Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Zumo

I have been complaining in here for over a year about getting lost and how I need a GPS. As mentioned in a prior post, we picked one up in Toronto on our way back from West Virginia last week. It is a Garmin Zumo 550, a unit designed for motorcycle use.

The Zumo is a GPS, MP3 player, XM radio and is Bluetooth capable. The XM radio and Bluetooth aren't features I need right now but they may prove useful in the future. It comes with the hardware necessary to mount it on the bike (RAM system) as well as a car mount with speaker. It also features text to voice so that, when it speaks to you, it actually says the street names.

Since I needed to figure out how to use this with a minimum of risk to life and limb, and since wiring it to the bike was going to be a little challenging, I set up the car mount first. I found the unit quite easy to handle as far as figuring out where I was and how to get somewhere. When Kim and Mike were here, we followed its directions around town for practice. Since the default was to prohibit U-turns, the annoying "turn around" command was absent and it would recalculate a route every time I ignored a direction. Then Mike and I used it to find a geocache near the house. So far, so good.

Now that I could navigate, it was time to get the music going. I went out and bought a 2 Gigabyte SD card which goes in a slot on the bottom of the unit and has enough space for about 500 MP3 songs. When the GPS is hooked to the computer this shows as a separate drive allowing music files to be copied to it. Then I found a utility through that allows Playlists (lists of songs to be played) to be easily created. After loading about 500 favourites and creating playlists for Sandy, my more nostalgic moments and fast moving, the music situation was well in hand.

Today, I decided it was time to deal with the bike. First, I installed the RAM mount on the left handlebar. No problem. I had decided to take the power from the accessory cigarette lighter circuit in the left fairing pocket. Since this is also where the auxiliary sound input is, both cords could follow the same (as yet to be determined) routing. The power plug was a Hitachi type and I didn't have one to hook on the Zumo power cord, so I spliced into the cord with Scotch lock connectors and crimped plugs on the ends of the leads. This wasn't as easy as it sounds because the Honda wires were short and the room inside the pocket was small. But I did get it done. The cords were routed down the handlebar and, working blind, I managed to thread them around a bracket on the steering head for the transition from the parts that move to those that don't. Then they followed the Honda wiring to the fairing. Getting into the fairing was easier than I thought since there was a larger than expected gap at the bottom where the Honda wires enter. I plugged them in and mounted the GPS to the bracket. Wonder of wonders, it all worked.

The inaugural run came tonight when we headed out for the Freedom Riders monthly dinner run. Up to Levack and the Windy Lake motel, we listened to our tunes and watched the road go by on the screen. I did learn right away that the GoldWing speedometer is about 6% optimistic so I haven't been going as fast as I thought I was.

There are a variety of screens to tell you different things and I will master them over the next little while. Direction, estimated fuel remaining, altitude, points of interest (gas, motels, restaurants, etc) are only some of the available features. I also need to find out how the Mapsource software on the computer will let me plan more intricate trips ahead of time. I look forward to having this new piece of equipment enhance our travels in the future. Stay tuned for our progress.

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