy of the
Automatic Backsight Validation. The
Editor now supports automatic backsight
validation. As you enter new data into
the Editor, it is constantly testing all
the backsights in the survey to make
sure the agree to within a specified
level of tolerance. All shots that don't
agree are displayed below the main edit
window, which allows you to be aware of
any problems as soon as they are
clicking on any line in the display will
take you to the line that contains the
error and highlight the appropriate
Sketch Editor. Has been improved to
so that it can handle much larger images
without running out of memory. The
editor now stores "undo" and auxiliary
images to disk, rather than in RAM
memory, saving it for direct display and
LRUD Associations. When Compass
builds passage models it needs to
associate the LRUDs with either the From
Station or the To Station. In the past,
Compass could only do this at the file
level, which meant that every shot in
every survey was handled the same way.
now has the option of a controlling LRUD
Handling at the Survey Level. In other
words, every Survey can associate the
LRUDs differently. The Editor now allows
you to set the option in the header of
LRUD Tools. To aid in the process of
converting files to the new system,
Compass has new tools that allow you to
set the LRUD Associations for large
blocks of selected surveys all it once.
also new tools that allow you to shift
the LRUDs forward or backwards one shots
for selected surveys. This allows you
fix surveys where the LRUDs were entered
with the wrong station.
3. Overriding LRUD
Settings. You can override the
survey-level LRUD Flags by changing the
settings in the Project Manager. These
"Override Settings" can be saved either
to the MAK file or as the Project
Mark Fixed Stations.
The Viewer now has the option of Marking
Fixed Geographic stations on the line
plot with a circle and crosshairs. The
Fixed Station Markers appear as light
blue and yellow dots in the picture to
The feature allows you
to see the relationship between each
fixed stations and the rest of the cave.
This is useful for verifying that survey
errors between fixed stations are
properly adjusted out.
You have complete
control of the size and color of the
Fixed Station Markers. There is also a
new feature that allows you to offset
the position of the Station Labels. This
makes it easier to read the Station Name
when there are other markers and text
near the stations. The example to the
right shows Station Labels offset by
about 5 pixels which provides enough
extra room to see both the Fixed
Stations Marks and the label indicating
which station is the Fixed Location.
Tutorials. There are two new
tutorials. The first one walks you through the
process of Installing
Compass on Windows 8. The second one
explains some of the options for
running Compass on a Macintosh.
CaveXO now has additional features
that make the 3D Rose Diagram more
useful. You now have the option of
displaying a 3D grid behind the Rose
Diagram that gives the altitude of each
Rose layer. The Grid can be enabled or
disabled at anytime.The Base can also be
removed to the Rose Diagram can be
viewed from below.
Finally, the Rose base
shows the thickness of each layer in the
Rose Diagram. It also, since the length
each pedal represents the accumulated
length or frequency of passages in the
specified direction, the Base now shows
the radius of the outer circle on the
base. This allows you to estimate the
length of the individual petals.
update contains several bug fixes and useful
features. Here is a list of the most important
|1. Saving Complex
Setting. There is now the option to
save all Complex values and settings.
This allows you to build a complex
display and then restore it later can
restore the display without going
through the task of manually setting
each individual option. The option saves
41 Complex Parameters in an XML-type
file so the data can be edited using a
text editor and any one of a number XML
2. Displaying LRUD
Values. You now have the option of
displaying the LRUD distance values on
screen in association with the Passage
Wall Marking feature. This is helpful
for drawing maps and passage-wall
tracing operations. It saves having to
look in the survey book for the values.
3. Exporting LRUD Values. The Custom Export
option in the Statistics section now has the
option of exporting the LRUD values for each
4. Misc. Improvements. The processing of
LRUDs has been improved so that erroneous values
aren't propagated. LRUDs can now be exported
along with other values in the Custom Export
option. The Declination Calculation options have
been simplified and clarified so they are easier
to use and more logical.
SVG Exporter Major Update
a major new release of the SVG
Exporter that contains many new
features that help you deal with
compatibility and corruption issues when
working with SVG files.
The program now handles
problems caused by the accidentally
deletion and corruption of key layers
that can prevent a file from being
loaded or processed. It also handles
changes made by Adobe Illustrator that
can make the file unreadable by Inkscape
and vice versa. The program can replace
missing tags and layers and can remove
extraneous tags that can cause
here for a complete description
of the Compatibility issues and
Major Update -
|This is a major update for
Compass. Here is a description of the newest
|I. Cartography Tools.
The Compass Cartography Tools are a new set of tools that helps you
create presentation quality digital survey map from Compass files. The
tool kit consists of the two basic pieces: the Sketch Map Editor and the
SVG Exporter/Merge/Morph (round-trip) Tool.
To download these programs, go to the Compass
|A. Sketch Map Editor.
The Sketch Map
Editor helps you to take the sketch maps you generate in the
cave and use them as the basis for your finished maps. The
Editor allows you to take a scanned bitmap image and edit it to
remove flaws, align it to north, scale it to a standard scale, and
trim the image to size. It also allows you to merge multiple
images into single image, using transparency to precisely align
the passages. Finally, it allows you to warp or "morph" the image so station
positions in the sketch map, precisely match the positions in
the cave data.
|Once a combined image has been created in
the Editor, the image can be loaded into a drawing program for tracing.
Having a precisely aligned, single image makes producing a map much
quicker and easier because you don't have to load and align individual
images. Also, since the image has been warped to match the survey shots,
you don't have to constantly shift the image as you are tracing.
To guide you through the
process of using the Sketch Map Editor, I have created a detailed
tutorial that will walk you through the process:
Click here to view the
Sketch Map Editor Tutorial.
|B. SVG Exporter.
SVG is a widely used file format for drawing
programs. Because it is so widely used, it is an ideal format for
exporting cave data. For example, programs like Adobe Illustrator and
Corel Draw will read and write these file. Even more important there are
Freeware programs like Inkscape that can read and write SVG files.
|The SVG Exporter allows you to export cave
survey data as SVG files. The SVG files contain a complete cave
map on multiple "layers" that include stations, shots, passages,
LRUD marks, a grid, a north arrow, a scale bar, a frame, and a colored
background. The exported map also contains empty layers into
which you can place your hand-drawn passage walls, floor
details, a legend, notes, etc. This allows you to use the SVG
map as the starting point for a high quality, finished digital
|For a complete tutorial on using
the SVG Exporter click here.
|C. Converting And Adopting.
The SVG Converter has special tools that allow
you to use maps that were generated with different drawing
programs. For example, Inkscape has different layering system
than Adobe Illustrator so Illustrator layers do not show up in
In addition, programs like the
Compass SVG Exporter and Walls, require certain layers to be in
place before they can be merged, morphed, or round tripped. The
SVG Exporter can add these layers to any SVG file, whether it
was originally generated by cave survey program or not. As a
result, the SVG Exporter can "adopt" an existing cave map even
if it wasn't originally generated by Compass (or Walls.) Once
the map has been "adopted," it can be treated like
just like a map that was generated by Compass or Walls. In other
words, It can be merged, morphed or round tripped.
Click here for a
detailed explanation of the Converting and
|D. Using Inkscape. One of the big advantages of SVG is the fact that there are
several Freeware drawing programs that support it. One of the best is
Inkscape, a drawing program that is very similar to Adobe Illustrator.
Since Illustrator can costs hundreds of dollars, Inkscape is a
perfect alternative for cavers on a budget.
Because Inkscape is free and works well for cave
mapping, I have developed the Exporter to be compatible with
Inkscape. (It will also work fine with other programs such as
Because all sophisticated drawing programs require a lot work to
learn, I have designed a detail tutorial on making cave maps using
Compass and Inkscape. Here is a link to the
Compass Inkscape Tutorial.
|F. Merge/Morph Tool (Round-tripping). The final tool solves one of the biggest
problems for cave cartographers: updating an existing map as the data
changes. For example, if you survey a new passage, the new data will
need to be added to the existing map. If the passage is extensive, you
may have to reduce the scale, use bigger paper or even rotate the cave so
everything fits on a piece of paper.
|In addition to adding new data, you may correct errors in the data or
improve the loop closure. When this happens, all the shots in the cave
may move. This may change the angle that shots come together and passage
intersect. When this happens all the carefully drawn wall details will
need to be moved, stretched, compressed or warped to match the new shot
Normally these kinds of changes would require lots of painful and
tedious hand adjusting. If the changes are extensive enough, it may even
require starting a new map from scratch.
The image to the right shows a section of a cave map
before a 30-degree correction is made at Station B7.
|The Merge/Morph tool allows any SVG-based map to be adjusted even
after passage lines have been drawn, floor detail placed and the map has
been finished. It allows you to move, rotate and scale all the
hand-drawn elements of a finished cave map, so the map can be completely
re-configured without losing any of the hand-work in the map. The tool
will also smoothly warp (morph) the passage walls, floor details and
other hand-drawn elements so they track changes in the shot positions.
For example, if the angle at a passage junction becomes tighter, the
passage walls will be compressed to fit and still maintain the same
relative distances from the shot lines.
|This image show how
the passage and details are warped to accommodate a 30 degree
change at B7. You will notice how the passage walls and details
are stretched right at the corner and the rest of the passage is
only moved and rotated, with no warping.
|Click here for a complete tutorial on using
the SVG Exporter's
Coordinates: You now have the option of
displaying station coordinates next to each station. The coordinates
can be displayed as UTM (Feet or Meters) or Longitude and Latitude
in degrees or degrees minutes and seconds.
|IV. Zone Crossing.
In some rare instances, you may have two or more caves that aren't
in the same UTM zones. This usually occurs when you have a cave
system close to the Zone boundary.
Compass now allows you to handle that situation by
extending the base zone so it encompasses the caves beyond it. This
is standard practices in cartography.
|V. Latest Magnetic
Declination Models. This version of Compass has the newest
magnetic declination models covering the years 2010 through 2015.
Earth KML File Export.
Compass now supports the
export of cave data to Google Earth in
the form of KML files. This allows you
to place the passage foot print of your
favorite cave on the surface terrain and
display it in Google Earth.
The image to the above
shows Fulford Cave superimposed on the
terrain around the cave. Exporting KML
files makes it very easy to view the
relationship between the cave and the
surrounding terrain. It also allows you
to share the latest cave data with
project members without the delay of
drafting maps. This is perfect for
surveying and exploration projects.
can be embedded in web pages to allow
other people to view the cave. For
example, if you have Google Earth
installed on your computer, click on
either of these two links to view some
The image to the below
shows the image of another Colorado Cave
called the "Fault Caves". These caves
are associated with tectonic faulting
along the Front Range of Colorado and
viewing them in Google Earth makes it
possible to see how the caves relate to
Compass KML exporter gives you complete
control over the Fill Color, the Outline
Color and the transparency of the
passages. By making the passage
partially transparent, you can see the
details of the terrain through the overlay.
|There are now printable
manuals available for all the Compass programs.
They are in the Microsoft Word "doc" format and
can printed from Word Pad which comes free with
every copy of Windows. There are more than 270
pages of documentation and you can download
copies of the manuals by
|With the release of Windows
Vista earlier this year, we are entering a new
phase in the development of PC. Unlike some
previous versions of Windows, Vista makes some
radical changes in the way programs work under
the operating system. All Compass programs work
fine with Windows Vista with one exception:
CaveX uses DirectX "Retained Mode" to display
cave passages. Vista doesn't support "DirectX
Retained Mode" and so CaveX will not run
properly under Vista. To deal with this problem,
I have created a new version that uses OpenGL to
render the 3D passage models. OpenGL is widely
available across many computer platforms and
most graphic cards provide drivers for OpenGL
that will work under virtually any version of
Windows. The new version is called CaveXO and
can be downloaded by
The latest version of CaveXO has most of the
features of CaveX. It also has Vista-compatible
help files. The only features that aren't
available are Joystick control and the ability
to load and save X files. These featues will be
added over the next few months
The help files that were shipped with previous
versions Compass don't work with Vista. The
latest version of Compass now has all the help
file converted to a Vista-compatible format. If
you don't have the latest version, you can
download it by clicking
New Release on
6-1-07 - Over 26 Combined Changes
Profiles or Developed Profiles
you view a cave in profile, some
parts of the passage will run
directly toward or away from the
screen. In this case, the
passage will appear to be just a
short segment even though it
could be thousand of meters
long. You could rotate the cave
to get a better view of the
passage, but, at the same time
you are likely to rotate other
passages so their length becomes
The cave passage to the right is
a good example. Basically, the
passages form a descending
spiral. Viewing it in profile,
you cannot see three passage
segments that pass directly
toward or away from the screen.
Because of the spiral shape, no
matter how you rotate cave, some
part of the cave will be hidden.
To solve this
problem, Compass has a feature
called Developed Profiles or
Unfolded Profiles. The program
basically unfolds or flattens
out the cave so you can see the
full length of every passage.
This will distort some parts of
the cave, but it will allow you
to see the full lenght of every
The image to the
right shows the same passage as
an Unfolded Profile. You can now
see a full profile of every
shot. Before, you could not tell
anything about the slope of the
hidden shots. With the new
image, you can see the full
length of every shot and see
that cave slopes evenly down the
entire spiral. (Note, the image
has been scaled down so the
unfolded length will fit on the
Compass gives you
several options for controlling
the way the profiles are
produced. For example, passages
can be flatten using the
"nearest-angle" method or the
"fixed-angle-method." You can
also control the angle of the
plane to which the cave is
flattened. Unfolded profiles are
useful for maps of deep, winding
pits where you want to display
as much detail as possible.
|This new option
allows you to color the passage
according to the distance from the
entrance. This is not the straight line
distance, but the actual travel distance
required to reach a certain point in the
cave. You have complete control over the
colors and how much distance is covered
by an individual color. This allows you
to setup zone maps of the distance from
the entrance that are perfect for
expedition planning. For example, the
map above shows the entrance distance in
Lechuguilla Cave. Each color is
represent 1/2 mile distance from the
entrance. In this picture the green zone
would be appropriate for day trips,
whereas the purple zone would probably
require overnight camping.
|Thanks to Andrea
Maconi, we have a very nice
Compass tutorial in Italian.
The tutorial is a well produced, PDF
file complete with screen shots. It
should make it a lot easier for Italian
cavers to learn and use Compass.
You can also displays the
precise entrance distance at each survey
station. Again, this is not the
straight-line distance, but the travel
distance through the passages to get to
the station. Like the Color-by-Distance,
it is useful for estimating the
difficulty of reach a certain point in
| It is also useful for
orienting yourself in the cave by
finding the direction back to the
entrance. You have the choice of either
meters or feet and the size, font and
color of the distance-labels is
Azimuth, Inclination and Length
| You now have the option
of displaying the Azimuth, Inclination
and Length of each shot. The image to
the right shows a display of the Azimuth
for each shot. Again, you have the
choice of fonts, size and color.
Block Modify Option in Compass
allows you to make complex changes to
survey data across a range of shots and
surveys. This is useful repairing
problems where large blocks of data were
entered incorrectly. It is also useful
for reorganizing the data. Text items
can be selectively modified. Station
names can be selectively prefixed or
post-fixed. Numerical items can be
modified. Shot flags can be selectively
set or cleared. All these options can
save hundreds of hours of manual labor.
|Fit Cave to
|The Compass Viewer
now has a special tool that will
automatically fit the cave display to
the current window size. This makes it
easy to view the whole when you have
resized the window to take up only part
of the screen. This is particularly
useful when you are looking at several
caves at the same time.
Recently Added Features >>
| Sponsored Links
| Sponsored Links