Wednesday, August 12, 2020

New GPS installed. Now I won't get lost.....maybe...

My last post was describing how old and antiquated the GPS system was in our coach. Also, it was no longer supported so I wasn't able to update the maps etc. With that in mind I went searching for a better solution. I had been using a window mounted unit that worked ok but I couldn't see any advantage to having two GPS units. With the dash cam, the TPMS and the GPS mounted on the windows there was too much clutter. Garmin just came out with a new unit, the RV890, which is designed with RVers in mind. It also has an 8" screen which would just fit in the factory opening. So, without further ado, here's my build out. If anyone has questions, feel free to contact me....Dennis

Here is the original factory unit. It consisted of several pieces and weighed over 12 pounds. You can see the microphone in the lower left corner, the A/C vent and two cigarette lighters. I'm keeping one of the lighters and replacing the other with a dual port USB device so we can charge our phones if necessary.






With the middle dash removed, you can see the break at the screw hole in the middle top. There is also a small piece broken out in the lower center hole. This is common with these plastic assemblies and I intend to correct, what I consider to be a flaw.


In order to 'fix' the broken dash, I purchased a sheet of scrap .80 ga. aluminum for $7 at a local machine shop, AZ Metals.  I then took that to Southwest WaterJet in Phoenix where they matched the dash using a CAD program, then fed the sheet of aluminum into their machine. The result was two identical dash pieces cut and drilled to perfection.

One piece of aluminum will serve as a backing to the original dash. I use E6000, an industrial adhesive to laminate the two pieces together. Notice I prefit the Garmin unit into the dash. I'll paint the aluminum black so any gap shown in the dash will disappear.

I did this with my left side arm rest several years ago which turned out great. The parking brake is now securely bolted in place.

Glued and bonded, clamped and allowed to dry overnight,  I now have a solid piece of dash that can withstand the beating of being in a moving vehicle.

Turned face up and prefit. It looks pretty good. I was missing a small piece of plastic at the top center hole so I'll have to live with that unless it shows up one day. The lower hole was patched and glued. The screws will now go into the aluminum sheeting instead of simply the plastic. Much more robust.

Now my next challenge was how to actually mount the new product into the dash. My original plan was to use velcro but I wasn't comfortable with how it 'felt' once installed. I then used the old mount from the factory install, modified it to fit and mounted that to the back side of the dash. The RV890 comes with a large magnet mount, which is what you see in this picture. I had to cut the original mount to allow the magnet to fit.


Continuing, I removed the windshield mount and formulated a strap from some scrap aluminum rail I had in my workshop. After drilling it, I mounted the magnetic mount to the strap and the strap to the housing. The large washers you see were used a spacers to get the proper 'look' from the front. Here is what it looks like.

Here is the finished product. I'm very pleased with the result. I had to add a 12VDC outlet behind the display to plug the Garmin into. And because I wanted control over the on/off switch, I added a toggle switch in the cabinet below. Overall it's a great improvement over the factory unit. It has more features, can connect via cell phones, displays current time and temperature and weighs only 13 ounces.

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