how un-waterproof?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by markgsnw, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. markgsnw

    markgsnw WTF?

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    I'm still rolling a Garmin 2720, but it's starting to get cranky (doesn't want to boot up sometimes), the display fogs up badly, maps are out of date and I'm not going to give Garmin another $80 for newer maps.


    I only use the GPS on the bike when we're on our yearly trip, for a car GPS I use my iPhone. For a number of reasons, I don't think using the iPhone for motorcycle GPS will work for me.



    As money is very tight right now, I'm considering an inexpensive unit, like one of the swarm of Nuvi's. I understand that they are not waterproof, but I'm trying to get an idea of exactly what that means. I know, throw a plastic bag over it. How much rain causes how much damage? Will the unit just get fogged up and need to dry out, or are we talking sparks, smoke, and shrapnel? Something in between, I assume.


    has anyone actually gotten a Nuvi (or similar) wet, and what happens?
    #1
  2. KYMike

    KYMike Been here awhile

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    Good question. I use a Garmin Nuvi with a zip-lock bag, but have never been in a downpour yet. Hoping to hear some responses on this one.
    #2
  3. markgsnw

    markgsnw WTF?

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    any problems with overheating in the bag?
    #3
  4. KYMike

    KYMike Been here awhile

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    Can't really say. Never been covered long enough.
    #4
  5. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    If it's raining, then I don't think you will ever need to worry about overheating.
    #5
  6. abhibeckert

    abhibeckert Long timer

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    Why? Seems like this would fit your "money is very tight right now" restriction.

    It depends on the device, but generally water can cause three problems:

    * screens can fog up... I'm pretty sure this will dry out without leaving any damage behind.
    * electronics can short circuit... if that happens, it will die. No sparks/smoke/shrapnel because we're talking about small amounts of power. But it will kill the device, or leave it partially functional.
    * electrical contacts (for batteries, etc) can get corroded. If it's not too bad, letting it dry out and maybe cleaning it can help fix this.

    I've had my iPhone very wet a few times, in a mount that provides a little bit of protection (not much), with a windscreen that keeps light rain off when I'm moving but is inadequate when riding slow or in really heavy rain... let alone when riding really slow in really heavy rain.

    My experience with the iPhone, is the thing is mostly water tight (talking about the iPhone 4 and 4S here, earlier models aren't as good). Only a few places will let water into the device (microphones, etc) and so far I've only heard water damage when they're fully submerged in liquid, and even then only when it's a fair amount of time (a quick dip in my buddy's cup of hot coffee didn't leave any damage). I know someone else who dropped it in his pool... it was kind a working, but he had random glitches for a few weeks before taking it to be repaired. The repairs only cost $60, and as far as I know it was working prefect after that.

    When the screen is wet, and my thin leather gloves are soaked (think 6 hours of riding in the rain) it can be frustrating to use the touchscreen. All the water confuses the heck out of it, and I have to touch the screen several times before it will register.

    My cheap phone chargers have needed replacing a few times, but the phone has survived just fine. However the charger is mounted near the radiator, and gets a lot of spray off the front wheel.

    I'd look into how much it costs to repair a water damaged Nuvi, and also look into "accidental damage" insurance. And then just go out and do it. Try to mount it behind a windshield if you can, and if you stop the bike in the rain (traffic light, or in a carpark, or whatever) protect it a bit from the rain with your glove. It should be fine, and if it is damaged should be cheap to repair.

    If any electronic device does get water in it and stop working... remove the batteries (if possible), and then leave it to dry turned off for *several days* if you can. If it doesn't come good after that, take it in for repair.

    Electrical tape might be a good idea over anything like a headphone plug. In my experience, zip lock bags work for as short time but will eventually fog up and then the inside of the bag will get really humid (I think light rain directly on the device is better than high humidity). I think condoms (wash lube off!) are a better idea than glad bags, but glad bags are easier and tougher.

    I have a quick release mount that lets me take my iPhone off the handlebars and place it in my tank bag without even pulling over. If it's raining lightly, I leave it out. If the rain gets heavy I'll put it in the bag unless I actually need the GPS (following directions through an unfamiliar city, etc). If I need the GPS then I'll risk even the tropical monsoon rain we get here in australia, without a glad bag, and so far it's worked out fine for me (I may just be lucky!! try this at your own risk).
    #6
  7. Boondoggle

    Boondoggle Gear Grinder

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    Nuvi not waterproof? :ear

    It is so far...
    #7
  8. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

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    Nuvi 500/550 are IPX7 waterproof.

    If it's another Nuvi - you are just lucky - or haven't gotten it very wet.
    #8
  9. Boondoggle

    Boondoggle Gear Grinder

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    Ah. It's a 500, wasn't aware the old ones weren't.

    I've been going through manuals and burning up google for the last half-hour- "yep, says so here.... here too... wtf?..." :lol3
    #9
  10. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

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    I've gotten my nuvi 1300 wet a few times. Perhaps I'm just lucky.

    In all-day rains I use the plastic bag. I bring the nuvi with me when I leave the bike out of sight, so after a snack break, lunch break, and a few bathroom breaks there's enough moisture inside the plastic bag to fog it up. I don't ride the kinds of places that heat would be a problem.

    I've also been riding along in fine weather and been hit by small strong downpours where I haven't covered the nuvi. These are the kind of storms where my leather gloves get entirely saturated in a minute the rain stops after a second minute, and five minutes later my gloves are pretty dry. Repeat a half-hour later. The nuvi has survived these with no sign of problems yet.

    I don't actually like my nuvi 1300 that much, so I'm going to continue to use it this way until it dies.
    #10
  11. 9Dave

    9Dave Bazinga!

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    :nod
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  12. Bacca

    Bacca Adventurer

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    I've been using an old reconditioned Garmin C580 Street Pilot for the past four years. I do dual sport and street. The Garmin has been on the Trans Am Trail from Tn to Utah. In 2009 it went from Ky to Washington state and down 395 to Barstow and then back to Ky. In 2010 it went from Ky to the Artic Circle. Had some rain 16 of 26 days on this trip. I cover it with a zip lock bag when it rains and leave it partial open at the bottom to prevent fogging. The internal battery died 2 yrs ago so I have to keep it plugged in all the time but still works fine. The SD card players still works well too. I've had to towel it off a couple of times until I could pull over and cover it but it's never been drenched. Hope this helps.
    #12
  13. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp REMF

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    I guess there's nothing wrong with using a cheap non-waterproof Nuvi. I'm sure they will take more moisture than one would think. You just have to be prepared to toss it if it does fail.

    I have a very old Valentine 1 radar detector that isn't waterproof. I now pretty much just leave it on my ST1100 even if it rains. It sits behind the windshield so doesn't get much direct spray. I did kill off an older radar detector with moisture, but I had compromised the case by installing a headphone jack.

    I got my refurb Nuvi 500 for only 150 bucks. For the extra 50 or so over a non-waterproof one it was worth it to me.
    #13
  14. ServoJockey

    ServoJockey Adventurer

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    I too have been researching a GPS upgrade as my old Quest is starting to get cranky with age.
    I recently purchased a Nuvi 1450 with lifetime maps and traffic for around $119 on a black Friday sale.

    Doing the math, I could buy several of these for the price of a single Zumo. If mine gets wet and quits working, I could stop in a Best Buy and pay full retail for a replacement and still be several hundred $$ ahead. Heck, for that price difference I could buy a new 1450 and take a trip to the dragon.

    I don't understand why any anyone would buy a zumo.
    #14
  15. ShimrMoon

    ShimrMoon Been here awhile

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    For anyone wanting to use a zumo 660 or 665 on the new BMW's K1600 Gt/GTL they'll drop right down in the dash mount. Other than that, I guess the Zumo has it's place on motorcycles whose owners have plenty of money. The 665 has XM radio and both can be used in a car.

    Me personally, I'm thinking about a Nuvi 550. They're mostly waterproof and provide decent directions and features. They supposedly will also take a little more abuse than other Nuvi models due to being "motorcycle friendly". Some folks go for the Zumo 220 which is I guess, a Nuvi on steroids.
    #15
  16. PhotoBiker

    PhotoBiker Please insert title here

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    FYI: Zip Lock Bag (aka "Redneck Zumo") trick.

    My second Nuvi has shit the bed on me (as of today). The first was a 300 series (the square one) that I got 3 years out of before it died (and I got a full refund from Best Buy at that). The second was a 750 (4.3" rectangle) that I got just two full seasons out of.

    Both units were protected in the rain with various zip-loc bags in odd states of repair. I've been through massive downpours (some lasting days) and never had any known problems (other than the 2 year life span). It gets a little tough to read in the rain, but there is a technique ;-)

    I am looking at a 1450 right now which will not fit under a standard zip loc bag so I will need to do a little sleuthing on this one.

    At ~ $150 a pop, this is actually cheaper than the way over-priced Zumo line (and I don't think I will see an 8 - 10 year life span out of the Zumos).
    #16
  17. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    Zip Loc bags come in vast variety of sizes. :D
    #17
  18. neo1piv014

    neo1piv014 ADV in training

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    You could always look into those generic waterproof cases (http://www.gomadic.com/garmin-nuvi-1450-waterproof-watertight-case.html) made out of vinyl and rubber. Since they're flexible, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if they were able to squeeze into the stock mounts that you're using anyways. With a bit of finagling, you could probably get a charger in there too.
    #18
  19. Mat

    Mat Long timer

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    It is not just the water- and vibration proofing (I am not sure they bothered with the latter at all though). There are also many functions people like that some units have and some don't.

    I just bought an older model Nokia phone with Symbian 3 and a decently large screen. That is relatively cheap and I get free maps and a much more modern navigation software than Garmin's with Nokia Maps.

    There are many compromises to be made that way, but there just isn't a perfect GPS model out in the market these days. I guess we will have to wait for an open source project for Android... Closed systems just don't cut it. They never do all you want them to do the way you want them to do it.

    Zumos are far too expensive for what they offer: old software, heavy and clutzy, you have to pay for maps and map updates, and their customer service and ruggedness leaves much to be desired. I expect my "new" mobile phone solution to last longer than my Zumo 450 that pretty much immediately died once it got a little cold.

    Edit: As for the waterproofing, I might just wrap it in a condom, or invent a mount solution. Maybe I will just fill it with silicone, as it is designated for navigation use. The big drawback compared to a Zumo: You have to actually do all those things instead of procrastinating.
    #19