GPS in an airplane

Discussion in 'Android General Discussions' started by hemi-droid, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. hemi-droid

    hemi-droid New Member

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    I haven't had any success getting a GPS signal on my Droid in a commercial passenger plane. I've tried pressing the phone flat against the window for a long time, but no lock.

    Does anyone have any tips on how I might improve my results? Anyone had success trying this?
     
  2. Vulcan1600

    Vulcan1600 Super Moderator
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    Ummm...open the door? Actually you might meet some very nice TSA employee welcome when the plane lands if a flight attendant sees your Droid turned on. Just a thought.
     
  3. OpalCat

    OpalCat Member

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    You can have it on, you just have to have it in airplane mode. (This does turn off the GPS though, obviously)
     
  4. cpinto

    cpinto Member

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    You are not permitted to operate a portable GPS on an airline.

    Also, the outer windows are too thick and double paned which will block much of the signal.

    Another point is that this GPS may not work going 600 mph. Not sure about that one.
     
  5. WVOz1970

    WVOz1970 Member

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    I've had minimal success with getting GPS to work in a plane. My best success comes from the Microsoft Streets and Trips USB plug in receiver. It also helps to be on the side of the plane facing south or west.

    Not sure about the phone reception, but I know that dedicated GPS receivers struggle to get much of a signal through all the aluminum and glass. I'd imagine the phone is probably struggling even more.

    I have read that the phone can acquire GPS signal with the radio turned off. It uses the tower signal to get approximate location and then gets satellite fix for datum. Without the cell tower for approx location, it takes considerably longer to get a fix.

    If you really want GPS in a plane, you probably need something more dedicated. Plus, it depends on the airline, but some of them get really picky about you using GPS. (And then there's Southwest, who actually says right in their magazine that GPS receivers are fine to use above 10k. They are the only US airline that specifically says you can use them, afaik)
     
  6. tu3218

    tu3218 Active Member

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    yeah I tried my droid in a plane and it didn't work :/. I wanted to see how high an how fast we were going lol
     
  7. deadernie

    deadernie Member

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    Actually GPS can still be turned on while in airplane mode. Just can't receive data data for maps.
     
  8. unix.punkx

    unix.punkx Silver Member

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    ... You do realize you are 35,000 ft in the air right?
     
  9. SGTiger

    SGTiger Member

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    Your point is what?
     
  10. Tabs

    Tabs Member

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    Aircraft use GPS themselves (among a couple older radio based technologies) to navigate, there's no reason to ridicule this.

    I tried a few months ago using a map caching app, but I couldn't get satellite lock with the Droid. I think the Droid may rely on the cell connection in some way for it because I have successfully used a Garmin car GPS unit on a plane before.
     
  11. skiahh

    skiahh Member

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    Why does this "obviously" turn off the GPS RECEIVER?

    I'm not sure if it does turn of the GPS or not in airplane mode, but it's certainly not obvious. GPS receivers do not transmit or emit any signals (well, any to speak of), so, in theory, it should work just fine... as long as it can see the signals (which are low intensity to begin with).

    Where does it say you are not permitted to operate a GPS on an airliner? Some companies don't allow it, but the FAA doesn't prohibit it.

    You should be able to get a signal by holding the unit up to the window, but it's not guaranteed.

    600 MPH? What do you think the two folks up front are using to navigate at 600 MPH? What do you think supersonic fighter jets use to navigate at 1000 MPH? Yes, it's GPS. There are backup systems, but typically, the GPS is keeping the inertial nav updated, not the other way around.

    Again, what do you think the two folks up front are using to navigate around at 35,000'??
     
  12. hemi-droid

    hemi-droid New Member

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    Just to clear up one other mistaken assumption: You can get a data connection, too, if you're flying on an aircraft equipped with on-board wi-fi, which I generally do.

    I've also been able to get a gps lock with a car-navigation unit. Perhaps their receivers are stronger. I know they tend to advertise things like "SIRF Star" receivers (I may not have remembered the name properly) that purport to achieve a lock more quickly than other receivers, so maybe the Droid doesn't have this specialized circuitry. And the thing about using cell tower triangulation to get an initial general location may be how the Droid comes close to car-nav GPS performance on land but not in the air. Just speculation at this point, but at least it makes sense.

    I do tend to sit on the north side of the plane, so that could be a factor, but I did have one flight recently on the west side of the plane, also without success.
     
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