Antenna Adapters for Smart Devices Replacing the Need for Trimble in the Field

By Alison Haller, M.S., Director of Marketing and Communications at Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc.

Although external antenna adapters have been available for a couple of years, this is the first time Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. (Commonwealth) will be testing new mobile applications to potentially replace and/or supplement the need for dedicated handheld GPS units in the field.

This new technology as a backup option when field work is at a high volume across the company (and therefore, GPS units are in high demand). The equipment is still under a trial period. The determining factors will be contingent on whether we can achieve high accuracy results from the applications available, determine if the use of mobile devices positively affects our work flow, and if this is a good fit company-wide. Because we are a small business, we want to make sure these kinds of investments will provide the results we are seeking without sacrificing the high value and customer service we provide to our clients. Therefore, although we can’t see them completely replacing handheld GSP units initially, perhaps the external antennas and mobile devices are things small companies like us can use to add accuracy and flexibility to our services depending on the industry, equipment updates, and user feedback.

What are the Pros of using these?

The Trimble R1 external antenna is a high-performing and integrated antenna that staff can use with any smart device. Since mobile devices cannot get better than 10 ft. of accuracy, using these built-in external positioning systems will help immensely. This technology is also less expensive than a new GPS unit, both to purchase or rent.

What are the Cons of using them?

While staff will have the capability to connect a variety of devices, this means staff will also have to coordinate the extra equipment because it’s not self-contained. Like any technology device, there are a few shortcomings, such as being conscious of where the antenna is and not clipping it somewhere it can’t get sky view. In the end, these are all shortcomings we feel confident that our field staff can overcome with adequate training.

How does it work?

The antenna works through a mobile application to replace the internal positioning system of the device with the sub-meter accuracy of the antenna. This can then be used with a variety of other apps to record positions in the device. At Commonwealth, we are pairing the R1 antenna and Trimble GNSS Status app with the ArcGIS Collector app for use in the field to maximize results and manage data more efficiently, delivering clients with the high-quality data they deserve.

If you want to know more about our trial run or questions on this new equipment, contact us at

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