I have been using the Velocitek Shift as my tactical compass. I like the accuracy, responsiveness, the ability to set your median headings on each tack, the start timer, and the easy to read numbers. The Shift is a sophisticated magnetic compass and thus is legal in classes that don’t allow GPS-based instruments. It also has a replaceable battery, unlike some of its competitors.
Shift User Calibration
At a recent regatta, my Shift started giving unreliable readings. After the regatta, I did some testing. The unit showed North (000) accurately. When rotated from north to east (090), it initially showed about 070 and then slowly drifted down to 050. When rotated to the west (270), it initially showed about 290 then drifted up to 310. Not very comforting for use on the race course!
The owner’s manual didn’t provide any help, so I contacted Velocitek. They responded promptly with the following calibration procedure:
This process will collect magnetometer data for 25 seconds at 4Hz for a total of 100 points and use that data to re-calibrate the compass. It is crucial that during those 25 seconds the compass points in as many directions as possible – not just in a flat plane but up and down as well.
- Hold Port and Starboard button for 5 seconds. Display will change to “CAL”.
- Press GUN button to begin the 25 second calibration.
- Countdown will begin and the header lift arrows will display something cryptic.
- Put the compass in as many orientations as possible. A figure 8 motion while rotating is seems to work well.
- If the CAL session passes the up arrows will turn on. If the CAL session fails the down arrows will turn on.
- Once it’s done press RESET to return to normal operation.
This process worked well for me and the Shift appears to be working fine.
Shift Reviews and Demonstrations
Here are links to some reviews and demonstrations of the Shift.
Shift Mounting Bracket Issues
You need to purchase a mounting bracket for the Shift. The bracket is the black plastic piece shown below.
The Shift bracket has a few drawbacks. First, the plastic locking/release tab is a weak point. Mine failed after only a year of use. Second, the bracket mounts to the boat with four screws, and the bottom two screws require spacers to hold the bracket in the right orientation. To solve these problems, my dealer made an aluminum bracket for the Shift bracket. This allows me to mount and remove the Shift with two screws in the deck without using the plastic locking/release tab. The aluminum bracket is shown below.
Where to Get the Velocitek Shift
You can buy the Shift at the major sailing supply houses. I recommend UK SailMakers in Chicago. They gave me a decent price on the shift and made me the aluminum bracket. Contact Mike Considine or John Porter at UK Sailmakers.