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GPS Devices

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GPS equipment: FAQ

All GPS equipment is made up of two essential parts, a GPS receiver which receives and interprets transmissions from GPS satellites and mapping software which is used to determine detailed information about a receiver's location. Using GPS equipment can initially be very confusing, so it is important to keep in mind the essentials of GPS operation:

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How do GPS receivers work?

GPS receivers lock onto radio signals emitted by GPS satellites that are constantly orbiting the earth. After a signal lock has been established, GPS receivers extract essential data such as the date and time when a signal was sent and the exact position the satellite was in when it transmitted the signal. Using a method known as triangulation, the receiver analyzes the information supplied by the satellite in order to determine its own position on or above the earth's surface.

What happens after a receiver's location has been pinpointed?

A GPS receiver on its own will be able to tell you where you are, but without the necessary software its navigational abilities are limited. GPS equipment usually comes with basic mapping software, but in order to get the most out of your GPS system you will need to download or purchase more extensive maps. Mapping software works by converting the position pinpointed by a receiver into coordinates on an electronic map. These coordinates enable the GPS system to determine other useful information such as the quickest route to a specific destination on a map and the shortest route between two points. In some cases, GPS units will even be able to supply users with advanced information like sunset and sunrise times and daily tidal patterns.

Why would anyone want to own GPS equipment?

GPS units are useful in a number of ways. They enable hikers to track their routes and easily return to their starting points. They provide motorists with information on how to reach unfamiliar destinations and aid athletes in tracking their progress by calculating speed and distance traveled. GPS tracking systems also allow companies to keep track of fleet vehicles and provide emergency services personnel with essential information on where emergency calls have been placed.

Which type of GPS equipment is best?

All GPS systems have been designed with a specific purpose in mind. Sophisticated in-car models are recommended for those who spend the majority of their time in their vehicles. Portable hand held units are useful on camping and hiking trips, while GPS watches usually prove indispensable when it comes to goal-orientated sports training. GPS cellular phone chips and Bluetooth receivers are the perfect alternative for those who wish to incorporate additional features into items they already possess.