How to Use a GPS Receiver: Tips for Beginners

Sat nav systems have come a long way since their inception, but for the new owner, they still can present a few problems. If your new GPS device hasn’t been performing like you expect, these tips should help you master the unit in a relatively short amount of time.

Don’t Block Access

A GPS receiver cannot function if it cannot detect the orbiting satellites.  For this reason, you need to carefully position the unit to obtain a clear view of the sky.  Move away from obstructions and allow the receiver to orient itself before you try to take an important reading.  Indeed, this technology has advanced incredibly, but a sat nav device still needs a little help in order to give you the accurate information you seek.

Wait for the GPS Receiver to Lock

tom-tom-mountedSometimes, a GPS receiver needs about 20 to 30 seconds to find the right positioning and lock on the satellite’s read.  This is especially true when first powering on the device.  During this time, it is best to stand still in an open area and allow the device to acquire its target.  If you do not, you could end up with inaccurate readings that range from a few feet to over a mile.  The discrepancy is certainly not useful when you are trying to navigate your way through a jam.

Extend Battery Life

Similar to other electronic devices that do not plug into a wall socket, a sat nav unit thrives off batteries.  It really consumes power when utilizing the unit as a handheld away from the vehicle.  To be on the safe side, you should always carry an extra set of batteries with you.  If you are someone who frequently relies on GPS for navigating, don’t leave the house without a backup supply.  You can save yourself a lot of grief by learning how to configure the device in a way that saves battery power.  With most brands, this can easily be done from the menu interface on the device.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you plan to use your GPS device on a regular basis, you should probably become familiar with its features before taking it out on the road.  The last thing you want to do is wait until it is raining, cold and dark on the road before trying to figure out how it works.  Turning on the wipers, heater and lights for your vehicle will present enough distractions as it is.   At the very least, you want to have a basic understanding of the unit before you find yourself lost in the middle of nowhere.  

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