P. Edronkin

GPS systems and some of their limitations (II).

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Such computers may also trace or plot a whole route above ground by taking notice of certain points of reference, also known as waypoints. This feature is particularly useful in open grounds with few or no visual references, such as hot deserts (Kalahari, Sahara, etc.), polar regions, and the seas.

GPS systems, however, have some limitations:

1)- Being electronic devices, they consume batteries. Thus, they depend on a source of energy that cannot be replaced easily during many expeditions.

2)- These systems depend on the signals emitted by a network of satellites. If for any reason part or the whole network becomes unavailable, the GPS computer becomes useless until the network status is improved. Although these satellites are reliable, in closed grounds such as mountainous terrain or forests you should normally expect to experience some reception problems.

3)- GPS systems usually cannot mark the north easily. Generally speaking, these devices depend on the movement of their bearer in order to make such calculations because since they are based on signals and mathematical models, they cannot detect or signal the bearing by means of physical phenomena such as magnetism. Instead, they depend on the plotting of vectors, for which they need at least two reference points. Thus, if you move, your GPS will detect your initial and final positions, and make its calculations accordingly.

Compasses work without batteries and don't suffer from the same limitations. It is well known, however, that they have their own and thus, what makes more sense is not to choose one or another device, but to carry both and complement their use.

If you want to purchase a GPS receiver you should take into account these factors. Modern technology improves our life, but we cannot totally rely on it.

The valdivian forests.
GPS computers have trouble in terrain like the valaldivian forests.

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