Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Who's There? Beakster on Affordable GPS Set-Ups!

Beakster &
His Lovely Bonnie
Hailing from Scotland I met Beakster via the Dragon Riders Riding Group. He is a marvel with all things motorcycles and recently came to my aid when my own bike decided to give me the silent treatment! In just a short time he has taken a somewhat neglected Triumph Bonneville and has transformed her in just a matter of weeks into like new condition. With his permission I am posting a step by step instruction on how to add affordable GPS set-ups to your own motorcycles. Without further ado here is the official word by the Iron Kilt himself:

Here's how I got USB power and cheap satellite navigation on my Triumph Bonneville without spending a lot of money.I also describe how to do route planning and itineraries. The USB power is useful for charging up satnavs, mobile phones and digital cameras. The idea here was to add a USB socket to the bike as cheaply as possible, but it had to be weatherproof. I didn't want to add a 12V (cigarette lighter or powerlet) to the bike because I have no need for 12V and I'd have to have an adapter hanging off of it to get the USB power which probably wouldn't be weatherproof.

The solution I found was this handy wee weatherproof 12V to 5V USB socket. Note that I got mine from Princess Auto. It was $7.00 and with postage and tax I think it came to around $14.00. I did alot of research on this part and its a generic item made in China. You can bjy them direct from China for $2.30 but there is a minimum order of 500 units! Beware as there are people selling these for ridiculously inflated prices. Princess Auto seemed to be the best deal by far if you just want one unit.

12V to 5V USB Socket Set

As you can see from the image, I have cut the cables short to the length and crimped and soldered on a couple of spade terminals. I then connected these to the socket under the fuel tank which is normally used for 12V sockets. Black wire to black wire and red wire to purple wire.

I then decided on the best place for my socket and cable and tied it in place.

After that I had to wrap the cables in black electrical tape.

Fuel Tank Back in place and USB cable connected for charging phone.

Here are some photos showing how my phone is mounted
and the cable is routed:

Note that I'll need to get a right angled USB cable
(right angled at phone end)
sticks out too far to close the case fully.

View 1

View 2

The phone I am using is just a cheap LG Optimus android phone. It fits nicely into this smartphone "waterproof" motorcycle  handlebar mount case I purchased on eBay. At first I was using the phone in the map pocket of a magnetic tank bag. I used velcro to keep the phone from moving around inside the pocket but I found I had to look down too far to see it and also it didn't get much airflow so the phone got too hot on sunny days. Also the tank bag kept scratching my tank. I then decided to get a handlebar mounted case. 

The case seems ideal and can be mounted in a few different places on the handlebars and offers lots of adjustment. The phone can even be used in the case, however, although gloves can make it challenging.  I haven't used it in the rain yet but I would be confident about using it in a light shower, but if it was a heavy downpour I'd probably take the phone off and and put it somewhere safe. These phones are pretty cheap though, so it wouldn't be the end of the world if it got damaged.

There are a few different options for GPS software. I started off using NavFree, which as the name suggests, is free! NavFree works really well for what it is. You can use it offline but if you are searching by address I think it needs an internet connection to find the coordinates. I installed a plugin for it which lets you search by postcode offline as that's normally how I find addresses. Once you are on the road and following the route, you no longer need the internet connection which you would if you used Google Maps. You need to make sure that you have the maps for your country/state downloaded beforehand though.

As I am in a riding club now I found the need to plan routes which I can then follow by GPS. This proved quite challenging as most only offer an A to B option where you set the destination and it takes you the way it wants. After some research I found a way to create routes on the computer which I can then follow on the phone. 

Firstly I installed a free program called Tyre on the computer. Using this program I can create a route using a series of waypoints. Once the route is completed I can export it as a TomTom itinerary file. If you are using a TomTom device which supports itineraries then you are good to go; just upload it! Unfortunately I have an old TomTom that does not support itineraries so I wanted a solution for Android.

After much searching I found a program called Sygic. You can get a one week free trial of this online, but to use it after that you need to pay for it. It's a good program though and cheaper than buying a new GPS device. In order to get your TomTom itinerary to work with it:
  1. First install Sygic on your device and the map for your area.
  2. Create your route in Tyre and save as .ITN (TomTom).
  3. Convert your route from ITN to ITF with ITN2ITFConverter.
  4. Put the ITF file into your phone (AURA/RES/ITINERARY) using your USB cable.
  5. In Sygic you can go to routes and load route and you will see the route you created.
Now you can just follow your pre-planned route by watching your phone while you ride. You can also connect your phone to speakers and use it to listen to music or the radio while you ride and you never need to worry about running out of charge seeing as you have your USB power socket. :)

Total Cost:
USB Power Socket + Postage - $14.00
Spade Terminals - $2.00
Phone Case/Bracket - $20.00
Android Phone - $0.00 I already had one!
NavFree - $0.00 FREE
TOTAL: $36.00 

If you want to use Sygic so you can plan routes rather than just go from A-B you'll need to buy that, it's about $30.00 I think.




  1. Merci Beakster! jax, fellow WI Dragon

  2. Hello Mario,

    I am a member of the Dragons as well a WIMC and I saw your blog and was wondering if you can install a GPS on my bike. I own a BMWRT1100 can you do it.


    1. Hello Casey,

      Thanks for emailing me with regards to installing a GPS on your bike. Actually, that was a guest blog from Beakster, also a member of the Dragons. He is the genius behind that particular set up! He is very knowledgeable and friendly and I am sure he would be happy to discuss this with you.

      I have emailed him your coordinates. Again, thanks ever so much and have a good week. Let me know how you get on and if Beakster cannot for any reason we can tackle it together!