GPS is not yours! - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 17 Old 07-02-2006 Thread Starter
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Exclamation GPS is not yours!

I posted this elsewhere, but the information deserves its own thread.

I know little of offshore boating, and almost nothing about sailing. What I do know a lot about is GPS. With a Dad that works for NASA in Florida, and an Aunt who literaly wrote the manual for the first GPS reciver in the 80's for ground infantry in the army, I come from a family in the know. I wrote a college thesis on GPS technology as well.

The most imporatant thing to remmember is that GPS is made up of two seperate components, the reciever, and the Transmitter. You have complete control over the reciever. You can buy recievers that are almost indestructable, water proof, and I would say much more reliable than a sextant.

But the reciever is only half of what is required to use GPS. Almost everyone in the United States relies on the Department of Defenses NAVSAT Array, a series of 24 satalites that your recevier uses to triangulate a position. The Russians have an incomplete array, and the EU is planning to put up an array, GLOBAL something or other.

First and formost thouse satalites are for the deffense of this nation, and will, and have been used as such! The military did not release the full potentional of the GPS system untill Clinton told them to unscramble the signal in 2000 (then called Selective Avalablity) And they withold the ability to rescramble and even stop the signal for use by the military if they need it.

For example, in the Iraq war they would move as many of the NAVSAT sattlites as possible over Iraq (up to 7 of the 24), then program them to compensate for weather affecting the signal, and this is just what has been declassified! Do you think a civilian GPS recevier worked anywhere near Iraq during the first months of the war?

And this is just what the Department of Defense can do to the signal, what about solar interference that can make gapping holes in satilite coverage, or space trash destorying satilites? God forbid your the only one relying on GPS for navigation when the military moves a sattlite from over the south pacific to fill a hole in thier covarage elsewhere.

Dont take GPS for granted, its not yours! Only the reciver in your pocket is yours. On the other hand, a sextant is yours, you have control over it. You can drop it on the deck, but at least you will know why it doesnt work!
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post #2 of 17 Old 07-02-2006
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What's your point? I own a Astra IIIB and a Freiberger...this isn't exactly news. Of course, I suppose the fact that your armed forces supported entirely by taxes can devise systems that "aren't yours" may be.

As far as I'm concerned, GPS is a Darwinian test to remove idiot sailors from the gene pool. In that sense, it works splendidly.

And the European GPS array is called "Galileo".
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post #3 of 17 Old 07-02-2006 Thread Starter
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GPS is a great technology, up there with the computer and automobile in modern tech. But a lot of people dont relize what can go wrong with it, I relize nothing is without a negative side but people shouldnt put down celestual navigation and other ways of nagivation saying that GPS is fool proof when it is not. And you dont own the GPS sattlites anymore than you can hop in an M1 abrams tank and drive it away, great your taxes pay for it, you know what I mean.
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post #4 of 17 Old 07-03-2006
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I am shocked and dismayed to hear that aberchrisxx suspects that the U.S. (or any) government is not as reliable a source of data as are the heavenly bodies (over which we have NO control).
Upon reconsideration, maybe not so shocked ...
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post #5 of 17 Old 07-03-2006
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Then perhaps 'someone' should vote a 'new' Clinton back in the White House and send mr. Bush to Irak with a sextant?
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post #6 of 17 Old 07-05-2006
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I sail on the Chesapeake Bay and tribs, and a GPS is a nice luxury to have, however, most of our navigation comes from a chart and a pair of binoculars. The GPS certainly can motivate kids to help you navigate, they think it is a "Gameboy" for sailing! LMAO...
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post #7 of 17 Old 07-05-2006
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Whoa! Slow down boys....change your shorts and pay attention. GPS was available before Clinton declassified the signal that allows for the current accuracy. GPS is now accepted as the standard for navigation and that is not going to change. In fact, the US Naval Academy no longer teaches celestial navigation because it is just too imprecise. I have sailed to Bermuda with just a Sextant for navigation three times....You can keep it.
Look, if we get to the point where the government classifies GPS all together we will probably be worrying about finding a bunker rather than a beach!
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post #8 of 17 Old 07-05-2006
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By the way, Haffiman: It's good to know you libs are so well educated. It's spelled Iraq! lol.
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post #9 of 17 Old 07-06-2006
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We're not the only GPS users

Whilst not being an expert on airline navigation I have an understanding that they rely almost exclusively on GPS. It would be real interesting to see what would happen to 5000 airliners and their 150000 passengers when the US government decides to "switch it off".
I reckon as long as there is a small country's worth of people in the sky depending on GPS, I'll be reasonably safe with it on my boat.
But then again, maybe I'm completely wrong, perhaps the airlines still use sextants?
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post #10 of 17 Old 07-06-2006
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GPS is not 100% accurate. The military intentionally made it a couple of meters inaccurate, so it cannot be used for example in missiles.

You can measure accuracy of your receiver:

http://www.edu-observatory.org/gps/gps_accuracy.html
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