Sunday, March 18, 2012

No fooling: April 1 GNSS fix issue returns

GNSS GLONASS fail

The entire GLONASS constellation suffered a major disruption Tuesday

It’s happened again. Two years ago a significant number of TomTom units started having problems acquiring GPS satellites on April 1. It took a full week to roll out a fix (punny, huh?). Well it appears that the April 1 GNSS jinx has struck again, as the entire GLONASS constellation started providing erroneous information just after midnight, Russian time, this past Tuesday. 

These events appear to be totally unrelated, but the April Fools Day timing is a fascinating coincidence. Lets, see, how does that saying go? Fool me once…

Okay, enough foolery (I’m sorry, I can’t leave it alone!). Let’s look at why these events happened. The GLONASS issue appears to be due to bad ephemeris data being uploaded to the satellites. And while TomTom said their GPS fail was due to “third-party software,” they filed suit last week against Broadcom. One legal journal reported that “…the chip contained a latent defect that led to a “catastrophic failure” in April 2012.” The complaint goes on to state…

“The failure of Broadcom’s 4760 to perform as warranted caused TomTom to suffer millions of dollars in damage, including product returns, repair and customer support costs, and lost sales and goodwill.”

Some of that damage was self-inflicted though, as TomTom did not recall the units but left them on store shelves, knowing they would not work without a firmware update.

 

 

 

 

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

Comments

  1. SergZak says:

    I believe something very similar happened with Garmin nuvi units a few years ago as well but it was just around the Summer Solstice in June. For me personally, it affected the nuvi 765. The unit suddenly gave the message “Updating GPS software” while it was being used, then after rebooting proceeded to refuse to power back on. The fix was a software update issued by Garmin as well as opening the unit, then disconnecting the battery for 10 seconds or so and reconnecting it. If you couldn’t/didn’t want to open the unit yourself, you needed to send it to Garmin for repair. It was a huge mess and I believe it also affected (at least) the 8×5 series as well but that was an easier fix since the battery is user-accessible. I believe the main topic over at GPS Review was entitled “My 765t died tonight…anyone else?” http://forums.gpsreview.net/discussion/13897/my-765t-died-tonight-anyone-else/p1

    • Interesting. Thanks for sharing. A 765t was my main unit at one point, and I don’t recall seeing the issue. I wonder if it was limited to some units based on firmware version or something else.

      • SergZak says:

        Basically if your unit was running a certain firmware version (v3.40), you were at risk and your unit was on a course for deceasement. The biggest problem Garmin had was that (I believe) this firmware version was one of those factory installed versions (came from the factory and was deemed “stable” for production) so whatever units were still on the shelves would be affected once they were purchased, then powered on and went through the bricking process…unless they were updated immediately to the corrected firmware v3.60.

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