P. Edronkin

GPS systems and some of their limitations (I).

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Global positioning systems, also known as GPS devices are capable of delivering fast, simple and accurate readings regarding the position of the user. Thus, they have become an instrument of choice for many adventurers.

The use of a GPS device is superficially easier than managing a compass or a sextant, and there are no mathematical complications, since all calculations are done by the computer contained within the machine.

GPS systems, however, have some limitations, and the user of these systems should be aware of them. Global positioning systems should complement other traditional instruments, instead of supplanting them altogether.

A GPS receptor is ideal for plotting routes and marking sites or geographical points exactly. For example, an archaeologist who has found some interesting thing buried in the ground but is unable to take it out immediately may mark the location with such a device in order to return later to the exact place.

In fact, I have used GPS receivers to mark such spots in order to return there later, and achieved that with generally no problems. Once I left a container the size of a beer can in the middle of a forest, and using my GPS returned six months later, during the night, reaching the place where I left the container with very little error (1 m or so).

GPS and compass.
GPS systems should be complemented with compasses.

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