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Home > How To > What is GPS and How do use it?
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What is GPS and How do use it?

What is GPS and How do use it?

By  Brielle Wilson 2018-05-26 7866 0

What is GPS? And How to use it? The post advise you all the knowledge of GPS. The principle, history and where to buy and more make you are familiar with GPS.
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What is GPS?

GPS (Global Positioning System) is the abbreviation for Global Positioning System. It is a satellite-based radio navigation system developed by the Department of Defense of the United States of America that allows any user to know its location, speed and height 24 hours a day under any atmospheric condition and in any point on the Earth. The history of GPS begins after the Second World War when the U.S. Department of Defense insisted on finding a solution to the problem of global positioning accurate and absolute. They spent several projects and experiences over the next 25 years including Loran, Transit and others.

All of these systems allowed to determine the global position but were limited in precision or functionality. However, at the beginning of the decade of 70 an idea was glimpsed that would solve all the problems of the previous systems by the hand of a new project called GPS.

use car GPS


How does the GPS work?

To understand how the Global Positioning system works, we first need to know that the GPS is made up of three components: the spatial, the control and the user.

The spatial component consists of a constellation of satellites in Earth orbit approximately 20200 km, distributed in 6 orbital planes. These planes are separated from each other by approximately 60 in length and have inclinations close to 55 in relation to the terrestrial equatorial plane. It was conceived so that there are at least 4 satellites visible above the horizon at any point on the surface and at any height.

Global Positioning system


The control component consists of 5 tracking stations distributed along the Globe and a main control station (MCS-Master control station). This component tracks the satellites, updates their orbital positions and calibrates and synchronizes their clocks. Another important function is to determine the orbits of each satellite and to foresee its trajectory during the following 24 hours. This information is sent to each satellite and then transmitted by this one, informing the local receiver where it is possible to find the satellite.

How does the GPS work


The user component includes all those using a GPS receiver to receive and convert the GPS signal to position, speed and time. It also includes all the necessary elements in this process, such as antennas and processing software.

Xiaomi GPS Smart Watch

Xiaomi GPS Smart Watch


The basic fundamentals of GPS are based on the determination of the distance between the receiver and satellites. Knowing the distance that separates us from 3 points we can determine our position relative to those same 3 points through the intersection of 3 circumferences whose radii are the distances measured between the receiver and the satellites.

Each satellite transmits a signal that is received by the receiver, on the other hand, measures the time that the signals take to reach it. Multiplying the time measured by the speed of the signal (the speed of light) we can obtain the distance receiver-satellite (distance = speed x time).

But satellite positioning is not that simple. Getting the precise measurement of distance is not an easy task. The distance can be determined by means of the codes modulated in the wave sent by the satellite (Codes C/A and P), or by the analysis of the carrier wave. These codes are complicated. The receiver was prepared in such a way that it only deciphers those codes and no more, so he is immune to interference generated by natural or intentional sources. This is one of the reasons for the complexity of the codes.


How do I use a GPS?

GPS technology is already on many portable devices that we use in our daily life. There are many models of cell phones, watches, handhelds, laptops and car trackers. The most popular use is in vehicles used as a map navigation system and ideal for guiding distracted drivers. GPS is also widely used in the civil and commercial aviation industry, and is equally sought after in maritime shipping. Everyone benefits from this technology. It should be noted that some countries, such as Syria, North Korea and Egypt, prohibit the use of GPS.

Junsun D100 Car GPS Navigator with Free Maps

Junsun D100 Car GPS Navigator with Free Maps


The use of any model GPS receiver is relatively simple, although a reading of the manual and some knowledge of geographic orientation will make a big difference. If we want to "squeeze" a GPS of a certain model, we must enroll in a course. 

The market has several manufacturers of GPS receivers and all have low cost models, which can be installed in the windshield of the vehicle or even in the belt. While traveling along the roads, also altitude and speed with precision. Some models make it possible to download data on a computer. It is possible to trace a route on the computer and send the preset route to the GPS so that it can then guide us.

When it is scheduled in advance, it will help you to locate the previously defined points or a route that you traced on our PC or that someone previously traveled and downloaded it from another GPS. In field work this device can mark the geolocation of a house, the location of an accident, planting areas, or any geographic coordinates needed.

Just like any other radio device, the GPS needs to see the sky to receive the signals transmitted by the satellite network. In very cloudy days, the economic GPS that is probable that the GPS does not obtain enough signal. In these cases it is better to wait a few minutes in the place until the device manages to capture signal.

If we use the GPS for delicate operations, we must opt for a GPS that makes it possible to place an external antenna, which must be installed in the higher part of the vehicle, such as the roof or trunk. This way the display of the sky is clearer than if you were using the internal antenna of the GPS, inside the vehicle. If the model has no option for an external antenna, it must be fixed on the windscreen so that the antenna achieves the highest visibility of the sky possible.


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GPS Availability

The GPS is an intelligent device that from signals emitted from a network of 24 satellites, guarantees the geographical location in any point of the planet. While the forerunner of this system was the U.S. government, the truth is that there are currently other GPS systems operating in the world, as both Russia and the People's Republic of China and the European Union.

This is because until the year 2000 the Department of Defense of the United States placed many obstacles for the use of the transmission of these signals by civilians and third. GPS devices of civil use did not manage to operate with a precision less than 90 meters. What was done to help, ended up confusing and hindering.

The problems were dissipated after the signing of a law declaring an end to the interference that prevented the effective transmission of signals from the system. Today, Russia and the United States are the countries that own the two operating systems in the world, but as we mentioned, the Europeans and the Chinese already have their GPS systems in the test phase that will be launched in the not too distant future.

The fact of having several GPS systems is very important since the American system, for example, could stop being free at any time if the Department of Defense of White House so decides it. A have their own system, which integrates with others.


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Maps and GPS coverage

All cities are covered by GPS satellites. And often because of lack of information on the part of manufacturers, many people can confuse the coverage of the software with the coverage of the satellite system.

Some navigation softwares have street maps and routes from some cities and countries, but, depending on the team, not all cities are covered by the system. This means that there are cities in which the names of the streets, the walking senses and other traffic issues are not detailed.




However, that the software does not have this possibility, does not mean that the city is not covered by the GPS satellite system. That or those cities, they just don't have a map that represents their streets on the team.

Currently available on the market are several GPS map software for example: Nokia maps, Tom Tom and Garmin, among many others. Each one has a library of street maps and city routes from anywhere in the world. It is possible that some of these programs lack a map of some city of the interior and another one has it. This means, again, that the program does not have this city in its archives even if it has GPS coverage. If you are in a city with these characteristics, the GPS will only indicate the position in latitude and longitude, illegible for most people. This means that the limitations of city map coverage depend on the operating software that the GPS devices have, not the system itself.

The best devices are the ones that allow the installation of several programs, like the tablets, intelligent cell phones and notebooks. Vehicle GPS usually comes with an installed program that cannot be modified, only updated with new maps and more information. Therefore, when choosing a GPS, the most important thing is to know the details of the software installed. The program details the cities it includes and the points of interest mapped, among other things.


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