# An Introduction to G.P.S. Contents

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1 An Introduction to G.P.S. Contents 1. Introduction 2. Latitude and Longitude 3. Global Positioning System 4. Navigation Options 5. Entering Data into a GPS Receiver 6. System Limitations 7. Glossary of Terms

2 Introduction The information contained in this document together with the practical exercise is designed as an introduction only. By the end of the session the student should have a rudimentary knowledge of how a GPS receiver operates and how it can be used to navigate from point to point. In addition a number of limitations will be understood. It is recommended that before any real reliance is placed on a GPS the user should thoroughly familiarise him or her with the equipment being used in a practical environment.

3 Latitude and Longitude For safe navigation it is essential that a passage can be planned and that the vessel follows the planned track. To do this the chart is the main tool. In order to define a position there is a grid superimposed on all charts, which is made up of lines of latitude that run parallel to the equator and lines of longitude that run parallel to the line between the two poles. Positions are expressed as angles from the centre of the earth: - Angle of Latitude - This is the angular distance either North or South of the Equator. An angle of latitude can never be more than 90. One minute of latitude at the Earth s surface equals one nautical mile. Angle of Latitude North Angle of Latitude South Angle of Longitude This is the angular distance East or West of the Greenwich Meridian. An angle of Longitude can never be more than 180 East or West as there are only 360 in a circle. 180 East or West Centre of Earth West East Greenwich Meridian An example of a Lat/Long Position is N W

6 System Limitations Whilst The Global Positioning System is one of the best navigational aids available it does have some practical limitations of which the user should be aware: - Using a GPS is not a substitute for knowing the vessel s location on a chart. A GPS cannot see and therefore does not recognise hazards between its current position and any waypoint. A GPS can help navigation in fog but cannot see obstructions or other water users. It is not a substitute for keeping a good lookout. A GPS will take you where you tell it always check the data entered into a GPS If the exact coordinates of a mark are entered then be aware of the risk of collision with that mark when visibility is poor e.g. at night

7 Practical Position Location. There are several conventional ways of plotting a position on a chart including taking bearings from two or more fixed positions, using a running fix and plotting bearing and distance. GPS additionally allows the user to read off Latitude and Longitude and plot a position directly onto the chart. This however is difficult in an open boat that is moving. An alternative method is to choose a waypoint on the chart and draw concentric circles at convenient distances from that waypoint (say every mile). Having done that draw a compass rose again centred on the waypoint that is a mirror of a normal compass. By using the Goto function on the GPS it is possible to get a bearing and distance from your chosen waypoint. Your position can then be accurately estimated and marked on the chart without the use of instruments Miles Mile For example if the waypoint bears 340 at 1.4 miles it is possible to plot the vessel s current position. Adding the time to the chart means that the navigator knows where the boat was at a certain time. This can be important if there is subsequently need to estimate a position as a result of equipment failure etc.

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