If you are thinking about purchasing a Handheld Marine GPS then here is a break down of a few main features that you should be looking for in your next handheld marine GPS.
- What does a GPS do?
- How Accurate is the GPS?
- How Portable is the Handheld Marine GPS?
- So lets take a look at the first point: What does a GPS do?
GPS is actually an acronym for Global Positioning System which can help provide navigation no matter the weather or terrain your on whether it be land, see, or air, rain, sleek, or sun shine. GPS can provide you accurate details about your position 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is never down for holidays. The construction of this massive navigation system took place between 1978 through 1994 and was done by the U.S Department of Defense. The satellite-based navigation system consists of 24 satellites that are orbiting the earth at this very moment at about 12,000 miles above the surface of the Earth. This is a multi-billion dollar system and to ensure its integrity there are 3 extra satellites in orbit as well that are backups just in case of failures.
The way that GPS units work is there rely on these satellites to help pin-point your location. Every 12 hours your GPS unit receives a low power yet high frequency signal that is sent by each satellite and this allows that GPS unit to display your location with and accuracy within 18 feet around 95% off the time. But it can also tell you your altitude within roughly 30 feet too and that is why the aviation community also uses GPS units.
With the help of a GPS you can plot your course or even let your handheld marine GPS do that automatically for you. At this point in time most GPS units will tell you your location and also use an electronic map on a digital screen to convey where you are going. Some units have built in voice navigation as well so you can just listen to directions if you are unable to actually look at your GPS.
- We have already touched on the subject a little but lets go more in depth on: How Accurate is the GPS?
A GPS unit needs to be in contact with at least 3 satellites to display an accurate representation of your location and with the way that the system was built you can actually connect to a minimum of 4 satellites at any one time no matter your location. But this has not always been the case, prior to the year 2000 there was a program in place called, “Selective Availability” that limited some frequencies of the system to only the military thus creating a less effective system. But with the program being discontinued you can expect to receive an accuracy reading from any GPS unit at this point in time to be in the range of 18 to 36 feet.
- The whole point of a Handheld Marine GPS unit is portability so: How Portable is the Handheld Marine GPS Unit?
There are a number of reasons why you might be looking at purchasing a handheld GPS unit. For one you might be a hiker who does not want to get lost on the mountain side or in large woodlands where you can easily walk in circles and not even know it. But if you are looking a marine GPS odds are you are looking to take to the water. And that this where you want the marine unit. Whether it be sailing, kayaking, or just going out for a ride in the dinghy a GPS unit can be a great, small, and convenient addition to any outing. Since they operate on battery power it is always a wise choice to have one hand in case of failure with the main GPS unit that a larger vessel might be using.
As long as the military is around so will the Global Positioning System. With over 14 billion dollars invested at this point we are privileged to be able to access the system basically for free as there is no fee to access the satellites, you simply have to buy the GPS unit itself.