Magellan GPS Installation for Off-Road Navigation

Jan. 13, 2014 By Jim Brightly, KF7SC
The Magellan RoadMate Pro9165T is a stand-alone, high-end GPS receiver and it helped me find this really neat location on the north side of the Grand Canyon. It also helped me connect the trailer.

Growing up as a Navy brat, I spent a lot of time moving from station to station with my mother as we followed my father back and forth across the U.S. Therefore, since my mother was somewhat directionally challenged at the time, I was forced to learn how to read a map at an early age (about the same time that I learned to read). I also learned to love those very same maps. Even today—to me—half the fun of all my trips is in the planning. What made it much easier on both of us in those days were the guys in the service stations—which were actually service stations—who were familiar with their hometowns and knew more about whatever area we found ourselves in. Unfortunately, these days, knowledgeable gas station attendants and paper maps could be going the way of the dodo bird—free maps are already as extinct as the dinosaurs that became our fuel.

No one, except perhaps Arthur C. Clarke (considered the father of the communications satellite) could have foreseen what would happen when that first Sputnik was tossed into space in 1957. But now we have more than 20 sophisticated satellites in geosynchronous orbits all around the Earth, dedicated to just the global positioning system (GPS). One of the other things nobody could have foreseen in those days: we now have maybe 20 fuel-station attendants nationwide who know enough about the areas in which they work to give competent directions. Besides, Jeepers want off-road coverage as well as on-road charts; hence, the need for a GPS unit.

Magellan packs the entire RoadMate Pro 9165T package into two cartons. The GPS unit, mount, and power cord come in one.

In the second package you get everything you need to connect Magellan’s wireless backup camera, including its transmitter and receiver, all the wiring, and the connectors.

More and more new Jeeps are being delivered with onboard, in-dash GPS navigation systems—either as factory- or dealer-installed options—and backup monitors. They’re cool options, but they’re also expensive and they can’t be used in more than one vehicle. I like versatile vehicles; i.e., Jeeps, dual-sport motorcycles, etc., so if I’m going to spend some coin, I want something that’s as versatile as I can get. Like a GPS unit that can be moved between my Jeep, my wife’s Avalanche, and our Jeep-towing motorhome.

You’ll need a fairly large selection of electrical hand tools such as these to complete the installation (wire stripper, circuit tester, plastic zip ties, dikes, pliers, screwdrivers, and electrical tape). I’ve also found that it’s much more convenient to have a table—what off-roader doesn’t have a camping table available—or rolling tray to hold drinks, tools, and materials.

If you’re not working in your garage, have a tarp ready in case you have to work under the Jeep while finding the proper wires.

Now, as we all know, we are able to use smart phones for directions, but outside of large metropolitan areas—such as in the Southwestern deserts—cell coverage ain’t so great, and who wants to wear reading glasses while driving in order to see those tiny screens. If you want a backup monitor, if you happen to be directionally challenged, if you want topographic maps (topo maps give the land contours as well as man-made features), if you want to find that hidden ghost town, or if you wish to map your route for other people to follow on future trips, you’ll need something other than a smart phone. So, let us see what two new GPS alternatives from Magellan can give you.

The backup camera arrives in a bracket already configured to fit license plate brackets. The camera can be positioned slightly up and down to better aim it for backing maneuvers.

Make sure the backup lights work—if not you need to troubleshoot that problem before proceeding.

Remove the taillight assembly and ascertain the power line for the backup lights (in this case it was green/white) and the ground wire (black). Since many Jeep have fiberglass taillight assemblies you won’t be able to just ground the camera and transmitter to the body, you’ll need a direct ground wire connection.

For those of us who own an older Jeep without a backup monitor system—but with a functioning cigarette lighter and backup lights—the Magellan RV9365T-LMB is an ideal solution to meet the current safety requirements for new cars. Although you may feel that you don’t need a backup monitor in a Jeep, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised once you’re used to it. Backing down a steep technical trail, backing to couple up a trailer, making sure there are no objects or people in your path, or just having a stiff neck from the weather or age are all reasons for an electronic backup monitor (that’s why so many new cars have backup monitors on their option lists). The RV9365T-LMB not only provides up-to-the-minute GPS information, routing solutions, POIs (points of interest), restaurants, shops, fueling stations (more about these features later), but it also automatically switches to the backup camera whenever the SUV is shifted to reverse.

Because of paint or fiberglass it may be difficult to find a good ground. I used one of the JK’s taillight’s mounting screw in its insert for my ground.

The lower light socket is for the backup light, which on a JK is supplied by a green/white power wire and a black ground wire. I used solderless connectors and then taped them thoroughly since the backs of the taillights are open to tire-thrown debris and moisture.

Since I had to mount the camera in the lower plate position, it might not be as stable as it should be. A shaking plate shouldn’t be a problem, however, because the camera can only be used in reverse during slow-motion backing maneuvers and not while driving down the highway.

You’ll need power for the 9165T and the receiver. JKs have dual power outlets so I used the cigarette lighter outlet because it’s coupled to the ignition key.

This threaded ring must be loosened before slipping it over the mounting bracket’s ball.

Actually, the receiver’s power cord has connectors for both units, but 9165T’s factory-supplied connector is so secured, I thought I might break something trying to remove it. The receiver must be mounted to a T-slot on the mounting bracket and then connected through the AV connector to the 9165T.

You can choose between 3D or 2D perspectives for the routing maps, and you’ll have to turn the unit on and off, unlike the permanently mounted GPS devices.

Simply shift to reverse and enjoy the safety and pleasure of having a backup monitor.

Wow! I love the 7-inch screen! Although it’s a bit large for a Jeep’s dash, it’s very easy to see and monitor, and it’s comparable with the GPS systems found in today’s high-end motorhomes. The high-resolution screen makes viewing maps easier; it is the only way to go for those of us with older, tired eyes. And if you also happen to tow your off-road rig with a motorhome (or pickup) due to the typical distance between the driver’s seat and the coach’s windshield, the larger 7-inch screen makes even more sense. In addition, Magellan and the Good Sam Club have teamed up to produce a huge GPS database that is specifically designed for RVers. The 9165T allows you to customize your RV routes based on your vehicle’s length, width, weight, and height. The 9165T will also give you guidance on six million points of interest (gas stations, restaurants, ATMs, coffee shops, etc.), pet-friendly parks, and RV service and parking.

The eXplorist 710 (left) combines high-sensitivity GPS reception with easy-to-read mapping and accurate navigation. You can create waypoints, record tracks, and routes from point to point. (Right) A $40 vehicle kit (not included with 710 purchase) includes everything you need to use your 710 in your Jeep. A suction mount securely holds it to the windshield or dashboard. The vehicle power adaptor connects to the vehicle cigarette lighter and eliminates using up the AA batteries.

The very smart 9165T GPS software will plan a route according to your preferences, making the drive much more error-free and enjoyable for you and your family, and will do it almost instantaneously (it’s one of the fastest computers I’ve seen in a GPS unit!). Its adjustable speed limit notification option will tell you every time you exceed the current speed limit by the number of miles per hour that you’ve programmed into it. Plus the 9165T’s Bluetooth connection turns itself into a hands-free speaker phone (just the thing to have in many states).

Mounted in the Jeep, the 710 is easy to use, easy to see, and easy to program.

When you switch the RoadMate 9165T to your daily driver, its free lifetime traffic updates will give you the quickest commute possible. Your RoadMate continuously scans traffic signals to warn of upcoming congestion. The 9165T also shows you which freeway lanes are best for preparing for your upcoming maneuver (that feature is in the lower 48 states only, though).

As with most automotive GPS devices, the 9165T allows you to personalize your travel experience with icons of your favorite places and searches. Magellan’s one-touch user interface offers ease-of-use and the detailed touches that deliver an excellent user experience. Other features include automatic map updates for life and an automatic night view, which adjusts color and contrast for easy night viewing.

Just slip the 710 out of its vehicle holder and it’s ready to take you to the top of the mountain.

If the Magellan Pro9165T’s 7-inch monitor is too large for your comfort within your Jeep, or if you also want a smaller unit that is more mobile and can be carried with you on hikes, or if you want topographic capability in your GPS unit, the eXplorist 710 may well be the perfect unit for your needs and wants. This unit also also includes a camera!

Rugged and waterproof, the eXplorist 710 combines high-sensitivity GPS reception with easy-to-read mapping and accurate navigation. You can find your way using more than 30 navigational data fields, and you can create waypoints, record tracks, and routes from point to point. According to Magellan, the eXplorist 710 packs the most accurate maps available into the palm of your hand.

The World Edition map allows for 2D or 3D viewing angles. It includes a complete road network in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, and Australia and major roads throughout the rest of the world and provides cartographic orientation in almost any location. This preloaded map also includes water features, urban and rural land use, and a realistic shaded-relief background.

Lightweight and sized just right to slip into a shirt pocket or backpack pouch, the 710 can also take pictures of the mountaintop once it takes you there.

The eXplorist 710 also includes City Series and Summit Series USA maps, Summit Series USA is a highly detailed topographic map based on 1:24,000 scale source maps. The maps include contour lines, land use areas, trails, waterways and points of interest. You can easily locate the nearest trailhead, search for the nearest fuel stations, or drinking water source. You can also navigate safely in 3D perspective view while knowing the boundaries between private and public lands. The City Series USA allows your eXplorist device to navigate through the city streets with turn-by-turn directions on your way to escaping to your favorite open spaces. You can enter a variety of destinations, including address book entries, waypoints, geocaches, or previous destinations.

Jeeps are one of the favorite vehicles of geocachers, and now you can enjoy paperless geocaching with the eXplorist 710. Download and view more than 20 unique characteristics of each cache and view, search, filter on the device. Details include name, location, description, hider, size, difficulty, terrain, hint, and recent logs created by other geocachers.

Follow your heart and your Magellan to your destination.

The best of both worlds, the eXplorist 710 combines the user friendliness of a touch screen with the reliability of two customizable hard buttons. Program the hard buttons to your two favorite or most used functions. Powered by two AA batteries, the eXplorist 710 will last up to 16 hours under normal conditions. To help conserve power, use the suspend mode to turn off the device but maintain GPS tracking. You can also adjust power management settings to your preference. With an eXplorist Vehicle Kit ($40) you’ll have everything you need to use your eXplorist in your Jeep. A suction mount securely holds your eXplorist to the windshield or dashboard and the included vehicle power adaptor enables external power and eliminates using up the AA batteries while in your Jeep.

And now I’ve come to the integrated 3.2 mega-pixel camera, microphone, and speaker, which enable outdoor enthusiasts to record geo-referenced images and voice notes. Relive your outdoor adventures on the device, on your computer, or share with others on various online communities like You Tube or

Source: Newsletter
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