The Compatibility of GPS Devices

All GPS devices output two solutions: position and time. The manner in which they output makes each device unique. Most geodetic and survey grade GPS devices output the position in electronic form (typically RS-232), which makes them compatible with most computers and data loggers. All NovAtel GPS devices have this ability. However, each manufacturer has a unique way of formatting the messages. As a result, a NovAtel receiver is not directly compatible with a Trimble or an Ashtech receiver (which are also incompatible with each other and certain data loggers) unless everyone uses a generic data format.

Fortunately for the user, there are several generic data formats available. For position and navigation output there is the NMEA format, real-time differential corrections use RTCM or RTCA format, and receiver code and phase data use RINEX format. NovAtel and all other major manufacturers of data loggers and other equipment support these formats and can work together using them with everything from surveying topography to controlling unmanned vehicles.

The user must understand his or her post-processing and real-time software requirements. Good software will support a generic standard; bad software will lock the user into one brand of GPS equipment. For the most flexibility, insist on generic data format support for all hardware (e.g. data loggers) and software solutions for your GPS devices.

Device compatibility between equipment such as GPS receivers and data loggers is particularly crucial in dealing with applications such as remotely controlling unmanned vehicles. Unmanned vehicles (sometimes referred to as drones) are used extensively by the military and local law enforcement, as well as by search and rescue units worldwide. The sensitive nature of their use demands accurate positioning. A less dire example of this technology is provided by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles System International (AUVSI) Robotics Competitions. On either end of the spectrum, NovAtel is proud to be involved in the ongoing development of unmanned vehicles technologies.

About NovAtel

NovAtel Inc. is a leading provider of precise global positioning and augmentation technologies designed to afford its customers rapid integration and exceptional return on investment. For information on our products or services, please contact us for more information.

GPS Tracking • GPS Accuracy • Geospatial

Focus Pages:
Geospatial | Important GPS Terms | GPS Devices | GPS Map Software

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