Image Credit: GENEQ, inc.
Navigational instruments include global positioning satellite (GPS) systems, compasses, range and depth finders, map measurers, and other items. These instruments are used for surveying surroundings, orienting present location, measuring distance on a chart or map, and determining the best route to a given destination.
How Navigational Instruments Work
Range and depth finders use active measures or trigonometry to measure distance from user to target. Compasses are either held level and read, or sighted along at a distant target. For the most part, navigational instruments are used in conjunction with an analog or digital map or chart. GPS systems rely upon on satellites to triangulate the user's position.
Types of Navigational Instruments
GlobalSpec provides information about these and other types of navigational instruments.
- GPS systems are used for mapping and surveying, handheld navigation, vehicle tracking/fleet management, and tracking. Field data collection software can be integrated.
- The most common compass types are baseplate and lensatic.
Image Credits: Brunton Outdoor Group | Ranger Outfitters (Cammenga)
- Distance measurers include range finders and depth sounders.
Image Credits: Leica Geosystems and Landfall Navigation (Hawkeye Electronics)
- Map measurers come in digital and analog formats.
Other types of products include maps and charts, nautical clocks, sextants, and specialized aeronautic instruments.
Product and Performance Specifications
Specifications differ by product type. For example, there are three grades of accuracy for GPS systems: recreational, mapping, and survey. This video illustrates:
Video Credit: GEO-Jobe
Features and Applications
To account for atmospheric distortion, GPS systems rely on differential corrections (wide area) or RTK corrections (local). Some products feature cell phone technology, high res cameras, and collection data software. Purchasers should also consider the GPS system size (hand held, backpack, vehicle mounted), monitor resolution and color, battery life, USB connections, and ruggedization.From lowest to highest accuracy, GPS systems can be used for locating a house, business, vehicle, or route; storm weather tracking; capturing accurate and robust data and getting that data to a GIS/CAD system quickly and easily; shooting inverts of sewer/stormwater pipes; handling ground control for aerial surveys; and mapping accidents for police departments.