GPS on Motorcycle
15sec. 2,1MB MPG
On my motorcycle I use a GPS (Global Positioning System) handheld for
navigation. It cannot substitute a map completely, but it is a nice
toy. The main reasons for me using it are:
On my Pyrenees and
pages, you can find lots of tracks and useful waypoints recorded on my
trips. And on my video page you find two other nice
video captures showing the GPS device in use.
- Planing tours at home on my PC and transfering the routes to the
GPS to guide me
- Documenting my tours by the track function of the GPS
- Going somewhere just for fun, following nice unknown roads, finding
home again and checking, where I have been.
- Exchanging waypoints with other bikers on Internet
(you can find a lot of my waypoints in
Detlef Beyers Waypoint Base
- Fun - you know, engineers always need nice toys
My GPS system consists of the following components (21.7.2002).
Most of the software is freeware or shareware:
GPS 12XL handheld
- Self made fixed GPS mounts with 12V connector on motorcycle and car
(described below, uses Pfranc connector)
- Self made serial connector to Palm
(uses Pfranc connector)
- Palm IIIxe
- Self made serial connector to PC
(uses Pfranc connector)
- Pentium IV, 1,8GHz, 512MB RAM (for big maps and routing software)
- OziExplorer 3.90.3h:
GPS-Moving-Map-Software with lots of features
- OziExplorer 3D 1.03 Beta:
Add-on for OziExplorer to generate 3D images
- GARtrip 204a: waypoint, route and
track database for PC with many nice functions to maintain waypoint lists
- GPilotS 5.0 beta6:
waypoint, route and track database for Palm
- Top50: Official topographic maps
of Bavaria from "Bayerisches Landesvermessungsamt"
- AustrianMAP: Maps of Austria on CD-ROM
- SwissTOPO: Official topographic maps from Switzerland
Map Web Resources
Image Processing Software
- GeoTIFF: Some TIFF standars and tools
related to geographic information systems
- LView Pro 1.C5/32: Little and fast image processing
program, well suited for fast map construction by cut and paste
- ACDSee 2.4: Fast image viewer
with the potential to even replace your normal file browser
- Gimp 1.2.3: Powerful image processing, initially from the
Linux world, script controllable
- Gifsicle: command line based
processing of GIFs, initially intended for creation of animated GIFs, can be used to create
a map based on map tiles downloaded from a website with interactive maps
- Route66 Route 2000 3.2.4:
Routing software for Europe with very limited GPS support but very nice vector map images
and good street database (see Pyrenees and
- Falk Routenplaner 5.06: Routing software for Germany with limited GPS
support. CD-ROM was part of "Shell Autoatlas" and is based on very good routing software
from CAS Software
Convert Tiled Maps from Web to Plain TIFF Files
This is just a short example of my automated process to construct
maps from map tiles of online map servers like
- Goto Terraserver
and find out min/max X/Y-coordinates and URL rules of desired region by analyzing
the HTML-code of the frame displaying the map tiles.
- Update gen_lynx.awk with desired coordinates and URL
- Run awk -fgen_lynx.awk >gen_lynx.bat to generate script for downloading
all the map tiles needed.
- Run gen_lynx.bat to actually download the map tiles.
Script can be split into several batch files to speed up the download.
- Convert all downloaded tiles to GIF.
- Update gen_gif.awk with tile numbers.
- Run awk -fgen_gif.awk >gen_gif.bat to generate script for combining
all the GIF tiles into one big animated GIF
- Run gen_gif.bat, which creates a single huge animated GIF (all.gif) containing
all map tiles at correct positions.
- Load all.gif into gimp and combine all image layers (single GIF tiles) to one layer
and save as TIFF image.
- Find out coordinates of image corners on
and use them to calibrate the new map.
You can get commercial GPS holders in different shops.
The most popular ones are from Touratech,
I think. They are very stable and reliable. You surely can participate at Paris-Dakar with them.
This makes them rather expansive.
For normal touring on streets and gravel roads, a simpler solution is enough.
I created my own simple and cheap holders for motorcycle and car.
In both cases it simple consists of:
Fixed this way, I never lost the GPS device, even on heavy gravel roads.
A further advantage is, that you can still easily grab around the GPS device
with your hand while pressing the buttons with your thumb.
This is much more ergonomic than just targeting with a single fingertip
to the small buttons.
The first picture below shows the GPS mount above the instruments of my
motorcycle without GPS device.
On the second picture you can recognize the aluminium part below the GPS
device through the windshield.
The third picture is animated and shows the front view of my bike
with windshield and instument cover taken off.
On top of this page you see how it looks with GPS device.
And clicking it, you see a little MPG movie showing how
easily it can be operated.
By the way, if you wonder about the camcorder on the tankbag, just
visit my video page to find out more about it.
- Bended piece of aluminium, approx. 30cm x 25mm x 2mm, fixed with
two clamps and four nuts to instrument panel
- Stripe of velcro tape (Klettverschluß) fixed on aluminium part and GPS device
- Rubber band (motorcycle only), approx. 5cm long and 3cm wide (old bicycle tube)
to be put around GPS device and upper end of aluminium part
- Cable with a
connected via an additional fuse to the motorcycle battery
Please consider security issues when searching a good position to mount
your GPS device.
Don't mount it in a low position.
You won't see the road any more when playing around with your GPS while driving.
If you mount it in a higher position, you will keep the road at least in
your peripheral view.
The probability is higher, that you recognize any obstacles or other vehicles
In the early years of the GPS system, the US operated two different
signals on their satellites: The high precision military signal
and the low precision civil signal.
The civil signal just had an artificial error put on it, which
This mechanism was called "selective availability".
In May 2000, it was turned off.
Since then, the civil and military signal basically have the
A friend of mine (Glen Reiff) informed me just some hours
before the US turned off selective availability.
After reading the press release of the White House,
I immidiately installed my GPS on my balcony and started a fixed point track to see the
decreasing error (1 track point/minute).
You can download an Excel sheet with a detailed analysis of the track
(average error, error distributen with and without SA).
The following simplified chart shows, how position error
significantly decreased from about 40m to about 8m at 6:00 AM MESZ on 2.May 2000
Rolf Schlagenhaft, created 17.9.97, last update 21.7.2002,
accesses since 4.9.2000