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What Are GPS & GNSS Antennas

GPS & GNSS Antennas – Fact Sheet & Guide

How do GPS and GNSS antennas function to deliver precise location tracking and navigation solutions? Our security experts at Tracking System Direct have compiled this comprehensive guide to break down the complexities of these technologies into easily understandable information. This guide will walk you through the essential components of GPS and GNSS antennas, explaining their significance in ensuring accurate and reliable positioning. You’ll learn about the differences between GPS and GNSS, the intricacies of antenna design, and how environmental variables can affect signal reception. Now, let’s start by first discussing what are GPS & GNSS antennas, and why they are so important in our daily lives!

What Is A GNSS Or GPS Antenna And How Does It Work?

A GNSS or GPS antenna functions as a critical component in satellite navigation systems, designed to receive and amplify radio signals emitted by orbiting GNSS satellites. These signals, which operate on specific frequencies, are essential for precise geolocation determination. Upon capturing these signals, the antenna enhances their strength and converts them into electronic signals that a GNSS or GPS receiver can process. The receiver then utilizes this input to accurately compute the user’s position. This technical process is fundamental in enabling effective navigation and tracking capabilities, ensuring users can rely on their devices for accurate location data.

Learn how GPS works step-by-step in this article:

GPS & GNSS Antennas

Did you know? According to Ely Levine, the secret to super-accurate GPS tracking and speedy signal pick-up isn’t just in the tech inside your device, but in having the right kind of antenna—one that sees a big chunk of the sky, tunes in perfectly to the right signals, and spins its magic in a right-hand circular dance!

Types Of GPS Antennas

Understanding different GPS antennas is key to optimizing your navigation or research project. In the table below, we break down three main types of GPS antennas: geodetic, rover, and handheld. This table explains their special features, where they excel, and who should use them. Why is this important? Because it will provide you with the essential information you need to choose the right antenna, ensuring accuracy and reliability in your work or exploration.



Design Focus



Geodetic GPS Antennas

High levels of accuracy for scientific and surveying efforts

Stationary, ensuring consistent capture of satellite signals

Mapping land changes, monitoring tectonic shifts

Critical for projects requiring meticulous location data

Rover GPS Antennas

Mobility for real-time position tracking on the move

Mountable on vehicles or survey poles, versatile for field applications

Forestry, land surveys, construction

Essential for accurate data while in motion

Handheld GPS Antennas

Facilitates the optimization of grazing and feeding, improving animal health and farm efficiency.

Integrates with GPS-enabled smartphones or handheld units for user-friendly navigation

Navigating through unfamiliar territories or remote wilderness

Invaluable for guidance while traversing unknown landscapes

3 Key Benefits Of GPS Antennas In Real World Scenarios

GPS antennas play a pivotal role in enhancing the functionality and reliability of personal GPS devices. Whether navigating through unfamiliar city streets or embarking on adventures in the great outdoors, these antennas significantly improve the user experience. But how do a GPS signal, GPS receiver, and an outdoor antenna provide real-world results? The answer is simple. They do so by providing enhanced accuracy, ensuring strong signal reception, and maintaining optimal performance across various environments. Now, let’s take a closer look at the 3 key benefits of GPS antennas in our everyday lives.

Enhanced Accuracy

Enhanced accuracy stands out as a fundamental advantage of using GPS antennas. In GPS navigation, signal strength is paramount; without it, users experience inaccuracies that can disrupt travel plans or data collection. GPS antennas directly tackle this issue by amplifying signal reception. They achieve higher precision by maintaining a clear line of sight to a broader array of satellites. This capability is crucial for delivering more accurate positional data. For example, when navigating a dense urban area where buildings might block signals, a GPS antenna ensures that your device still receives enough satellite information to pinpoint your exact location. This improvement in accuracy is vital for anyone relying on GPS for precise navigation or field data collection, ensuring that you reach your destination or gather data with confidence.


Optimal performance across various environments is crucial for GPS users. The choice of GPS antenna greatly influences this performance, tailored to specific needs and contexts. Rover antennas, for instance, excel in mobile applications, providing stable and accurate signals on the move. This makes them ideal for field researchers or professionals who need dependable navigation while traversing diverse terrains. Conversely, handheld antennas are designed for portability, fitting seamlessly into smaller devices used in activities like hiking or urban exploration. Their compact size does not compromise their ability to deliver precise location data, even where space is limited. Whether you’re mapping out a remote dig site or finding your way through a crowded city, the right antenna ensures your GPS device performs optimally, adapting to your environmental and spatial requirements.

Signal Reception

Improved signal reception is another significant benefit of geodetic GPS antennas, especially in challenging environments. These antennas are designed to enhance the quality of signal reception, a critical factor for GPS systems operating in less-than-ideal conditions. For example, vehicles equipped with built-in GPS systems can see a marked improvement in navigation reliability with the addition of an external geodetic antenna mounted on the roof. This setup is particularly effective in ensuring a steady and robust signal, even in locations where natural obstacles like dense forests might otherwise weaken the connection. According to a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), external antennas, especially those with geodetic capabilities, are crucial in maintaining high-quality GPS signals in environments where direct satellite visibility is obstructed. This reinforcement underscores the value of geodetic antennas in providing consistent GPS functionality, ensuring that users retain accurate location tracking capabilities, regardless of their surroundings.

Fun Facts About GPS & GNSS Antennas & Technologies

Fun Fact


First GPS Satellite Launch

High levels of accuracy for scientific and surveying efforts

Number of GPS Satellites

Mobility for real-time position tracking on the move

First GNSS (Global)

Facilitates the optimization of grazing and feeding, improving animal health and farm efficiency.

GNSS Systems Worldwide

Four main systems: GPS (USA), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (EU), BeiDou (China).

Signal Frequency Range

L1 frequency at 1575.42 MHz for civilian use.

First Commercial GPS Device

The Magellan NAV 1000, released in 1989.

Accuracy Without Correction

5 to 10 meters for civilian GPS devices.

Accuracy With Correction Technologies

Less than 1 meter with technologies like WAAS or RTK.

GPS & GNSS Antenna FAQs

Yes, the positioning of your GPS antenna plays a crucial role in its performance. To achieve optimal functionality, it’s paramount to mount the antenna where it has an unobstructed view of the sky. This strategic placement ensures it can easily receive signals from GPS satellites, thereby enhancing the accuracy of your navigation system. A preferred method among many is to mount the antenna on a pole. This technique provides a stable base and elevates the antenna, further reducing potential interference from nearby obstacles. It’s important to be mindful of surroundings that could impede signal reception. Tall structures, such as buildings, and natural barriers, like dense foliage, can significantly obstruct the signal path between your antenna and the satellites. Steering clear of these obstructions can dramatically improve the reliability and precision of your GPS device, ensuring smoother and more accurate navigation.

Yes, GPS antennas are versatile tools capable of working with various satellite systems, not just the GPS network. Modern antennas are designed to be compatible with several global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), including GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou. This multi-system support enhances the antenna’s ability to maintain a constant, accurate fix on your location by accessing a broader range of satellites. Imagine it as integrating multiple maps into a single device, which significantly improves coverage and pinpoint precision. This feature is particularly advantageous in difficult environments where one system alone might not provide sufficient coverage. For instance, in urban canyons surrounded by tall buildings or in remote areas, having access to multiple satellite systems means your device is less likely to lose signal.

GNSS tends to be more accurate than GPS due to its access to a broader network of satellites. This expanded satellite coverage allows GNSS systems to deliver more precise location data compared to GPS, which relies on a smaller satellite constellation. However, it’s crucial to note that the accuracy of both GNSS and GPS is influenced by several additional factors. These include the quality of the receiver, as well as environmental conditions that could cause interference or block signals, such as urban buildings or natural obstacles. Ultimately, while GNSS offers a foundational advantage in accuracy, the real-world performance of any satellite navigation system will depend on these intersecting elements.

Yes, environmental factors can play a significant role in influencing the performance of your GPS antenna. Elements such as severe weather conditions, the urban landscape, and dense vegetation can have a marked impact on the quality of the signal your antenna receives. Heavy rains, snow, and dense cloud cover can attenuate GPS signals, while urban canyons created by tall buildings, as well as thick foliage in natural environments, can obstruct and reflect signals, leading to inaccuracies in positioning.

To counter these challenges, opting for an outdoor antenna specifically designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions is advisable. Such antennas are often equipped with better specifications to handle these adversities, including a higher noise figure. A high noise figure indicates an antenna’s enhanced ability to operate effectively amidst environmental disturbances. This means that despite the potential for signal degradation caused by environmental factors, a well-chosen antenna can significantly mitigate these effects, ensuring your GPS system remains reliable and accurate in various conditions.

You can learn more about GPS tracking accuracy here:

Matthew Henson
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