Three Top Tips for using your Goniometer with Thomas Gray
Thomas Gray joined the Argos team in 2016 and has quickly become our go-to person on all things Goniometer.
He brings ten years of sales and marketing experience in the underwater tech realm previously working for an Argos satellite tag manufacturer. Some of Thomas’ favorite activities include snorkeling with whale sharks, “nadando en cenotes”, assisting in customer tagging operations and educating customers about our Products & Services.
Based on his trips out onto the field with you and your valuable feedback he gives us his top three tips to using your goniometer efficiently.
1. Elevate the Antenna as high as practically possible
The Goniometer’s ability to receive messages can be greatly enhanced simply by increasing the height of the antenna. You may have been wondering why the antenna cable is so long; this is why. Without going into great detail how Argos signal propagation works, just understand the importance of line of sight. For the Goniometer to receive a message it must be able to “see” (hear) the transmitter, and as you can imagine, its ability to see the transmitter increases as the height of the antenna increases (those are its eyes, or ears in this case). For example, a 7 foot tall person will see further in a crowd than a 4 foot tall person…the same logic applies here. The antenna can be mounted to the metal holder which can then be mounted to a pole to help elevate the antenna.
2. Start the search process at the last known Argos location.
I know that this sounds like a very simple tip or recommendation, and it is, but it works. Most Goniometer users report recovery times between one and three hours with three hours being primarily due to environmental conditions (on a boat…in the ocean, for example). These users all follow the simple tip – they started their search at the last known Argos location. Unless you are actively tracking and estimating the future location of the tagged animal, starting your search at the last Argos location is best practice. In addition, it helps to filter the location classes if possible.
3. Ensure that the settings on the Goniometer are set properly
We have only heard of a few unsuccessful tag recoveries, and it is usually one of two reasons. Either the individual forgot to check the tags’ duty cycling (the Goniometer only works with the Argos signal, so the tag has to be transmitting) or there was an incorrect setting on the Goniometer itself. The first thing you should check when you go into the field are the Goniometer’s settings (just in case / peace of mind). Once you access the settings screen (indicated by the wrench symbol), you should notice that there are two pages, and you will want to navigate to the second page of the settings. Confirm that both the “Direction Mode” and “Antenna Mode” settings say “Gonio” and not “Direct Reception.” The Direct Reception mode only works with GPS-enabled tags where CLS has the decoding scheme from the manufacturer. If you are unsure, please either check with the manufacturer or with us.