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GPS Navigation & Using a GPS Device

GPS Navigation & Using a GPS Device In the previous section, we looked at Compass Navigation. We will now look at a more modern approach to Outdoor Orientation and Navigation: GPS Devices. GPS stands for Global Positioning System and it was originally developed by the US Defense Department for military purposes. By using a network of satellites that orbit the planet, the system is able to triangulate the exact position on the globe:
  • A 2D fix will give you an exact position on the globe and is created using the triangulation of three satellites.
  • A 3D fix will give you an exact position on the globe including the altitude and is created using the triangulation of four satellites.
When using a GPS receiver, you have to make sure that the signal to the satellites that you are using is not blocked by buildings, trees, or other obstacles. Also:
  • Make sure to protect the GPS Device from getting damaged.
  • Make sure to have spare batteries with you.
  • Make sure to bring a compass, Hiking Map, and other means of Navigation. Do not rely on your GPS Device alone.
Orientation: Determining your Location on the Map
Your exact location on the globe can simply be read from the GPS display. Of course, you will need a topographical map to translate your coordinates into a position on the map. Also, keep in mind that GPS Devices can be inaccurate in their readings. Your GPS Device should however be able to give you your location within a 100m margin.

Navigation: Plotting a Course using your GPS Device
GPS Devices can give you a range of possibilities to plot a course. Look for one or more of the following possibilities in your GPS Device:
  • GPS Devices can be used like a digital Compass, allowing you to follow a bearing similar to how you would use a Compass.
  • You can program way points into your GPS Device thus giving you a way to back track.
  • Maps and trails can be downloaded from the internet and loaded into your GPS Device. Using these maps, you can determine your route and your GPS will give indications to keep you on your course. This is similar to the GPS systems that can be found in cars.

Now that we have looked at more technological ways of orientating and navigating, we will now look at some older ways that can be used without high tech equipment. First, we will look at ways on How to Find North and then at Altitude Determination.

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