GPS terminology

If you are planning to buy a GPS it’s a good idea to get used to the terminology. Some common terms used by GPS users are:

Q. What are waypoints? A. These are important locations on a route that you would like to record. These points then become useful navigation aids as you move around in unknown areas. The waypoints need not be important landmarks or major crossings. They can be small references like a fork in a trail, a broken tree, a jutting rock etc

Q. How do you store a waypoint? A. There are two ways in which you can store a waypoint. The first is by taking the coordinates from a map or any other source. This is usually done before you leave your home, office or hotel room. The second is by entering the coordinates of a waypoint directly into your GPS unit. To remember the waypoint you can give it a distinctive name.

Q. What is the difference between bearing and heading? A. 'Bearing' is the course you are aiming at while 'heading' is the course you are really on. Sometimes they vary due to obstacles like fences, rocks, fallen trees etc.

Q. What is a Route? A. It’s a sequence of waypoints entered in the order in which you want to cross them

Q. What is TTFF? TTFF stands for Time To First Fix. It indicates the actual time taken to get a complete ‘fix’ from three or four satellites to ‘triangulate’ or fix your position.

Q. Which are better- 8 or 12 channel receivers? A. A 12 channel receiver is better than 8 channel receiver. This is because the former can receive signals from 12 satellites while the latter can get signals from eight satellites only.

Q. What is WAAS? A. WAAS stands for Wide Area Augmentation System. It is a system of satellites and ground stations providing accurate GPS signal corrections. A WAAS-capable receiver gives position accuracy above three meters, 95 percent of the time by using 25 ground reference stations across the USA. WAAS satellite coverage is currently available only in North America if trees or mountains don’t obstruct signals. In South America, WAAS signals are available but inaccurate due to developing technology. WAAS satellites function best in open land or with marine applications.

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