ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
Accredited by ABET
Undergraduate Programs

ECE 4164 Introduction to Global Positioning System (GPS) Theory and Design

Fall 2016 textbook list

The Fall 2016 ECE textbook list is available online for students.

Current Prerequisites & Course Offering

For current prerequisites for a particular course, and to view course offerings for a particular semester, see the Virginia Tech Course Timetables.

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ECE 4164 Introduction to Global Positioning System (GPS) Theory and Design (4C)

Fundamental theory and applications of radio navigation with the Global Positioning System GPS. Satellite orbit theory, GPS signal structure and theory, point positioning with pseudoranges and carrier phases, selective availability, dilution of precision, differential GPS, atmospheric effect on GPS signals.

What is the reason for this course?

The Global Positioning System GPS is one of the most powerful modern technologies. Civilian applications of GPS are rapidly growing and these applications will revolutionize our society in the near future. Many opportunities exist in industry and government agencies for engineers with background and formal training in GPS theory and design. This course will provide students with a firm background in the fundamentals of GPS theory and design. The course has a required weekly laboratory component which will provide students with hands on experience through laboratory experience and a design project.

Capstone Technical Elective for EE; Technical Elective for CPE. Typically offered: Fall. Program Area: Electromagnetics.

Prerequisites: C- or better in 2014, 3106 or AOE 4134.

Why are these prerequisites or corequisites required?

3106 or AOE 4134: Provide fundamental backgrounds into the electromagnetic radiation and physical positioning of GPS satellites. The instructor may make judgement of adequate background on an individual basis to be able to meet the needs of the diverse nature of students that take the course.

See "New GPS Course 2nd of Kind in USA."

Department Syllabus Information:

Major Measurable Learning Objectives:
  • Describe the fundamental theory and concepts of the Global Positioning System
  • Calculate GPS satellite orbit positions and velocities.
  • Calculate user position using GPS pseudorange data.
  • Calculate and analyze error sources for GPS user position calculations.
  • Correct GPS user position errors by using local area Differential GPS.
  • Organize and write technical reports
  • Organize and make technical presentations

Course Topics
Topic Percentage
Introduction to GPS and the Plessey GPS Receiver 5%
GPS Coordinate and Time Systems and Transformers 10%
Kepler Orbit Theory 20%
GPS Signal Structure and Theory 10%
Point Positioning with Pseudorange Measurements 10%
Selective Availability 10%
Dilution of Precision 10%
Refinements on the Navigation Solution 10%
Differential GPS 10%
Atmospheric Effects on GPS Signals 5%

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