Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Date of Original Version



Historically, maritime organizations seeking accurate shipboard positioning have relied upon some form of differential GNSS, such as DGPS, WAAS, or EGNOS, to improve the accuracy and integrity of the GPS. Groundbased augmentation systems, such as DGPS, broadcast corrections to the GPS signal from geographically distributed terrestrial stations, often called beacons. Specifically, pseudorange corrections for the GPS L1 C/A signal are computed at each reference site, then broadcast in the nearby geographic area using a medium frequency (approximately 300 kHz) communications link. The user then adds these corrections onto their measured pseudoranges before implementing a position solution algorithm. Within the United States, the U.S. Coast Guard operates 86 DGPS reference beacons. Similar DGPS systems are operated in Europe and elsewhere around the globe. While current DGPS receiver algorithms typically use one set of pseudorange corrections from one DGPS reference site (often the one with the “strongest” signal), many user locations can successfully receive two or more different DGPS broadcasts. This brings to mind obvious questions: “If available, how does one select the corrections to use from multiple sets of corrections?” and “Is it advantageous to combine corrections in some way?” We note that a number of factors might influence the effectiveness of any particular station’s corrections. Some of these refer to the effectiveness of the communications link itself, including concerns about interference from other beacons (skywave interference from far-away beacons on similar frequencies, a notable problem in Europe) and self-interference (skywave fading). Other factors refer to the accuracies of pseudorange corrections. For example, ionospheric storm-enhanced plasma density (SED) events can cause the corrections to have large spatial variation, making them poor choices even for users close to a beacon. Earlier work in the area of DGPS beacon selection has identified several options including choosing the beacon closest to the user or the beacon with the least skywave interference. There have also been suggestions on how to combine corrections when multiple beacons are available. The most common of these is a weighted sum of the corrections, where the weights are typically inversely proportional to the distance from the user to the individual beacon. This paper reexamines the concept of multi-beacon DGPS by evaluating methods of combining beacon corrections based on spatial relativity. Of relevance to this topic is our recent observation that DGPS accuracy performance is biased. The mean of the error scatter with DGPS corrections does not fall on the actual receiver position. We established this both by processing GPS L1 C/A observables from hundreds of CORS (Continuously Operating References Station) sites around the U.S.A. and via simulation using a Spirent GSS8000 GPS simulator. Specifically, we found that the position solution computed using DGPS beacon corrections is typically biased in a direction away from the beacon, and that the size of the bias depends upon the distance from the beacon. This bias grows with a slope of approximately one-third of a meter per 100 km of user-to-beacon distance. This paper compares the performance of several multibeacon algorithms assessed using GPS simulator data. These algorithms include the nearest beacon, a weighted sum based on distances, and a spatial linearly-interpolated correction using the actual locations of the transmitters (distance and angle). We note that as part of this research effort we developed a DGPS receiver using software-defined radio (USRP). A complete description of this system is included in the paper.