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Thread: [FIX] GPS problems/solutions

  1. Droid Ninja
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    #1

    [FIX] GPS problems/solutions

    As a new Droid 3 (former OG Droid) owner, like many of you I've been stumped by how bad the GPS lock is on the D3. On a recent drive, the phone spent at least 50% of the 7 hours on the road searching for signal. Especially puzzling, given how well the original Droid performed. I've spent some time here looking for an answer, and found several threads on the topic. At this point, it makes sense to consolidate the discussion (maybe the mods can pool these threads?) and hopefully nail down the problem and confirm the right fix.

    http://www.droidforums.net/forum/droid-3/174535-gps-not-searching-signal.html
    Problem finding GPS.....again...
    GPS KEEPS SEARCHING FOR SIGNAL?? cant get navigation to work HELP!
    Waiting for gps signal???

    I describe below three solutions/fixes that have been discussed here on the forum. Of the three, the last option (using GPS Status to clear the aGPS data) has been the one that works for me.

    Solutions

    (1) Reboot/battery pull/toggle GPS

    This has been suggested in several discussions, but didn't work for me. At best, I got a mild placebo effect -- some minor improvement with lock, but still lots of "lost signal" errors.

    (2) Modify the stock timeserver address


    This comes as a beautiful suggestion from forum member ndoren (Neall):

    http://www.droidforums.net/forum/dro...ml#post1766404

    You want a fix? Root your phone, go into /system/etc/gps.conf and
    change:
    NTP_SERVER=north-america.pool.ntp.org
    to:
    NTP_SERVER=us.pool.ntp.org

    You can use something like root explorer to do this. In other words, change "north-america" to "us" in that file.
    This file is unchanged by the recent OTA update. So, if you had the issue before, the OTA didn't fix it. Because it's an issue with the NTP server, it's time/date specific, and especially trouble prone in the midwest. (I had the same issue as you in Indiana).
    Unfortunately, I'm right in the center of the midwest (maybe too remote???) and didn't see any obvious benefit. I could get a nice solid GPS lock in Google Maps, but once I started Navigation, it was back to "searching for GPS signal".

    (3) Use GPS Status to clear aGPS data
    THIS WORKED! Start by downloading the free (or paid) version of GPS Status & Toolbox:

    https://market.android.com/details?i...sim.gpsstatus2

    After installing, start GPS Status -> Menu -> Tools -> Manage A-GPS state -> Reset/Download (I did both to clear and then renew the data). Anyway, I've tested Navigation several times (locally) and found that the D3 is now finding and locking on GPS signal as fast as the D1.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'd like to research this more, but my hunch is that for some reason the D3 is using "stale" aGPS data. That fits well with the impression many of us have that it's a "software" issue. In my case, I was especially intrigued that I could get a solid signal in Maps but not Navigation -- and that I also got a solid lock at home, with wifi turned on. So my educated guess is the signal-lock issue is due to how the "assisting" process is coded, and that refreshing the data (at least temporarily) solves the problem. If that's the case, I'm certain Motorola will have a firmware update for it -- someday.

    -Matt
    Last edited by gadgetrants; 10-26-2011 at 06:48 AM.
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  2. Master Droid
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    #2
    Nice. I've been pretty happy with my Droid 3's GPS performance, but it often seemed not quite right:
    - taking too long to get a fix
    - losing the fix and becoming innacurate
    - searching for GPS and requiring me to toggle GPS on and off

    I decided to take your recommendation and reset / download the GPS data and...WOW!

    That's what I'm talking about! I'm very pleasantly surprised by this. What was "good enough" is now "freaking awesome". Thank you for putting this post up.

    I also wanted to add that this fix appears to reset your wireless network settings. I keep my phone on CDMA only and it switches it to Global, so you may want to check that out and set it to CDMA after doing the GPS fix.
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  3. Droid Ninja
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    #3
    Oh, and an interesting follow-up note on GPS Status: it's a self-described geek app, and it doesn't disappoint! Lots of cool info, like NOT ONLY which satellites are locked, but: current coordinates, orientation (compass), state of the accelerometer, speed, altitude. Very cool.

    But what stood out to me was even before I cleared the AGPS data, I was getting a strong GPS lock with several satellites while running GPS Status in the middle of my house. That settled the issue for me -- definitely not a hardware problem.

    -Matt
    Last edited by gadgetrants; 10-25-2011 at 02:20 PM.
    Meaning of gadgetrants:
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  4. Droid Ninja
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by NoBloatware View Post
    Nice. I've been pretty happy with my Droid 3's GPS performance, but it often seemed not quite right:
    - taking too long to get a fix
    - losing the fix and becoming innacurate
    - searching for GPS and requiring me to toggle GPS on and off

    I decided to take your recommendation and reset / download the GPS data and...WOW!

    That's what I'm talking about! I'm very pleasantly surprised by this. What was "good enough" is now "freaking awesome". Thank you for putting this post up.

    I also wanted to add that this fix appears to reset your wireless network settings. I keep my phone on CDMA only and it switches it to Global, so you may want to check that out and set it to CDMA after doing the GPS fix.
    Ah, thanks for the point about network settings. I still haven't figured out if/how CDMA vs. Global affects phone performance (did you see the post on battery life?) but it makes sense to put it on CDMA if not traveling.

    You mentioned becoming inaccurate -- I have to admit, while navigating it's been a little sluggish on "route recalculations". I'll have to explore that more!

    -Matt
    Meaning of gadgetrants:
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  5. Master Droid
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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by gadgetrants View Post
    Ah, thanks for the point about network settings. I still haven't figured out if/how CDMA vs. Global affects phone performance (did you see the post on battery life?) but it makes sense to put it on CDMA if not traveling.

    You mentioned becoming inaccurate -- I have to admit, while navigating it's been a little sluggish on "route recalculations". I'll have to explore that more!

    -Matt
    Yes, people reported that setting to CDMA only has a significant effect on battery saving. I haven't tested it myself.

    The route recalculations have always been very speedy for me. I suppose it has to check Google's servers to perform this action. Maybe I've just been lucky with good 3G connection so that it happens quickly. What I meant by "becoming inaccurate" is that sometimes I'll be driving around and all of a sudden Navigation will think I'm on a side street or facing a different direction than I really am. I can't test it on the road at the moment, but I'd be willing to bet that it will behave much better now given how quick and accurate it is after the GPS fix.

    Thanks again for making this post. I've actually recommended the GPS Status app to other people but never tried it myself! The reason is that they were having major GPS issues and I thought mine worked well enough. Now I see that it can be AWESOME!

    Everyone with a D3 should probably use this app.

    EDIT: Although things seem to be somewhat better, I noticed that Nav still lost track of my direction and location a few times. I tried calibrating the compass with the GPS app too. YMMV.
    Last edited by NoBloatware; 10-25-2011 at 07:39 PM.
    Do you like uninstallable bloatware?
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  6. Senior Droid
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    #6
    I have the GPS status app and I am so glad you posted this! I am not having a problem with it right now, but knowing it for the future is priceless!
  7. Senior Droid
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    #7
    How long does this fix last? Is it permanent or just a temporary thing? Because i feel we should not have to go out of our way to perform a workaround on something that should work in the first place. Its very annoying. I dont see any of my other buddies android phones having this issue. Just the d3. It makes me wnt to pull my hair out sometimes @_@
  8. Droid Ninja
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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by anthrpicdecadnce View Post
    How long does this fix last? Is it permanent or just a temporary thing? Because i feel we should not have to go out of our way to perform a workaround on something that should work in the first place. Its very annoying. I dont see any of my other buddies android phones having this issue. Just the d3. It makes me wnt to pull my hair out sometimes @_@
    Excellent question. It's a temporary thing -- I've been thinking about going back and updating the OP, as not only do I need to do the "fix" from time to time, but on occasion I notice it doesn't work. Like other people, usually a reboot does the trick -- but you're right about going out of our way. Funny thing is, I'd say "Don't worry, for sure there'll be a firmware fix." However, with the D4 coming -- and no sign that we're getting ICS -- I'd be lying if I said a fix was on its way.

    -Matt
    Meaning of gadgetrants:
    (1) Goes on rants about gadgets
    (2) Gadgets put him in a trants (er...um, trance)
  9. Senior Droid
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    #9
    Great business model motorola. Make a product that doesnt work so people will be pressed to buy the new model. At full price of course. Seriously they need to support our phones. Instead they gave us a piece of junk with a crap camera and a useless navigation app. Oh yeah, and its got a locked bootloader so you cant do anything about it. I know what my next phone ISN'T going to be...

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