Tag: gps

The GPS Files: It’s In Your Pocket, Dummy

The GPS Files: It’s In Your Pocket, Dummy

I would like to introduce you to my nemesis:

The Zumo screwdriver tool

You folks who also have Garmin Zumo GPS’ know exactly what this is. It’s the little screwdriver tool that you use to “unlock” the GPS from its cradle.

It is also one more facet of the GPS experience that drives me bananas. Not because it does or doesn’t do anything on its own. It’s more… because I’m a moron.

I have this annoying little habit of losing things like my glasses and my wallet. This little Zumo tool doesn’t stand a chance against the power of my distracted-ness. I misplace it routinely.

In an effort to not lose things, I often come up with “tricks” and “plans” to remember where they are.  I can probably tell you what town a Muffler Man in Illinois is in off the top of my head, but heaven help me I can’t remember those places I put things so I would remember where I put them.

So, I am typing this right now in hopes that it will help me when I go haywire and tear apart the luggage on my motorcycle looking for it (like I did in California last fall):

“It’s in the inside pocket of your REV’IT jacket, dummy.”

Undoubtedly I will give that pocket a precursory squish, pat or poke and not feel it right away and assume all hope is lost. Again. But, rest assured it IS in there.

If only I could set up a GPS route to my pocket. 😕

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I Want to Punch My Garmin Zumo 450 In the Face… Again

I Want to Punch My Garmin Zumo 450 In the Face… Again

Zumo 450 - not working againIf you happen to be playing along at home and following closely on some of my travel photos – like stalkerazzi close – you may have noticed that sometimes the GPS isn’t powered on when I’m traveling.

Sometimes this is intentional. But, sometimes… it isn’t. It is during the latter times that I want to punch my Zumo 450 in the face.

I’m not certain what the magic combination of actions is for the electronic hate machine to decide it will stop working. But, based upon my research I’ve come to the following hypothesis: It happens when it feels like it.

  • If you leave the GPS in the cradle on the bike – it may or may not turn on the next time you hit the power button.
  • If you take the GPS out of the cradle – it may or may not turn on when you hit the power button.
  • If you try the GPS in a different cradle –  it may or may not turn on the next time you hit the power button.
  • If you plug the GPS in to your computer – it may or may not turn on.
  • If you really “need” the GPS – it may or may not turn on when you hit the power button.


I have discovered a fix.

  1. Go on a riding vacation to a far away place.
  2. Use your smartphone and its GPS feature to locate an auto parts or hardware store.
  3. Walk to said store and wait around for it to open.
    Please note: This step must take at least 45 minutes and delay your desired departure time for the day’s ride.
  4. Buy a set of allen keys that includes one the diameter of a hair.
    (that you didn’t bring on vacation with you, natch).
  5. With your newly purchased allen wrench, remove the Zumo 450’s battery for a second and then button the GPS back up.

Now, hit the power button.

VOILA! The GPS will “magically” turn back on.


While this will get the Zumo 450 working it will not fix the feeling of wanting to punch it in the face.

Yes, my Zumo 450 is old and discontinued. And no, I do not “need” it to navigate. It just becomes a matter of principal that drives me up the wall when the flippin’ thing decides it doesn’t feel like working.

I wish I could say that it was just my particular unit that was possessed by the devil but unfortunately another Zumo 450 owner tipped me off to just removing the battery to reset it.

And so, my saga with the GPS continues…

How I Survived My Zumo 450 GPS

How I Survived My Zumo 450 GPS

The Battle of the Zumo 450 was hard fought… and won!

I am posting this in case there are other new Mac/Zumo 450 users who may have run into the same issue and didn’t know what to do.

To recap: I wanted to download the Roadside America Attractions and Oddities POI set from Spot it Out on to the Zumo.

My Hardware:

  • iMac
  • Garmin Zumo 450

The download process from SpotItOut.com didn’t error, per se. It didn’t actually do anything, it just halted with no messaging. I was on my own to try to figure out why.

I poked around the Zumo’s folders and found that there just wasn’t enough free space to download the 52MB file. I tried several things, including downloading the POI set to a different GPS device, putting the files on an SD card and trying to read it from there. (Which also did not work.)

Does Anyone Know?
Do POI files from Spot It Out get flagged for use with a device ID or something? Why would it not read from the SD card if it was downloaded from another device?

Fed up, I sent an email to Spot it Out.

The instructions I received from Spot It Out were:

You could do the following:

– insert an SD or microSD card into the unit

– connect the unit to the PC, temporarily remove the map database from the device (a file sometimes called gmapprom.img – or a very large file, about 1GB), download our title, then move our title from the /garmin/POI directory to an SD card, then write the database file back to the unit, the unplug the unit and restart. The title will now be read directly from the SD card.

Which I did and… it didn’t work.

Even after dumping that HUGE .img file off of the Zumo there was no additional free space. How is that f’n possible? The answer could only be one thing. Deleting the file didn’t really delete the file.

The following day, Kenny gem that he is figured he would “fix” things for me. Using his Windows laptop, he plugged in the Zumo and started looking through the directories.

What he found was that there is a folder on the Zumo that was not visible when I was looking at the GPS in OSX Finder called:  “.trashed”. In it was over 1GB of data.

When I moved the .img file to my desktop based on the instructions from Spot, I copied and pasted the file instead of cutting and pasting. I then deleted the .img file from the Garmin folder. The Zumo put the .img file into its (unknown to me) “.trashed” folder.

Ah. Ha.

Once the .trashed folder was cleared on the Zumo, the POIs downloaded without issue from the Spot It Out site. The newly downloaded POIs were moved off of the Zumo and onto an SD card. Then I moved the .img file back on to the Zumo, unplugged it, restarted it and prayed.

In the Extras on the GPS was the sweetest sight in the whole world – My Roadside America POIs being read from the SD card.

I wept.

The GPS Blues: My Zumo 450 is Trying to Kill Me

The GPS Blues: My Zumo 450 is Trying to Kill Me

Preface: I generally do not use my GPS to navigate on my motorcycle. For the most part I use it to just log my ride and be there as a backup if I am looking for something specific like gas or a hotel. It is a rare occasion that I ever leave the house with a route programmed in to it to go somewhere. I still prefer to use paper maps and scribbles on paper. It’s my system, it works for me.

A few nights ago I decided to buy the Roadside America Attractions and Oddities POI download for GPS. At $20, it seemed like a good investment in finding the goofy stuff I love.

Garmin Zumo 450But, here I sit… a sad panda. I think my Zumo 450 GPS has moved beyond being an irritant. It is now trying to kill me.

I went through the simple and straightforward process of buying the Roadside America download. I plugged the GPS unit in to my computer, clicked download and… nothing. No error messages, no nothing. I went through the motions like a lunatic (expecting a different result) about 10 times.

So, after poking around on the device, restoring it to factory settings and ultimately downloading the POI file to my car Nuvi instead, it turns out the the Zumo 450 does not have enough space to download the 52MB .gbi file.

I looked around the web to see if I could find something that would allow me to convert the Roadside America .gbi to another format which could then be “massaged”. I tried GPSBabel but got no joy. Sonofa!

Patience isn’t my strong suit. I took a deep breath and tried to put all thoughts of punching a hole in my iMac away. There had to be a way to make this work, right? I mean, it isn’t rocket science.

I grabbed a 16GB SD card off my desk and using Spot it Out’s instructions loaded the files on there. Surely this had to be the answer! I popped the card into the Zumo and… my Zumo doesn’t recognize the data. I got nothing but an infuriating “No Extras Loaded” message when I went to the Extras option on the GPS.

Aaaaaarrrgh! You have got to be flippin’ kidding me!

Just for giggles, I tried another SD card. This time a 2GB version. Same result. No Extras Found.

Mr Rooney Screaming

For cryin’ out loud! I realize that the Zumo 450 is an older now retired unit, but c’mon. At this point I was pretty well incensed and ready to meltdown. I may or may not have let out a scream like Mr. Rooney did when they towed his car away.

I broke down and sent an email to the retailer Spot It Out to see if they would supply me with a different file format. ::crosses fingers::

If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear ’em!

The Secretive Lives of Motorcyclists: Finding Your Way

The Secretive Lives of Motorcyclists: Finding Your Way

A few weeks ago I was speaking to Rich, the publisher of AutomotiveTraveler.com because he wanted to use one of my photos for a story.  In the course of our conversation he said something to the gist of, ‘motorcyclists know the best roads.’ I think he’s right on the money. One thing that many motorcyclists don’t know, is how to share. In this digital age of communication motorcyclist who frequent online hangouts like forums or message boards have been known to hold their road cards close to their vests.

Guilty as Charged

I am guilty of keeping mum on my roads. Are you? The reality of the matter is of course that there are no secrets. Anyone that can buy a map or look at Google Maps online can know what you know. Yet, somehow we feel the need to protect our knowledge for fear of the word getting out. It all comes down to one word. Trouble. People who draw complaints from whizzing past driveways, bringing the noise, stunting shenanigans and heaven forbid accidents, all bring the police. Who wants to encounter the police on their roads?

Today when I was messaging back and forth with Goldenchild who writes the SteadyOntheHumble.com blog, he readily tipped his hand to me on a road loop he likes to use. I immediately thought, ‘Wow! Alright, this is nice!’ I was honestly shocked that someone would share their treasures with me and I really appreciated it. I hope I am able to return the favor some time.

How do you find your way?

So how do you do it? How do you find roads in areas that you’ve never been to? My personal preference is to get a paper map of the area I will be traveling to. A paper map gives a high level overview of where I’m headed. I then zero in on where I think I may be going and start picking off routes that look interesting. I look for lakes, rivers, and mountains. My experience so far has taught me that these things are rarely square, so aside from lovely vistas they often provide the twisties. If I’m near a computer, I usually follow up with checking my route on Google Maps to see if I‘ve come up with something good. When have you ever ridden a ‘Snake Hill Road’ or ‘So and So Mountain Road’ that really stunk?

For trips to faraway places I check regional forums on message boards whose membership are sport or sport touring oriented. I look for ride reports and photographs that are centered around the state I’ll be traveling in and jot down any interesting tidbits that I find. I then go back to my paper maps and to Google to see how everything begins to gel. Routes will then begin to materialize naturally.

Perhaps the most important thing that I have learned to do over the years is just to wander. Explore. Make a left when left looks like it might hold some promise even if I haven’t the foggiest idea of where I will end up. True, this often works best when riding alone as I most often do. But, from many of my conversations with other riders it seems that some have a hard time letting go and just winging it.What is that saying? All who wander are not lost.

Fuzzygalore's Triumph Speed Triple in Columbia County New York

Everything you could possibly want is on the internet, good motorcycle road suggestions included. Here are some websites that offer road suggestions:

I’d love to hear your feedback on the topic. Please, don’t be shy!