By: Dale DePriest
This page supplements my main palm page with hardware specific information on gps and other navigation hardware support for the palm platform. Generally any gps that can be used with a laptop can also be used with Palm. This page covers the information needed to get this hardware connected. There are several sections on this page including:
There are now at many sources of palm OS units. The original source from 3 com, the palm, a unit from IBM called the WorkPad which is just a repackaged palm with identical specifications, and new units with different hardware implementations licensing the palm OS software. These include the HandEra (formerly TrgPro) and Hand Spring Visor. HandEra offers a standard compact flash expansion port while the Visor has its own unique hardware expansion solution. The newest unit is the Sony CLIE. It features a memory stick addon memory module. It has a USB interface but includes serial support on most models. In addition there are some specialized products from other manufacturers that use the palm os and could probably be used with gps receivers. Newer players in the palm arena include Garmin with a Palm unit that includes a GPS and Tapwave.com that has just released the Zodiac unit. Several cellphones now include the Palm OS.
Palm make many different hardware configurations. Electrically these different configurations are interchangeable but physically there are differences. The III and its successors is the minimum system that should be considered for mapping use due to memory considerations. Earlier units do not have enough memory or gray scale support. The V series uses a different connector interface from the III series but this should not pose a problem. In addition mechanical size differences may prevent some solutions. For example the new IIIc unit is slightly longer than the older units which prevents some hardware from snapping on to it. Palm, WorkPad, and HandEra all have electrically similar serial ports and should work with any serial device. The VII uses the same serial connector as the III so solutions that work with the III should also work with the VII. The latest palm offerings can also be used with a serial port gps receiver. The palm 500 and palm 505 can be hooked up to a GPS using serial hotsync cables and gps serial cables hooked with a null modem/gender changer as described below. These devices use the newer Palm Universal Connector which has USB and Serial capability.
The new Tungsten E and the Sony Clie J35 do not have a serial port at all so these units will not work with most standard gps devices. There is now a solution for Tungsten E from Kirrio and Palm one. This solution will also work with Zire units.
Others have incomplete or unusual implementations and are covered in the section below about usb devices or look below for other solutions.
An exciting new development is a GPS that runs Palm OS. Garmin has released a product called the iQue 3600 that is a full gps and a palm all in one case. It matches the functionality of a Garmin top of the line GPS unit with all of the functionality of a Palm running OS 5. In addition there is integration between the two functions such that the gps can use the standard palm address book as a source of destinations. An mp3 player and voice response is also built into the unit. This unit will not run standard Palm GPS software unless it has been modified to work with the Garmin GPS specifically. There is a review of this unit available.
Any gps with a serial port can be hooked to a palm. In addition there are Hardware Specific gps solutions available. For a standard gps units all you really need is some software and an appropriate cable.
The primary hardware connection on a palm is the hotsync serial port. Using adapters and cables that are described below you can hook up any gps with a serial port capability directly to the palm. (The HandEra uses a palm III compatible port as well.) In this way you can extend the capabilities of a standalone gps unit by providing a connection to the palm's processor, display, and memory capabilities. All Garmin handheld units have external data port capability and can be hooked to a palm. Most Magellan units also have a data port capability and can be hooked to a palm. Note that Magellan does not output data until a fix is achieved or placed in simulation mode. In addition units with serial ports from Lowrance, Trimble and other gps manufactures should have no trouble hooking to the palm. All of these units understand an industry standard NMEA protocol so that programs that use this protocol can get real time data from any of these units. In addition to NMEA most units also support a proprietary interface to provide extensions to the NMEA capability. To support upload/download of waypoints, routes, tracklogs, etc. you will need to use a program that understands the specific gps device you are using.
There are also gps devices that are intended to hook to laptops because they have no storage or display capabilities. Many of these devices can also be hooked to a palm unit. Most use a standard serial port so can be used just like the standalone units mentioned in the previous section. The Rand McNally unit, some units from Garmin, a new unit from Trimble (requires a custom turn on message), and several others fall into this category. You may need to figure out how to supply external power to these units as you cannot get power from the palm itself. The Rand McNally units does have an external 12 volt adapter available from their web site support area and some of the others support internal batteries. Another unit is from Holux that features the same engine as their dedicated unit described below. In addition many of the manufactures listed in the dedicated units section below often also make mouse like units.
Delorme makes three units that can hook to a serial port. The Delorme products are similar to other laptop devices except that they do not speak standard NMEA (except for the latest version) and are intended for use with Delorme software only. But, because of their popularity there are some other software products that can work with them. The older product called a "Tripmate" does use a mostly standard NMEA but requires a special initialization sequence to start it running. The newer "Earthmate" unit uses a Rockwell binary format. Check with the software maker you are interested in to see if they support the Tripmate or the Earthmate before attempting to use these products with the Palm. There is also a hardware solution, GST-1, available from Byonics. It offers translation from Rockwell binary format used on the Earthmate and the Sony Skymap receiver to standard NMEA protocol allowing these receivers to be used with Palm programs that don't directly support the Rockwell format. Note that they also have a translator, GST-2, available for the Aisin GPS for those that want to build their own gps.
Earthmate also requires the DTR signal so be sure this signal is in any cable you build. One way to provide this is to build a male to male gender changer that wires 2/3 and 3/2. Also wire 6/4 and 4/6 to handle the DTR signal. You only need 4/6 one way but having it both ways means you can't plug the adapter in backwards. Note the DTR from the palm will keep the earthmate receiver on all the time it is hooked up. You should unplug it when not in use to save batteries.
Delorme has announced a new gps that has a USB interface with a serial adapter on the way. It uses the SiRF chipset so it does have NMEA support and WAAS capability.
Deluo Electronics has entered the palm market with a universal mouse style product. They have specific cable available for serial ports, Palm V, Palm m130/m500, and Handspring Treo/Visor/Edge. There is a review of this product.
Mr. Jiulong Zhao has a mouse like gps specifically designed for Sony and palm units. Here is a display of his products. It is in chinese but the pictures are universal. He has indicated that the units are under US$90. He has 4 models: GPS-A (for Sony T / SL / SJ / NR /NX/DG ), GPS-B (for Sony N / S ), GPS-D (for Palm M500 / M505 / M515 / M130 / TT / TW), and GPS-E (for palm V / Vx / IBM C3 / M100 / M105 / palm III)
Mapopolis has announced a unit specifically designed to attach to a treo as well as units for Tungsten, other palm devices, and Sony devices.
For commercial solutions see below. This section covers general information for users want to build their own cables or adapt existing cables. If you want to adapt a palm gps to other devices or remote mount it check the section on mounting below.
No matter which solution is used you will probably need a cable to connect up the two units. You can fabricate your own using a cable with the appropriate GPS connector on one end and wired using this information or if you prefer you can try one of the solutions described in some of the links below. Folks owning Magellan 315 units may find this drawing helpful. Many folks have used the hotsync or modem cables coupled to existing gps interface cables with null modem and gender changer adapters as needed.
If you are building your own cables you will need some connectors. Some folks have been known to make their own connectors as well but generally it is easier just to buy them. A few sources for Garmin gps connectors include pfranc.com and pc-mobile.net. A source for connectors at the Palm/Sony end is Gomadic.com. Another discussion for Sony conneciton is available from GPSMap.net.
Delorme makes a cable for PalmPilot use. I bought one from CompUSA. It claims to be only for their earthmate product but it will work with any gps unit by plugging it into the standard 9-pin connector that is part of the vendor supplied computer connection cable. It automatically handles the null modem pin swapping for you.
Another solution is to get a pilot hotsync cable and a standard computer interface cable for your gps. Then obtain a male to male gender changer connector to hook them together. (Fry's has these.) If you can't get a male to male gender changer in one unit then you buy a male to male connector and add a gender changer adapter but the overall link of cables and adapters starts to get a bit messy at this point. You can make your own male to male gender changer by obtaining two male 9 pin connectors. Then you would wire pin 2 to pin 3, pin 3 to pin 2 and pin 5 (gnd) to pin 5.
Handera units have exactly the same connector as Palm III units so any cable solution for Palm will work on a HandEra unit.
Palm V users can get the travel kit and use the cable supplied along with a null-modem cable as described above to make a connection. Some third party cable folks listed above have custom cables for the Palm V as well.
The handspring, the Sony CLIE, and the new Palm M500 series units feature a USB hotsync. Standard gps devices cannot be used directly with these units via USB. Sony and Palm USB units also have a built in serial port in the connector. Handspring does have a serial sync adapter that some have adapted to hook to a gps. Unfortunately the adapter taps power from the serial port on the pc and cannot be used directly with the visor. You would need to design your own power supply or battery connection to make this work.
Handspring modification - I have not tried the following steps myself and cannot guarantee they will work. This may void your warranty so proceed at your own risk. You need a source of power from about 5 Volts to 12 volts. (There is a isolation diode and a 3.9 volt zener in the cradle.) You need to include a series resistor of at least 120 ohms and perhaps as high as 390 depending on the source voltage to limit the current. One choice is to just use a 9V battery. Whatever your choice you need to wire the negative lead to pin 5 of the DE9 connector and positive through the series resistor to pin 7, the RTS line. Of course you still need data, 3 to 2 and 2 to 3, and a data ground also on pin 5. This information is from Curtis Mills. He made a 9 pin to 9pin adapter cable for his unit, combining gender changes, null modem, and power source. He taped a 9V battery to the cable. Thanks for the information, Curtis. Check the discussion of this topic on PocketAprs.
The serial data itself is directly available from the HandSpring unit. It is not the correct polarity and only has a 3V swing but some have had success wiring it directly to gps units. A source of data is Handspring Visor Page. This solution has inverter hardware but does not need the serial cradle. Also check here for more information on this topic. Click on any of the .txt files to get started.
You might also check ATL, however they have a minimum price so it would be good to form a pool of buyers.
Most models of the Sony CLIE use a USB interface similar to the HandSpring but also contain a fully functional serial port as part of the unit. For information on making a cable for the serial port check this site. Remember that the site is describing a serial hotlink cable. For gps use you will either need a null modem adapter or rewire it to swap RxD and TxD. If for some reason the site is down, the essential details are:
Device connector to 9-DB wiring 4 <-- RxD 3 Txd 5 --> RTS 8 CTS 6 --> TxD 2 RxD 7 <-- CTS 7 RTS 12 <- CNT 47K ohm resistor tied to pin 13 (GND) 13 -- GND 5 GND
Note that the resistor is what tells the CLIE to use the serial port rather than the default USB port. Note that the new T-series units only output 3 volts on their serial port and some gps units need more than this so a hardware solution instead of just a simple cable may be needed.
The latest Sony units seem to have removed full rs232 compatibility but there is still a way to hook a serial device. For more information on the Sony Clie T415, T615C, T665C, NR70, NR70V, NX70, NX70V, SL10, SJ20, SJ30 handheld computers that have 18 pin HotSync connector please check GPS2Clie for an article on making your own cable. Another discussion is at Dan Anderson's site. He has information on Sony units and it is generally a good discussion of RS232 issues. Some commercial solutions are available for these units also.
The Palm M5XX units and Tungten models with the Univeral Palm connector also have a USB port, but, like the Sony, they have a fully functional serial port as well so, with the correct cable, connecting them to a gps should not be a problem. The serial hotsync cable can be used with a null modem adapter, for example, and any of the solutions described in the serial cable section. If you wish to wire it up yourself here is the essential details.
Pin# Signal Name. Function 1 GND Connection to pin 7, signal ground and charging ground 8 ID Peripheral ID: a peripheral must tie this to appropriate 1% value resistor connected to ground. USB Cradle : Short RS-232 cradle : 7.5 K ohm. Mfg Test cradle : 20 K ohm. USB peripheral : 47 K ohm. RS-232 peripheral : 100 K ohm. (use this one) Modem : 220 k ohm. Undocked : open (>10,000 K ohm.) 10 RXD (in) Receive Data from GPS 11 TXD (out) Write Data to GPS 12 DETECT must be tied to ground by cable. 14 RTS 15 DTR
Palm users with the new Palm Universal Cradle may wish to modify this cradle to provide both USB and serial port access. Here is a site that provides the details on this modification. You can use this modified cradle to sync your palm and download waypoint data from your palm using GPilotS directly to the pc via the serial port or for other uses.
There is an increasing need for commercial solutions to the cable interconnect problem. As new units are released many folks are unable to create all of the cables for themselves or would prefer to just buy a custom solution. To meet these needs there are now many companies that have cables to interface a gps to a palm. I have tried to collect a list of them with a brief description of their products in the table below. Be aware that these companies are constantly coming out with new products so just because I don't mention support for a particular palm unit doesn't mean that they do not produce a solution. The focus of this list is on single cable interface solutions but many of these companies also offer generic interface cables and external power solutions as well, either for the gps or for the palm or both. I have a separate section in this document that covers issues of external power.
||Cables including small pigtail adapter cables. They also have dongles for pcmcia adapters if you lose yours.|
|Pfranc has moved beyond just having connectors. They can also supply full cables these days. Note that Pfranc isn't just one company, they are a franchise with lots of companies in many countries. Most are individuals working out of their garage and many can supply custom solutions.|
||Cables for most units.|
| ||Palm cables and adapters.|
| ||They call themselves "Ugly Cables"|
A German Source
|They have Garmin adapters and support for the M500 series and Sony. The site is in German but the the author knows English quite well so if you cannot figure out what you want just send an email.|
| ||A new cable being offered that addresses the need to translate signals on Visor serial data. It has a hardware solution in the cable but does not work with the platinum. They have cables for most palm hardware models from all vendors.|
| ||for England but they will ship overseas. They have Garmin specific versions.|
| ||for many palm models including Clie and Visor as well as 3Com. M100 is covered.|
| ||cables for palm (including the M500/505) and Visor. Follow the retail links on their site to buy them.|
|Cables for Garmin and Magellan and all palm OS units including Sony, Palm, HandSpring, HandEra, etc. They have hard to find cables for some of the Sony units.|
|has a cable specifically to tie their earthmate unit to a Visor, Palm, and other units. It will work for other serial devices as well. It is not a one cable solution but rather a pigtail that adapts the pc cable of the gps to the palm.|
|A Hong Kong shop with lots of standard palm / sony / handspring cables. No gps specific cables.|
|Custom cables for various gps to palmos devices. Features Garmin and Magellan specific interface cables. Will ship overseas from Australia.|
SDIO GPS devices are just around the corner. Check iGolfGPS for example.
Some gps devices use the pc-card (pcmcia) interface to laptops. There is a pc-card interface available for the palm device. It is not known whether there is any software gps support for this interface but gps devices are listed on the parachutetech web site. They also list support for CF devices so it is likely that it supports Compact Flash GPS units as well. Another pc-card sled is called Guyver. It contains its own battery. It is available for several Palm OS devices.
You might look over the Mobit Crux unit as a source gps device that may work. You could also use V.DOT CardHost Pro to interface any serial pcmcia device though the serial port on your palm.
Bluetooth GPS devices will generally work on any Palm that supports Bluetooth capability. Note that two steps are required. First you must pair the Bluetooth GPS to the PDA and secondly you must select the Bluetooth GPS in whatever GPS capable program you are using. Generally programs default to the serial port connection and must be specifically written to support Bluetooth devices. Most GPS programs do support Bluetooth on PDA's with Bluetooth support. This may be the best or perhaps the only method of hooking a GPS to some PDA's. You can get a gps from Linkspoint that will work. Or check Emtac Crux for their bluetooth model. Also check out US GlobalSat. There are many other BlueTooth units these days.
Other specialized palm units have clipon sleds that attach to the back of the unit and connect via the serial connector. These GPS units are covered below in the Hardware Specific Solutions.
All palm devices have an iR port so this solution may offer some possibilites.
In addition to the generalized gps receivers and other navigation hardware that can be connected to a palm via a cable there have arisen several navigation devices that are specifically designed to be used with Palm devices. This section covers these devices.
Palm devices have different mechanical and physical dimensions that may prevent a particular hardware solution from working. For example the palm III and the palm V use incompatible serial port connectors. In the table below I have attempted to best guess the compatibility of the various palm models. Do not trust this table without checking for yourself. Please let me know of any errors and need additions or corrections. Some of these devices may not be shipping yet. Note that a vendor may have several models with specific interface capabilities. Seeing that a vendors product is available for multiple platforms does not mean the same physical hardware can be used on all of those platforms.
GlobalPoint GPS is the name of several new hardware gps units including a compact flash receiver, a bluetooth gps, and an add on attachment for symbol PDA's
* The HandEra 330 is totally compatible with the Palm III electrically and physically. The HandEra TrgPro unit is a little larger than the Palm III but folks have indicated that a Rand McNally Palm III unit can be made to work using a dremel tool or file to remove some of the plastic from the gps.
One guy has even adapted the Rand McNally Palm III unit to a Palm Pro. He cut two small 'nubs' off the bottom of the case and it worked fine. He also added a strip of velcro to hold it on better since the Palm Pro is a bit wider than the Palm III.
** Palm M series includes the M500, the M505, and the M125 with the new universal serial port connection.
The first thing to do if you have problems with your gps connection is to suspect the cable connection. Often there are several cables and adapters in use and a poor connection is always a possibility. In particular the palm connector can easily come loose and make a poor connection even when it seems to still be hooked up. Unfortunately this connection is not a particularly positive one. You could fabricate a velcro connection or obtain or fabricate a connection clamp. Let me know if you come up with a neat solution to this and I will include it here.
Once you are sure the connection is sound make sure the gps is putting out signals. Check the settings and ensure that your unit is set to NMEA out and then test the connection with a terminal emulator. There are several available but this technique will focus on two. One is called ptelnet (previous name palm telnet)and the other is AccessIt! In both programs you will need to set up the serial port connection to 4800 baud, No parity, 8 bit words, and 1 stop bit. GPS receivers don't use rs232 handshaking so disable this if you can but don't worry too much about it if you can't. Be sure and have your gps hooked up when performing these changes since the absence of a connection can cause some programs to crash. In addition the telnet program can be used for tcp connections so be sure and set the terminal to serial port before enabling it. All of these settings are reached from the menu system of the programs.
If your program complains that the serial port is in use then you will need to correct this to make it work. Try unplugging the unit and see if the message clears. If not then you will need to perform a softreset to clear it. Some utility software can do a soft reset or you can use a paperclip to reset the unit via the hole in the back.
Disable all hacks in your palm unit. In particular be careful with palm speedups. Some programs may not communicate over the serial port if the unit is sped up too fast. On the other hand, once you get it working, a speed up program may enhance map graphics tremendously but setting too fast a rate may not work at all.
Rand McNally has a software gps status program called gpsmeter that can be downloaded from their web site on the support pages or email them for a copy. It can be used to test the gps output to the palm and will improve the lock time of Rand McNally units. It is specifically written to support Rand McNally receivers but can be used with some limitations on other units that support NMEA output. The indication on which satellites are currently active will not work on units other than Rand McNally due to the use of a special proprietary sentence on these units. Too bad since standard sentences are available. You will, however, be able to see a good almanac to prove communication is ok and once the unit gets a fix the simulated compass display will work.
Some folks have complained about long start-up times on some of the dedicated gps add-on receivers. Most notably this has been the Rand McNally unit on Palm V platforms. There is a high degree of critical interaction on these units during the startup times which seems to be exacerbated by certain changes that can be made to the Palm. For example accelerators and hacks have been reported to cause problems. If you are experiencing long lock up times with any dedicated unit then you may wish to disable all hacks and accelerators and see if this improves the gps performance. The serial port performance can be effected by these kinds of changes.
All gps receivers may need some help to achieve a rapid lock if they have been moved significantly since their last lock. For example if you travel more than 300 miles and then attempt to use your unit you may find that it takes a lot longer for the first lock. This time can easily exceed 5 minutes. Once it has achieved its first lock then the performance will go back to its normal time. It is possible to improve this first lock on time if you can initialize your receiver position so that it has an approximate starting location. Using a initialization capability can improve this first lock on time to 2 minutes or less. Most all standalone gps receivers include this ability but many of the units intended to interface with palm's or laptops may depend in the software to provide this initialization data and not all programs are capable of doing this. Magellan makes the nav companion program that is capable of providing this for data for its unit while Delorme has this kind of initialization for the Earthmate. It is a good idea to have at least one program that can initialize your unit at the new location if this is a concern for you. Once initialized then any program that would normally work with the unit can be used successfully.
GPS receivers (with the exception of the Delorme and Magellan units) will automatically start issuing NMEA messages once this is enabled even if you don't have a fix yet. If you are testing where a fix cannot be obtained then use simulation mode if available. Both of these telnet programs permit turning the port on an off as needed. Once you turn them on you should see sentences appear on the display. You may get an error when turn on the interface since it is totally asynchronous to the terminal program and it may require trying a couple of time to get success. Once connected you will see the data scroll pretty fast so you will have to turn off the interface to actually read the messages. Be sure that the sentences being sent are the ones the program you are using needs. If you don't know then check with the author if you have problem with a particular program after verifying this. Some gps devices have options to include or exclude certain sentences.
Sentences begin with a $, a sentence name, and then are followed with all of the data separated by commas. Some sentences you are likely to see are $GPRMC, $GPGGA, or $GPGSA. These are some of the favorite sentences but there are plenty of others. If you see this data then the interface is working properly. The $GPGSA sentence can be used to verify if the gps has a current fix. The first entry after the sentence title is A for active and the second entry is a number that indicates the status of the fix. A 1 - no fix yet, 2 - a 2D fix, and 3 - a 3D fix.
Once you have verified the connection then start the program you want to use and make sure the settings in the program are correct as noted above. Some upload/download programs use a different protocol that is not NMEA so you will need to reset your gps to match the protocol and settings you need. If you are working with Delorme units you will need to select this option and may need to supply the initialization messages and other data. Check your documentation for this information. Some programs have a gps interface page that can be used to verify connection but some don't. Some programs may not work if the location the gps is sending is not on one of the maps you have loaded. Be sure the gps position is on the map and change it in the simulator if needed. Check your program documentation and note whatever status information is available to indicate gps readiness. This is often an icon up in the corner of the screen so it is easy to overlook.
A gps locks up best when it has a clear sky view and is stationary. If possible get it started a minute or so before you leave. While it will achieve a lock while moving if it has a sky view, the time will be longer if you drive under any wires or trees while it is trying to get its first lock.
While mounting your palm in a vehicle is not unique to gps usage the new Unimount system provides some essential features to solve some of the palm's major problems when using it for navigation. Not only do they offer a good mounting system but also provide for externally powering the palm unit. Using a serial port full time on a palm can significantly shorten the battery life so the ability to power a unit externally or with rechargeable batteries can be very important. Another suite of simple mounting solutions is available from The Clip
If this mount is too expensive for your taste you may want to check Magellan for their mount. It has a special notch in it to allow it to work with the gps_companion for visor. There are other sources as well. Another source of mounts for palm is PalmGear.com. (Look for car mounts.)
For mounts that solve a multitude of problems you might consider a powered PDA mount with a built-in speaker, it can also serve to charge your Palm as well as amplifing the volume for GPS programs with voice output. Arkon and Seidio make almost exactly the same mounts and you can choose from 3 different mounting styles - suction cup arm, doublesided stickey-tape dashboard mount, or vent mount. Also chheck Proclip for custom vehicle solutions.
Remote Mounting of the attached GPS units can be a bit more of a problem. Several folks have encountered situations where they want to use a attached device either mounted in a better receiving position, have a need to shield the screen display, or perhaps they wish to attach it to a computer that it wasn't designed for such as a laptop or perhaps a different model of palm. There is at least one commercial solution for this problem from Mark/Space for the Palm V. I also have reports of folks that have successfully interfaced the palm III version from Rand McNally to the serial port connection on their laptop. Once you have adapted it to a 9-pin D-connector it is fairly easy to find adapters to the unit of your choice. Here is the documentation for the palm III connection:
Palm connection Serial Port Connection 3-RxD 2-RxD 4-RTS (CS to keep GPS on/active) 7-RTS 5-TxD 3-TxD 10-Gnd 5-Gnd
The GPS Companion for the Palm V clips on the back of the unit and, again, some folks would like to remote mount it so get better reception in a car or adapt it to other computers. Either use the mark/space solution or make your own. Here is the data needed when adapting to a hotsync cable:
Palm DE9 1(DTR) 6(DSR) 3(RXD) 3(TXD) 5(TXD) 2(RXD) 10(SG) 5(GND)
Remote Power of the palm itself is a growing concern to users of GPS devices. The Unimount system described above has a growing list of Palm units that can be remotely powered as part of the mount. Check with GPSKable.de for several solutions of power that will run both the palm and the attached GPS. The site is in German but an email with your requirements will get a custom response in English.
If you own the Palm V version of Magellan GPS Companion or Rand McNally Steetfinder GPS supporting the Palm V or the one that supports the IIIc/VII you may be interested in powering your Palm from the external gps power plug. A modification to your gps is available from skydragon. Hubclub is working on a solution for M500 units.
Here is a rechargeable battery pack for a palm from Belkin. Another rechargeable retrofit for Palm units and soon for Visor units comes from Pellico Systems. And yet another is available for Palms and Visors from PalmGear.com (Look for Travel and Navigation hardware and take a look at their car mounts). Or if you just want to use rechargeable batteries with a traditional charger then you might want to look at Thomas Distributing. Be sure that you get at least 700mAH batteries, and replace or recharge them as soon as the low warning indicator says or to be safe even sooner. A good charger is the PS-4 from Rayovac. It is a one hour charger that treats each cell individually. They also have batteries of course.
There is also a problem if your unit already uses rechargeable batteries but you are no where near a charger. For Visor products, Visor Solutions" has a small battery case called battplug that can be used to recharge the internal battery. LandWare has a product for Palm V as does Tech Center Labs. They also have emergency charger for Treo and Tungsten T and M series Palm units with the universal connector. For M series products and the new Tungsten you might want to try the vehicle solution from The SupplyNet. They have a Y cable that powers both the Palm and an external gps from a car accessory outlet while also providing an interface data solution. I have a review of this product. Another source for battery cases for lots of PDA's is wholesale-pda-accessories. Also check with PC Mobile.net for car solutions and battery boxes for recharging internal batteries. A fairly expensive but universal solution is from Laptopsforless. This uses lightweight rechargeable battery modules.
Perhaps you need to charge your unit and you are on a week long hike. The solution may be a solar charger from Silicon Solar.
One really important consideration if you intend to use you palm for navigation is protection. Palm units are not waterproof and are not particularly shock resistant. The screen is glass so it needs even more protection. There are some units that are more rugged than others, for example Symbol Technologies is known for making rugged units. However for most folks some sort of protective covering may be useful.
One issue is waterproofness. This can be solved with a plastic bag such as aquapac or Eastman or perhaps an inexpensive ziplock bag. The Eastman link will also yield some other sources for waterproof bags, while the Aquapac link also has some waterproof cases with extra protection for the faceplate. The units can be operated while remaining inside the protective cover although stylus operation can be a bit tricky. Some bags are large enough to contain the gps as well which will work fine while inside the bag.
There are many cases available for palm units which offer some protection but for hiking use they generally fall a bit short of the mark. For mechanical protection you might want to look at the armored unit from Otter Box. This box, based on an earlier storage box, allows the palm to be used while providing shock protection. There is a clear plastic panel on the front that provides viewing and stylus access and a belt clip accessory provides a place to carry your palm. Unfortunately the current model cannot be used with a gps attached unless the gps is really small. Future models are planned with cable access. Another armored unit called active armor is available with specific support for handspring Visor extension modules as is GummiGuard which also supports some of the palm units.
Another suite of cases is available from PocketGoods. They have protective cases with room for CF cards and have cases with a serial port connector on the box that is suitable for a GPS attachment. They have cases for Palm units even though the page starts with pocketpc.
Sometimes a gps can be used alone for data acquisition in the field but there are times when other input data may be needed as well. There is a module called Silver Finger that may be just what is needed. It is a small unit that provides gps input (NMEA) along with an onboard temperature sensor, two A to D converters, four digital data lines, and a counter.
For mobile use the need to use a stylus can be a problem. Unfortunately many of the programs insist on navigating via menus and it can be hard to click menus in a moving vehicle. One solution is to use a finger stylus. This device is inexpensive and much easier to hit what you want.
Users that have rechargeable batteries in their units may find that a field charger will save the day when hiking. These chargers are simply a box with the appropriate connector on them and contain regular throw away batteries. They can be used to provide a quick charge to the builtin battery. They can be purchased at pc-mobile.net.
As with other gps receivers, palm receivers can often benefit from an external antenna. If they won't accept one then a re-radiating antenna may be the solution. They are readily available from a number of sources. These can improve lock times and susceptablity to noise. They may also be necessary if the windshield of your car has a metallic finish built-in, as some do. One source for a battery powered unit is pc-mobile.net.
When an Palm unit is used in a car the shiny screen can have mirror like reflections than make the data difficult to see. One solution to this problem is to use a screen protector like the ones from PPC-Techs. These protectors have a matte finish that can significantly reduce reflections. Another protector that reduces or eliminates glare is one from Brando Workshop.
Mac users should check with Mark/Space for potential solutions to sync problems.
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