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• Getting Compass
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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 Windows-8. COMPASS is constantly being refined to add new features and take advantage of the latest technologies.

Latest Revisions and Features.
Update - 7-6-14
 I. Loop Viewing Improvements
 The Loop option in the Viewer has been enhanced. It now shows two different types of loops: Standard and Optimized.

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 files.
Update - 4-22-14
Plot To Dat Converter
This new 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 line-plots

 

Update - 3-17-14
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.

Triangulation. The 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.

Concave 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 behind.


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.

Anomalies. Since 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 passage.
Layers. Since 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 in layers.

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 the cave.
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 list.

 

Update - 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 cave.

  

MapToDat. 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.

Correcting Magnetic 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 anomalies. Click here to read the full tutorial.

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. Click here for more information on Quad Maps.
Update - 12-17-13
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 both the X and Y directions separately. You also have control over the shot line width. For a complete list of changes, click here.
Update - 9-2-13
Survey Reconstruction 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 paper maps.
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 Editor.

 

MapToDat Automates 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 program.
Update - 3-10-13
1. 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 entered. 

Double clicking on any line in the display will take you to the line that contains the error and highlight the appropriate measurement.
2. 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 editing purposes.
Update - 1-28-13
1. 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.
Compass 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 every survey.

2. 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.

There are 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 Manager Defaults.

 Update - 1-1-13
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 right. 

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.

 Update - 11-12-12
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 - 6-10-12
This update contains several bug fixes and useful features. Here is a list of the most important changes:
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 editors.
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 station.

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 - 3-19-11
There is 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 compatibility problems. Click here for a complete description of the Compatibility issues and improvements.

 Major Update - 3-20-10
This is a major update for Compass. Here is a description of the newest features.
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 Download Page.
 
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 map.

  

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 Inkscape.

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 Adopting Process.

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 Illustrator.)

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.

E. Working With Illustrator. The exported SVG files from Compass will work with Adobe Illustrator, but Illustrator has some anomalies that you need to be aware of. Click here for tips and techniques for working with Illustrator.
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 position.

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 Merge/Morph Tools
III. Station 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.
 7-20-08 Update
Google 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.

KML files 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 Colorado Caves:
Fulford Cave Fault Cave
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 the geology.

The 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.

 11-17-07 Update
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 clicking here. 
 8-19-07 Update
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:

 CaveXO. 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 clicking here. 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

Help Files. 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 here.

 New Release on 6-1-07 - Over 26 Combined Changes
Unfolded Profiles or  Developed Profiles
Normally, when 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 invisible.

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 passage.

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 web page.)

 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.

Entrance Distance

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.
Italian Tutorial
 
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.
Precise Distance Displays
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 the cave.

 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 configurable.
Displaying Shot 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 Options

The 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 Screen

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.
 More Recently Added Features >>

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