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What is Inside a GPS Receiver?

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GPS Receiver Block Diagram

Okay, so if you are looking for detailed information on how a GPS receiver works we highly recommend you check out our page on no monthly fee GPS trackers which provide a comprehensive breakdown of passive technology. But what is actually inside the GPS receiver?

The biggest feature of the receiver is a radio processor, which is not only capable of receiving the radio transmissions broadcast by GPS satellites but also can solve the equations and trilateration necessary to not only determine the distance to the satellite but the position of the receiver itself. Additionally, the receiver hardware must be capable of resetting its clock to match the atomic clock of those GPS satellites.

In particular, the receiver pieces must be able to decode the navigation message, including:

  • Ephmeris parameters, which help compute the coordinates of the GPS satellites used in trilateration.
  • Time parameters, which help the receiver not only compute the distance to the satellite but also ensure that the clock is reset to the correct atomic clock time.
  • Service parameters, which help correct for any errors in satellite transmissions.
  • Ionospheric parameters, which can be necessary to help correct for atmospheric factors that can affect the radio signal from the satellites.
  • Almanacs, which help detail the plotted path of each of the GPS satellites.

There are also different types of GPS receivers. Some receivers work as stand-alone receivers, and many passive GPS trackers fall under this category. Other receivers may make use of augmentation systems or other supporting features.