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Archive for September, 2008

Another perfectly good weekend.

Friday, September 26th, 2008

The American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV defines Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in part as, “…recurrent obsessions or compulsions…that are severe enough to be time consuming (i.e., they take more than 1 hour a day) or cause marked distress or significant impairment….”  I had to look it up to find out that I don’t exactly qualify.  But it seems that evaluation of our GPS collar performance never ends.  A few weeks ago I blogged about a test that I would do over the weekend.  I was testing from Friday evening until Sunday evening, constantly downloading GPS data, sorting it out, evaluating the results and then uploading new schedules into the collars.  My wife had absolutely no interest in the results but I had no one else to share the fascinating information with.   

We did get some excellent information from that test.  First, it only takes a few seconds (in many cases only 1 second) for our Q4000 series to acquire satellites and it does not matter much if the position interval is 5 minutes or 2 hours, they work about the same.  But more interesting than that is our GPS Additional Time feature that I keep harping about.  Forcing the collar to remain on for x number of seconds more after it acquires satellites results in <2.5 meter accuracy.  The overall amount of time required to get this accuracy is under 60 seconds.  The tests were always performed with the GPS right on the ground.  There was foliage around but it wasn’t a forest by any stretch of the imagination.

Last month we sent a Quantum 4000 collar to a biologist in San Diego California.  He was on his way to the jungles of Peru.  He and a colleague wanted to determine if the collars would work in the jungle where they do their field work.  Initial results from that test are that they do indeed work there and they work well enough that we have already received interest from others working in Peru.  Word of mouth is a wonderful thing.  These tests are being performed in an area with no roads other than the river.  The tests in Peru continue.  As soon as we have the newest results they will be posted on our website.  Now I think I better go wash my hands, it’s been 30 minutes since I did it last. 🙂


GPS Pod opens the door to new configurations.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Last month we introduced a new product that we call a GPS pod.  It contains a GPS data logger and battery pack in a small housing.  It’s simple and it has nothing coming out from it, no wires.  This pod can be bolted onto any manufacturers’ VHF collar large enough to accommodate it.  And it turns that VHF collar into a GPS store-on-board collar.  But now slightly different uses are coming into play.  Given the economical advantage of this device (read:  low cost) some biologists are finding that they may just bolt these onto other GPS collars too.  This protects them from data loss should something go wrong with a GPS collar.  Alternatively it just provides them with more data.  In the case of very large animals, like elephants, one could actually attach 2 or more of these devices onto existing GPS collars.  The device is even available with remote control data download!  You probably have boxes of perfectly good VHF collars lying around.  If you want to turn them into GPS collars just drop me a line.


A perfect September weekend.

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Autumn, the best season of the year….unless you live in California.  The leaves are green and it’s 105 degrees outside.  As Johnny Carson used to say, “But it’s a dry heat.”  However it is perfect for testing several aspects of our new Quantum 4000 Enhanced GPS collars.  This weekend we are looking at the effect of programming GPS location attempts at different intervals to find out what the difference really is in terms of time to a decent fix.  There are all kinds of calculations and specifications that can be used as guidelines, but there’s nothing like a real life test.  We’ll run 5 collars at the same time, each taking fixes at different intervals.  Theoretically the collars taking fixes at shorter intervals will take less time to acquire satellites.  But at what point does that interval really start to affect ability to quickly acquire satellites?  It’s important because with this information you may be able to program location attempts at closer intervals without having an overall negative effect on battery life.  In addition to these tests we will also determine at what point the GPS Additional Time is wasting battery.  GPS Additional Time is a user setting that forces the GPS to remain on refining its position before that position is written to memory.  It’s completely up to the user to set this but wouldn’t it be nice to have a guideline from us?  But there is a flaw in this test.  Since the GPS units in this test are programmed to turn on at different intervals several variables will have changed.  But that’s out of our control.  We’re looking forward to the results and will have them posted on our website next week.