I have a collection of data obtained from calculations and I want to display it on a chart or whiz-wheel or similar, to be used "in the field" as a low-tech solution, since no computer will be available. I have a single output variable calculated from three inputs. What I want to avoid is making a giant book of tables or charts, and instead use something like the whiz-wheel that reloaders use for calculating propellant weight. Are there any nifty graphical devices out there that can display three degrees of freedom on one chart?

  • $\begingroup$ What about a custom slide rule? The Whiz wheel sounds like a good idea... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ Funny, I was just staring at my slide rule, searching for inspiration. The one I have still only allows for two degrees of freedom (position of the center slide and position of the cursor), but maybe I could add another slide. $\endgroup$
    – Carlton
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 13:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, you might consider the pilot's whiz wheel (E6B). The trick is how to make one with your own data...en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E6B $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ So far I've made a slide rule out of paper, with two slides and a cursor. A typical slide rule has one slide. It seems like I can just add as many slides as I need for each independent variable, but I'm still experimenting. Eventually I would like to make the slides round, like the E6B. $\endgroup$
    – Carlton
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 14:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ For the details of how to construct charts for this kind of calculation, you might want to search for info on Nomography. $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


Per @Dan's suggestion, I googled "nomography" and found an article titled "The Lost Art of Nomography" by Ron Doerfler, published in the UMAP Journal 30.4 (2009). The article describes a compound-nomograph, which is pretty much what I need. Here is a screen shot of such a device, taken from the article:

enter image description here

The image shows a nomograph for three independent variables, but the principle could be extended to any number of variables I believe.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Identifying the technique by name, citation and illustration is a good start but this would be an even better answer if it described the method for constructing such a graphic. $\endgroup$
    – Air
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 22:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.