How to use handheld GPS navigation

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Add using handheld GPS navigation to your set of skills

When you know how to use handheld GPS navigation, you'll never be lost again. A key survival skill, knowing how to use handheld GPS navigation system can save your life, help you get from point A to point B, or help people track you.

The GPS system can determine within a few feet or inches, exactly where you are, and what route to take. It determines your latitude, longitude and altitude, along with the current time. You may buy electronics such as a handheld receiver, a stationary unit, a portable GPS locator (such as in a car) or a cellphone or watch with an emergency GPS locator.

How it Works

GPS stands for Global Positioning System.

The GPS navigation system communicates with a network of satellites orbiting the Earth. The global navigation satellite system that makes this possible is maintained by the United States government (specifically, The U.S. Air Force), but it may be freely accessed by anyone with a GPS receiver. There are 31 actively broadcasting satellites in the system.

At any point on the ground, about eight satellites are visible; four are required to pinpoint positions. There are a few variables which affect accuracy of GPS readings, and it is possible, but not likely, for signals to be intentionally jammed or skewered.

How to Use Handheld GPS Navigation

There are a wide variety of brands and models on the market. Each computer and electronics device has its own instructions. However, all GPS units work on the same principle. There are many screens/pages in a GPS unit: main menu, GPS Info/satellite, map, compass, navigation, routes, etc. Turn it on and wait for the satellite screen to show satellites have found your position. Plan a travel route by inputting "way points" or landmarks on the routes page. After selecting a way point, enable the "go to" function and it will display your route to that destination.

There is usually a "nav" key which stands for navigation, and an arrow pad for inputting directions. It would be misleading to imply they're all "easy to use" for they're not. Read the instruction manual for your model, and ask the clerk for a demonstration when you purchase it. Practice at home to become proficient before traveling to the North Pole or the Amazon rain forest.

What to Look For When Buying a Handheld GPS System

Choose a handheld GPS navigation system that is rugged and waterproof. A GPS with multi-parallel channels will have several satellites tracking you at one time. This ensures more rapid location fixes. A backlit display is nice in case you need to use the GPS at night.

Who Uses GPS?

GPS usage permeates modern society. It is used for aviation, ground transportation and maritime operations, and by emergency personnel. It provides precise timing for bankers, cell phones and power grids. GPS is used by military, surveyors, geologists, adventurers and even farmers. Finally, it is used every day by thousands of people from all walks of life.

How Do You Turn it Off?

When you don't want to be tracked and have your location pinpointed, turn the GPS navigation unit off and take out the battery. Even a cell phone that is not being used can be tracked unless you take the battery out. A car with a built-in GPS receiver can be tracked nearly anywhere on earth.

Ready. Set. Go!

As mentioned previously, learning how to use handheld GPS navigation may be as simple as asking the store clerk to show you how to use the item when you buy it and reading the instruction manual. Each brand and model will have differences. Don't forget to buy batteries and do make sure the battery life is sufficient for your trip. As a precaution, carry spare batteries, a map and compass on your travels.

GPS Reviews

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