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Map measure of the month: Model D13777- the Discovery Channel ‘deluxe map measurer with compass’

“designed for measuring distance on geographic maps of all scales. It is useful to motorists, hikers, and also for architects, surveyors and schools”

From instruction leaflet
Deluxe map measure
Model D13777- the Discovery Channel ‘deluxe map measurer with compass’

The ‘Deluxe’ measure released under the Discovery Channel brand is a simple enough to use instrument that also features a compass and hanging carabiner. While an instruction sheet is supplied with the measure, it is pretty much intuitive to use, however it suffers from a couple of built in faults.

Discovery Channel 'deluxe map measurer with compass'
Discovery Channel ‘deluxe map measurer with compass’

The Discovery Channel is a US television network first broadcast in 1985 and available in over 400 million households worldwide. Programming originally focused on science technology and history but has since expanded beyond an initial educational remit into general entertainment and reality television. Retail and online stores were opened in 1995. These closed in 2007 however the Discovery Channel Airport Stores continued, and the website remained in operation. Products initially focused on were videos, books and educational products, such as the measure looked at here, but the range is far wider now.

Discovery Channel 'deluxe map measurer with compass'

The packaging in which this little measure is supplied is quite heavily advertised as being selected from renewable sources. That said, the amount of packaging is excessive and not particularly suited to long term storage or the frequent removal/replacement of the measure. The measure is supplied in a bubble wrap envelope that is slotted into a “Discovery Channel” branded, chunky, cardboard box, into which an instruction leaflet is also tucked. The box then has a card slip cover, shown here on the box.

Two sides of slip cover to packaging
Two sides of slip cover to packaging
Remaining two sides to slip cover
Remaining two sides to slip cover

This is a small and lightweight measure. With strap and carabiner attached, it is 182mm in length, or 95mm for just the measure and handle. The case is 45mm across and the dial has a 37mm diameter. The plastic covers to both dials are dished, that over the compass more so. The case, at its thickest point is 17.5mm. The measure weighs just 19g, or, with strap and carabiner attached- 27g.

There are two concentric scales on one face of the measure- one indicates measurement at a scale of one inch to one mile, in half mile increments, up to 40 inches/40 miles. The other scale measures at a scale of 1cm to 1km, up to 100 centimetres/100 kilometres. Further ratios and part units can be extrapolated from these. The imperial scale was becoming less common as a map scale when this measure was produced and its exclusion and replacement with a more useful scale would have been helpful. The Discovery Channel branding is printed in the centre of the face of the dial, below the rotating needle. This brand incorporates the letter ‘D’ with globe logo that was first unveiled in March 2008. The small knurled steel tracking wheel rotates easily and smoothly with no discernable internal resistance at all. It accurately measures distances tracked on a map.

A second face on the measure contains a compass. The barely discernable compass points are indicated in dark green on a black background. The needle itself has a clear and easily seen southern indicating half however the blue painted north pointing arrow is quite hard to see against the dark background. The compass needle points to the magnetic north but wavers around a little as this instrument does not feature a liquid filled housing. The whole body of the measure is black plastic other than the clear plastic faces to the front and rear dials. A little extra information printed on the compass side of the measure also points us at the year of manufacture- “© 2010 DCL. All rights reserved”.

Instructions supplied with the Discovery Channel measurer
Instructions supplied with the Discovery Channel measurer. These draw attention to the recyclable credentials of the packaging.
Compass side of Discovery Channel map measure
Compass side of Discovery Channel map measure
Compass side of Discovery Channel map measure

I would very likely find it difficult to review this measure in ten years time. There is a flaw in its construction. The plastic measure has a synthetic rubber handle. After little more than a decade after manufacture, this began breaking down. This is a fairly common issue with some synthetics that can be accelerated by contact with some petrochemical agents or other chemicals. Even the oils and salts from skin can have this effect on occasion. The handle is tacky to the touch and its structure is very obviously degrading. This chemical process cannot be reversed. Whereas I have previously looked at some map measures constructed over a century ago (linked below) that could likely continue working for a further century, the cheap and poor construction of this measure means that it is doomed in the short term.

The Chinese made measure (actually Hong Kong) was provided to the Discovery Channel by Zeon Tech Limited. This company had a London based office and brings to market a wide range of gifts, gadgets and licenced products. These have mostly been aimed at the childrens leisure market and have ranged from the ‘cheap-‘n’-cheerful’ to expensive high-end tech and digital. Zeon now specialise in the import of watches. Brand names beside the Discovery Channel once included the Science Museum, Disney, Power Rangers and The Simpsons. Another measure in my collection, looked at in a seperate blog, is one marketed by compass maker Recta. The common ancestry is obvious.

The measure has a short removable nylon strap, fixed to the measures handle by steel poppers. Another pair of poppers fastens the other end of the strap to a small aluminum carabiner. It all suggests more practical capability than it actually provides however the measure is a little gimmicky and wouldn’t hold up to prolonged serious use. Some features, presumably those which provide the ‘deluxe’ moniker, would be better excluded. These are the poor compass, less than useful strap, poor quality carabiner and the design fault in the handle. If excluded, this provides a cheaper to manufacture and simpler measure that has often been available under alternative branding.

Discovery Channel map measure with the similar measure produced under the Recta name
Discovery Channel map measure with similar measure produced under the Recta brand

Three Points of the Compass has looked at a few more Map Measurers in detail. Links to these can be found here.

Detached strap and carabiner
Detached strap and carabiner

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