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Monday, September 21, 2015

GPS palooza

When Portman gets into a project. He really gets into a project. A desire to integrate an old Garmin GPS into an old car started an Odyssey worthy of an engineer who doesn't get his hands on stuff anymore but sits in meetings listening to Yentas Kibitz.  This post is going to require a judaic dictionary I am afraid.

The task at hand was to fix the annoying tendency of my GPS suction cup mount to come unconnected from the windshield at the worst possible moment and to eliminate the obtrusive power cord from sullying the usual sleek appearance of my simulated (ie plastic) walnut dash.

A few YouTube videos later I had my idea.

Voila. A completely integrated semi permanent GPS mount with the wiring hidden behind the dash. It detaches easily and turns on and off automatically with the car ignition. Cost $10. I had to consult the internet for how to disassemble the dashboard. Its very simple but requires inside knowledge of a secret place you press on the dash and utter a secret phrase such as arrrggghhh while you exert incredible force on your dashboard until just when you think you are going to break the thing in two it relents and separates itself from the connected part.

Then I remembered the GPS came with lifetime maps. Onto the computer. I connected the thing and a few downloads and Garmin help sites later and I have the latest maps stored on the GPS.

But wait..there's more. While searching for how to update the GPS I found a web site with street maps available for free. Garmin charges $79 for the things. I have a bike GPS which has non detailed maps and I wanted to update it and wouldn't you believe there is an organization which produces bike specific GPS maps which they will build for you. A few giga bytes of downloaded data later and I have detailed maps on my bike GPS for, you guessed it, free.

But why stop there. I also found a free app for my smartphone which has GPS maps which do not require a data connection. Perfect for that trip to Denali National Park where GPS service is non existent.  I will be hiking right past those iPhone sissys as they search for a data connection  and wonder why they cant find their way off the tour bus.

So now I have a GPS in my car on my bike and in my pocket. The only way I can get lost is in my own thoughts as the Yentas drone on.....

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