GPS that has more secure power than mini-usb

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by nigelcorn, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. nigelcorn

    nigelcorn Wannabe.

    Aug 17, 2007
    Albany, NY
    For the last 3 years I used a Garmin Oregon GPS. It worked fine, had its faults, but it got the job done. But, after 3 years of riding off-road on my motorcycle, and I really didn't use it that much, the mini-usb connector (female end on the gps unit) has gotten so loose that it won't keep anything plugged in. I have tried manually tightening the connector and that works for a very short time, but then it is back to being too loose to be useful. Batteries don't work well because you have to have the backlight on to see the screen in sunlight, and batteries run out in a matter of hours with the backlight on at all times.

    So, it's time to replace my Oregon. I was at REI last night, and it seems that all GPS's out there use the same connection. This seems like an inherent weak point for anything going off-road.

    Is there a current GPS (preferably Garmin) that uses a more secure connection for power? Or, is there a way to make the mini-USB more secure so it won't fall out after a bit of use?

    I tried searching for this and couldn't find anything, I'm sorry if it has already been asked before.
  2. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

    Dec 18, 2007
    The Montana with the Amps mount works well. The power is coupled from the mount to some bare tabs on the bottom of the unit.

    I guess they don't make new ones anymore, but the 60 serious used the old style round connector for power. I never had any problem with it wearing out. But I did have internal problems with power getting to the circuit board. I had to go in and clean the contacts about once a year.
  3. nigelcorn

    nigelcorn Wannabe.

    Aug 17, 2007
    Albany, NY
    The Montana is pretty pricey though, and I'd prefer not to buy a used 60.

    Maybe a better question would be: What is everyone doing to prevent the female usb end on your gps from getting loose with time? Do you somehow secure the mini-usb onto the GPS?

    Am I the only one this is happening to?
  4. mcnut

    mcnut Long timer

    Apr 26, 2006
    Bakersfield CA & Sammamish WA
    Very common for the mini USB power to become a problem over time. I have never heard of a fix before or after becoming a problem. I think mini USB is only viable for dry pavement use and then only just OK. As you have discovered most units lack a better plug. If you can find them the Garmin 60Cx, 76Cx and the new 78 all have a heavy duty plug, the new 62 does not. Additionally I believe the Zumo 660/665 and the Montana do via their cradles.

    The 76Cx has been offered for $150 from West Marine at times which is a great price for a sturdy unit, though not touch screen.

    Another option for you would be to power the Oregon via AA batteries. AAs are cheap, readily available worldwide and last a long time if backlighting is set to low/short or off and the GPS is set to battery saver mode. This option is probably not viable if you do a lot of night riding.

  5. Emmbeedee

    Emmbeedee Procrastinators

    Mar 19, 2008
    Near Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Back when we had the Oregons on our bikes we wrapped a thick elastic (broccoli type) right around the body of the gps and over the connector, holding it in place.

    But if you think the Montana is expensive, consider it may be the last gps you buy for a very long time. I paid more for each of my 550 Oregons than I paid for my Montana 650... Come to think of it, I also paid more for the 60 and 76CSx units as well.

    It's all a matter of timing.

    The Montana 600 can be found fairly easily for around $400.
  6. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

    Dec 10, 2005
    Mine was getting loose and losing power occasionally. I bought a 6" USB cord with a different angle so the cord went along beside the GPS instead of at angles to it. Then the cowl holds the short cord in place and I plug and unplug at the free end. THEN I used dielectric grease on the GPS USB outlet to keep some of the water out. I have had NO problems (and many miles) since I added the short cord.

    Instead of the cowl I could have made a little clip to hold in the USB pigtail, but the cowl does keep showers off the USB socket.

    The cord is available for left, right, up, or down angles:

    (The picture shows the GPS and cowl after it had been packed and crushed for a trip home. It's usually a bit squarer than that.)
    Newstrom48 likes this.
  7. SnowMule

    SnowMule [angry moth noises]

    Jul 2, 2009
    60 and 76 series both have the big 4-pin round connector.

    The 62 dropped the 4-pin in favor of the Mini-USB for external power. The 78 retains the 4-pin round for external unreg'd power and serial I/O (Chartplotters/autopilot systems require this).

    I wouldn't go with the 62 because of the lack of external power connection. The 78 gets you the same features, and no antenna to bust off. The mounts wrap around the entire unit holding it more securely.
  8. Fire Escape

    Fire Escape Long timer

    Apr 13, 2007
    Epsom, NH
    The DeLorme PN series uses their own proprietary 8 pin connector to attach to the unit, it seems pretty secure. The other end of the cord (unfortunately, in my opinion) is a 'standard' USB so you will need a source of low(er) voltage to feed it. I have collected the 'parts' to do this but need to trailer 1800 miles south to somewhere much warmer before I actually assemble and test.

    I really like that round 4-pin connector but will wait and see how my (3rd try) Garmin 545s works out on the boat before giving them more of my $$$ for a 78.

  9. taz_va

    taz_va Long timer

    Sep 1, 2015
    I don't have that particular setup, but here's what I did. I grabbed a right-angle USB with the connector facing the appropriation direction so as to point my cable down, for my needs I used this one from Amazon. I have enough slack in it so that the cable somewhat "lays" against a piece of plastic on my mount (highlighted below), it then is attached to the rear of the mount (not visible).

    This prevents any cable-weight stress or shaking from being directly imparted to the socket. The "barrel" style connector is nice because, should I deem it worthwhile, I can come up with some sort of strap to lock it against the mount, entirely negating the need for the USB socket to hold it in--but 6,000mis later, I haven't seen any loosening.

    Maybe this will inspire some good ideas.

  10. Newstrom48

    Newstrom48 Adventurer

    May 23, 2009
    Similiar idea. I added a small piece of metal behind the usb on the holder. This applies pressure to the 90 degree usb cord I bought. Never had problem since. Lots of dirt and gravel without any wear or tear on cord and a lot cheaper than a new gps.
  11. El Lobo

    El Lobo Adventurer

    Dec 5, 2015
    West Coast Finland
    Had some similar problems to my Garmin Colorado 300. Long story short. My mini usb was completly gutted and my gps sensor busted.
    Instead off trashing it I got a cheap gps antenna that i connected to the external input and a 12v--> 3v power converter that was soldered direclty to battery terminals. 20160117_115234.jpg
    taz_va likes this.
  12. NicorAdv

    NicorAdv Been here awhile

    Jan 21, 2015
    This one seems to be a fairly easy fix. I would not use the grease but the black liquid electrical tape that you can dab on to seal it.

    Other than that, get the Montana with the AMP holder.
    I have the Montana 600 and the AMP holder... I do like it.
    What I like about this setup is that the battery charges at the same time. So I can unlatch and walk with it, then put back in the holder to recharge.
    If you wire the power to some On wire, when you turn the bike off the unit asks if you want shutdown the Montana or keep it turned.
    At times I do tell it to stay on when I don't want the bike idling and want to browse the map for a bit.