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adam.frenzel

Smartphone not good with too many clouds

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I tried to find a cache for the first time with my smartphone, but the sky was full of clouds. It also rained a few little drops later. Somtimes i had to wait until coordinates were showed. I was wondering, if it was a bad connection, but near a city on nearly open field that can't be possible. Then i realized, that the clouds weaken the GPS signal and the reciever in my smartphone is not strong enough for this weather.

 

I think that is a good hint for starters, who may think their smartphone is broken or not good enough for geocaching. You just need the right weather, if you use a smartphone.

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I tried to find a cache for the first time with my smartphone, but the sky was full of clouds. It also rained a few little drops later. Somtimes i had to wait until coordinates were showed. I was wondering, if it was a bad connection, but near a city on nearly open field that can't be possible. Then i realized, that the clouds weaken the GPS signal and the reciever in my smartphone is not strong enough for this weather.

 

I think that is a good hint for starters, who may think their smartphone is broken or not good enough for geocaching. You just need the right weather, if you use a smartphone.

 

It's not the "clouds" as such but the high humidity (water) that causes the signals to deteriorate. The same goes for treecover especially when it has rained.

 

Best thing to do is to stand still for a short time to let the GPS (smartphone) "settle" and then get closer to the cache/WP. When within 5-10 meters it's time to start looking around.

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I tried to find a cache for the first time with my smartphone, but the sky was full of clouds. It also rained a few little drops later. Somtimes i had to wait until coordinates were showed. I was wondering, if it was a bad connection, but near a city on nearly open field that can't be possible. Then i realized, that the clouds weaken the GPS signal and the reciever in my smartphone is not strong enough for this weather.

 

I think that is a good hint for starters, who may think their smartphone is broken or not good enough for geocaching. You just need the right weather, if you use a smartphone.

 

No, it is the opposite. When the weather is clouded, reception on smartphones is better than on a handheld gps.

...

Bottom line: do you have a professional website with test results to confirm your claim?

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No, it is the opposite. When the weather is clouded, reception on smartphones is better than on a handheld gps.

...

Bottom line: do you have a professional website with test results to confirm your claim?

 

Do you? I'm very interested to know.

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No, it is the opposite. When the weather is clouded, reception on smartphones is better than on a handheld gps.

...

Bottom line: do you have a professional website with test results to confirm your claim?

 

Do you? I'm very interested to know.

 

No I don't. That is just my point. My opinion is just as good or bad. No one knows.

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I think i also know why i didn't find it after i searched again. It said it is not availible for winter (FACEPALM), but the first time i really searched in the wrong place . I know i searched in the right place the second time, because i watched some of the pictures.

 

Edit: I laso found out, that you shouldn't zoom in the mimimap with the cache, if you want to search with GPS, because you will already know where to search then.

 

So for the most fun i think you should do the following:

Here https://www.geocaching.com/play/search put in a city.

For starters search a cache with a low difficulty level.

Check all the attributes carefully!

Print the website of the Cache.

 

DO NOT: Click on "View Gallery", Zoom in the map, Read the comments (Could you add this somewhere in the tutorial?)

Edited by adam.frenzel

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I would say it depends on the smartphone and also how much moisture.

 

I cache by smartphone and have found it works great, even on cloudy days and during light rain. This is my Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The only time I've hard trouble is if I go out and its absolutely pouring rain.

Edited by The_Incredibles_

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The problems I've had with my smartphones in the rain have been with the rain interfering with the touchscreen, not with GPS reception problems.

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No, it is the opposite. When the weather is clouded, reception on smartphones is better than on a handheld gps.

...

Bottom line: do you have a professional website with test results to confirm your claim?

I can only assume that you are of the belief that the MSA and MSB modes on an A-GPS capable cell phone improves location accuracy? It does not. MSB can improve start-up time if the ephemeris data is 'old' or difficult to obtain. MSA location isn't all that precise.

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Then i realized, that the clouds weaken the GPS signal and the reciever in my smartphone is not strong enough for this weather.

The GPS signal frequency was chosen specifically because it passes through water vapour. GPS signals won't be affected by cloud, rain, fog, or snow.

 

GPS wouldn't have been very useful if the US military could only use it on clear days! :laughing:

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The GPS signal frequency was chosen specifically because it passes through water vapour. GPS signals won't be affected by cloud, rain, fog, or snow.

 

GPS wouldn't have been very useful if the US military could only use it on clear days! :laughing:

 

1.5 GHz is attenuated by high levels of water in the air (and on treecover). You will still have a lock but accuracy will be less than in dry conditions. "Just cloudy" will have little effect, if any.

Try your GPS under water to see the effect on the signals. <_<

 

BTW, military grade GPS use =/= civilian use.

 

BTW2: Frequencies 5GHz and up suffer more dramatic effects, i.e. the higher the frequency, the more attenuation.

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I've never noticed any problems with gpsr signal on cloudy days. Been caching in the rain and don't recall ever having any problems at those times either. Having said that, i have a feeling that enough rain could cause issues at times.

 

This too, i also have a feeling that internal parts and/or software is different between gpsr and phone. I know i'm old school but i still believe that a dedicated gpsr performs better in most situations.

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Smartphone reception and/or accuracy depends on the phone brand. It's not just "smartphones". What is your phone, adam.frenzel? Older phones are not as reliable to newer phones (older being many years old - any recent smartphone in the past few years will have sufficient reception, even under cloud cover). I've been caching with an iPhone, from the 3GS throught he 6S Plus, exclusively, since 2009, under all weather conditions and environments, working up to 9000 finds. It's not the "smartphone", but could be any number of other issues, most likely the reception at the location you were having the issue.

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I tried to find a cache for the first time with my smartphone, but the sky was full of clouds. It also rained a few little drops later. Somtimes i had to wait until coordinates were showed. I was wondering, if it was a bad connection, but near a city on nearly open field that can't be possible. Then i realized, that the clouds weaken the GPS signal and the reciever in my smartphone is not strong enough for this weather.

 

I think that is a good hint for starters, who may think their smartphone is broken or not good enough for geocaching. You just need the right weather, if you use a smartphone.

 

check Location Services, make sure that "gps only" is the setting and not "cellular and wifi" or "google services" or "power saving".

 

iv'e been trying for 5+ years to find geographic locations or atmospheric conditions that degraded the ability to triangulate with a smartphone's gps antenna. here's what i've found as consistant triangulation failure points:

 

deep canyons

basements

very narrow crevices in rocks/buildings/mountains/etc

tunnels

 

otherwise, the sky conditions do not matter. i normally see +/- 8feet accuracy while at speed, and +/- 3feet while caching. some areas have oddities (iron content maybe, i dunno?) that give a LOT of bounced signals like bowl shaped depressions in rock formations, otherwise, it's pretty consistant everywhere else. trees, clouds, rain, have no effect.

 

i've even tried gps averaging to see if i could duplicate oddities in those locations, it's always the same wether it's a garmin, tomtom, phone, tablet, etc

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check Location Services, make sure that "gps only" is the setting and not "cellular and wifi" or "google services" or "power saving".

That's a good idea. There's an app called "GPS Status", and the free version not only allows you to see how many satellites are found, but it provides a cool new compass (called "Radar") to use in the Geocaching App. GPS Status will help you figure out what's going on, and you can compare the number of satellites and reception power in various situations. If there are no satellites found, the phone may in fact be using cell towers for location.

 

Based on the OP's replies, I think the phone is fine, and there's just a little learning curve, learning how to cache with the phone. But as mentioned, yeah, any given phone may be a dud.

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No. Some gps chipsets and firmware is the same across some smartphones and some gps.

 

Chipset is less than half the picture. I'm sure there are some significant differences in antenna design and efficiency between cell phones and handhelds.

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No. Some gps chipsets and firmware is the same across some smartphones and some gps.

 

Chipset is less than half the picture. I'm sure there are some significant differences in antenna design and efficiency between cell phones and handhelds.

 

Source? Tests?

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I've geocached for 14 years and have not noticed cloud cover interfering with the signal. I've had a harder time acquiring a accurate signal in forests and canyons which block GPS signals.

Edited by TahoeJoe

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No. Some gps chipsets and firmware is the same across some smartphones and some gps.

Chipset is less than half the picture. I'm sure there are some significant differences in antenna design and efficiency between cell phones and handhelds.

Source? Tests?

I'm not sure what you mean. Antenna size, type, placement, and quality are different between most devices, and this will naturally lead to variations in reception. Here are a few, all totally different:

iPhone 5

Samsung Nexus S

Garmin Oregon 600 - the square patch at the top labelled "85-00"

 

I see no reason to do scientific testing to determine that a different antenna style in a different device will yield different reception characteristics.

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No. Some gps chipsets and firmware is the same across some smartphones and some gps.

Across some i suppose but i'd bet there are varying degrees of difference between the "guts" of most devices.

 

My older smartphone will work in a pinch but i sure wouldn't want to use it exclusively for geocaching. It's slow and it's not as accurate as the Garmin. I know that phones, especially newer ones, work much better than my antique, but i would also bet that few have the same electronics that dedicated gpsrs have..

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iv'e been trying for 5+ years to find geographic locations or atmospheric conditions that degraded the ability to triangulate with a smartphone's gps antenna. here's what i've found as consistant triangulation failure points:

 

deep canyons

basements

very narrow crevices in rocks/buildings/mountains/etc

tunnels

Heavy tree cover can do it too. I've been in redwood forests where my phone and my cheap GPSr couldn't even get a lock, and where a friend's high-end GPSr was pretty wonky (EPE around 100ft or more).

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Heavy tree cover can do it too. I've been in redwood forests where my phone and my cheap GPSr couldn't even get a lock, and where a friend's high-end GPSr was pretty wonky (EPE around 100ft or more).

 

It's just physics.

Signals deteriorate. Having a "better" receiver and "gain" antenna helps boost the signal but you can only boost what's there.

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No. Some gps chipsets and firmware is the same across some smartphones and some gps.

Across some i suppose but i'd bet there are varying degrees of difference between the "guts" of most devices.

 

My older smartphone will work in a pinch but i sure wouldn't want to use it exclusively for geocaching. It's slow and it's not as accurate as the Garmin. I know that phones, especially newer ones, work much better than my antique, but i would also bet that few have the same electronics that dedicated gpsrs have..

 

Wrong.

Check the SIRF page in wikipedia.

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There are most definitely GPS quality differences between older smartphones and newer smartphones. Better chipsets improve calculation and speed, better antennas improve reception and depending satellites locked in, accuracy. There's no question about that (and first hand I can tell you for example that the 3GS was sufficient for geocaching, but has nothing on the 6S plus)

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No. Some gps chipsets and firmware is the same across some smartphones and some gps.

Across some i suppose but i'd bet there are varying degrees of difference between the "guts" of most devices.

 

My older smartphone will work in a pinch but i sure wouldn't want to use it exclusively for geocaching. It's slow and it's not as accurate as the Garmin. I know that phones, especially newer ones, work much better than my antique, but i would also bet that few have the same electronics that dedicated gpsrs have..

 

Wrong.

Check the SIRF page in wikipedia.

SIRF may be the mainstay when it comes to chips used. I don't know for sure because i'm not gonna waste my time checking. But what about the other electronics and/or antenna used? I don't care what you say, there are differences between many of the devices out there. Smart phones do much more than dedicated gpsrs so it stands to reason that there are differences in their build.

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A black car and a red car of different brands may still have the same motor inside.

They may, but in most circumstances they won't, and there are also numerous other factors that can affect the overall performance (e.g. chassis, suspension, drivetrain, etc.) even if they do have the same motor.

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iv'e been trying for 5+ years to find geographic locations or atmospheric conditions that degraded the ability to triangulate with a smartphone's gps antenna. here's what i've found as consistant triangulation failure points:

 

deep canyons

basements

very narrow crevices in rocks/buildings/mountains/etc

tunnels

Heavy tree cover can do it too. I've been in redwood forests where my phone and my cheap GPSr couldn't even get a lock, and where a friend's high-end GPSr was pretty wonky (EPE around 100ft or more).

 

yep. unfortunately we don't have 400' trees everywhere. it sure would be beautiful if we did though.

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