A Beginner’s Guide to GPS Units

Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx

If you are thinking of purchasing a GPS unit it is important for you to know how what you’re getting into. The term GPS is short for Global Positioning System. A GPS unit uses many satellites in orbit around our planet to pinpoint your position on Earth. Initially the military was the only one to use a Global Positioning System and they used it to track troop. Eventually the military made the GPS technology available to the public. There are currently 24 GPS satellites in use.

Some of the satellites may malfunction, so there are three backup satellites at all times. These satellites can find your position by measuring the distance between the satellites and your own handheld device. They can pinpoint your coordinates extremely accurately, no matter where you are on the planet. The satellites are powered by the sun and they orbit around the Earth at such great speed that they circle the Earth completely two times per day.

There are 2D and 3D GPS units available. Here, we will only discuss the 2D GPS units. It is interesting to note that even the 2D GPS units needs to use 3D calculations to pinpoint your coordinates. So, whenever your coordinates are given there are always three satellites used to pinpoint your location. The GPS satellite uses circles within the circle to pinpoint your exact location on earth. What this means to you is that the satellites record how far you are from one satellite to the next, and forms a circle. When only two satellites are used to coordinate your position your exact location cannot be determined. When the third satellite is used all three form a circle and can pinpoint your exact location.

Essential GPS Features for Automobiles and Biking

There are many variations of GPS units you can buy. One of those types is for automobiles and/or your bicycles. There are two things to consider when determining the map selection. You must make sure that your GPS unit is equipped with all of the necessary maps that you will need to navigate where you live or where you intend on going. Make sure you check that you can update your GPS unit as well as download new maps. Many manufacturers recommend updating your GPS unit once per year. An example of a great portable GPS unit that satisfies all the required features is the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx

If you are purchasing a GPS unit for your car you want to make sure that it has a voice activation to navigate while driving. It is also important that you get a GPS unit that can speak street names. A good car GPS unit will also come equipped with many locations already stored on it such as hospitals, gas stations, and convenience stores. Some of the better GPS units will have a place for you to place the GPS; but all GPS units should connect to your cigarette lighter in the car. If you are using it for biking, make sure it has a long enough battery life that you can use it throughout the duration of your trip.

Essential GPS Features for Sports and Jogging

Garmin Forerunner 405CX

Another type of GPS commonly used is one for sports and jogging. You can purchase GPS units like the Garmin Forerunner 405CX for jogging. It will not only track your distance, speed, and location, but it conveniently fits on your wrist so it’s comfortable to use. The most important thing to look for in a good jogging GPS is that it tracks your running circuits and stores them for later. Also, you want to it be comfortable and convenient. The best running GPS units are shaped like watches or have bands that go around your upper arm. This is so you can use them even when you are running quickly. A handheld unit just won’t do in that type of situation.

As for sports, there are many GPS units that perform specialized tasks based on a particular sport. For example, there is the Callaway uPro MX GPS. This is a GPS unit designed specifically for playing golf. It can show you the holes, hazards, and distances for thousands of different golf courses all over the world. Another common sports based GPS is for fishing. You can buy GPS units that will show you key fishing holes and also help you judge the depth of bodies of water. When purchasing a specialized sports GPS, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it has all the features you want. Make sure it’s easily updated and that you can download new maps, courses, etc. from the world wide web.

Essential GPS Features for Hiking and Camping

Callaway uPro MX GPS

Usually the GPS that you use in your car is not well-equipped for camping and hiking. The battery life of the GPS for your car is usually only about 30 minutes. If you’re in need of a GPS unit while camping and hiking a 30 minute battery life will not suffice. Also, a GPS you use for your car generally will only display roadmaps. So, while hiking and camping in the woods, a GPS unit that only displayed road maps would be of little use to you. When you are looking at the battery life of the GPS for camping and hiking you should make sure that the battery life has at least 17 hours. This will give you a lot of time, even over multiple days; since you will only use the device as needed. Some hiking and camping GPS units have battery packs as well so you can always have a spare when needed. If you carry extra battery power for your GPS you are virtually guaranteed to never run out of power.

The GPS units for camping and hiking include both the compasses and the coordinate locators. There will also be software available for nautical locations, paths/trails, and road mapping. Some GPS units will also have equipped a mapping device for your journey. These GPS units can also retrace your steps. High-end GPS units for camping and hiking will also feature topographical information. The topographical information will be featured both as a standard map and 3D. One key feature you want to take into consideration when purchasing a camping and hiking GPS unit is make sure it is both protected by a rubber casing and that it is waterproof. A good GPS unit for hiking and camping will need to put up with the harshest of conditions, so it must be able to withstand a little damage.

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June 27, 2011

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