beam compass meaning
An instrument consisting of a beam and adjustable legs, for drawing extra-large circles
An instrument used to draw large circles or arcs of circles for full-sized working drawings; has a long horizontal bar on which two movable heads slide to and fro, one of which carries a pencil, and the other a sharp-pointed pin or tracer, the distance between them determining the radius of the circle.
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- The figure at left, for example, was drawn before the advent of computers and hence required the use of a beam compass.
- While beam compass use was critically dependent on the skill of the user, his machine produced more regular divisions by virtue of its design.
- Prior to the availability of computers, stereographic projections with great circles often involved drawing large-radius arcs that required use of a beam compass.
- These beam compass techniques were used into the 19th century, as the dividing engines that followed did not scale up to the largest instruments being constructed.
- Finding a beam compass today might be fairly difficult, since it is much easier to draw curves having a large radius of curvature ( in two or three dimensions ) with help from a computer.