GPS Antenna

GPS antennas are the devices that actually pick up a signal from GPS satellites. They act as the middle man between actual satellites that orbit the earth and provide information and your private GPS system, which takes that information and converts it into something you can use. Without the antenna, none of that process works. However, the antenna is useless by itself, because it doesn’t have any other function than to collect the signal; it can’t process the information it collects. A GPS antenna without a GPS system is much like a TV antenna without a TV.

There are a few different types of GPS antennas. The main division between them is between internal and external models. Most GPS systems come with internal antennas, which are weaker. GPS makers are able to do this because GPS signals are usually pretty easy to read all around the world. However, there are some specific areas that have trouble finding a GPS signal, and urban environments with a lot of tall building can also obstruct a signal. Because of this, some people have to buy GPS systems with external antennas, or just buy a separate antenna to work with their current one to pick up a good signal.

External antennas are the more powerful, and more capable of picking up a weak signal quickly. However, not all GPS systems are capable of attaching an external antenna to them – a cost-cutting measure by GPS makers. However, this doesn’t mean that consumers have to buy a whole new GPS system. Another alternative is the reradiating antenna, which has two antennas, each serving a different function. The first antenna functions the same way as a powerful external GPS antenna, picking up any signal in the area. The second antenna “reradiates,” or re-sends the signal. In essence, the reradiating antenna gets the signal and then amplifies it so that your GPS system with a weaker internal antenna can pick up the signal. This isn’t the most convenient option, but it is cheaper than buying a brand new GPS system.

Another divide between GPS antennas are between active and passive antennas. The easy difference between the two is that active are attached by cables to the GPS system and passive antennas are connected directly to it. The reason why antennas with cables need to be active antennas is that they have a feature called Low Noise Amplifier, which allows the signal to be run through a cable to the GPS system. Without the LNA feature, much of the signal would be lost when it is transferred through the cable. Active antennas also need to be connected to a power source, which is usually the GPS system itself, although a separate power source can be used. This can be a problem for battery-powered units. Passive antennas simply don’t have the LNA feature, and are connected directly to the GPS, either externally or internally.

Buying an external GPS antenna isn’t an extremely hard thing to do. They are in pretty good supply because of the likelihood that people will need one. In addition to the possibility of hitting bad signal areas, there is also a chance that the GPS’ existing antenna could degrade at some point. In either case, external GPS antennas are very inexpensive to buy: they generally don’t cost more than $50. Even a good reradiating antenna likely won’t cost very much more than that, if at all.

In fact, it’s often easier to get a new GPS antenna than to get the current one fixed. Given the cheap price, if you use your GPS system frequently, that might be worth more to you than waiting a couple weeks to get your old one fixed by t company, assuming the warranty is still in effect.

This GPS Antenna Review is Written/Updated on Aug 9th, 2010 and filed under Consumer Electronics. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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