A Field Calibration Solution to Achieve High-Grade-Level Performance for Low-Cost Dual-Frequency GNSS Receiver and Antennas

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Low-cost dual-frequency receivers and antennas have created opportunities for a wide range of new applications, in regions and disciplines where traditional GNSS equipment is unaffordable. However, the major drawback of using low-cost antenna equipment is that antenna phase patterns are typically poorly defined. Therefore, the noise in tropospheric zenith delay and coordinate time series is increased and systematic errors may occur. Here, we present a field calibration method that fully relies on low-cost solutions. It does not require costly software, uses low-cost equipment (~500 Euros), requires limited specialist expertise, and takes complex processing steps into the cloud. The application is more than just a relative antenna calibration: it is also a means to assess the quality and performance of the antenna, whether this is at a calibration site or directly in the field. We cover PCV calibrations, important for deformation monitoring, GNSS meteorology and positioning, and the computation of PCOs when the absolute position is of interest. The method is made available as an online web service. The performance of the calibration method is presented for a range of antennas of different quality and price in combination with a low-cost dual-frequency receiver. Carrier phase residuals of the low-cost antennas are reduced by 11–34% on L1 and 19–39% on L2, depending on the antenna type and ground plane used. For the cheapest antenna, when using a circular ground plane, the L1 residual is reduced from 3.85 mm before to 3.41 mm after calibration, and for L2 from 5.34 mm to 4.3 mm. The calibration reduces the Median Absolute Deviations (MADs) of the low-cost antennas in the vertical direction using Post Processed Kinematic (PPK) by 20–24%. For the cheapest antenna, the MAD is reduced from 5.6 to 3.8 mm, comparable to a geodetic-grade antenna (3.5 mm MAD). The calibration also has a positive impact on the Precise Point Positioning (PPP) results, delivering more precise results and reducing height biases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2267
Number of pages21
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • GNSS
  • receiver antenna calibration
  • Phase Center Variation
  • PCV
  • ZTD
  • positioning
  • U-Blox
  • ZED-F9P
  • low-cost


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