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GPS Altitude Error !?!?!?

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  • GPS Altitude Error !?!?!?

    I've noticed that my BU-303 reports that I'm 170-177ft above see level when I'm parked on a slipway with the rear wheels in the sea?!?

    Now I know there are various other factors that can affect sea level like moon phase, and air pressure but something isn't right here.

    I'm pressuming that the tides will affect this reading but to be 170ft different wouldn't that be a Tsunami tide ;-)

    Is there anyway to calibrate the altitude etc...


    John
    My Nissan 200SX @ Silverstone
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  • #2
    how many satellites does it see and where exactly is it mounted ?
    Nano ITX / 512 MB / 60 GB / Panasonic slot load / M1-ATX / Bu303 / Sound blaster 24 / PPi amps / rockford sub

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    • #3
      Good point!!
      Ive noticed that the alt is never that accurate, unfortunatly i never got that close to the sea!
      Factors i can think off that will affect the height would be the number if sats you have a look on too,
      more than 4 definatly, the more the better/accurate!
      Prehaps its central sea level and not coast line level? still 170 ft is a big difference to play with?
      what where the Weather condictions like?, rain can play a big factor on communication of satellite transmissions in the Ghz band
      Co Develper of A.I.M.E.E Automotive Intelligent Multimedia Entertainment Engine
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      • #4
        the sea level is a standard - its the mean sea level of all seas on earth, and yours can be a pretty higher or lower the other ones. Maybe you are at sea level at your place and are above or below actual sea level.

        I wouldn't be bothered by this info, unless you are planning something where altitude is a primordial information.
        -Mars

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Marsupial
          the sea level is a standard - its the mean sea level of all seas on earth, and yours can be a pretty higher or lower the other ones. Maybe you are at sea level at your place and are above or below actual sea level.

          I wouldn't be bothered by this info, unless you are planning something where altitude is a primordial information.
          Ahhh so why doesnt all the water level out to one level like in my bath

          Moon?
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          • #6
            I've noticed this too, and just ignored it. I've noticed on my GPS sometimes it says I'm going down, and I'm going up a hill. Or vice versa.

            The only thing I can theorize is that GPS is meant to triangulate your position. This triangulation is along a horizontal plane. There is no way for the sats to triangulate your position vertically. I imagine the alt. information is simply calculated by the time it takes the signal to actually get to the receiver. This can be thrown off by MANY atmospheric factors.

            I've also read that the position of the sats that you're using at a given moment can determine how accurate your positioning is. If you have 2 sats that are fairly close together, then it will not be as accurate as say 3 sats that are spaced out well.

            Once again, I'm not an expert or anything. So, if someone else wants to explain this better, please feel free.
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            • #7
              Sea level is not static, it varies around the globe, what is generally talked about as "Sea Level" is actually just an average. The earth isn't round, it's actually quite an odd shape which contributes significantly to all of this. You therefore have to consider where sea level is being measued from, in this case a set of satellites. As the mis-shapen earth rotates the distance from the satellite to various locations will vary.

              As the satellites are put up by the US government I'd think they use whatever Americans thing of as sea level, therefore you're more likely to be off if you're overseas than in the US.

              Makes you wonder about missile guidance though, hmm, maybe they use altimeters too, or maybe the satellite imaging used for targetting is measured from the same satellites and therefore helps them avoid missile bath-time.

              I can live without knowing how hogh I am, as long as I have a vague idea WHERE I am!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Danceheaven
                Ahhh so why doesnt all the water level out to one level like in my bath

                Moon?
                Moon is a factor, as the level of the sea at a specific location will change in time because of it, but another big factor is stated bu UKCHRIS - the shape. Your bath has water only on one side. Think about a huge round bath that has water all around and in constant motion... do you think all water will be at the same level?
                Particularly when there are obstacle to the motion of the water, such as islands or continents...

                Nevertheless, I think that unless you have military GPS you won't get good readings on all the axis...
                -Mars

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                • #9
                  MY GPS uses atompshereic pressure to calculate altitude.
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                  • #10
                    I'm not an expert, so I couldn't tell you if the sea level in specific areas differs around the globe. I always thought sea was pretty much at the same level globally except for the tides.

                    I would think it would be the GPS. Older GPS units had error built in, so that you couldn't build a rocket with pin point accuracy. If you look at the raw stream of GPS data, you will see that it jumps around alot. VisualGPS shows you this. While monitoring mine over a day or so, it jumped upto 500'. Download it, and just have your GPS sit on you desk for a day or so. That should tell you if its the GPS, or the sea, or whatever.
                    2000 Subaru OBS

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                    • #11
                      Hmmm, GPS triangulated in a horizontal axis?!??!

                      Triangulation infers a triangle. And its actually a series of trangles in a 3d space.
                      As I understand GPS, it works by working out the time the signal takes to get from satellite to GPS Receiver for each satelite. This gives a distance to each satellite, therefore by using the known position of each satellite it works out a position on earth using simple trig. calculations.

                      The same calculation that allow it to work out lat. and lon. will also give it altitude surely?

                      How can they be horizontlly acurate to 15m yet altitude out by 170ft (80m)

                      Unless like you say its deliberate to stop people building there own missiles etc... ;-)
                      Anyway it doesn't matter that much really, I'd just like to be able to trust all the info that I'm given from my hardware. Maybe Im asking too much ;-)

                      John
                      My Nissan 200SX @ Silverstone
                      NOW SADLY WRITTEN OFF!

                      My Car's spec list + pics

                      Stealth CarPC fab'ing...

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                      • #12
                        Well, at least thats wht I've been led to believe. To figure lat. and lon. you need at bare minimum 2 satellites to lock. This would give you a possible location of 4 different places in space. A reasonable guess could be made and put you on 2 different places on the globe. With a 3rd satellite you could accurately get location, but not altitude. We all know this.

                        What I'm thinking, using the same theory that I've been given, I would think that with 3 satellites telling you that: "you may be here, but we're not going to be as accurate as you would like" the accuracy would be so-so. But when you start to rely on 4 different satellites all telling you the same thing, but not with any real accuracy, I would think that altitude (the only real reason you need 4) may be the one to suffer. The others may say that you are driving off the road, but when you think of 4 spheres moving around (to simulate inaccuracy) altitude data may move significantly.
                        2000 Subaru OBS

                        Dell P3 @ 900 Mhz
                        7" Lilliput TS w/DigitalWW in-dash mount
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                        I am Zero Bitrate....

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                        • #13
                          http://gpsinformation.net/main/altitude.htm

                          http://members.cox.net/sd_run_maps/gpsprimer.htm
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                          • #14


                            Thanks for the links. Interesting reads.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ukchris
                              Makes you wonder about missile guidance though, hmm, maybe they use altimeters too, or maybe the satellite imaging used for targetting is measured from the same satellites and therefore helps them avoid missile bath-time.
                              I'm going to assume the military uses something more sophisticated than a $60 GPS mouse to guide their cruise missiles.
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