No Russian required


In technology years, the U.S.-owned GPS satellite navigation setup has been around for just about forever. GPS, however, wasn't the only global satnav system deployed in the mid-1990s. A system called Glonass was developed by the Soviet Union using a similar mix of 24 to 29 satellites in multiple orbital planes (one interesting difference: GPS uses code division multiple access, CDMA, while Glonass uses frequency division multiple access, FDMA).

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Glonass, inherited by Russia, became a low priority. Beginning in 2010, though, the Russians began to build Glonass back up. Now the system is operational again and various electronics companies have built Glonass-capable receivers. Many of these were for specialized uses and not suitable for a voyaging boat.

Digital Yacht in the U.K. has now come out with a standalone antenna/50-channel receiver called the GPS150 DualNav that can determine position using both GPS and Glonass satellites. Digital Yacht says, "The new GPS150 DualNav positioning sensor from Digital Yacht combines a super accurate 50 channel GPS with GLONASS, the Russian funded satellite positioning system that is now on line and providing an excellent back up or alternative to GPS. This 'smart' sensor will automatically switch between the systems or the user can manually select the most appropriate for their activity. The GPS150 will also be able to utilise the European funded Galileo positioning system when it comes on line (IOC – Initial Operation Capability in 2018.)"

With the capability to use signals from the future Galileo satnav system being developed by Europe, this is a capable device that voyagers can mount on the aft rail of their boat or on a radar arch, for example. And you don't even need to know how to speak Russian!   

By Ocean Navigator