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RidewithGPS dropping signal - common?

Old 07-04-18, 03:17 PM
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billyymc
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RidewithGPS dropping signal - common?

Several years ago I tried all the bike apps - Strava, ridewithgps, MMR - and after using each for a bit lost interest.


Recently I've tried ridewithgps again for the purpose of recording a couple rides. On both rides the satellite signal was dropped at some point leaving an incomplete route - with a straight line from where it dropped to where it was acquired again.


I don't have the paid version so can't correct my route.


Anyone else have this problem with rwgps or with the others apps (Strava or MMR)? Is this common?

Last edited by billyymc; 07-04-18 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 07-04-18, 03:21 PM
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Recently RWGPS has been starting my ride a mile or two into the ride.
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Old 07-04-18, 03:29 PM
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Losing the signal sounds more like a hardware issue than a software issue.
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Old 07-04-18, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Losing the signal sounds more like a hardware issue than a software issue.
Interesting. Phone isn't that old, but not a high end phone. Galaxy J7 Sky Pro...service is Tracfone (go ahead and laugh, it suits my needs well and averages out to about $12 per month including the cost of the phone over two years).

Have to decide if it's worth it to me to look at a dedicated GPS again.
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Old 07-04-18, 03:44 PM
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I'm not sure how phones do it -- do they get their position info from the nearest tower? GPS such as Garmin gets signal from a satellite, and lots of things can block signal, including buildings, hills, and even tree cover.
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Old 07-04-18, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
Interesting. Phone isn't that old, but not a high end phone. Galaxy J7 Sky Pro...service is Tracfone (go ahead and laugh, it suits my needs well and averages out to about $12 per month including the cost of the phone over two years).

Have to decide if it's worth it to me to look at a dedicated GPS again.
Not the age of the phone that matters so much as the quality/strength of the GPS antenna in the phone itself, some phones just have weaker hardware. The Samsung J-series phones I think are budget options for prepaid plans and India and stuff, so they're probably not going to have the best GPS capabilities.
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Old 07-04-18, 04:04 PM
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I use an old I-Phone 5c hand me down, and I've never had a problem running Ride With GPS.

Well there was that one time the battery died......
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Old 07-05-18, 02:03 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
Several years ago I tried all the bike apps - Strava, ridewithgps, MMR - and after using each for a bit lost interest.


Recently I've tried ridewithgps again for the purpose of recording a couple rides. On both rides the satellite signal was dropped at some point leaving an incomplete route - with a straight line from where it dropped to where it was acquired again.


I don't have the paid version so can't correct my route.


Anyone else have this problem with rwgps or with the others apps (Strava or MMR)? Is this common?
If you are set on wifi only.... It will drop you on recording. must use data plan, cell towers
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Old 07-05-18, 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Not the age of the phone that matters so much as the quality/strength of the GPS antenna in the phone itself, some phones just have weaker hardware. The Samsung J-series phones I think are budget options for prepaid plans and India and stuff, so they're probably not going to have the best GPS capabilities.
What you're saying intuitively makes sense of course - my $100 phone won't be as good as an $800 phone - but it did record 93 miles of the century I did yesterday.

Metieval - I always leave the phone set with the data usage on, so yes that's how it was.
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Old 07-05-18, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
I'm not sure how phones do it -- do they get their position info from the nearest tower? GPS such as Garmin gets signal from a satellite, and lots of things can block signal, including buildings, hills, and even tree cover.
​​​​​Smartphones have a GPS receiver just like the Garmins do.

With these sort of small devices, there can be differences in performance but the performance of a quality phone is very good. There doesn't seem to be any reason to expect the phones aren' t just as good for GPS as the Garmins (the small ones). ​​​​​Any gps receiver can lose signal (even the Garmin).

GPS can take a "long while" to get the initial location but, after that, it's very fast and accurate.

Smartphones can "cheat" to get a good estimate of an initial location using cell towers and wifi. This "cheating" allows phones to have some idea of location indoors (where GPS doesn't work at all). This should let the phones handle GPS signal loss better. (This extra stuff is called "assisted GPS".) There's also "almanac" data that GPS uses that the phones can download over the internet (unconnected gps units download that data from satellites, which is really slow).

Smartphones often want the location very quickly and for a very short time. Because of how long GPS takes to get an initial location, GPS is not good for that typical location use.

GPS units are usually used for extended periods. That it takes a while to get an initial fix isn't generally a problem.

Last edited by njkayaker; 07-05-18 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 07-05-18, 07:17 AM
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Signal reception from the GPS satellites can be degraded or blocked entirely by buildings, terrain, RF interference and other things. Wet foliage on the dense tree cover on one of my routes plays havoc with the accuracy of my GPS's, both phone and Garmin dedicated units. Even your own body might block and/or degrade the signals at times.

As well the GPS satellites are not geosynchronous so at different times of the month and year the number of visible satellites might change or they will be at positions that don't give your particular location a good signal nor ideal relation to give an accurate calculation of location.

I think Smartphones tend to do better than dedicated units in dense urban areas with tall buildings. The A-GPS tech that they or at least some use lets them find your position quicker both initially and after a signal disruption. I'll still stick to my dedicated GPS units though. For me, the phone's display is too big, not as visible in the sun, and I'd rather crash and destroy my dedicated GPS and be able to pull my phone out of it's safe place and use it to call for help.
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Old 07-05-18, 07:25 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Wileyrat View Post
I use an old I-Phone 5c hand me down, and I've never had a problem running Ride With GPS.
Do you have that phone connected to a wireless carrier service? Or just an old unconnected one?
Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
If you are set on wifi only.... It will drop you on recording. must use data plan, cell towers
"must" If GPS is built into a phone, why do you need a data plan and cell towers?
Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
​​​​​Smartphones have a GPS receiver just like the Garmins do.

With these sort of small devices, there can be differences in performance but the performance of a quality phone is very good. There doesn't seem to be any reason to expect the phones aren' t just as good for GPS as the Garmins (the small ones). ​​​​​Any gps receiver can lose signal (even the Garmin).

GPS can take a "long while" to get the initial location but, after that, it's very fast and accurate.

Smartphones can "cheat" to get a good estimate of an initial location using cell towers and wifi. This "cheating" allows phones to have some idea of location indoors (where GPS doesn't work at all). This should let the phones handle GPS signal loss better. (This extra stuff is called "assisted GPS".) There's also "almanac" data that GPS uses that the phones can download over the internet (unconnected gps units download that data from satellites, which is really slow).

Smartphones often want the location very quickly and for a very short time. Because of how long GPS takes to get an initial location, GPS is not good for that typical location use.

GPS units are usually used for extended periods. That it takes a while to get an initial fix isn't generally a problem.
So, my basic question, could I take a disconnected from cell service, old cell phone (that has GPS), and use whatever app (eg RWGPS), and use Wifi from the phone when I get home to upload the ride?
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Old 07-05-18, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
"must" If GPS is built into a phone, why do you need a data plan and cell towers?
You don't. I did 54 miles in a rural area yesterday tracking my ride with RwGPS with my phone in airplane mode after the first two miles to save the battery. It worked flawlessly other than for about a mile where I manually paused it at a rest stop and forgot to unpause it right away, so I had a small area with the "straight line" thing. That probably means it was really a 55-mile ride.
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Old 07-05-18, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Do you have that phone connected to a wireless carrier service? Or just an old unconnected one?

"must" If GPS is built into a phone, why do you need a data plan and cell towers?

So, my basic question, could I take a disconnected from cell service, old cell phone (that has GPS), and use whatever app (eg RWGPS), and use Wifi from the phone when I get home to upload the ride?
Probably yes. I've done that with Strava. After beginning to record my ride on Strava I went into airplane mode and it recorded my ride anyway, and uploaded to Strava once I was connected again.
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Old 07-05-18, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
You don't. I did 54 miles in a rural area yesterday tracking my ride with RwGPS with my phone in airplane mode after the first two miles to save the battery. It worked flawlessly other than for about a mile where I manually paused it at a rest stop and forgot to unpause it right away, so I had a small area with the "straight line" thing. That probably means it was really a 55-mile ride.
Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Probably yes. I've done that with Strava. After beginning to record my ride on Strava I went into airplane mode and it recorded my ride anyway, and uploaded to Strava once I was connected again.
I guess I'm just wondering if for those who don't have a dedicated GPS/garmin and use phones, and likelihood that these days most people have their last phone socked away somewhere in a drawer somewhere, if it isn't a better idea to put the more disposable phone out-front on your bike; and keep your current phone tucked away somewhere safer (pocket or saddlebag)?
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Old 07-05-18, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
"must" If GPS is built into a phone, why do you need a data plan and cell towers?
You don't.

Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
So, my basic question, could I take a disconnected from cell service, old cell phone (that has GPS), and use whatever app (eg RWGPS), and use Wifi from the phone when I get home to upload the ride?
Yes.*

Recording rides this way is easy (it's a pretty-basic function).

Regarding navigation, you'd have to make sure that the app you are using downloads the map. RWPGPS provides downloading the map for a route as an option.

* A phone with a half GB of ram and 4GB of storage will likely be all sorts of headaches.

Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
I guess I'm just wondering if for those who don't have a dedicated GPS/garmin and use phones, and likelihood that these days most people have their last phone socked away somewhere in a drawer somewhere, if it isn't a better idea to put the more disposable phone out-front on your bike; and keep your current phone tucked away somewhere safer (pocket or saddlebag)?
Nothing wrong with that approach.

Last edited by njkayaker; 07-05-18 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 07-05-18, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
What you're saying intuitively makes sense of course - my $100 phone won't be as good as an $800 phone - but it did record 93 miles of the century I did yesterday.
A cheap phone might work well. People just should be aware that it might not. Some of the cheaper phones might struggle doing this well if they don't have much RAM.

Most people doing this are likely going to be using higher-end phones. That experience might not translate to cheaper phones.
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Old 07-05-18, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
A cheap phone might work well. People just should be aware that it might not. Some of the cheaper phones might struggle doing this well if they don't have much RAM.

Most people doing this are likely going to be using higher-end phones. That experience might not translate to cheaper phones.
WHen I first tried ridewithgps, Strava, and MMR several years ago I never had an issue with dropping the signal. I would assume my current phone is better than the one I had a few years ago, but maybe not.

Yesterday when it happened I was 30 or so miles into a century ride. The app ended up recording / calculating 93 miles but must have dropped out for a good portion of that because somehow it thought my ride time was really short and my stopped time really long. SHowed my avg speed as 26 mph! Should have kept that one! My avg for the 100.4 miles was 18.3 which for me was pretty respectable (pretty flat with 2600 feet, and I had aerobars on for the ride).
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Old 07-05-18, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
WHen I first tried ridewithgps, Strava, and MMR several years ago I never had an issue with dropping the signal. I would assume my current phone is better than the one I had a few years ago, but maybe not.
It sometimes happens that the performance of newer phones is worse that predecessors ("antenna gate" and "exploding batteries" are two notable examples).

The GPS performance might not have improved (much) over "several years". The big thing might be that the GPS chip has gotten cheaper.

The GPS signal is weak. A better (bigger) antenna helps performance. There might not be much that can be done in a smartphone. The Garmins, being single-purpose devices, might have more options here (but size is still a limitation).

Phones are used for GPS navigation all the time, car navigation is going to tolerate GPS signal losses better (not many people are recording their drives). It's possible that the benchmark for GPS performance for smartphones is "working for car navigation".

The benchmark for Garmin devices is likely more stringent.

There are thousands of smartphones. They don't all have the same performance.

Smartphone apps have to rely on the phone manufacturer to provide good GPS data. While the apps can screw things up, there's not much they can do about a poor GPS implementation.

I haven't used it much for recording long rides but I use my ancient iPhone 5 for surveys for maps and haven't seen it have GPS problems.

The thing to keep in mind is that smartphones and Garmin GPS units are essentially the same type of device: a computer with a GPS receiver attached.

There isn't really any reason they can't have similar performance. Though, keep in mind that the CPUs in the Garmins are slow (to prolong battery life). More can be done with a faster computer.

Last edited by njkayaker; 07-05-18 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 07-06-18, 05:51 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
Several years ago I tried all the bike apps - Strava, ridewithgps, MMR - and after using each for a bit lost interest.


Recently I've tried ridewithgps again for the purpose of recording a couple rides. On both rides the satellite signal was dropped at some point leaving an incomplete route - with a straight line from where it dropped to where it was acquired again.


I don't have the paid version so can't correct my route.


Anyone else have this problem with rwgps or with the others apps (Strava or MMR)? Is this common?
I use Map My Ride and haven't had any loss of signal problems with it. The problem I do have is that it almost always misrepresents my max speed. My riding is slower than a turtle stampeding thru peanut butter, so when I see max speeds in excess of 40 mph, I know the app is acting squirrely. Make me wonder what else it's getting wrong.
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Old 07-06-18, 06:26 AM
  #21  
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A month back or so, my phone's RWGPS app started taking a long time to catch onto my location and start recording, similar to what Kingston said. Then I did a soft reset of my phone (on iPhone, it is where you press the power button and the home button at the same time till the apple logo reappears) and that fixed the problem. But this reappeared yesterday evening when I started my ride back home from work. This time a soft reset also didnt fix the problem. And it was not overly clouded either. This morning it was back to normal though.
But to the OP, I have not had a GPS signal drop on my phone. Once it catches it, it stays. Even in remote areas of Vermont where there is no cell signal.
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Old 07-06-18, 08:43 AM
  #22  
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No matter whether you use a dedicated GPS or your phone, you are going to have problems from time to time that make some or all of your rides data bad. It will almost always be the one ride you really wanted to be complete and correct.
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