How to Use a GPS Receiver

A GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver can be referred to as a modern-day version of the compass (even though it does not replace it).

A GPS receiver obtains data signals from an orbiting satellite so it can coordinate and map a location to provide you with the distance and directions to get you from one location to the next.

It can also be used to track someone or something. A GPS receiver is more commonly used for persons who go out hiking.

This article will be used as a guide to help you to use a GPS receiver.

Things you will need

  • A GPS receiver
  • A map


  1. A GPS receiver works by communicating with an orbiting satellite to provide you with the coordinates of different locations. It gives you either the latitude and longitude or the Transverse Mercator (UTMs) of each location. Read the manual that comes with it and before using the GPS in an official outing, practice using it along with a map within a smaller geographic area, so you can have a feel of how it works. Once you are confident enough that you understand it then you can start using it for other situations.
  2. Turn on the GPS receiver and go to the satellite screen option, it should provide you with a list of at least four (4) satellites and you may have to provide the name of the country you’re in. It may take some time but when the connection is made and the signal strength is strong then you can start taking the information. The device can also display a graphic image of the satellite’s position.
  3. The GPS should now give you point-to-point navigation called the ‘waypoint’. This consists of establishing the coordinates of your starting location to your target location. When the GPS has established this, you can start reading the direction and distance that you need to travel, to start moving.
  4. The GPS can provide pre-selected routes from a map provide you with the coordinates of each transitional point along that route and guide you to your desired destination. This is normally found in FIND and GOTO options. You may also use the GPS receiver to retrace your steps and go back to your starting position. Some GPS can do as much as estimate the time in which it will take you to reach your destination depending on how fast you are moving.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Make sure the batteries in your GPS receiver are freshly charged for each new trip. You may also need to turn off the features that you are not using to conserve your battery life.
  • Do not use the GPS inside a building; the structure will shield the high–frequency satellite transmissions from properly communicating with the GPS. So you need to find a free open location to use it.
  • A GPS receiver does not replace a compass or a map, nor does it enhance your navigational abilities.