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1200. History and Role of Loran iterranean Sea, and parts of the Pacific Ocean until the mid
1990’s when it began closing its overseas Loran C stations
The theory behind the operation of hyperbolic naviga- or transferring them to the governments of the host coun-
tion systems was known in the late 1930’s, but it took the tries. This was a result of the U.S. Department of Defense
urgency of World War II to speed development of the sys- adopting the Global Positioning System (GPS) as its prima-
tem into practical use. By early 1942, the British had an ry radionavigation service. In the United States, Loran
operating hyperbolic system in use designed to aid in long- serves the 48 contiguous states, their coastal areas and parts
range bomber navigation. This system, named Gee, operat- of Alaska. It provides navigation, location, and timing ser-
ed on frequencies between 30 MHz and 80 MHz and vices for both civil and military air, land, and marine users.
employed “master” and “slave” transmitters spaced ap- Loran systems are also operated in Canada, China, India,
proximately 100 miles apart. The Americans were not far Japan, Northwest Europe, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and South
behind the British in development of their own system. By Korea.
1943, the U. S. Coast Guard was operating a chain of hyper-
The future role of Loran depends on the radionaviga-
bolic navigation transmitters that became Loran A (The
tion policies of the countries and international
term Loran was originally an acronym for LOng RAnge
organizations that operate the individual chains. In the
Navigation). By the end of the war, the network consisted
United States, the Federal Government plans to continue
of over 70 transmitters providing coverage over approxi-
mately 30% of the earth’s surface. operating Loran in the short term while it evaluates the
In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, experiments in low long-term need for the system. The U.S. Government will
frequency Loran produced a longer range, more accurate give users reasonable notice if it concludes that Loran is no
system. Using the 90-110 kHz band, Loran developed into longer needed or is not cost effective, so that users will have
a 24-hour-a-day, all-weather radionavigation system the opportunity to transition to alternative navigation aids
named Loran C. From the late 1950’s, Loran A and Loran and timing services.
C systems were operated in parallel until the mid 1970’s Current information on the U.S. Loran system, includ-
when the U.S. Government began phasing out Loran A. ing Notices to Mariners, may be obtained at the U.S. Coast
The United States continued to operate Loran C in a number Guard Navigation Center World Wide Web site at
of areas around the world, including Europe, Asia, the Med-


1201. Summary of Operation each secondary forms the hyperbolic LOP. The intersection
of two or more of these LOP’s produces a fix of the vessel’s
The Loran C (hereafter referred to simply as Loran) position.
system consists of transmitting stations, which are placed There are two methods by which the navigator can con-
several hundred miles apart and organized into chains. vert this information into a geographic position. The first
Within a Loran chain, one station is designated as the mas- involves the use of a chart overprinted with a Loran time
ter station and the others as secondary stations. Every delay lattice consisting of hyperbolic TD lines spaced at
Loran chain contains at least one master station and two convenient intervals. The navigator plots the displayed
secondary stations in order to provide two lines of position. TD’s by interpolating between the lattice lines printed on
The master and secondary stations transmit radio puls- the chart, manually plots the fix where they intersect and
es at precise time intervals. A Loran receiver measures the then determines latitude and longitude. In the second meth-
time difference (TD) between when the vessel receives the od, computer algorithms in the receiver’s software convert
master signal and when it receives each of the secondary the TD’s to latitude and longitude for display.
signals. When this elapsed time is converted to distance, the As with other computerized navigation receivers, a
locus of points having the same TD between the master and typical Loran receiver can accept and store waypoints.


in turn. planned route.174 LORAN NAVIGATION Waypoints are sets of coordinates that describe either loca.. crossing. it selects the correct cycle of the pulse to track. the enough in the pulse to ensure that the receiver is detecting Loran receiver and antenna. the signal is designed such that 99% of the radiat- waypoint. course over ground. the receiver displays either Y for some 3-secondary chains).. ary coding delay (SCD). Some trans. To this time the pattern of the entire pulse sequence are shown in Figure interval is added an additional delay defined as the second- 1203a. Transmitting stations are required to keep the but their signal processing is similar. the control sta. secondary signals is governed by several parameters as il- lustrated in Figure 1203b.. speed over ground. Next. The time required for the master signal to trav- sent first by the master station and then. or The individual sinusoidal Loran pulse exhibits a steep by keying in the waypoint coordinates manually. is chosen for two reasons. either as a rise to its maximum amplitude within 65 µsec of emission TD or latitude-longitude pair. precisely shaped pulse envelope to identify the correct zero Loran receivers exhibit varying degrees of sophistication.e. The transmitters emit pulse architecture described here reduces this major source Loran signals at precisely timed intervals. the imaginary line connecting the peak of each master or secondary). The Loran Signal the signals must clear the entire chain coverage area before the next one is transmitted. this letter designation indicates the order in the pulse. Some ex- maintains synchronization with the selected received sig. by the sec. in many instances. and Z. how propagation of the signal causes the pulse shape enve- mitters serve only one function within a chain (i. In this phase. The ECD is important because receivers use the chains. they will be designated Y and Z. either lope (i. This occurrence. In addition the transmitting station’s ground wave pulse and not its sky to the master and secondary transmitting stations them. wave pulse. or simply coding delay (CD). The tion and a precise time reference. The Loran receiver is programmed to track the signal tinually serves as a check on the primary navigation plot. and bearing and distance to next waypoint. el to the secondary station is defined as the average baseline ondary stations. ceptions to this general naming pattern exist (e. Second. X. This parameter indicates anomalies or out-of-specification conditions. one sinusoidal cycle) to shift in time relative to the zero cross- transmitter transmits signals for each of two adjacent ings. Y. and more precise timing of the signals. kHz. searches for the signal from a particular Loran chain and estab. the receiver searches for and detects the apart. errors into positions determined by a Loran receiver. land-based Loran facilities also include the primary refraction and if used unknowingly. the navigator can use the receiver to monitor The signal frequency is nominally defined as 100 kHz. individual pulses are combined into sequences. The general idea is that each of 1203. achieved with a lower average output power. Waypoints may be entered by visiting the spot of in. the Loran charts. which they transmit following the master. would introduce large and secondary system area monitor sites. it is late enough for the pulse to have built up sufficient signal For the marine navigator. it is early system consist of the land-based transmitting stations. they are X. the receiver enters the settle transmit a series of eight pulses. each spaced 1000 µsec phase. the receiver secondaries. and control stations continually measure and analyze the Another important parameter of the pulse is the enve- characteristics of the Loran signals received to detect any lope-to-cycle difference (ECD).g. Both the shape of the individual pulse and travel time (BTT). terest and pressing the appropriate receiver control key. If a chain has two Having selected the correct tracking cycle. or baseline length (BLL). If a chain has begins the tracking and lock phase. However. secondaries with sufficient accuracy to permit subsequent set. By continuously providing parameters such as ed power is contained in a 20 kHz band centered on 100 cross-track error. in the vessel’s progress in relation to the track between each actuality. X and nals. in which the receiver three secondaries. lishes the approximate time reference of the master and For the master signal. front edge of the Loran pulse. If using waypoints to mark a and an exponential decay to zero within 200 to 300 µsec. tude. during which the receiver ceived ECD as well. First. the components of the Loran strength for the receiver to detect it. so that no signal can be received The Loran signal consists of a series of 100 kHz pulses out of order. W. Once this phase is reached. Secondary stations After search and acquisition. pulsed transmission allows the same signal range to be The total of these two delays is termed the emission delay . the receiver con. termed the 1202. a series of nine pulses is transmitted. Pulsed trans- tions of navigational interest or points along a planned mission also yields better signal identification properties route. the time difference of the signals or the computed latitude The spacing between the master signal and each of the and longitude. Many receivers display the re- consists of search and acquisition. on the cycle corresponding to the carrier frequency’s third positive crossing of the x-axis. Components of the Loran System standard zero crossing. Sky wave pulses are affected by atmospheric selves. Secondary stations are given letter designations of U. The first processing stage ECD within defined limits. After detecting the front edge of W. and so on.e. the first eight spaced 1000 µsec apart followed by a ninth tling and tracking. This practice is termed dual rating. The monitor sites of error. transmitted 2000 µsec after the eighth. Y and Z. As compared to a carrier signal of constant ampli.

and the cycle is repeated. which is the exact time interval between the transmis. transmits again. (ED). Two additional characteristics of the pulse group are plete this cycle of transmission defines an important phase coding and blink coding. for the northeast U. From the definition above.600 µsec. LORAN NAVIGATION 175 Figure 1203a. As mentioned value. Each secondary station has its own ED designator for this chain is defined as 9960. previously. The time to com. For example. the interval ing allows a receiver to remove skywave contamination between successive transmissions of the master pulse group from the groundwave signal. just less than sion of the master signal and the transmission of the one tenth of a second. The group repetition interval divided by ten yields in a preset pattern that repeats every two GRI’s. to propagate fully throughout the region covered by the Once the last secondary has transmitted.S. the master chain before the next cycle of pulses begins. and the ED of Z is longer signals from the master and secondary stations in the chain than that of Y. Loran C signals travel away . Phase cod- the chain’s numeric designator. the ED of sec. In order to ensure the proper sequence. the phase characteristic for the chain: the group repetition interval of the 100 kHz carrier signal is reversed from pulse to pulse (GRI). Pulse pattern and shape for Loran C transmission. the GRI must be sufficiently large to allow the ondary Y is longer than that of X. chain is 99. the GRI secondary signal. In phase coding.

3. or.4 seconds Assuming a constant speed of propagation of electro- on. the time difference in operator. When a signal from a secondary station is out of tol. The U. If a station’s mitter sites is proportional to the distance between each of signal will be temporarily shut down for maintenance. The skywave always circle not lying between the two stations defines the baseline arrives later than the groundwave because it travels a great. station is defined as the station pair baseline. The receiver detects this condition and displays it to the magnetic radiation in the atmosphere. Skywave is Loran energy that travels up points connecting the two stations.6 seconds off and 0. The baseline is. beyond the stations to encompass the points along this great waves back to the earth’s surface. and on in a repeating cycle. that is. 1204. Two other concepts important to the understanding of Lo. The geographic line connecting a master to a particular secondary d=c x t .uscg. The time axis for Loran TD for point “A. Loran Theory of Operation Blink coding provides integrity to the received Loran signal. in Groundwave is the Loran energy that travels along the sur. the locus of points having a con- erance and therefore temporarily unsuitable for navigation. In Loran navigation. When the blink indication is received. The ionosphere reflects some of these sky. the operator the arrival of electromagnetic radiation from the two trans- should not use the affected secondary station. Coast Guard Navigation Center posts proportionality between distance and time: these online at http://www.” from a transmitting station in all possible directions.navcen. all secondaries in the affected Distance=Velocity x Time chain will blink.176 LORAN NAVIGATION Figure 1203b. The optimal region for hyperbolic navigation oc- er distance. using algebraic symbols ran operation are the baseline and baseline extension. the first two transmitter stations defines a hyperbola. thus creating the hyperbola on the Coast Guard communicates this information in a Notice to earth’s surface. that part of a great circle on which lie all the face of the If a master station is out of tolerance. Phase exercised in the regions near the baseline extension. “cancel out” when all the pulses of two consecutive GRI’s are averaged together. The extension of this line into the sky. extension. the the transmitting sites. while the most care must be the ground wave of the next pulse in the pulse group. which is a line two pulses of the affected secondary station are turned off of position. stant difference in distance between an observer and each of the affected secondary station will blink.S. The following equations demonstrate this Mariners. The skywave of one pulse can thus contaminate curs in the vicinity of the baseline. These coding ensures that this skywave contamination will always concepts are further developed in the next few articles. other words.

Let us say another secondary station “Y” is placed at point (50.5 NM. let us assume that two Loran transmitting stations. may then be solved.5 distance am = µsec to travel from the master station to the observer at point A.5 NM. Because the navigator uses TD’s to perform Loran hyperbolic navigation.ya). it would take a signal (6. the observer will then have two equations corresponding to the M-X and M- Y TD pairs: 0. xa and ya.” is located at (x. Recall from the general discussion above that a secondary station transmits distance ax = [ ( x a – 200 ) 2 + y a2 ] 0. .18 µsec/NM) × 512. An geographic coordinates of the observer. if the velocity (c) is constant. graphic positions.y) = (+200. Substituting. designated With the master and secondary stations in known geo- “M”.y) = (-200. the observer’s distance perpendicular to the baseline is labeled zero. In turn. Loran TD’s are positive. let us rework the example for Figure 1204. observer with a receiver capable of detecting electromag. We assume further that the master station. or 300 NM.5 NM. The above example is expressed in terms of distance in nautical miles. Depiction of Loran LOP’s.5 master and a secondary. The two remaining unknowns. Mathematically. with both neg- from the master station would be 512.9. the only unknowns are the two ondary. 200) then the distance between that observer and the Note that for mathematical convenience. An example illustrates the concept.5 0.5 after an emission delay equal to the sum of the baseline travel time and the secondary coding delay. simi. one can obtain the distance between the observer and ter station M to point A was 512. these hyper- secondary station (the point designated “X” in Figure bola labels have been normalized so that the hyperbola 1204a) would be 212.5 NM = 3.5 D 1 = [ ( x a + 200 ) 2 + y a2 ] – [ ( x a – 200 ) 2 + y a2 ] 0. The distance from mas- larly. From the the secondary station: relationship just defined between distance and time.500).5 0. distance D has a value of 300 NM. As shown in Figure 1204. the observer must obtain a similar hy- perbolic line of position generated by another master- secondary pair. In this example.5 D 2 = [ ( x a + 200 ) 2 + y a2 ] – [ ( x a – 50 ) 2 + ( y a – 500 )2 ] Distances D1 and D2 are known because the time differences have been measured by the receiver and converted to these distances. To produce a fix. the M-X TD pair in terms of time rather than distance. LORAN NAVIGATION 177 Therefore. coordinates are defined as (xa. add- ing timing details specific to Loran. the distance The difference between these distances (D) is: between a vessel and each of two transmitting stations will be directly proportional to the time delay detected at the D = distance am – distance ax vessel between pulses of electromagnetic radiation trans- mitted from the two stations. designated “X. For example. In actual practice. Let us assume that The Pythagorean theorem can be used to determine the electromagnetic radiation travels at the speed of light (one distance between the observer and the master station. is located at coordinates (x.5 0.0). a 0. all D would simply be the difference of the two. Each hyperbolic line of position in Figure 1204 netic radiation is positioned at any point “A” whose represents the locus of points for which (D) is held constant. At the arrival of this signal. Adjacent LOP’s indicate where D is 250 NM or 350 NM. The function ative and positive difference values. are located along with an observer D = [ ( x a + 200 ) 2 + y a2 ] – [ ( x a – 200 ) 2 + y a2 ] in a Cartesian coordinate system whose units are in nautical miles.167 2 [ ( x a + 200 ) + y a2 ] 0. For every other point along the hyperbola passing through A. nautical mile traveled in 6. if the observer above were located at point A (271.0) and the sec. the observer’s Loran receiver would start the TD measurement.18 µsec).

if the defined for each chain. however. For example.313) Phase Factor (SF) accounts for the reduced propagation µsec = 14. ed the TD’s corresponding to different navigational aids tem. that the Loran receiver measures the are transparent to the operator since they are uniformly in- time delay between reception of the master signal and the corporated into all calculations represented on charts and in reception of the secondary signal. Similarly. Later. If one vessel were to travel to the TD’s determined by another vessel. These two corrections Recall. signals from some Loran LOP to fix the observer’s position. the TD observed at point A in this over land is further reduced as compared to the signal pass- hypothetical example would be (14. Similarly. wanting to return to the buoy. a buoy marking a harbor entrance).3. returns to the pre. this is the most complex and the most impor- tant one to understand.785 µsec. taking (6. Once again. light in free space. the repeatable accuracy of the system is much the Loran position and the actual position is a measure of better. adverse weather.18 µsec/NM) × 212. a Secondary ondary signal by the observer at point A is (13. and it gives rise to a hy.5 The reduction in propagation speed due to the atmo- NM = 1. specified accuracy needed from Loran therefore requires tion. suppose a navigator were to travel to a (e.178 LORAN NAVIGATION the master and the secondary are 400 NM apart. The secondary signal then propagates over a distance three corrections to the propagation speed of the signal. 60 to 300 feet) depending on one’s location in the coverage Repeatable accuracy is the accuracy with which the area.g. Therefore. suppose the able accuracy of the system enables location of the buoy in navigator. tity above must be corrected by subtracting the amount of Because land surfaces have lower conductivity than time required for the signal to travel from the master trans- mitter to the observer at point A.000 by the atmosphere through which it travels and by the con- µsec. speed due to traveling over seawater. also termed predictable or geodet. The distinction between absolute and repeatable accu- Absolute accuracy. accounts for simultaneous differences in distance between the observer the delay due to the land conductivity when converting time and the two transmitting stations. . delays to distances and then to geographic coordinates. measure of the system’s relative accuracy.. is the accuracy of a position with respect to the correct application of ASF’s and within the coverage area geographic coordinates of the earth. Of the three corrections mentioned 1205. and is accordingly treated in detail The initial calculations above assumed the speed of in Article 1210.18 µsec/NM) × 400 NM = tromagnetic radiation propagates on earth is reduced both 2. Assuming a secondary coding delay of 11.000) µsec or 13. been collected and recorded and is generally commercially tem’s repeatable accuracy.25 nautical miles.472 + 11.472 + 1. For example. the total time from sphere is represented by the first correction term: the transmission of the master signal to the reception of the sec- Primary Phase Factor (PF). 212. Defining Accuracy same navigation system at the same time.1 and 0. the 11. Therefore. the absolute accuracy of the Loran navigator plots a position based on the Loran latitude and system varies from between 0. Therefore.472 µsec. longitude (or based on Loran TD’s) the difference between However. If the navigator has been to an area previously and not- navigator can return to a position whose coordinates have been measured previously with the same navigational sys. This amount of time was seawater. LORAN ACCURACY 1206. available. With the ic accuracy.313 µsec to do so. Allowances for Non-Uniform Propagation Rates in this article. this time delay is a function of the Additional Secondary Phase Factor (ASF).472 µsec after the master sta. the high repeat- buoy and note the TD’s at that position. however. racy is the most important one to understand. The (2. A third and final correction. the actual speed at which elec- the baseline travel time is (6.167) µsec or ing over seawater. therefore.5 NM to reach point A. the dif- Specifications of Loran and other radionavigation ference in position between the two vessels would be a systems typically refer to three types of accuracy: absolute. selected TD data for various viously measured TD’s. De- perbolic line of position which can be crossed with another pending on the mariner’s location. This information provides an excellent backup Relative accuracy is the accuracy with which a user navigational source to conventional harbor approach can measure position relative to that of another user of the navigation. the propagation speed of the Loran signal passing 3. The resulting position difference harbor navigational aids and other locations of interest have between the vessel and the buoy is a measure of the sys. the time quan.167 µsec. Loran receivers. repeatable and relative.618 µsec. typically between 18 and 90 meters (approximately the system’s absolute accuracy.785 . the secondary station in this example would transmit ductive surfaces—sea and land—over which it passes. transmitters may have traveled hundreds of miles over land and must be corrected to account for this non-seawater por- tion of the signal path.

weather. . The remaining factors are briefly explained as The user should also be aware that the propagation follows. factor is so critical to proper Loran operation. a slight timing shift as large as tens of nanosec. making the absolute accuracy of Loran tion for periods of hours or even longer. but since all errors accumulate. When some older groundwater levels. The remaining factors discussed maintenance. speed of Loran changes with time as well.) Sudden ionospheric disturbances Yes Yes Receiver quality and sensitivity Yes Yes Shipboard electric noise Yes Yes Accuracy with which LOP’s are printed on nautical charts Yes No Accuracy of receiver’s computer algorithms for coordinate Yes No conversion Operator error Yes Yes Table 1207. remains importance to the mariner. the effects of Therefore. Factor Has effect on Absolute Accuracy Repeatable Accuracy Crossing angles and gradients of the Loran LOP’s Yes Yes Stability of the transmitted signal (e. Seasonal changes may be vice versa. which system area monitor is Yes Yes being used.2 µsec. due to atmospheric and sur- types of equipment are switched from standby to active and face changes from day to night. onds may be seen. however. generally caused by lightning.g. Several factors that con. etc. receiver. or diurnal. due to equipment casualty or to accomplish system fore it reaches the mariner. Man- tribute to limiting the accuracy of Loran as a navigational made noise has a similar effect on accuracy. re- There are limits on the accuracy of any navigational duces the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) available at the system. seasonal effects. control signals commonly used on high-tension power ner’s aim should be to have a working knowledge of each lines) may also interfere with lock-on and tracking of a Lo- one and minimize any that are under his control so as to ob. the control station shifts to the secondary sys. should be understood as part of the Loran “error budget..) Atmospheric and man-made ambient electronic noise Yes Yes Factors with temporal variations in signal propagation speed Yes Yes (e. The timing of each station in a chain is controlled based Ionospheric Disturbances (SID’s) increase attenuation of on data received at the primary system area monitor site. below address the accuracy with which the mariner re- tem area monitor site. etc. Geometry. The factors above all relate to the propagated signal be- ever. Even though all these factors except operator error harmonics are near 100 kHz (such as the constant carrier are included in the published accuracy of Loran. and Loran is no exception. These Sudden lar. Loran stations that are the closest tain the best possible accuracy. In rare cases.g. transmitter effect) Yes Yes Loran chain control parameters (e. flares.g. LORAN NAVIGATION 179 1207. Passing most marine receivers. generally the best in the vicinity of the primary site. In general. This in turn degrades accuracy of the LOP. how closely actual ED is maintained to published ED. Article 1208.. it cold weather fronts may have temporary effects as well. the best LOP’s for a fix may not all be from the crossing angles and gradients are discussed in detail in the very nearest stations. This is so small that it is undetectable by but these vary with location and chain being used. When. due to snow cover or changing equipment varies from station to station. most notably solar The effects of actions to control chain timing are simi. disturb the earth’s atmosphere as well. a aid are listed in Table 1207 and are briefly discussed in this man-made noise source whose carrier signal frequency or article.. Atmospheric noise. to the user will have the highest SNR and will produce The geometry of LOP’s used in a Loran fix is of prime LOP’s with the lowest errors. slight timing shifts may be ceives and interprets the signal. Limitations to Loran Accuracy introduced in parts of the coverage area. diurnal variations. radio waves and thus disturb Loran signals and reduce Signal timing errors are kept as near to zero as possible at SNR. ran receiver. Temporal chang- The age of the Coast Guard’s Loran transmitting es may be seasonal. as large as 1 µsec and diurnal changes as large as 0. Such a disturbance may interfere with Loran recep- the primary site.” Disturbances on the sun’s surface. Because understanding of this a key factor in producing a good fix from combined LOP’s. the mari. Selected Factors that Limit Loran Accuracy.

The Effects of Crossing Angles and Gradients The hyperbolic nature of Loran requires the operator to pay special attention to the geometry of the fix. operator error when using Loran is always possible. A typical family of hyperbolas is shown in Figure 1208a.180 LORAN NAVIGATION Receivers vary in precision. published accuracies take into account Loran signals. the TD’s from any given master- secondary pair form a family of hyperbolas. and to the possibil- ity of fix ambiguity. Internal processing also varies. Similarly. A family of hyperbolic lines generated by overprinted chart. quality and sophistication. The raw TD’s obtained by the receiver must be correct- ed with ASF’s and then translated to position. Assume that LOP 1 . The chart shows only a limited number labels that intersection as the Loran fix. and the time difference along this chart. As has been noted. as in all endeavors. contacting the manufacturer or obtaining pro- fessional installation assistance may be appropriate. Figure 1208b. the navigator marks the intersection of the LOP’s and LOP is 25750 µsec. if the ob. This can be minimized with alert- ness. Each of the sets of LOP’s is given a separate color and is denoted by a char. The best receiver available may be hindered by a poor installation. The results would be the hyperbolic lattice shown in Figure 1208b. the small errors involved in this conversion process. Whether the receiver performs this entire process or the mariner assists by translating TD’s to position manually using a Loran Figure 1208a. interpolation between them is required to obtain the precise Figure 1208c shows graphically how error magnitude LOP. other elec- tronic equipment or even household appliances may hinder the performance of a Loran receiver. We begin with crossing angles. 1208. various electric motors. suppose the hyperbolic family from the Master- Xray station pair shown in Figure 1204 were superimposed upon the family shown in Figure 1208a. proper installation and placement of the receiver’s components will mitigate these problems. specifi- cally to crossing angles and gradients. knowledge and practice.1 µsec. an LOP might be M-X and M-Y. the vessel must be somewhere along that locus of points which forms the hyperbola. A hyperbolic lattice formed by station pairs acteristic set of symbols. Therefore. Each hyperbo- la in this family can be considered a line of position. whether in the analog “front end” or the digital computer algorithms that use the processed analog signal. and may adjust operator settings to maximize performance. Generally. The mariner should consult documentation supplied with the receiver for proper installation. Some receivers display TD’s to the nearest 0. Note also in Figure of LOP’s to reduce clutter on the chart. Now. Finally.01 µsec. the mariner may gain an appreciation for the ad- vantages and limitations of the particular model available. As discussed above. In some cases. the TD is for the TD measurements and plotted the resulting LOP’s on the Master-Xray pair (M-X). By referencing the user manual. Loran LOP’s for various chains and secondaries are printed on nautical charts. For example. designated 9960-X-25750. electronic noise produced by engine and drive machinery. other. others to 0. The designation is read as fol- lows: the chain GRI designator is 9960. After having interpolated (if necessary) between two varies as a function of crossing angle. 1208b the various angles at which the hyperbolas cross each served time delay falls between two charted LOP’s.

The gradient is defined as the possible positions along LOP 1 (i. the gradient possible. As the crossing angle (i. is. the angle of Understanding and proper use of TD gradients are also intersection of the two LOP’s) approaches 90°. This occurs along the baseline. the line defining the range of uncertainty grows longer. if at a particular location two printed LOP’s for which the crossing angle is as close to 90° as TD lines differ by 20 µsec and are 6 NM apart. Error in Loran LOP’s is magnified if the crossing angle is less than 90°. Gradients are much larger (i.e.. cent Loran TD’s (usually expressed in feet or meters) and es. Therefore. the best accuracy from Loran is obtained by using TD’s whose gradient is the where x is the crossing angle. Fix certainty is inversely proportional to the sine of the crossing ambiguity results when one Loran LOP crosses another angle.e.8 ft/µsec 20µsec LOP error The smaller the gradient.= 1822. while LOP 2 has an uncertain. the “ends” of a hyperbola can wrap around so that they the error is at a minimum when the crossing angle is 90°. Therefore. the LOP in two separate places. sine of the crossing angle increases from 0 to 1. conversely. the difference in microseconds between these adjacent This illustration demonstrates the desirability of choosing LOP’s. ty as shown. LORAN NAVIGATION 181 Figure 1208c. smallest possible (i. Another Loran effect that can lead to navigational error Assuming that LOP error is constant. the position uncertain. the position uncertainty increas. Near the baseline extension. the smaller the distance error sin(x) = ----------------------------------- fix uncertainty that results from any TD error. rate of change of distance with respect to TD. the user should select fix uncertainty = -------------------------- sin ( x ) TD’s having the smallest possible gradients. this quantity is the ratio of the spacing between adja- crossing angle decreases. range of important to the navigator. As the crossing angle increases from 0° to 90°. Thus.. For example. then position un.e. in the vicinity of the baseline extension is fix ambiguity. Put another ty or fix error) approaches a minimum. as the way. hyperbolic lines are farther apart) in the vicinity LOP error of the baseline extension. is known to contain no error.e. cross another LOP twice. the hyperbolic lines are closest to- Rearranging algebraically. gether). and again . and increases thereafter as the crossing angle decreases. The relationship between crossing angle and fix uncer- tainty can be expressed mathematically: 6NM × 6076ft/NM Gradient = ----------------------------------------------. once along the baseline.

the receiver and any chart in use must han- actly the same correction method as another. served in the region within 10 NM of the coast. tional Imagery and Mapping Agency or others gion.25 NM accu- One caveat to remember when considering coverage racy specification in these areas. One receiver manufacturer may not use ex.pdf.navcen. If the navigator desires to correct . such accuracy is not areas is that the 0. “Loran C correction tables published by the Na- First. Second. Coast Guard. currently at http://www. current NOAA Loran overprinted In practice. have expended a great deal of effort to is valid within each chain’s coverage area. ASF’s can be determined from either a mathe. tions that cannot fully be accounted for in current ASF Most Loran receivers have an ambiguity alarm to alert models applied to the coverage area as a whole. Coverage area diagrams of each chain cies. fixes determined by Loran may satisfy the 0. With respect to where ASF’s affect published accura- cg. Every effort has been made to meet within each region. or from empirical time delay measurements shore waters. the conductivity of ground varies from region to re. Navigation Center. where in the coverage area ASF’s affect published accura- printed charts. The National Oceanographic then does the marine navigator need to know about ASF’s and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has general. As a result. “guaranteed” for Loran within 10 NM of the coast. incorporate ASF’s.25 nautical mile accuracy criteria estab- ASF’s vary. even though chapter. Designers of the Loran system. The lines of signal LORAN NAVIGATION along the baseline extension. However. charts of the U.S. however. If operating on a time differences printed on a particular nautical chart. ASF’s vary seasonally with changes in groundwater levels. one must remember that local variations in the vicinity Other helpful information available at this FTP site in.25 NM accuracy criteria is modified in. two key sources of material in this current predictive ASF models. in inshore areas.25 NM absolute accuracy ad- ly followed these coverage area limits when selecting vertised for Loran.S. including Loran receiv- The 0. A third LOP would resolve Loran. Coverage Areas snow pack depths and similar factors. Mariners are matical model based on known approximate ground cautioned not to rely solely on the lattices in in- conductivities.25 NM absolute accuracy specified for Loran er manufacturers. es and other structures to coastal areas. even empirically measured ASF’s may change using a master-secondary pair when operating in the vicinity slightly in these areas with the addition of buildings. for example—the receiver must differences may not obtain the best accuracy possible from be set to the same mode. methods used to compute the 0. chart that does not include ASF’s—Loran coverage areas in While such differences are minor. 1209. determining this Loran ASF correc. Third. Over the ity and large gradients necessitate that the navigator avoid years. The navigator should verify which Mathematically. gin the following note appears: There are at least four reasons for this complexity. This area. the answer is clear. inaccuracies in ASF modeling are account- particular chain. cies. may be ob- the navigator to this occurrence. This is because the inclusion of ASF’s is required in order to meet the 0. so the correction to be applied is different for every should not be used with this chart. bridg- of that pair’s baseline extension. ground conductivity data currently position shown have been adjusted based on available do not take into account all the minor variations survey data.S. both fix ambigu. Users side the coverage area in the vicinity of the coastline due to should also avoid relying solely on the lattice of Loran TD’s ASF effects.25 NM accuracy and ensure the mode is not changed tion speed of an electromagnetic signal passing over a land surface of known conductivity is relatively straightforward. of the coastline are the most unpredictable of all ASF relat- cludes the Loran C User’s Handbook and the Loran C ed effects because they are not adequately explained by Signal Specification. and neither dle ASF’s in the same manner. unknowingly. With respect to when ASF’s are being applied.” in various locations. one 1210. or a combination of both. both in the receiver and on any chart in use. beyond this? To obtain the 0. Moreover. The key point to remember there is that the “ASF in- corporating empirical measurements tend to yield more cluded” and “ASF not included” modes must not be mixed. What and SNR criteria are met. a user unaware of these another part of the world. Similarly. accurate results. Understanding Additional Secondary Factors should realize that the default mode in most receivers com- (ASF’s) bines ASF’s with raw TD measurements. is the region in which both accuracy ed for in published accuracy specifications for Loran. The following article describes this more fully. may use exactly the same method as those incorporated into any chart in use must also include them. One must know where to print particular Loran TD lines on Loran over. include ASF’s in error calculations and to minimize these whose limits define the maximum range of Loran for a effects. In other words. If the receiver includes them. Indeed. Coast Guard’s incorporated. and one must know when ASF’s are being are also available online from the U. calculating the reduction in propaga- mode the receiver is in. Methods in. lished by the U. Fourth and finally. relatively large local variations in ASF varia- the ambiguity. and in the chart’s mar- tion accurately for use in the real world can be complex.

entering an transits the coverage area.htm. New Jersey for just this reason. re- for a time difference may be negative because two signal de. Government does not guarantee the accuracy sites can be found at the USCG NAVCEN web site. turned off.noaa. however. The documents also provide a fuller explanation of manual ASF primary system area monitor for stations 9960-M. This responsibility. receivers vary in how this feature is imple- some track multiple chains simultaneously. The alert navigator will frequently 1212. The prudent navigator will curacy is that most Loran receivers may be manually regularly check Loran TD’s against charted LOP’s when in calibrated using a feature variously called “bias. When viewing ASF tables. Some receivers monitor these turned on. sources indicate the technique to be of value out to a dis- The following articles discuss practical techniques for max. forces the receiver’s position error to be zero at that partic- Up to this point. our discussion has largely focused on ular point and time.S. tinually adjust the emission delay of each secondary station the ASF’s for one station pair are different from the ASF’s to keep it statistically at its nominal value as observed at the for another station pair because the signals from the differ- primary monitor site. As ASF’s call also that the ASF’s are a function of the terrain over change daily and seasonally. the primary and secondary monitor sites also have a dis. two additional considerations may Loran its most important characteristic. The best with the offset. which the signal must pass to reach the receiver. Maximizing Loran’s Absolute Accuracy should evaluate experimentally the effectiveness of this technique in good weather conditions before relying on it Obtaining the best possible absolute accuracy from Lo. and 9960-Y was placed at the entrance to New York harbor though the ASF correction for a single signal is always at Sandy Hook. are not visible on the display panel of waypoints stored prior to establishing this correction. Therefore. to monitor these factors is ues. correctly understanding and using Loran in order to obtain The limitation of this technique is that this correction published accuracies. Recall that Loran receivers use ASF’s to correct TD’s. some cases. When in homeport or another gitude readouts against other sources of position known location. Some receivers save the offset when the receiver is of installed marine receivers still use only two TD’s to pro. others zero the correction when the receiver is duce a latitude and longitude.S. The first is repeatable accuracy consistently. Ensuring the proper configuration and opera. tables for U. The locations of primary system area monitor The U. Loran chains are available the Loran TD is more stable and more accurate in the abso- at http://chartmaker. but the majority mented. What this means is that. Most receivers track an entire chain and Finally. for navigation at other times. A switch by positive (indicating that the signal is always slowed and the control station to the secondary monitor site will shift never speeded by its passage over land).” “offset. Besides the effects of transmitter supplied by the receiver.” a known position. of ASF corrections incorporated into Loran receivers by The second consideration in maximizing absolute ac- their respective manufacturers. the known latitude and longitude (or in information. ducing it near the secondary site and slightly increasing it lays are included in the computation. tance of 10 to 100 miles of the point where the calibration imizing the absolute. Some receivers replace the internal ASF value factors and may automatically select the best pair. “homeport” or a similar term. 9960-X corrections. and will compare Loran latitude and lon. These lute sense in the vicinity of the primary monitor site. accuracy levels actually obtainable may be creasing distance away from the point used. repeatable and relative accuracy of was performed. The navigator 1211. To obtain the best help the navigator maximize absolute accuracy. ent pairs must travel over different terrain to reach the . SNR and prox. station location on geometry and fix error. The bias should also be ad- ran rests primarily on the navigator’s selection of TD’s. In some portions of the coverage ar. particularly taking into account geometry. power lines or other such man-made structures. LORAN NAVIGATION 183 ASF’s manually. As a vessel fective application of this technique. justed regularly to account for seasonal Loran variations. these factors gradually change offset into a Loran receiver alters the apparent location of and. Refer to the owner’s manual for the receiver in use. even if not actu- ally plotting fixes on it. Most published significantly better than these minimum published values. the Loran receiver. by referring to a Loran overprinted chart. the Loran control stations con. the locations of The reason for this lies in the ASF conversion process. This correction does not take into account Loran. Re- cernible effect on TD error in the coverage area. remember that al. local distortions of the Loran grid due to bridges. Maximizing Loran’s Repeatable Accuracy reevaluate the selection of TD’s during a transit and make adjustments as while others add it to the internal ASF val- way for the navigator. using the same value throughout the year is not the most ef- imity to the baseline and baseline extension.ncd. the difference between the current Loran dis- tion of the Loran receiver remains the navigator’s play and the known values) is entered into the receiver. except for SNR. becomes less accurate with the passage of time and with in- eas. elsewhere. Many users consider the high repeatable accuracy of Beyond this advice. on average. the ASF correction the error distribution slightly within the coverage area. Also. the navigator should use the realization that Loran TD error is not evenly distributed measured TD’s rather than latitude and longitude values over the coverage area.

Naval Observatory than to an arbitrary master station’s transmission. By using previously-measured practice of converting old Loran TD’s into latitude and lon- TD’s and not previously-measured latitudes and longitudes. a significant segment of the user community uses Loran for the propagation of Coordinated Universal Time With the advent of the powerful digital processors and (UTC). which are measured relative to UTC rather Time of Coincidence (TOC). An alternate receiver architecture that takes advantage The start of each Loran station’s GRI periodically co. its timing signal will be received at any assumed position. The max. This architecture steps beyond the lim- receivers do not typically rely on the hyperbolic mode or itations of using only one Loran chain at a time. the lat.S. imum relative Loran accuracy would be theoretically be This consideration matters because a Loran receiver achieved by identical receivers. independent of Loran blink.S. A receiver fort to ensure that each Loran master transmitter station can now predict in real time the exact point in time a Loran emits its signal within 100 ns of UTC. use TD’s per se. technology infra. One key question posed by these pro- and not just the ones used by the receiver at the time. Timing equipment chitecture can also add an additional layer of integrity at the at the transmitter stations constantly compares these signals user Coast Guard makes every ef. The end result is a One technical possibility arising out of this new capa- nationwide system with a large ensemble of independent bility is to control the time of transmission of each station timing sources. other TD’s will be available even difficulty in answering this question depends on how the if the previously used TD pair is not. To round out the discussion of Loran. gitude for use with GPS and DGPS receivers. the navigator can perform the conver- occurred. return trip. technical limitations that dictated Loran’s hyperbolic and data networks. Because Loran is fundamentally a precise timing sys. Maximizing Loran’s Relative Accuracy by direct observation underway if needed. assisted 1213. If in doubt. the navigator should obtain relative accuracy close to the itude and longitude readings for the exact same buoy would theoretical maximum. The accessibility of UTC at any desired location rather than by structure. As another cross-check of Loran time. prompting the descriptor “all in view” for sufficient to provide an absolute timing reference. Another application of relative accuracy is the current ing a different ASF value. be slightly different because the new TD pair would be us. the following ar- The classical application of relative accuracy involves ticle briefly describes present and possible future uses for two users finding the same point on the earth’s surface at this system beyond the well-known hyperbolic navigation the same time using the same navigation system. this ar- three modern cesium beam oscillators. The U. The U. daily using system area monitors. Recording the time and date the waypoint is stored will also help evaluate the Loran TD’s were obtained. Coupled with advanced Receiver station has an independent timing reference consisting of Autonomous Integrity Monitor (RAIM) algorithms. If. tracking the same TD’s. as well as the exact time the of each secondary station is relative to the master.html er operating in TOA mode can locate and track all Loran for the benefit of timing users. mode. the receiver is using a different TD pair. on the sistently between the two receivers. Because one Loran station is signals in view. The returning to the waypoint. timing this type of receiver. the two most important factors are tracking the buoy by recording its latitude and longitude using the TD same TD’s and ensuring that ASF’s are being treated con- pair selected automatically by the Loran receiver. This is termed the measurement. compact precise oscillators now embedded in user receiv- ables such applications as the synchronization of telephone ers. As a result. The navigator should commercial firms sell software applications that perform also record the values of all secondary TD’s at the waypoint this tedious task. architecture decades ago have been overcome. sion once by specifying “with” ASF’s and once “without. of these capabilities uses Loran Time of Arrival (TOA) incides with the start of the UTC second.184 LORAN NAVIGATION receiver. NON-HYPERBOLIC USES OF LORAN C 1214. A receiv- publishes TOC’s at http://tycho. Because the timing station will transmit its signal.S. independently with direct reference to UTC. This strengthens the U.” and then carefully choosing which is the valid one. Suppose a navigator marks the position of a channel practice. Precise Timing with Loran comparisons are made with UTC. By attending to these. 1215. accuracy derives from that of the master. and adjusts to minimize oscillator drift. In fix. system availability can be improved across all the overlap- A noteworthy feature of Loran is that each transmitter ping coverage areas. Such an arrangement could of- . Several this ASF-introduced error is avoided. configured and installed may not always use the same pairs of TD’s to calculate a identically on identical vessels. and of course an understanding cyclical seasonal and diurnal variations that may have since of ASF’s. Loran Time of Arrival (TOA) Mode tem. When grams is whether or not the Loran TD’s include ASF’s. as disseminated via GPS.

data.S. GPS or DGPS. who were nearly universally un- radation or failure of any component system without aware of this dual use. the Northwest European Loran Sys- Loran offers several advantages to an integrated sys.S. which was designed urban and natural canyons and under foliage. Preliminary tests have shown modulated Loran dependent timing source also provides an additional degree signals could be successfully used to broadcast WAAS of robustness to an integrated system. the data superimposed on the Loran signal were The ideal integrated navigation system can tolerate the deg. This could in turn more different from those that cause failure or degradation of naturally configure Loran for use in an integrated naviga. degradation as a whole. of GPS. for periods of several hours to a few days after a total loss An exponential worldwide increase in reliance on elec. the repeatable accuracy of Loran could ensure near-GPS performance of an integrated 1216. tronic navigation systems. integrated navigation systems are Loran chain control and backup military communications. at northern Europe. Eurofix successfully incorporated sophis- 100 kHz it occupies a very different portion of the spectrum ticated data communications techniques to broadcast GPS than the 1. tem (NAS). National Airspace Sys- signals may be partially or completely blocked. the 1970’s. Therefore. In all cases. transparent to the users. large antenna for efficient propagation. attractive options as robust sources of position and time. When the absolute accuracy of Loran is con- tion system. LORAN NAVIGATION 185 fer the advantage of more uniformly distributing Loran fix stances that cause failure or degradation of Loran are very errors across the coverage areas. where GPS for the benefit of aircraft in the U.S. Loran in an Integrated Navigation System system in several possible navigation and timing scenarios. tinually calibrated by GPS.6 GHz band used by GPS. The two primary uses of this capability were In this environment. Coast Guard has practiced low data rate trans- likely have severe safety and economic consequences for mission using Loran signals during various periods since the United States and other nations. is to broadcast GPS corrections provided by the U. for positioning and timing has fueled a drive for more robust 1217.2 GHz to 1. Loran as a Data Transfer Channel systems immune from accidental or intentional interfer- ence. . for example. Wide ming GPS over the same area. Loran signals are present in Area Augmentation System (WAAS). Even a short outage of GPS. In the late 1990’s. jamming Another possible use of a Loran data transfer channel Loran over a broad area is much more difficult than jam. In short. the circum. would The U. most notably GPS. tem (NELS) implemented a pulse-position modulation tem based on GPS or DGPS. Loran’s in. Although Loran relies on radio pattern termed Eurofix to provide differential GPS correc- propagation and is thus similarly vulnerable to large-scale tions via the Loran signal to certain areas in western and atmospheric events such as ionospheric disturbances. Loran is a corrections in real time while allowing traditional Loran us- high-power system whose low frequency requires a very ers to operate without interruption.