GPS Long Look: The L5 Signal Going Through Its Paces

The satellite began broadcasting the new signal on April 10, 2009, and Topcon engineers reported successfully tracking the signal a few days later. The US Air Force is presently testing the L5 signal from one GPS satellite. Topcon had added the capability of tracking L5 signals four years ago — its current GR-3 and NET-G3 receivers are L5-capable.

“Topcon’s receivers are ready to utilize the new signal once it is operating and when there are enough satellites transmitting the signals to improve positional quality,” said Ivan Di Federico, TPS senior vice president, engineering. Topcon receivers can also receive GPS/GLONASS L1/L2 as well as GPS L5.

In an official announcement, the US Air Force has cautioned the L5 signal is still under development and that quality and accessibility of the signal is not guaranteed.

Di Federico said, “Tracking the L5 signal is a testament to the hard work, expertise and dedication of Topcon’s corps of engineers. Starting more than four years ago, our engineers made sure that when the L5 signal became active, our receivers could track it.”

The L5 signal was received at the Topcon Technology Center in Moscow. The satellite signal was tracked over a three-hour period at the highest satellite elevation. Di Federico said the signal was received with the energy potential of 55 dBHz.

Topcon engineers have been closely monitoring the progress of the new satellite from its launch, Di Federico said. “Any time new signals are available for use, it benefits our customers who depend on precise positioning information in the fields of surveying, civil engineering, construction, GIS, telematics and agriculture. The more signals a receiver can pick up, the better the accuracy a customer can get on every job.”

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