Our Austrian friends at Spartanat Gearmag did a WNDSN interview about origins and background of the brand and the flagship product. Here is the English translation.
"How far is that?" That is - besides "Where do we come from and where are we going?" - one of the most fundamental human questions. One day WNDSN from Berlin asked himself this question too, and a cosmos of ancient knowledge, which is still valid, opened up to him. Modern manufacturing technology paired with old knowledge. The result is his Quadrant Telemeter, with which the calculation of distances is child's play. We asked him for an interview.
SPARTANAT: Many wonder what "WNDSN" means and what does it stand for?
WNDSN: Windson is the son of the wind, the north wind, a tribute to the far north and my ancestors. The author of the manuals is called Filiusventi, the Latinization of WNDSN is based on the practice of Renaissance scholars to translate their names into Latin.
SPARTANAT: Your products are very math-heavy. How did you come up with the design of such surveying instruments and, above all, how and from where did you acquire the knowledge?
WNDSN: My interest began about 10 years ago with the idea of optimizing rough estimates and the resulting research into proven rules of thumb; when I first came across the Kamal, which fascinates with its simplicity and the use of knots as scale marks. About 6 years ago I started experimenting with the concept again and developed an instrument that added a scale at the edge of the Kamal and a nomogram to directly graphically calculate the distance of an object using a string. I started producing the device with the aim of demonstrating relationships in the physical world. Soon others started using it to teach land navigation, archers and hunters used it to measure distance. Later I added a simple quadrant on the back and my customers have since found many new areas of application.
The original Telemeter combines various ancient techniques and adds new ones. It's also easy to use (compared to any other low-tech method). The later added quadrant backside (based on even more ancient templates) completes the toolset with amazing functions.
In my studies I read everything I could find about astrolabes and the various quadrants, interestingly enough, my research was often limited by the lack of books and materials referred to in bibliographies. The English-language Internet offers only a tiny selection and contains far from all the knowledge of the world, a large part is in libraries, often unread and only available in original languages, but I was lucky enough to find some experts in the field, and to learn from them.
SPARTANAT: How long have you been doing WNDSN?
WNDSN: Since 2014 under the name WNDSN. I wrote the first Telemeter manual in English in 2017, the German version in 2019, which opened up the German-speaking market for me.
SPARTANAT: What was your first surveying instrument?
WNDSN: The first Telemeter was a rod-shaped range finder with a logarithmic MIL division, difficult to produce, only a prototype exists.
SPARTANAT: Do you get inquiries for specialized products? If so, what was the most difficult to implement?
WNDSN: I have recently been developing a relatively large number of special Telemeters according to customer requirements, mostly with user-defined scales, or with markings for special values or for certain ranges. The Nato-MIL Telemeter emerged from such an order.
The most difficult to implement are more and more miniaturizations, more content in the smallest space, but of course these are always interesting challenges for optimized scales, which then benefit the main products (which I am constantly developing). Documentation and instructions to explain functions to the end user are very complex.
SPARTANAT: Where in the world have your products been shipped and used?
WNDSN: The majority of my products go abroad, most of them go to the USA, where they often go to instructors and illustrious user groups between Quantico and Coronado. We also ship to APOs. We have customers in over 100 countries, wherever English and German are spoken, as all documentation is available in English and now also in German.
SPARTANAT: What are your favorite functions on the Telemeter?
Just recently I was able to show my daughter, who is just graduating from high school, some concepts of the differential equation with slope and tangent on my quadrant and visualize the trigonometry in ways that she and her classmates had never seen before.
I use the quadrant as a "pocket calculator" and as a thinking tool, it is indeed a graphic computer. You can use a quadrant to build a sundial, recently to demonstrate this, I converted the quadrant itself into a sundial with a paper clip. The exciting thing is that all the necessary calculations can be carried out on the instrument itself. That is my favorite function, the versatility that you can always find new applications and implement them immediately. The ideal tool to deal with quarantine in a meaningful way.
My favorite Telemeter at the moment is the high-viz version, white sandwich acrylic with black scales for precise readings in low light.
We also have a monthly challenge in the newsletter, with new tasks and exercises that always lead to interesting results which go back into tutorials or even new products.