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Justin Of Terrytown

flying with a GPS

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I am going on a cruise out of Miami, FL to go on a cruise on the MSC Seaside (April 18, 2019 to April 25, 2019).  I am flying into Miami, FL on American Airlines the day before my cruise.  Of course, I am wanting to bring my GPS so I can do some Geocaching in Miami and while I am in port.  

 

Are there any rules I should know about with flying with a GPS or are GPS something that airlines usually don't care about? 

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1 hour ago, Justin Of Terrytown said:

Are there any rules I should know about with flying with a GPS or are GPS something that airlines usually don't care about? 

 

There are rules, so check on that. I have lithium batteries (as an example) in my Garmin, and those might require special handling. At the time, it seemed to me that they were saying that lithium batteries must be in carry-on luggage, and taped or made safe in just the right way. And that there's a limit to the size and number of such batteries. The Garmin by itself could be in checked luggage, with no particular restrictions.

 

The Rules are odd and all in Government-Speak. AND you're subject to a surprise when you finally arrive at the Security Check. So take a look at the most recent Rules before you go, because things change.  You might start with airport web sites.

 

And see this: https://www.faa.gov/hazmat/packsafe/more_info/?hazmat=7

 

Edited by kunarion
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I've used my GPS on about every flight for the last 20 years. Only been asked to turn it off once (early 2000's), Was asked a few times what it was, explained, no issues, sometimes they just said "cool...".

Haven't flown on a US airline the last 11 years though.

 

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16 hours ago, kunarion said:

 

There are rules, so check on that. I have lithium batteries (as an example) in my Garmin, and those might require special handling. At the time, it seemed to me that they were saying that lithium batteries must be in carry-on luggage, and taped or made safe in just the right way. And that there's a limit to the size and number of such batteries. The Garmin by itself could be in checked luggage, with no particular restrictions.

 

The Rules are odd and all in Government-Speak. AND you're subject to a surprise when you finally arrive at the Security Check. So take a look at the most recent Rules before you go, because things change.  You might start with airport web sites.

 

And see this: https://www.faa.gov/hazmat/packsafe/more_info/?hazmat=7

 


What kind of Li-Ion batteries do you have? And in which device?

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I have been on countless flights with my Garmin GPSr as carry on luggage without ever having an issue other than the aircraft being a very effective Faraday cage - you will want a window seat if you are to receive any satellite signals while in flight!

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2 hours ago, klaszlo89 said:


What kind of Li-Ion batteries do you have? And in which device?

 

"AA" batteries in a Garmin Oregon 750T.

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15 minutes ago, kunarion said:

 

"AA" batteries in a Garmin Oregon 750T.

 

AA batteries are not Lithium-Ion. They are  lithium-iron disulfide.

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48 minutes ago, Red90 said:

 

AA batteries are not Lithium-Ion. They are  lithium-iron disulfide.

 

Sorry about that.  I didn't even notice the topic had changed so much.  So those are "lithium metal batteries", not "Lithium-Ion".  Since they all fall under the same rules, I didn't make a distinction. I don't even know why we're making that distinction now.  But I'll try to clarify the reply.

 

 

 

Edited by kunarion
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3 hours ago, klaszlo89 said:


What kind of Li-Ion batteries do you have? And in which device?

 

I apologize that I didn't notice you were asking specifically about "Li-Ion" batteries.  I'm guessing they may be the batteries inside my phone or laptop.  Looks like most any battery that is installed in a device is fine (assuming the device itself is acceptable).  The spares are the concern.  If you're asking why I brought up "Li-Ion" batteries, I actually did not.  I made a reply that it's important to check what is allowed before you go, and used "Lithium" batteries as an example.  Hope this helps. :)

 

 

Edited by kunarion
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Back to the OP's question...  The airlines seem to have stopped caring about GPS use in flight, as I haven't seen any mention in recent years in the seatback materials where they discuss electronics in general.  And they've never cared about simply carrying a GPS unit on-board, either in carry-on or checked luggage.  It's just more electronics, and everybody carries electronics.

 

Do know that after you've arrived, the unit will need a good long look at the sky (a few minutes) before it'll acquire its first satellite lock in the new part of the world.  That's because the satellites it's expecting to see aren't the ones it'll actually see, surprise.  It takes a bit of extra work to straighten that out.

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9 minutes ago, Viajero Perdido said:

Back to the OP's question...  The airlines seem to have stopped caring about GPS use in flight

 

I tried that once, after "It's OK to use your electronic devices".  It showed a speed of something like 530 MPH!  Pretty cool!  It wasn't so great for Geocaching, though. :P

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19 minutes ago, Viajero Perdido said:

Do know that after you've arrived, the unit will need a good long look at the sky (a few minutes) before it'll acquire its first satellite lock in the new part of the world.  That's because the satellites it's expecting to see aren't the ones it'll actually see, surprise.  It takes a bit of extra work to straighten that out.

 

Keep it on during the flight then it knows where you are straight away. B)

 

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I put on the track log (with a large update distance - don't need a tracking point every 10 meters :P) to watch the progress of the flight. It's neat to see how it routes over the land and water, and to match up your location with what you may see below.

 

GPS should not be a problem on most any flight - it doesn't send any signals, it only receives GPS satellite data. Mobile devices and laptops may attempt to send signals with sim or wifi or NFC communications, so they'll generally tell people to turn them off so they don't interfere with the place. (enh) But whatever. Yeah a phone in airplane mode (still reading gps) should be fine. But if you're told otherwise, just obey the flight staff, it's not worth any hassle.

Batteries? psh. These days there shouldn't be anything to worry about; except maybe very low quality old batteries :P

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35 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

GPS should not be a problem on most any flight - it doesn't send any signals, it only receives GPS satellite data.

 

Yes it does, as does any receiver. Signals are very low though.

Even then, many companies now offer (free) Wifi, be it for internet access be it to watch inflight entertainment. On a domestic flight in Japan we had free Wifi and I used my tablet with GPS to post/update my location (speed, heading, altitude) via an APRS website so people back home could follow us on the map B)

Contrary to many years ago now announcements are made that cell phones can be used as soon as the planes touch down and even that is no longer a problem (a few 100 phones looking for cell coverage at full power on different frequencies). Pilots do get the occasional interference in their headphones though but not as much as earlier.

 

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4 minutes ago, on4bam said:
53 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

GPS should not be a problem on most any flight - it doesn't send any signals, it only receives GPS satellite data.

 

Yes it does, as does any receiver. Signals are very low though.

 

What signal does a basic GPS device send? Transmit? And for what purpose?

I'm not talking about additional features a GPS may have. You'd have to know what your model does and how to disable if so.

In which case the answer would be amended - a GPS device does not fundamentally transmit signals, it only receives satellite signals, but it may have features that do. Unless you're referring to electronics interference merely by being an electronic device, in which case most every electronics device is a "transmitter" (which isn't what I was referring to anyway).

A GPS receiver doesn't transmit a signal, it receives GPS. If it has an additional wifi ability, then yes, if that's active then it would send a signal.

GPS use alone does not send a signal.  Correct me if I'm wrong.

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I think O4B meant, as unintended emissions / interference.

 

But that should be extreeeeemly low.  I've held 3 GPS receivers in my hand, as close as possible to each other, and none was going haywire from any interference from its neighbors.

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Right, so I wouldn't classify - for the purposes of this discussion - minescule electronic interference as "transmitting a signal", in the same sense a mobile communications, which is the implied primary reasons phones are to be turned off or switched to airplane mode. Some airlines may request that ALL "electronic devices" be turned off, but I think that's fairly rare now. If the OP is wondering about electronics, that's a different question. Can a GPS device be used on a plane? Absolutely, I'd say even during take off and landing. It doesn't transmit any signal that could interfere [and electronics interference is pretty much entirely insignificant].

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47 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

What signal does a basic GPS device send? Transmit? And for what purpose?

I'm not talking about additional features a GPS may have. You'd have to know what your model does and how to disable if so.

In which case the answer would be amended - a GPS device does not fundamentally transmit signals, it only receives satellite signals, but it may have features that do

 

They transmit "by design" as they have to generate a signal in order to receive. Signals are "mixed" to get the frequency you want to receive. I remember an ad on BBC TV to convince people to pay their TV license where a van with antennas (aerials) drove to streets to pick up the signals generated by television sets in order to catch people watching "for free". Same thing happened during WW II to find radio receivers.

Also look up "heterodyne" for more info on the principle.

 

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I would classify that as electronic interference, not transmitting a communication signal, on the scale of a mobile phone or laptop. And in the context of GPS devices, again, so insignificant it's not really an issue unless an airline requests "all electronic devices" be turned off.

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2 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

I would classify that as electronic interference, not transmitting a communication signal,

 

But it is. Imagine a signal that carries 10-20m inside a confined metal space filled with Kilometers of wires (as antennas) and sensitive electronic equipment. It's because the ever increasing immunization of aircraft electronics that these "spurious emissions" are less of a problem these days but that doesn't mean nothing can happen.

 

 

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Have traveled by air in and out of the US many times. The most recent was a two of weeks ago when I flew from Miami to Australia after a trans Atlantic MSC cruise. Have always taken my Garmins on board in my carry-on backpack along with spare batteries, TBs, charger etc.  Never had a problem, never questioned.

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I typically have not bothered to use my GPSr in flight.  I recall being asked to put one away once, and that was just a few months after 9/11 - was actually using a serial GPSr in conjunction with mapping software on my laptop (the old yellow Delorme Earthmate - yes, kids, that's how mapping with a GPSr used to work 18 years ago) and I was curious as to our flight path from Tucson to DC.  We had just gone over the Very Large Array in New Mexico when I was asked to shut it down.  I think the flight crew was antsy about my ability to map the flight.

 

I've never had an issue bringing a GPSr in carry on bags.  I just put it with my phone and tablet when they ask for electronics to get scanned separately at security.

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I always carry my GPS in my hand luggage. If you get a window seat you can turn it on and see where you are. It probably wouldn't be real accurate I imagine, as only a small section of the sky can be seen. Most GPSs don't transmit, so not a problem.

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3 minutes ago, Goldenwattle said:

Most GPSs don't transmit,

 

Please don't repeat "alternative facts". They do. The reason it's not a problem is because of the high standard of shielding in airplanes. There's a reason airplane equipment must be certified, consumer electronics are NOT certified (Ipads are certified for cockpit use).

 

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7 minutes ago, on4bam said:

 

Please don't repeat "alternative facts". They do. The reason it's not a problem is because of the high standard of shielding in airplanes. There's a reason airplane equipment must be certified, consumer electronics are NOT certified (Ipads are certified for cockpit use).

 

I can only go on what I read. https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&ei=Lu_wXfC7N4L_9QOjpaHIAQ&q=do+GPS+transmit&oq=do+GPS+transmit&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i7i30l4j0i8i67l2j0i30j0i7i5i30l2.31558.31558..31916...0.2..0.203.203.2-1......0....1..gws-wiz.......0i71.qCIvpgmQxY0&ved=0ahUKEwjwipbt2a3mAhWCf30KHaNSCBkQ4dUDCAo&uact=5

 

Yes, my Garmin can transmit to another Garmin, but not just by turning it on.

Edited by Goldenwattle

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My father was in electronics and he worked with testing radio interference for a living, testing electronics and devices for that sort of thing for safety standards. But that was him, it's far above my pay grade, as they say :P (though a bit of research revealed some interesting facts about most any kind of transmission receiver) Nonetheless, in practice we know for a fact that a GPS device/GPS use isn't treated the same as phone or some laptop use especially on planes. So the point remains - as testified often in this thread, unless explicitly told otherwise, you should have no issue with using your GPS (handheld or phone or otherwise) on a flight.

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9 hours ago, on4bam said:

In short: EVERY receiver transmits small amounts of RF.

Emits, yes, but does not transmit in the accepted interpretation of the word.

To me transmit is the generation of a signal intended to be detected by a receiver.

 

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10 hours ago, colleda said:

Emits, yes, but does not transmit in the accepted interpretation of the word.

To me transmit is the generation of a signal intended to be detected by a receiver.

 

In an airplane the problem is  signals NOT intended to be received. As said, the emissions are there but are no problem (most of the time).

 

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Are you suggesting that using a handheld GPS is something you should not do on an airplane?  That's the question.

The point here is - a GPS device's external effect of use is insignificant, and unless caught within an 'all electronics' instructional clause, no one seems to have ever been told to turn it off.

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5 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Are you suggesting that using a handheld GPS is something you should not do on an airplane?  That's the question.

The point here is - a GPS device's external effect of use is insignificant, and unless caught within an 'all electronics' instructional clause, no one seems to have ever been told to turn it off.

 

If you would have read the whole thread I say the opposite ;) I used mine for 20 years on 10's of airlines and on 2-seater private planes to A380 over 6 continents.

As for not being asked to turn it off, scroll up :D although no reason was given.

 

Just be aware all receivers emit spurious signals, some more than others.

 

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4 hours ago, on4bam said:

If you would have read the whole thread

I did.

 

4 hours ago, on4bam said:

As for not being asked to turn it off, scroll up :D although no reason was given.

And..

4 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

a GPS device's external effect of use is insignificant, and unless caught within an 'all electronics' instructional clause, no one seems to have ever been told to turn it off.

 

Was it because "That's a GPS and it interferes with airplane avionics"? Or was it because "that's an electronic device and we'd like electronic devices disabled"?  Even if not explicitly mentioned, I would wager it's the latter. And that's our point.

 

We're no longer debating whether a gps receiver creates a form of extremely low level interference, in relation to other transmitting mobile devices. Because that's been understood, at least conceptually, since the beginning (electronic interference). But there's an enormous gap fundamentally between a GPS device in full use and a smartphone in full use.  One of these is a transmitter, and is still more likely to be requested to be powered down at some points of flight (whether it's truly still an issue today or not). Some argue it could be about be distracted during instruction, even...

 

So that's why I asked "Are you saying..." - are you disagreeing with the premise (GSP use is fine on a plane), or just trying clarify technical understand of the style/amount of interference the device puts out as one of many types of electronics devices that may be in use on a plane?

 

If the latter, then okay. Good to know. If the former, then we still have a discussion ;P -- I would love to know to what degree a GPS device use is practically, realistically, and legitimately a concern for interference of in-flight avionics; that is, evidence that the small amount of interference it creates is detectably dangerous.

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on4bam is quite correct.  Yet there's more.

 

A receiver includes what is known as a 'local oscillator' that is necessary to receive the specific signal desired.  It may also include intermediate frequency oscillators.  Any oscillator at RF frequencies is going to generate a signal that could potentially be received by another piece of radio receiver equipment. 

 

Beyond that, darned near everything with a cord also contains a processor of some sort, and in order to do anything useful, those processors are clocked at a particular frequency.  While designers do their best to reduce the emissions from these devices, none of them are designed to reduce those emissions to zero.  That includes your FitBit, your laptop, DVD player (once popular on international flights, yes), your cell phone, your Garmin, and ... well, the list is endless.  It was for this reason that for many years, operation of any 'electronic device' was not permitted.  Whether through lack of testing or willful ignorance, such devices were all assumed capable of disrupting navigation equipment, communications equipment, or at a later point in the 'fly by wire' systems, even the control systems of an aircraft. 

 

While neither the radio or 'CPU clocked' classes of equipment (and your GPS is both) are classified as 'intentional emitters', they both DO emit RF signals, and in fact, must be tested fairly rigorously before they are allowed for sale to the public in order to assure that the emissions aren't likely to interfere with other equipment.  I suspect that the airlines' early concerns were over the potential for the cumulative RFI of numerous devices, but information on the early rationale and later acceptance has always been a bit sketchy.  Here's an article that is old enough to give you a sense of what people were thinking in the 'old days' >> http://www.rvs.uni-bielefeld.de/publications/Incidents/DOCS/Research/Rvs/Article/EMI.html

 

That said, no one cares if a GPS is carried aboard (unless you're bound for one of a couple of countries that will prohibit them upon entry).  Especially when you have no access to an in-flight map, it can be fun to monitor your progress as you travel.  Someone above noted the 'Faraday Cage' nature of an aircraft, but I've had decent luck even when not in a window seat.  Not sure how it would work out in the 'E' seat of a 747, but I wouldn't sit in one of those anyway!

Edited by ecanderson

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2 hours ago, ecanderson said:

That said, no one cares if a GPS is carried aboard (unless you're bound for one of a couple of countries that will prohibit them upon entry).  Especially when you have no access to an in-flight map, it can be fun to monitor your progress as you travel.

Yep

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On 12/10/2019 at 5:09 PM, kunarion said:

 

I tried that once, after "It's OK to use your electronic devices".  It showed a speed of something like 530 MPH!  Pretty cool!  It wasn't so great for Geocaching, though. :P

 

A few years ago I used a Garmin Nuvi on a flight from Liverpool (England) to Vilnius (Lithuania), flying over Denmark and Poland. It recorded a top speed of exactly 900 km/h and a height of something like 9000 m, certainly a round number.  The US regulations on GPS receivers require civilian-grade ones to stop working above a certain height and speed, in case a hostile state decides to use one as a missile guidance system, and presumably other countries have similar rules, out of similar concerns. I am wondering if that kicked in on this instance. Other than that it worked fine and displayed the map of the terrain below. Once in Vilnius the receiver still took about 20 minutes to acquire a local fix. but after that it found the location within seconds, in both Lithuania and Latvia. The Nuvi had OSM maps, and geocaches for Lithuania and a 50 km radius of Riga.

 

On the flight home the GPS did not obtain a signal despite the fact I was sat by a window.

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On a recent flight (Finnair, Narita - Helsinki) I saw a top speed of 1127Km/h (peak but longer stretch of 1080Km/h) as we had a tailwind over the Sea of Japan. Peak speed was 1628Km but it's clear that was in error as measurements a few seconds before and after  were in the 890-920 range. At least these speeds can be measured.

Also no problem measuring 12 Km (40000ft) altitude. That was on an Oregon 700 but my Oregon 600 and Colorado 300 acted the same. Don't remember how the GPS12XL did.

Both Oregons and Colorado worked well in A and B seats but lost sync every once in a while.

If you see a 9000m and 900Km/h limit it may be a software limit in Nuvi's but not in the handhelds.

 

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19 minutes ago, Viajero Perdido said:

Hmm, has anybody tried auto-routing while flying?  You know, road mode?

 

"Recalculating"

"Recalc"

"ReReReReReReReReRe"

[boom]


I tried that once on a train several years ago, with an iPad loaded with offline routing maps, with the street routing App that came with the GPS accessory.  My plan was to follow my trip on the map, but it was sticking to streets, rerouting like crazy, pretty much unusable.

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