Directional heading while navigating with GPS

7 Feb 2020

Most GNSS (GPS) receivers (or a connected antenna) must be in motion to give you an accurate indication of direction. When the receiver is not in motion, it can give you an indication of your location, but most often is unable to determine if it is turned in any particular direction, and thus it is also unable to determine any specific heading when navigating.

When using GPS to provide location information in an app on a smartphone, tablet, rugged handheld computer, or other devices, the app may be able to supplement that location with directional information provided by an integrated 3D compass (magnetometer), accelerometer, gyroscope, and/or other sensors. Though sometimes such sensors must be initially calibrated before use, such as spinning the device in figure-eight rotations a few times.

For example, Geode Connect or the JSNav app on the Archer 2 and Allegro 2 can use GPS along with the 3D compass while navigating to provide a location and the directional heading even when standing still.

The Mesa 3 and Mesa 2 also provide sensors such as an integrated 3D Compass that could be used by apps for such a purpose. Some early Mesa 3 Windows units may need a hardware modification for the compass as described in Magnetometer Fix for Mesa 3 Windows.