Most DGPS techniques use a GPS receiver at a geodetic control site whose position is known. The receiver collects positioning information and calculates a position fix, which is then compared to the known co-ordinates. The difference between the known position and the acquired position of the control location is the positioning error.

Because the other GPS receivers in the area are assumed to be operating under similar conditions, it is assumed that the position fixes acquired by other receivers in the area (remote units) are subject to the same error, and that the correction computed for the control position should therefore be accurate for those receivers. The correction is communicated to the remote units by an operator at the control site with radio or cellular equipment. In post-processed differential, all units collect data for off-site processing; no corrections are determined in the field. The process of correcting the position error with differential mode is shown in the Figure 12.

Figure 12: A Position Error Corrected with Differential

The difference between the known position and acquired position at the control point is the DELTA correction. DELTA, which is always expressed in meters, is parallel to the surface of the earth. When expressed in local coordinate system, DELTA uses North-South axis (y) and an East-West axis (x) in 2D operation; an additional vertical axis (z) that is perpendicular to the y and x is used in 3D operation for altitude.

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