Adding GPS to a Wifi only iPad

Submitted: Wednesday, Dec 04, 2019 at 18:04
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This is a common issue that comes up, so for the interest of others I thought I'd once again provide the answer.

PROBLEM: WiFi-only iPad models (ones without cellular network capability) do NOT have an in-built GPS receiver, which means that when you are without an internet connection you cannot get location services to display position data on a map - even if using our offline capable navigation app ExplorOz Traveller.

SOLUTION: Your only option if you have a Wifi only iPad is to use an external Bluetooth GPS receiver. These are readily available to purchase for around $60-$250 dollars either online or in stores such as JBHifi. These actually work very well. Popular models are Bad Elf, Garmin GLO, and Dual Electronics XGPS.

MYTH: I can share the GPS in my phone to my iPad by using the Personal HotSpot feature. INCORRECT

REASON: The GPS chip in your phone is only a "receiver" and has no ability to transmit regardless of what connection services you have available (eg. Bluetooth, USB, Wifi, 3/4G). When your iPad uses your phone's HotSpot it receives data via an internet connection. The location services the iPad receives during that connection is broadcast from public HotSpots & Cell Towers and never uses the phone's inbuilt GPS.

WHERE DOES LOCATION DATA COME FROM?
GPS stands for Global Positioning System. GPS uses a system of many satellites that orbit Earth to send location and time data to GPS receivers that are on the ground. GPS receivers can be stand-alone devices or built-into Smartphones/tablets as a data chip.

But, there is also another system for obtaining Location data that does not use the satellite system and instead uses Wifi/mobile data and a system called AGPS. AGPS retrieves location data from local objects on the ground such as public Wifi nodes and Cellular towers. This data is available to devices that have Wifi or 3/4G.

HOW DOES A SMARTPHONE/TABLET USE LOCATION DATA?
Although many "Smartdevices" (phones/tablets) will have a GPS receiver built in it can sometimes be problematic as more than 4 satellite fixes are required and this is often slow to achieve. So, these Smartdevices also feature the ability to automatically detect others ways of getting position data, so in urban areas the AGPS is often quicker so your device will tend to favour this option if available (ie. Wifi or 3/4G required). NOTE: in your device Settings you will also have the option to select which location services you allow your device to use. A Smartphone/Tablet with a built in GPS will also know when the network coverage is poor and will then switch automatically to using the GPS via satellites.

HOW DOES A WIFI ONLY IPAD GET LOCATION DATA?
Since the AGPS is not available to the iPad when offline, and a Hotspot from another device only supplies internet not location services, and the Wifi only iPad does not have the inbuilt GPS chip, it fails to be able to get location data when offline. This is why you must get an external GPS receiver (usually connected via Bluetooth or USB) for your Wifi only iPad to get consistent location data when travelling.

If you want to read it put another way, this link explains it rather nicely too- How does GPS work on my phone.
Michelle Martin
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Dec 04, 2019 at 18:22

Wednesday, Dec 04, 2019 at 18:22
Hi Michelle

Can thoroughly recommend the Bad Elf.

Will connect up to 5 units simultaneously and works a treat will last more than 12 hours on a charge, and recharges very quickly.

There is one catch, and it took me a long time to work out...

When you buy them, they are setup to work only with Apple devices, yet the box says compatible from Apple, Android and Windows.

After over 2 hours of hair pulling, I finally found only small yet simple setting.

Once that was sorted, it works a treat and now my main form of receiving GPS data for 2 onboard computers.


Cheers



Stephen
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Follow Up By: terryt - Wednesday, Dec 04, 2019 at 19:51

Wednesday, Dec 04, 2019 at 19:51
So should everyone spend two hours hairpulling or would you be willing to share?
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Dec 04, 2019 at 20:27

Wednesday, Dec 04, 2019 at 20:27
Hi Terry

It is easy and if anyone gets a Bad Elf, I am only too happy to help them.

If anyone knows me, I do not do things half hearted, and I have screen shots of the steps requited and a detailed description on just how to do it.






Cheers


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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Dec 06, 2019 at 12:43

Friday, Dec 06, 2019 at 12:43
Hi Again Terry

If you look, I have a new Blog on how to setup the Bluetooth Bad Elf GPS receiver to work on a Windows based computer.


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Follow Up By: terryt - Friday, Dec 06, 2019 at 13:14

Friday, Dec 06, 2019 at 13:14
Thanks Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 07:30

Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 07:30
Hi Stephen,

Pardon my ignorance here, but which “Bad Elf” product do you have? I have looked on line, and there are a couple of products, The Bad Elf, the Bad Elf Lightning Connector, & The Bad Elf Pro. I am leaning towards the The Bad Elf, but do I need the Lightning Connector as well? I have an Apple iPad Air 2.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 07:50

Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 07:50
Hi Macca

The unit that I have is the Bad Elf Pro, as I wanted a Bluetooth GPS receiver that was going to work on my Windows based computers.

If you intend to only ever use the product on your iPad only, I believe that all you would need to purchase is the Bad Elf Lightning Connector.

The only issue that I could see with this is keeping the iPad charged while driving.

If you want a true multi devise GPS receiver that will work on five units at once, then the Bad Elf Pro is the way to go.

It should also be noted that if you never intend to use the Bad Elf Pro on nothing but Apple products, eg phone, iPad, ipod etc, the only thing that you need to do is download the free Bad Elf App, open it, select the Bad Elf unit that you have, pair it and you are up and running, as quick and easy as that.



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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 07:54

Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 07:54
Thanks Stephen,

If I read the blurb correctly, the Lightning Connector has a “through charging” capability that allows the iPad to be charged while connected.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 08:01

Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 08:01
Hi Macca,

Yes I just looked after posting and was about to go in and edit my post, but you beat me to it.

Yes it comes with a 3 foot cable for charging, sorry for giving the wrong information.

All I can say is the Bad Elf range is extreme quality, and you will see it is designed for aviation and military use, and that alone speaks for their quality.


Cheers

Stephen


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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 08:16

Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 08:16
Thanks Stephen,

Just ordered the Lightning Connector, will see how it performs once it arrives.

I currently have a HemaHX1 and have had an issue with it “stalling” in high temperatures. Mounted on the windscreen it sits just above the dashboard, and even though I have the back of the unit covered with a white cloth, it still gets hot and slows down to the point that it is up to 15 kms behind our actual position.

Also, with the iPad having a larger screen, I should be able to read it better, eyes not getting any younger.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 08:28

Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 08:28
Hi Macca

You should be very happy with your purchase, and please keep us up to date when it arrives.

It it is as simple to use as the Pro, you should be up and running within minutes and testing it on the road.

You could even get a head start and download the app and have a look at that before your new unit arrives.


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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 09:20

Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 09:20
Hi Stephen,

You have read my mind, just about to download the app.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 09:29

Saturday, Dec 07, 2019 at 09:29
Great minds think alike......lol
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Reply By: Dave B18 - Friday, Dec 06, 2019 at 18:11

Friday, Dec 06, 2019 at 18:11
Considering you can buy a decent 10" Android tablet that does everything with GPS built in for around $250.00 why would people bother with the horrifically overpriced Apple gear. The 8" Android tablet with GPS for $120.00 can leave one mounted permanently in the vehicle.
The Apps available for Android are more suitable for travelling.
I am always stunned Apple can rake in some many customers to pay for their seriously overpriced hardware, which is not up to the capability of Android in many areas.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Friday, Dec 06, 2019 at 18:14

Friday, Dec 06, 2019 at 18:14
Horses for courses really.
This information is intended for people that already have a Wifi only iPad - there's plenty out there. I take a lot of enquiries and you'd be surprised how often this comes up.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Dec 06, 2019 at 18:43

Friday, Dec 06, 2019 at 18:43
Hi Dave

Good to see you are up to date and know your Apple products.....

Apple do not make aftermarket Bluetooth GPS receivers, and the Bad Elf is a stand alone product, this is aviation quality.
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Reply By: Member - Aebi U - Thursday, Dec 19, 2019 at 02:58

Thursday, Dec 19, 2019 at 02:58
I'm planing to visit Australia for 2 1/2 month with my wife. We will travel all time by a camper of BRITZ., typ Venturer. A tablet as well as a GPS Navigation incl. WIFI (Hotspot) is included. That should be a well working system for using your navigation system. I already have saved about 50 Treks for our trip. I assume that I can download EXPLOROZ on the BRITZ tablet and use your respectively my private data for exploring your country without any problems?
Since I am asking this question about the GPS, I have another question. Am I correct in assuming that I can drive the following route (one part of our trip) with a 2WD camper: Adelaide, Wilpena Pound, Arkoroola, IGA Warta, William Creek, Coober Pedy to Ayers Rock.
Thank your for your reply. Many thank to the whole team, congratulation to a great navigation program.
Merry Christmas and a very happy new year, Urs Aebi, aebiu60@icloud.com


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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Thursday, Dec 19, 2019 at 07:50

Thursday, Dec 19, 2019 at 07:50
Hi Urs, I would check the Britz rental conditions, I suspect a 2wd camper might not be allowed on the Oodnadatta Track and other gravel roads. Plenty of people travelled these roads in 2wd vehicles but you need to drive to conditions. Tyres fitted to a rental camper would also be a potential limitation. A Toyota troopy camper might be a better proposition. You should be well aware the safety requirements of relatively remote in Australia before you set out. The time of year also plays a big part, summer temperatures in that part of Australia are currently greater than 40 deg C and this is a common occurrence. Hope you have an enjoyable trip.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Thursday, Dec 19, 2019 at 12:53

Thursday, Dec 19, 2019 at 12:53
Hi Urs,
Do you have any information about the tablet that is included in your rental agreement?
This particular post is about iPads which are Apple devices, not Android tablets but I will still try to give you some assistance.

Firstly, I wouldn't be assuming that Britz would make the tablet accessible to allow you to install apps of your choice (such as ExplorOz Traveller) as it is possible that they might prefer to have them "locked" and only give you access to pre-loaded apps. Have you checked this specifically?

Another question - when you say you have "saved" about 50 Treks for your trip, do you mean you already have the ExplorOz Traveller app on a device you own and have created "Private Treks" that you expect to sync to the hired tablet once you install our app onto it?

As this subject is personal, may I suggest you continue correspondence with me via the Help Desk so not as to clutter the Forum post?
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