Boosting GPS signal reception

I am having trouble logging my track with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 running the Geo Tracker app to record group bike rides. The satellites are easily lost in even lightly treed areas and there is a long delay before they are recaptured. I have tried the phone in the back pocket of my jersey or mounted in a cradle on my handle bars, but the satellite signals are still frequently lost.

Are any of these alternatives for increasing signal sensitivity even remotely possible:

@ a self-powered booster antenna and signal amplifier mounted on my helmet and connected to the phone by USB cable,
@ a standalone battery-powered device dedicated to only capturing the data points to a file which can be downloaded to a computer in any of GPX/KML/KMZ formats, or
@ a dongle antenna which can be directly plugged into the phone’s USB port.

I would like to avoid location transmitters with their own SIM card used for tracking where you dog or spouse is. Too much unwanted bang for the very simple task of recording a track. It would be nice if WiFi router signals could also be used to augment satellite tracking.

Has anyone in a situation similar to mine found any software and/or hardware solutions they can recommend? If possible, I would like to switch off Bluetooth (and WiFi when feasible) to save the battery.

Keywords: devices mobile phones smartphones cellphones dongles antennas antennae signal booster amplifiers dedicated track loggers sensitivity sensitive

You can buy a new device if you feel that is necessary. This will cost a bit of money however.

Here is an openstreetmap diary entry comparing 3 different devices to record data (phone vs DIY gps recorder vs premade gps recorder):

When you say that the reception becomes bad when in lightly treed areas? Do you mean the reception goes away conpletely, or that it just becomes slightly worse?

My old Android had a horrible GPS. My solution was to get an external Bluetooth GPS receiver and pair it with the phone. That allowed me to use my normal mapping apps on the phone with much better locations. And the Bluetooth connection meant it was easy to put the GPS unit someplace that had good reception (top of pack for hiking, etc.). It has been a few years so I don’t know which current production unit(s) to recommend but there should be several to pick from.

Cheapo phones have cheapo satellite receivers - no surprise. Consider a Raspberry with the most modest of USB satellite receivers attached, and enjoy the difference. That does take a bit of hardware concoction, though, but the lesser cost might make up for that. Plus, above all: it is FUN!!

On a sidenote, and if you’ll excuse my being pecky on terminology: as of 2020, it is useless to limit oneself to GPS. Glonass is now quite good, too, at least here in Europe, and Galileo is rumoured to be following up fast.