GPS Hardware

Mounting Samsung Galaxy S on the bicycle

The challenge of mounting your smartphone on the bicycle is much bigger than one would assume. There is one rule though – avoid cheap mounting solutions otherwise the Gorilla glass will have to show its strength. There are few solutions, one of those is using RAM Mount holders which are supposed to be of a great quality and strength. They have a zillion of various combinations of these.

The proper one for my phone and the bicycle is called RAM Mount Adjustable Rugged Universal Finger Grip Holder Cradle for Cell Phone and Smartphone Mobile Devices (product number RAM-HOL-UN4U). What a name, huh? Note that’s just the cradle and it is universal. To mount it on the bicycle you’ll need the proper bicycle mount which goes by name of RAM EZ-ON/OFF™ Bicycle Mount with Dual Strap Base and Swivel Diamond Base Adapter (product name RAP-274-1U). Or even better, buy those two together as RAM EZ-ON/OFF™ Handlebar Mount (product name RAP-274-1-UN4U) to save a few bucks. I bought it from Ram-mount Slovenia.

After assembling and mounting it on the bicycle I have these observations.

The good

  • both cradle and mount are strong, good quality
  • assembling and mounting is straightforward
  • it rotates 360 degrees (albeit nor freely, it has predefined positions)
  • it would fit a variety of smartphones and other devices
  • interchangeable pieces
  • grips doesn’t interfere with phone buttons (not tested yet on the move)

The bad

  • looks big and not too aesthetic
  • due to the mounting mechanism it might not align (alignment might be off by a bit, but that’s can be adjusted I think)
  • it is not water proof (no protection) – but it wasn’t meant to be
  • expensive
  • a bit too high for Galaxy S. However this shouldn’t be an issue as lateral “fingers” won’t let it move anyway.

That said I didn’t yet take a ride with it due to the bad weather conditions (rain, rain and rain) but it certainly looks to me a very solid solution. The phone won’t fall off the bike, that’s for sure.

Here are few photos of the mounted phone next to the excellent Exposure Strada Mk.3 front light on my Cannondale M700. Now just waiting for the rainy period to finish as I am looking forward to test it.


RAM Mount for smart phoneRAM Mount for smart phone

RAM Mount for smart phoneRAM Mount for smart phone

RAM Mount for smart phoneRAM Mount for smart phone

RAM Mount for smart phone

GPS Hardware

Modern bicycle equipment

I have been bicycling for almost two decades now. I started with a Cannondale M700 cross country not-suspended mountain bike which I still own and use for non demanding terrain such as roads.

Every (mountain) bicycle should have a bicycle computer and looking back I still remember my first bicycle “computer”, a cheap wired one, I can’t remember the manufacturer. Bicycle computers evolved since then and so did other technologies. Looking at my current bicycle equipment yields this picture, originally drawn by Tevž, my six year son and modified by me (added equipment and descriptions):

me and bike p

The blue arrows shows wireless communication while the orange boxes describes the equipment which consists of two groups:

1. Bicycle computer: Garmin Edge 305 device which is a GPS receiver combined with heart rate and cadence (pedal rotations) monitoring and barometric sensor for altitude reading as well. The communication with monitors is through proprietary ANT+ wireless protocol so no wires are involved (barometric sensor is built in). The base unit shows all kind of data based on those four inputs and it has quite enough of memory as well – so I can store routes to my PC. It doesn’t feature navigation though – you’d need to buy a newer and more expensive 705 model, for that.

2. Pocket PC which serves three purposes: it plays music or podcasts to the Motorola Rokr S9 bluetooth headset (depends on my mood), it allows me to use headset in hands free mode to make or receive phone calls and finally, it transmits all sort of data (i.e. position obtained by GPS sensor – not Garmin’s but its own) back to my server. Or better, it could transmit since I haven’t found time yet to implement it. Sure, I could use one of the applications available out there but then I’d have to send the data to their server which I don’t want to.

So, once I finish a daily exercise I transfer the data stored in Edge 305 to my PC through USB cable using Sport Tracks application. Sport tracks is an excellent application that keeps track of your exercises and it is not bound to bicycling in any way. It is a topic of a post on its own but if you want to keep a logbook of your exercises you should really take a look – it is free. Anyway, here is a screenshot of my last exercise as shown by Sport Tracks:




Is there anything I am missing in my equipment? Sure, there are some things I’d like to happen or to have.

  1. Garmin’s monitoring equipment should use bluetooth protocol so I could read them from any computer. This is unlikely going to happen but at least it is using standardized protocol ANT+. There is at least one standalone receiver with software made for iPhone out there.
  2. Edge unit should implement bluetooth protocol so I could read data directly from it to my Pocket PC. Either this or #1 which is better.
  3. One day I’d like to mount a power meter as well but there are two economical obstacles: those are very expensive ($1500+) and I’d have to buy Edge 705 unit as well to read its data.
GPS Slovenia

Programmers can fly, really

Just recently I saw that Simon Čopi, my friend and a co-worker from my previous company, is participating and representing the only Slovene team in Red Bull X-Alps 2007 competition – where you have your glider and your feet to cross the Alps (that’s 850km). That’s awesome and over here we are all crossing fingers for him. Go Simon!

As a curiosity: all athletes are using Nokia NSeries N95s phones to report the position (live tracking).

GPS Slovenia

Mountain biking with GPS

I used to mountain bike a lot when I was keh keh younger These days time is more of a luxury and thus I manage only one or two rides per week. On the other hand, I am better equiped now. Sometimes I take my Qtek 2020 PocketPC, Pharos GPS bluetooth and use GPSDash (warning: seems like development stopped a long time ago) utility to display my position on map and to read a ton of other data derived from GPS unit. It is fun and GPS shows position very well, just the altitude is in the range +/- 100m – this is normal as GPS units aren't built for measure altitude (due to satellites position). Anyway, this nice GPSDash utility lets me exporting recorded path to Gogle Earth format. IOW I can look where I rode directly in Google Earth application.

Attached is a clasic tour over mt. Sveta Gora, which has the highest round inclination in Slovenia.

In my downloads section you will find an utility that lets you export OziExplorer maps format to GPSDash's one.

GPS Hardware Windows

Why Microsoft keeps pushing laptop navigation software?

Microsoft has a range of GPS navigation products, such as Street & Trips, Map Point and Pocket Streets (did I forgot any?). The problem is that the former two run only on full blown Windows only (forget Pocket PC devices) while the later has no turn by turn navigation which makes all of three useless for in-car navigation.

I mean who would want to put a laptop on the windshield to have a navigation. This is so impractical that makes it useless. Even if you have a passenger that holds your laptop is really not usable.

On the other hand having a software (Pocket Streets) that runs on PocketPC and only shows your position on the map (the map that is pain to transfer from desktop PC to PocketPC) without turn-by-turn navigation is useless, too.

Combined with lack of map coverage for Slovenia makes it so useless combination that it almost hurts. I am struggling to understand the Microsoft strategy on GPS navigation software but I fail to see one. Even if I had Slovene maps it would be still useless.

Here is a free advice for MS: make a solid PocketPC (or Windows CE) turn-by-turn navigation software like the competition does (TomTom, Garmin, etc.) if you really want to have a car navigation system.

.net GPS

OziExplorer’s map file converter

If you are using either GPSDash or GPSTuner image GPS navigation software you’ll notice that their map database isn’t nearly as huge as OziExplorer’s. That’s why I’ve created a free utility that converts OziExplorer’s map file to other formats.

Note: It converts only map file but not the images.

Download it from here.

.net GPS

OziExplorer’s map-> GPSTuner’s gmi converter

These days I am evaluating GPSTuner PocketPC application. It displays your position on a map based on GPS input (and of course it has many more features besides this). The maps are basically normal bitmaps with calibration info added in a separate file with an .gmi extension. The thing is that there aren’t many calibrated maps out there for GPSTuner. OTOH there are plenty of calibrated maps for OziExplorer, a similar application. On the bright side, the calibration file is easily converted from one to the another format. Thus I’ve created a simple conversion application that convert’s OziExplorer’s map to GPSTuner’s gmi format. I’ve tested it on OziExplorer’s 2.1 and 2.2 calibration format. You can find the converter application here.