Interactive Jack Sparrow Compass: show off and questions


New Member
Here we go, one more working Jack Sparrow Compass. Nothing new under the sun!
This time it works. It doesn't point North though.
Finally sharing the results of 6 months of all of my free time.

For my compass, I had a goal to create an experience rather than a prop. I wanted to be able to give it to other people and send them on an adventure: let them follow the compass to the destination where they can complete some quest.

So, the main goal of this build is to make the compass lock onto the position and keep pointing there however you turn it.
On top of that, to complete the experience, the compass has to feel real (not plastic and not electric) as much as possible.

Some implementation techniques
What I like about the compass is that it is very "geometric", but not overwhelmingly complex. That allowed me to use Cricut Maker to design and cut/engrave most parts. This also helped a lot to make multiple iterations of dialing down the size of the whole compass - trying to get as close as possible to the original dimensions while fitting inside all electronics.
  • The frame is multiple layers of plywood and wood veneer glued together
  • The wind rose is printed on glow-in-the-dark paper and secured on a plastic sheet
  • To make the sundial, I engraved the outline using Cricut on a 2mm brass sheet, then cut parts and soldered together
  • The latch, hinge, and ring are all slightly modified and aged in ammonia parts from Amazon
  • The dome is a painted 60 mm acrylic Christmas ball

Circut designs

Electronics and software

This Jack Sparrow Compass is programmable: it has a map (a set of destinations) in memory and navigates the player from one to another.

The compass has:
  • Arduino-like controller to remember the destinations and put everything together
  • GPS model and magnetometer (compass) to understand current position and orientation
  • Servo motor and angular encoder to spin the wind rose
  • Black light (UV LED) to charge the glowing dial
  • Magnetic sensor to detect lid position
  • Battery
  • Lego gears and a 3D-printed mount for the mechanical assembly

The general logic is pretty simple: get the current location, calculate the direction to the destination, and point the arrow.
Still making everything work together, especially figuring out how to get reliable readings from some sensors, took quite some time.

Photos and more details


Leather lace got some love too. Always wanted to learn a few knots.



A deeper dive into features and details:

I have two questions for this community:
1) What material would be most accurate to use for the decoration layer?
2) Is the decoration layer flush with the box, or does it stand out a bit?

About the material:
As you can see - I used wood veneer for the decoration layer on the compass. It looks ok, but it is not accurate. I'm thinking that for my next iteration, if it happens, I want to try something different.
Most makers here are using ivory (bone) inlay or imitation for their compasses.

Thoughts about Ivory:
  • It is consistent with epoch - with active sea trade, elephant tusks are premium but available materials
  • In the movie, the inlay looks white
  • Inlays are usually 'hugged' by the wood and are held by friction. How would it stay in place corners?
  • The way some parts are "chipped" away in the movies looks inconsistent with how bone would probably get damaged. (Bone is tougher than wood, I'd expect larger pieces falling out, not small parts)

On the other hand, brass also seems like a viable material:
  • Some replicas, including Master Replicas and Disney Store toys, feature distinct brown colors for the decoration.
  • The damage on the inlay looks more like metal would take damage (like it got dropped, bent, and then someone cut out the bent piece to prevent it from catching on clothes)
  • Brass as a material to protect the corners of a wooden box makes sense and is also consistent with the epoch
  • Again, in some movie shots, the inlay looks white

Any thoughts?

sparrow official replica 2 (1).jpeg

Master Replicas compass
Jack 27sCompassPotC5.jpg

Movie shot - the decoration is lighter than the wind rose
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Brief update - working on the next generation of compass.
Starting with creating a parametric model using OpenSCAD (script language for programming 3D models).

* can tune any dimensions and all parts will render consistently.
* renders assembled and disassembled
* stl export - all together, or any individual part

Still need to add a lot of details, but it's coming together nicely.
Hoping to use for CNC or 3D printing eventually

Let me know if you are interested in the model.

Screenshot 2023-11-26 at 9.18.21 PM.png
Screenshot 2023-11-26 at 9.24.54 PM.png
Made of wood, instead of 3D printed plastic, awesome.

I love this idea. But, how will the EXPERIENCE work?

How does the compass "choose" a direction? Verbal would be awesome! Literally you ask it a question and it magically changes and points in a new direction...
Or am I getting too far ahead???? Patience
>> But, how will the EXPERIENCE work?

So, it's intended as an experience for a "player". The compass has a "map" - set of locations in memory, and then can do one of these:
1. Select and lock onto the closest location when the compass is opened. The player goes there, and since player doesn't know the map, the destination is a surprise for the player. This is current behavior.
2. "Quest" - follow from point to point in a sequence to allow the player to experience each location in a narrative. Not implemented yet, but it's trivial to do.
3. "Prank" - I want to figure out a way to make a compass lock onto objects (like a bottle of rum or a person). This could be achieved with a hidden BT remote controller, or a beacon (like Apple's airbags). This will make it more as a costume prop

Voice control is a great idea too - luckily, the controller has a microphone, but not sure if it has enough power for intelligent processing. Alexas and ChatGPTs have set a new standard for natural language recognition quality :)))
My first thought upon seeing this is how fun it would be to have it somehow linked to google maps so you could use it for genuine navigation to destinations.

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