Recent commercial developments in GNSS receivers have begun to make the dream of centimeter-level positioning with single-band RTK a reality for certain applications. These receivers use Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) or Differential GNSS (DGNSS or DGPS) methods to reduce the impact on the positioning accuracy of atmospheric and similar effects. Watch the video or read on to learn more…
These developments bring up questions about the applicability of Taoglas GNSS antennas for RTK applications:
- Will they work?
- How well might they work?
- Which antennas can be recommended?
- Which antennas are not recommended?
In an attempt to answer these questions, a study began (and is on-going) to test a multitude of Taoglas and competitive antennas in an RTK GPS positioning system.
This page presents the results of this study and will be updated when further data is available. The video is a walkthrough of the comparative study between a Quadfilar helical antenna, the Taoglas AQHA.11 and an Active Patch antenna. The executive summary including a number of other antennas is below.
A number of antennas were connected in succession to standard, off-the-shelf receivers from u-blox. These receivers are the same receivers which Taoglas customers may use in an IoT RTK system (u-blox M8P modules).
To provide RTK (and thus centimeter-level positioning), at least two receivers are required: a base/reference and rover. The base receives the same GNSS signals and sends “correction” data to the rover, which then calculates a precise differential position from the base. For these tests, a Taoglas AQHA.11 was used for the base/reference antenna.
During the test, various types of data were collected, including:
- Relative position (of the rover from the base), in meters
- Signal strength (C/N0) from each satellite
- Success in calculating the RTK position
The latter data type deserves more explanation: even though the base station may be sending proper “correction” data to the rover, the rover might not be able to fully use that data. Things like noisy signals, inconsistencies between satellites, or multipath may pollute the rover’s signal to the point that it cannot calculate the “corrected” position.
Modern receivers (like the u-blox) actually have three levels of correction: Fixed, Floating, and No Correction. Fixed is the best and provides the highest precision but is the most sensitive to the antenna or environment. Floating is an in-between correction that provides some improvement. “No Correction” means that no correction can be calculated and the receiver acts as a “standard precision” GNSS receiver.
How accurate can GPS coordinates be?
Examples of test results are shown below
Table 1 provides a comparison between a number of different antennas from a range of different product types. To explain the columns:
- DRMS: all of the positions collected during the test are collected and boiled down to a single metric, Distance Root Mean Squared (DRMS). Simply know that larger the number, the more spread-out the positions; the smaller the number, the tighter the grouping.
- A great antenna for RTK should allow a DRMS of < 1 cm.
- % RTK: a higher number means that a RTK correction was computed for a larger portion of the test.
- A great antenna for RTK should provide for RTK 100% of the time.
- Grade: the above two results and other factors were considered to attempt to more simply compare the tested antennas. Briefly:
- Best: 1-cm or better DRMS; 100% RTK; and “premium” features such as high rejection. These antennas can be references to which other antennas can be compared.
- Better: 2-cm or better DRMS; 100% RTK. These antennas are solid choices for RTK systems.
- Good: 1-m or better DRMS; >90% RTK. These antennas provide some RTK but not consistently enough to be recommended for all RTK applications.
- Standard: these antennas do not provide for consistent RTK and/or positioning and should not be considered for RTK applications. They should be targeted strictly for standard-precision applications.
|Antenna||Part Number||DRMS||%RTK||RTK Grade||Recommended for RTK|
|AA.109 on 15cm GP||1.0 cm||100%||Better||Yes|
|AA.160 on 15cm GP||0.7 cm||100%||Better||Yes|
|AA.162 on 15cm GP||1.1 cm||100%||Better||Yes|
|AA.170 on 15cm GP||0.7 cm||100%||Better||Yes|
|AA.171 on 15cm GP||1.0 cm||100%||Better||Yes|
|AGPSF.36B (L1+L5)||7.2 cm||100%||Good||Yes|