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Global Positioning Systems and Their Electronics

March 15, 2024

There’s a Keystone in every great invention.

GPS – It tells us a lot, regardless of Daylight Saving Time 

The concept of weekends has always been to escape from weekly responsibilities and enjoy some personal time – relax and “check-out” from reality just for 48 hours. Unfortunately for many of us, we received a rude awakening on Sunday, March 10. The double edged sword of daylight saving time struck early Sunday morning, robbing us of a precious hour of sleep, and pushing us quicker into the future. The thought of either gaining or losing an hour used to send one searching through the house, adjusting every appliance, clock or watch to make sure everything reports the correct time. But the topic of this month’s blog, Global Positioning System, helps mitigate the worry with time change, from daylight saving to international time zones to exact position at a point in time. 

GPS and Time Have a Very Close Relationship

GPS provides precise and accurate time synchronization for applications including telecommunications networks, power grid synchronization, financial transactions, and scientific research just to mention a few.

Smart phones and navigation devices receive signals from GPS satellites. The time it takes for the signals to reach the smart phone from the satellite determines the distance the smart phone is from the satellites. These electromagnetic signals are traveling at the speed of light, so an error in time measurement can lead to major errors in determining position. GPS is also used for precise timekeeping and is based on atomic clocks. GPS signals are used to synchronize clocks worldwide to within a few nanoseconds of Universal Coordinated Time (UTC).

Global Positioning System (GPS) is a system of satellites that transmit microwaves over specific wavelengths. GPS receivers, like smart phones, pick up signals from these satellites and define a location from the information they obtain. GPS is maintained by the United States and is one of six Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) used for navigation or tracking the position of something fitted with a receiver (satellite tracking). GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (European Union), BeiDou (China), NavIC (India) and QZSS (Japan) work together with GPS to provide users with more accurate and reliable positioning, navigation, and timing services. 

The system is extremely useful and there is a huge range of commercial and domestic applications. In military terms, GPS is used to track targets, locate positions in unknown territory, and project missiles, and it is also used in search and rescue and reconnaissance missions. In the civilian world, GPS units are used for in-care navigation systems as well as on domestic sea craft. Today, many cell phones include internal GPS systems that allow for tracking and can be used to locate users over wide areas. GPS also brings improved accuracy to surveys of tectonic activity such as earthquakes and tremors. 

As we have seen, GPS has a variety of applications on land, at sea, and in the air. It is usable everywhere except where it’s impossible to receive the signal. As GPS units are becoming smaller and less expensive, there are an expanding number of applications for GPS.  

Battery holders, clips and contacts are just a few of the Keystone product categories found in today’s applications utilizing GPS technology. Other Keystone products include:  LED holders, spacers and lens caps; Fuse Clips and Holders; PCB test points and terminals; spacers and standoffs; panel hardware and PCB plugs, pins, jacks, and sockets and more.