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Author Topic: GPS history  (Read 182 times)

SeilerBird

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GPS history
« on: November 07, 2018, 06:00:43 PM »
I am an early adapter. I have to get most new and exciting technologies as soon as it is affordable. I had a computer in 1980 and used it mainly for video games. My favorite game was the Microsoft Flight Simulator. I spent many happy hours flying my Cessna 182 all over the country. In 1999 Microsoft released a significant upgrade and renamed it FS2000 and it included a GPS. I had first heard of GPS during the Gulf War when the smart bombs were hitting the tiniest target imaginable. So when I took off and hit the road full time in 2003 I bought a Magellan GPS and it was a total bummer because it was obvious that the GPS had many possibilities but they were very slow. It was obvious it was not ready for prime time at that time at that price point, the cheapest one available.

But it really piqued my interest and I attempted to learn how they work by reading about it online. I was able to get a general understanding of how they worked but a lot has been a mystery to me until tonight. Amazon Prime has a new video called "The Lonely Halls Meeting". The video is superb and will explain everything about how it operates and I could even understand most of it.

https://www.amazon.com/Lonely-Halls-Meeting-GPS-Documentary/dp/B07J2T5624/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1541634271&sr=8-1&keywords=lonely+halls

Most amazing is the fact that the GPS chip is now very small and costs $1.50 to add one to your phone.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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jymbee

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Re: GPS history
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2018, 08:35:09 PM »
Amazon Prime has a new video called "The Lonely Halls Meeting". The video is superb and will explain everything about how it operates and I could even understand most of it.

https://www.amazon.com/Lonely-Halls-Meeting-GPS-Documentary/dp/B07J2T5624/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1541634271&sr=8-1&keywords=lonely+halls

Most amazing is the fact that the GPS chip is now very small and costs $1.50 to add one to your phone.

Amazing indeed-- thanks for posting. Will definitely watch.

It's incredible the technology available today to your average consumer. "Kids today" in the US who have never know life without the Internet, GPS, streaming video etc. etc. while many of us old timers remember things like party phone lines, just a couple of TV stations that went off the air with the National Anthem around midnight, etc. etc.

I can remember thinking whenever I got lost back then-- gee, if only I had a device that could communicate with an array of geosynchronous satellites in orbit 22,000 miles over the earth...   Yeah, right.  :o  :)

Larry N.

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Re: GPS history
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2018, 08:48:19 PM »
I got my first GPS in July 1993 at the big EAA airshow at Oshkosh, a Trimble, it was for aviation only, and it was far from a moving map display. It was three or four lines of text on the display, but it did have a good database of airports and navaids. It was a real luxury on our way home to not have to navigate by "dead reckoning" to go straight to our fuel stop, then straight home.

The Trimble model 19075 came in a nice leather pouch, ran on 4 AAs, and even had a plug in external antenna to run to the top of the panel or windshield area for better reception. I've still got it and it still works. Here's a picture of one on Ebay.


Larry and Mary Ann N.
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SeilerBird

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Re: GPS history
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2018, 09:01:19 PM »
That is several generations before my first one. How cool Larry. :))
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: GPS history
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2018, 08:39:24 AM »
We were working on GPS uses back in the md-80's when I was part of IBM's automotive computing systems operation. We had a major collaborative effort with GM at the time and together were trying to work out how to use cellular phones, computers and GPS in cars, both as an assist for the driver and to assist in vehicle diagnosis and repair. One of our PhD engineers actually invented (and patented)  the first standard data protocol for cell phones and coupled that with a GPS chip set so vehicle location could be reported.  Amazing stuff at the time.  We modified a 1985 Buick Riviera  with a PC built in where the glove box usually resides and it had GPS locator (not navigation) and cellular communications.   I also had a custom-modified IBM Thinkpad that had an attached cell phone and could get on the internet most anywhere (albeit at horribly low speeds).  People would gather around to watch and ask questions if I took it out in an airport while waiting to board.  I was a celebrity among the traveling business man crowd!  ;D

We ended up putting the GPS and PC-in-a-car on the back burner cause the technology simply was wasn't mature enough in 1985 for mass market use, but some smaller companies ran with it for specialized applications.  UPS was one of the first to use onboard computing and mobile data.  Law enforcement was another leading area for mobile computing, GPS and cellular data.   It would be 10 years before enough of the pieces matured to make consumer-grade products practical.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2018, 08:42:12 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
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Bobtop46

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Re: GPS history
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2018, 10:46:39 AM »
I have worked and taught  GPS.  Easiest way that I explained it is nothing more then a big time, speed and distance problem we all learned in school.  In this case the time it takes the signal to go from the satellite to your receiver (in nanoseconds) times the speed of light = distance from the satellite.  With just one satellite this creates a globe with the satellite in the center and you somewhere on that globe.  You could be an equal distance in space from the satellite away from the earth, now do the same calculations for 3 more satellites and the 4 globes intersect in one location.  Your receiver needs to know where the satellites are of course.  You only need 3 satellites for lat/long and 4 for elevation.  1 nanosecond of error in the system = 6 ft on the ground.  The advertised accuracy of the system is a 10 meter globe, or circle on the face of the earth.  Accuracy can be improved for your automotive unit going down the road by assuming that you are on the face of the earth and pair the receiver with accurate maps of the earth like google maps.

Most commercial GPS receivers don't actively track 4 satellites at one time, one or two channels, time share tracking the satellites very quickly. 

An example of current use and how to improve accuracy.  Road and in some cases building construction.  Look at the bull dozier and see the GPS receiver  mounted high on the blade.  What they do is survey a nearby spot down to the centimeter.  Then put a GPS receiver there with a transmitter.  That receiver gets the signal which has a 10 meter circle of error, but you surveyed it and  know exactly where it is, and transmit this error to the bull dozier working nearby removing the error from its receiver.  Now the bull dozier can put the road within a centimeter of where it is suppose to go.  This can be done on a grand scale, Denmark did it in the 90's to replace the old LORAN system for a more accurate system.  Survey your light houses (already done) put a GPS receiver up there and a transmitter. Then all you have to do is equip your ships and ferries with GPS receivers that can receive the error transmitted by the light houses.
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blw2

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Re: GPS history
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2018, 11:12:51 AM »
Thanks for the post!  I have it in my watch list.

Just this past weekend on a walk on a wooded trail with my 10 year old daughter, I attempted (I think successfully) to answer her question in basic terms about what is GPS.  I have a Garmin Vivosport that I was using to track our distance. (it's basically a "fitbit" style pedometer with GPS and heart rate monitor).

I'll definitely pull up this video when my kids are available.  They'll probably say "this is boring" and flip back over to their youtube or games, but at least I'll try it.  Regardless, I'll find it interesting.

My first one was a Lowrance Airmap 100.  I don't even remember when or where I bought it....late 1990's I suppose.  It was awesome for situational awareness at the time, but looking at it now it's archaic... grey screen LCD with very basic graphics. Seems like it took forever to get a lock on enough satellites for a position fix before it would start working.  If memory serves me, they sold the same unit under a different name for marine use, and another for hiking/outdoor use.  You could download the databases for either type... but at the time I was interested in the aviation database...primarily (I think it was ) for the "nearest airport" function...or did it even have that feature?....

I think that I still have that unit in storage with my aviation stuff.  it may not even work... But if a museum want it for relic value, send me an IM!  ;D
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
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