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GPS

GPS transforms electrical energy into EM more specifically, radio waves. The radio waves are encoded with a Pseudo Random Code in phase modulation. The radio waves are then received by the satellites and transformed back into electrical energy. Satellites broadcast and receive through parabolic dishes:

GPS relies on phase modulation. The satellite broadcasts a phase modulated frequency to your GPS. Phase modulation is where the sine oscillation that is interrupted and turned 180. It is phase modulated with the Pseudo Random Code.

There are two types of pseudo-random code. The first pseudo-random code is called the C/A (Coarse Acquisition) code. It modulates the L1 carrier. It repeats every 1023 bits and modulates at a 1MHz rate. Each satellite has a unique pseudo-random code. The C/A code is the basis for civilian GPS use. The second pseudo-random code is called the P (Precise) code. It repeats on a seven day cycle and modulates both the L1 and L2 carriers at a 10MHz rate. This code is intended for military users and can be encrypted.

Written by Khan Schroder-Turner

Phase modulation is recognised by your GPS and used to calculate the distance the satellite is from the GPS in a straight line. Radio waves are a crucial part of GPS. These waves have the longest wave length. They are very common and extensively used for communication. Radio waves are produced by an electrical circuit called an oscillator and are radiated from aerials. Now long and medium length radio waves are easily bent (diffracted) and refracted, hence their extensive use around the world for communication. They can be used when the receiver isnt in the line of sight for these reasons. VHF (very high frequency) & UHF (ultra high frequency) have shorter wavelengths and diffract less and dont reflect off the ionosphere. GPS however uses the UHF i.e. microwaves. Microwaves (A form of high frequency radio) are used in line of sight communication. (It would be kind of pointless if the satellite couldnt see you anyway) So how do we use these waves and the Pseudo Random Code (PRC) to find where we are on the earth? This is where I introduce the use of the atomic clock. All of the satellites in use for GPS have an atomic clock, that is, a clock which counts the oscillations of a caesium atom per second. 9 192 631 770 oscillations if Im not mistaken. What is the use of this? Well, if all of the satellites are calibrated to the same time its very useful. The satellite broadcasts the PRC to your GPS. From this it can calculate the distance the satellite is from the receiver i.e. your GPS. Each satellite has a particular PRC that when broadcasted to the receiver will be out of sync, your GPS finds the difference & if you know the speed of light, 299 792 458 m/s, at which the EM wave will travel then you can calculate the distance you are from the satellite. What do you do with the difference? If you know anything about circles, then you should know that the distance from the satellite to the GPS is a radius, not of just a circle but also a sphere. It determines that your current location is somewhere on the surface of that sphere. Thats why we use 3 satellites. Once the second satellite st has calculated its distance from the receiver it also makes a sphere. That sphere will intersect the 1 rd sphere and where it intersects makes a circle of where your possible location is. A 3 satellite is then used in the same method to narrow your position to two possible points. (A process called trileration) One of the points is usually too far from earth or travelling at an impossible velocity and can be th th rejected without a 4 measurement. However a 4 measurement does come in handy when identifying height. And one other thing

Written by Khan Schroder-Turner

Now one thing that vie overlooked is how we achieve atomic level time accuracy on earth on our little GPS without spending upwards of $100000. Its a nifty little trick. If our receiver's clocks were perfect, then all our satellite ranges would intersect at a single point (which is our position). But with imperfect clocks, a fourth measurement, done as a cross-check, will NOT intersect with the first three. So the receiver's computer says "Uh-oh! There is a discrepancy in my measurements. I must not be perfectly synced with universal time." Since any offset from universal time will affect all of our measurements, the receiver looks for a single correction factor that it can subtract from all its timing measurements that would cause them all to intersect at a single point. That correction brings the receiver's clock back into sync with universal time, and bingo! - Youve got atomic accuracy time right in the palm of your hand. Once it has that correction it applies to all the rest of its measurements and now we've got precise positioning For all of this to be possible we must know where the satellites are to. That is why the U.S. Department of Defence had each satellite positioned so that it followed a precise orbit and every GPS has a mini map of this inside so that it knows where each one will be at each time. The satellites have been positioned so that at any time, at any point on the earth there are 5 satellites visible.

Written by Khan Schroder-Turner

GPS systems help the individual locate points of interest. For instance, one can seek for desired places to stop in the cities in which you visit. If you need urgent medical care, you can find the nearest hospital and make that your next destination. Let's say that you need an ATM, just search for a local bank. Needing something to eat? Look for all the entries under restaurant. One can do all of the above without leaving the comfort and safety of your own vehicle. Searching for points of interest on a GPS is quite a benefit of its own. Imagine that you are a single parent, travelling with small children. Instead of stopping at a servo and dragging all of the kids inside, you can search for your needed destinations without leaving the car. On the downside, GPS is not one hundred percent reliable & it is important to remember before allowing your GPS to play the part of God, these machines are not infallible. Companies that provide mapping data admit information stored on current machines can become quickly out-dated. As long as GPS are not treated as devices without error, this technology makes life easier and a little less stressful when trying to get from point A to point B. We no longer have to listen to backseat drivers or stop at shops for directions In short: Pro: Location GPS units provide you with a simple way of getting to your location. Establishing your coordinates with a GPS is simpler than trying to determine where you are with a map. Pro: NavigationGPS devices make navigation easier and provide a bearing and distance to a pre-set location. When using GPS-based maps, you can also see and navigate according to terrain features.

Written by Khan Schroder-Turner

Pro: Functions In addition to GPS navigation, many units include such functions as barometric altimeters, an electronic compass, and time and date, allowing you to roll several devices into one. Pro: Other Features GPS can hold a variety of map data and routes, so that you have instant access to a lot of information. Some units include digital cameras and weather radios. Con: System Issues Since GPS devices rely on satellites, they are not perfectly suited to outdoor use. Interference from dense foliage, caves and deep slot canyons can cut communication off when you need it most. Con: Reliability Like any electronic device, GPS units are subject to failure from dead batteries. While you can limit the chances of this happening by carrying spare batteries, it is a concern. One aspect of development is navigation. Automobiles are tested on moving on their own without the assistance of a driver. The GPS system mounted in modern cars do a great deal to help the driver navigate his/her way to reach the destination with as less discomfort as possible. In future cars will be fitted with GPS devices which will help the car navigate itself to the desired location. All the passengers have to do is to punch in the destination location and the car will manoeuvre itself to the required location. There will be less accidents because there will be less chance for human error. The car itself will decide which roads to take and will arrive in the destination at a very efficient rate of travel. The military will be using the system to make their weapons have an extra edge over the enemy. Tests have already begun in using unmanned aircrafts. Some of these air crafts will be used to attack the enemy while others will be used as spy planes. These spy aircrafts will be small in size and will be constantly tracking and spying on the enemy. The enemy will not even know that they are being watched. The F22 Raptor is already able to do unmanned flights. In future the entire mission will be done without the use of human pilots reducing the loss of human lives. Smart missiles are another concept of the future. These missiles will be able to choose and destroy the given target. They will automatically fire when the required specifications are met. They will be able to travel large distances and hit the target with pinpoint accuracy. These aspects of development would greatly benefit society, why would we do it if it wouldnt anyway. They would make life both better & worse. I personally dont want to be pinpointed to a military attack but I can see how it would be useful in protecting our countries. However letting cars drive themselves at first may sound great but what does that really mean? We wouldnt have control over what happens and if the GPS does undergo error then you dont have that little piece of human intuition saying this isnt the right way or move out of the way there is another car coming this way. Even if they do perfect those points there is still an extraordinary amount of error. Plus why the heck have I spent all this time learning to drive if its just going to change!

Written by Khan Schroder-Turner