There are two modifications that must be made to a normal automobile GPS to facilitate and greatly improve the use of that GPS on a motorcycle. The first is the addition of an audio out (female) plug into which the helmet headset earbuds can be inserted, or into which earbuds can be used, sans helmet. The addition of an audio out jack is covered in a separate article in this blog. See “Audio Out Stereo Jack – Nuvi 55LM”. The second is to add a sun shade so that the GPS screen can be viewed while exposed to the bright sunshine on a normal tour. That second modification will be detailed in this article.
The first challenge of adding a shade to the Nuvi 55LM GPS or any other GPS model is to find a material that is flexible enough to bend around the corners of the Ram Mount holder that is used to mount the GPS onto the handle bar of the motorcycle yet stiff enough to withstand the environment of the ride. After searching hobby shops and hardware stores a very bright employee of a hardware store recommended that a strip of Rubber Wall Cove Base would satisfy the requirements of this project. The Rubber Wall Cove Base is essentially a four foot length of a rubber (likely plastic) sheet approximately four (4) inches in width. There is a bend on one side of the strip that must be removed, that bend providing a tight fitment to a tiled bathroom floor where this item is normally used. In the wooden format this item is used as a finish molding between the flooring material and the wall of homes.
The picture above shows the several items purchased for this project. The black Wall Cove Base in the photo shows that item before the angled bottom has been removed. That angled edge must be removed simply by cutting it off using a sharp blade and straight-edge to achieve a straight edge. The nails will be shortened to fit through the outside of the shade through holes drilled into the GPS holder to help secure the shade to the holder. The glue will be used to secure the nail heads to the outside of the shade. These shortened nails simply hold the shade in place rather that attach (it) to the GPS holder.
The paper template shows the general design of the shade with straight top and curved sides with a narrow strip around the bottom of the GPS holder. The glue is required to hold the brads in place around the perimeter of the GPS holder, brads made by cutting short pieces of the brads (small nails), also pictured.
The picture above shows the cutout of the Wall Cove Base material using the template and a sharp pair of scissors or shears. Note the two small holes punched into each end on the narrow end strips that will be used to hold a spring that will hold the shade in a tension-ed situation. The small spring above the shade cutout is not the final spring but a spring used during the fitment of the shade to the holder.
Initial tests of the shade bent around the GPS holder indicated that the material did not bend well around the 90 degree corners. In order to ‘weaken’ the material at each corner a soldering pen (gun) can be used to score the bend sufficiently to allow a 90 degree bend to be achieved. Be extremely careful in this scoring to avoid cutting into the material too deeply, thus damaging the material resulting in a tear! Using a non-combustible straight-edge to provide a perfectly straight cut!
The GPS holder has a patented attaching roller in a tang that allows the GPS to be ‘snapped into’ the holder. This mechanism is much too stiff (in my opinion) for its intended use so it should be removed using a Dremel drill cutting attachment or similar device. Removing the ridge (not shown) on the top surface of the tang will ease the stiffness of the tang allowing an easy, yet secure placement of the GPS device into the GPS holder.
The picture above show the attaching roller removed from the GPS holder, a modification that does not inhibit the holder’s snug fitment of the GPS while making the insertion of the GPS into the holder much easier, avoiding any damage to the GPS device itself!
The picture above shows the bottom of the shade after mounting the shade onto the GPS holder, bending the shade at each of the corners, and using plastic ties to install a stronger spring between the two ends of the shade. The plastic ties allow the spring to be tension-ed sufficiently to hold the shade in place.
The picture above shows the GPS shade mounted onto the GPS holder with the short nails installed across the top of the shade and at the bottom corner on each side. A hole is drilled through the shade and the holder into which a nail is inserted, that nail shortened so that it does not extend through the hole and damage the GPS device itself. The spring tension-ed at the bottom of the shade is not sufficiently strong to prevent vibration and wind from dislodging the shade from the holder without these additional, securing points.
The picture above shows the finished shade installed onto the GPS that is mounted onto a Ram Ball Mount on the handlebar of the Spyder ST. The Ram Mount component that is mounted onto the handlebar is actually designed for the yoke of an airplane.. note the angled fitment of that mount. Note also the coiled attaching charging wire running from the GPS to a 12Volt female jack in the side of the Spyder ST, an addition shortly after the ST was purchased.
One would think that with all of the motorcycle touring enthusiasts out there that one of the GPS manufacturers would provide an inexpensive GPS device with both an audio out jack and a sun shade … but they don’t. Those of us (riders) who depend on the voice commands from a GPS device guiding our tour with only an occasional actual look at the screen of the device would surely be willing buyers of such a device! I can’t count the number of times the voice commands from my GPS device mounted on the handlebar of my Can Am Spyder has guided my path safely through complicated and unmarked intersections on unfamiliar roadways!
The NUVI GPS identified in this article is actually overly complex in terms of the features that it provides. As a motorcycle tourer my trip planning involves identifying each of the towns that I will travel through noting those towns where I will have to stop for fuel. The best GPS s allow me to identify those towns, sans any street address, in a list (of favorites?) that I can select from as I make my way along the chosen roadways. Older GPS s allowed me to assign a name to each favorite city name selected so that I could arrange those names in the list in order of their position on my trip, not based on the actual alphabetical name of the actual town. The favorite list became a list of city names in order of their position on my trip.
My technique is to select the next way-point city (favorite) several miles before I’m directed to the ‘city center’ of the current selection. That early selection normally directs me either around the current favorite to the selected, next city. All of this may seem to be overly complicated but having the ability to select the next city to pass through as that next city is approached is handy indeed, and will normally take me around the upcoming city rather that some route through the ‘center’ of an unfamiliar city.