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You Are So Lucky!

November 30, 2010 in Marco's Posts

I was on a job site last week. I usually don’t get to go in the field, we better serve our customers from the keyboard than the truck. There is a big automotive test track being built and it was unusual enough that I could do more good by visiting the site.

The project has a lot of detail that we needed to build into the model. I went out to work with the contractor to help devise the best way to approach the grading of some soil cement. Soon after I got to the job site I heard something that gave me a laugh.

An equipment operator was getting ready to start working and shouted from the cab, “Hey, my radio link is down!”. He sat back in the cab, looked at the screen again and the link was back. The link stayed up the rest of the day. In fact, everything else worked fine the rest of the day. That is what was so funny.

I got into the GPS data business back in the early days. I know most of you have no idea about what we pioneers had to go through to make it easy on you. Here is my story about “uphill both ways in the snow” regarding GPS in the field.

Whenever you had a problem, 90% of the time it was power or cables. I need to explain, you have no idea how different it was. Power was from the BACKPACK nuclear reactor you had to carry. No joking, 2 large camcorder batteries as part of a 20 pound backpack that would heat themselves to the temperature of molten lava while you were wearing it. I used to jump on the paver screed just to cool off. On a good day you might get 4 hours out of the rig, that’s if you could see enough satellites for a fix. Yes, the antennas were not as good then either.

I’m not forgetting about cables. I thought I could make a business out of loading a truck with cables for GPS rovers and selling them at job sites. Kind of like a lunch wagon for electrons. Bluetooth came around and dashed my hopes. Cable pins broke, wires frayed and often times stopped working for no apparent reason.

I need to visit the old days again soon. The war stories are good for the new generation to hear. Are you wondering where all the old GPS guys like me landed? We either work for the manufacturers and dealers of GPS equipment or are in a mental health facility. Often times a combination of the two. I got to run, my phone is ringing. Now if I can only get my headphone to sync to my Blackberry…

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