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Discussion Starter #1
I haven't made a "DIY" project post since the format change, so here's to hoping this works....

I decided to put an old Droid Turbo into service as a GPS unit on my bike, but I wanted to be able to waterproof it so I didn’t have to worry about rain, or water crossings. I’ve done the plastic sandwich bag routine in the past, but I don’t like it (plus I wanted something that was actually waterproof), so I began looking around for something I could repurpose into a waterproof case. I stumbled on a fly fishing accessory that fit the bill perfectly.

The item is a Maximumcatch two sided waterproof fly box; it’s what fly fishermen use to hold their flies. I bought the large one, from Amazon, for about 13 bucks.


This is what the box looks like in its pristine state. And here’s what I did to adapt it to the cell phone:



The first thing was to remove the foam that holds the flies in the box. The foam was removed from both sides of the box. I didn’t want the foam in the box, even though it provided some cushioning, because I wanted to be able to open the cover on the box if necessary and I didn’t want the phone falling out.

Those holes you see around the edges of the floor of the box aren’t there when it’s new; I drilled those in the box in order to attach some parts later on.



Next, I removed one of the lids. The boxes are two sided, with a watertight lid on both sides, but I only needed one side. I pushed out the hinge pin with a small drill bit until I could get a hold of it with some needlenose pliers, and then pulled the pin out far enough to remove one of the lids. I’d recommend either taking the lid off or covering it with masking tape while you’re working, to keep it from getting scratched.



Each door has a latch, and one has to be removed. I did the same thing as with the lid; pulled out the pin far enough to take off the latch (on the same side of the box as the removed lid).



The rubber gasket was removed from the gasket channel on the unused side of the box. This is the side where eventually the ball mount will be installed. I’m going to hang onto it and keep it in my spares box, in case the remaining one ever leaks.



I removed the inner wall of the gasket channel on ball mount side of the case the with an Olfa knife and a set of hobbyist sprue cutters. You don’t have to do this; I just did it because I thought it would look better on the finished product.



Here’s the ball mount side of the case, sanded down flush.



This is the magnetic plate, that actually holds the cell phone in place inside the mount when the lid is open. The magnets came from one of those cell phone mounts that you stick into the CD player slot in a car, and a metal plate you stick on the back of the phone holds the phone to a magnet on the mount. I had an old one laying around that was about to get thrown away, so I cannibalized the magnetic part of the mount. The plate is made out of 1/8” ABS sheet, and I cut a hole in the center that was the same shape as the magnetic mount. I glued the magnetic mount to the plate with Weld-On, and reinforced it with JB Weld.



This is the rear of the magnetic plate. The white plastic is .030 polystyrene. It’s there as a shim, to get the cell phone to the correct height so that, when the lid is closed, the lid itself holds the cell phone in place to it can’t move around at all.



Just a close up of the magnets.



This is the mounting plate for the RAM ball, made from 1/4” ABS. The side you see here is the side that faces out from the mount. I used a piece that thick mainly because it makes it possible to recess all the attachment nuts into the plate so they don’t stick up anywhere. It just makes it a little more streamlined. The six #6 nuts around the perimeter of the plate were placed into 3/8” recesses drilled into the plastic with a Forstner bit. I bored about halfway through the 1/4” sheet; that’s deep enough to get the machine nuts below the surface of the sheet. Once the machine nuts were in the recessed holes, they were fixed in place with JB Weld.
The squares were cut out of the plate just to make it a little lighter.



This is the other side of the plate. Those are #8 machine nuts, set into 3/8” recessed holes and fixed in place with super glue and accelerator. There wasn’t much clearance between the flats on the nuts and the recessed holes, so I used superglue that would flow easier into the holes and around the flats, rather than the thicker JB Weld.



This is the case with the magnetic plate and the mounting plate installed. The screws go through the six holes in the magnetic plate, through the case, and into the recessed nuts on the mounting plate. I ran beads of RTV silicone adhesive/sealant around all the screw holes and on the undersides of the screw heads, to maintain the watertight seal of the case.



This is a standard 1” RAM ball mount with a diamond base, installed on the mounting plate. The ball cost $6.99 on Amazon.



This is what the case looks like from the front with the magnetic plate installed.



Here’s the Droid Turbo in the case. The magnets are pretty strong; I wouldn’t trust them alone if I was bouncing down a potholed road on the bike, but they actually aren’t what holds the phone in place when you’re riding; the lid of the case does that. The magnets do hold the phone inside the case, even when the case is vertical, when the lid is open.



This is what the active phone looks like through the lid of the case. The clarity of the plastic is excellent, with no distortion.





And here it is, mounted on my handlebars.

I have $20 in the project, though I did already have the magnetic phone mount. I also have sheet plastic on hand from a zillion other projects I’ve done, so I didn’t have to buy any for this one.

As always, I post these DIY projects in case there’s another nut out there like me, who wanders through hardware stores looking at aluminum angle and plumbing supplies and wonders “hmmm, what can I make out of this?”.
 

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OK, that is too cool. It's something I didn't even know that it needed, but am now seriously considering. I have an old unused Droid sitting here. I probably have some old fly boxes from back when I use to tie flies and fished with them, too. The DIY part is the easy part. Teaching an old luddite the technology to load the maps and use the old phone as a GPS is the tougher part. LOL
 

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Another one of your great DIY projects RC!

Have you thought about how connect it to plug it in to your 12v outlet while your riding?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It doesn't create any issues, oldjeep. The windscreen and the handguards deflect a lot of air, and the new mount isn't that much bigger than the cell phone itself. The Turbo is 5 5/8" high by 2 7/8" wide, and the case is 6" high by 4" wide. The photo in the post makes it look a little larger on the handlebar mount than it actually is. My current phone, a Z3, is 6 1/4" high by 3 1/4" wide, and it rides in a mount at that same location. I never notice that it's there.

This is what the Droid Turbo and the case look like, side by side:
side by side.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Another one of your great DIY projects RC!

Have you thought about how connect it to plug it in to your 12v outlet while your riding?
I considered it, eagleeye, but I would have had to cut a hole in the lid in order to run the cable, and that would just have increased the difficulty in keeping it waterproof. The Turbo has pretty good battery life, so I'm just going to leave it run on battery power. I could have got a bigger case and worked out some way of constant power, but then I think it would have looked pretty unwieldy. The next size up was over 7" high.

And thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
OK, that is too cool. It's something I didn't even know that it needed, but am now seriously considering. I have an old unused Droid sitting here. I probably have some old fly boxes from back when I use to tie flies and fished with them, too. The DIY part is the easy part. Teaching an old luddite the technology to load the maps and use the old phone as a GPS is the tougher part. LOL
LOL, Yarz, as far as Luddites go, I don't know if you can tell from the photos or not, but that's an ancient Garmin Nuvi 2455 riding up there on the accessory rail. That's my main GPS, and it's about one step above being steam powered. I like them so much that I've bought three of them off ebay, just to have spares. That one in the photo has been on the bike for I'd say at least 50,000 miles, and still going strong. It's in a custom made mount (of my own design, of course LOL) that helps keep the power connection from getting damaged from vibration.

There are enough threads on here about the whole "cell phone as a GPS" topic that your brain could seize up before you got through all of them. ADV Rider has a ton of that kind of stuff too. I run OSMand+ on the phone, but all my route planning pretty much gets done on MyRoute, which I then upload to both the Nuvi and the phone.
 

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Nicely done. I too ride with an old ebay Garmin Nuvi, and recently picked up a newer model for $20 on craigslist. I use water resistant cases from Amazon that clamp to the handle bars, and would't ride without it on my longer trips, finding motels, fuel, etc. I like your idea of using one of the several phones laying around the house though, any reason you're not going strictly with the phone, and ditching the Garmin GPS ? Lots of youtube videos out there on getting maps to your old phones for offline use.

 

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It's mainly just habit, Byron. I'm comfortable with the way they work; plus, the Garmins are virtually disposable at this point; I just bought a Nuvi on ebay for $14.00. If I ruin one, it's no great loss. I also recently learned about a way to make a Nuvi display a simulated track (it's actually a photo overlay) that you can follow that won't try and reroute you if you get off course, A feature like that will be pretty valuable on something like the MABDR, or if you're riding a route and you miss a waypoint.

I use OSMand for phone navigation. You can download maps for whatever state you're riding in, so you can have total offline navigation with it. But I've had OSMand shut down on me more than once for reasons I don't know; the Nuvi just chugs along without issue. I use both because it's good to have options, but I have no plans on ditching the Nuvi until I can't find one any more.
 

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I love my Garmin 2455. Ain't got no fancy phone so i make do with it. i may join the 21st century one of these days and retire my flip phone.
 

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I'm not anti-tech; I have a smart phone, and multiple computers, and I use apps like OSMand and Rever, and I still prefer using my Nuvi over a phone app. Being able to have a simple non-reroutable line on the screen to follow for certain applications makes me like the Nuvi even more.

I'm fairly sure that the longevity of my Nuvi is partially due to the special mount I made for it. One of its features is the solid connection I made for the USB power cable, between the cable and the unit. The bracket screws the USB cable into the receptacle, which keeps it from vibrating and keeps the weight of the cable from dragging on the USB port. The old version just used a RAM cradle with a piece of aluminum angle and velcro tape to hold the cable in place; the new one works even better.
Nuvi.jpg
 

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I considered it, eagleeye, but I would have had to cut a hole in the lid in order to run the cable, and that would just have increased the difficulty in keeping it waterproof. The Turbo has pretty good battery life, so I'm just going to leave it run on battery power. I could have got a bigger case and worked out some way of constant power, but then I think it would have looked pretty unwieldy. The next size up was over 7" high.

And thanks!
I'm curious, do you have to have cell service for the GPS to work on the old Droid phone. I use an iPhone 7 Plus on my bike for GPS, Phone, Text and music connecting to my helmet with a cheap helmet intercom system with bluetooth.

It works well as long as I have cell data service turned on, but when I have it off (i have limited data service in my cell plan) it doesn't work. Just wondering if the Android Phones work differently.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm curious, do you have to have cell service for the GPS to work on the old Droid phone. I use an iPhone 7 Plus on my bike for GPS, Phone, Text and music connecting to my helmet with a cheap helmet intercom system with bluetooth.

It works well as long as I have cell data service turned on, but when I have it off (i have limited data service in my cell plan) it doesn't work. Just wondering if the Android Phones work differently.
Sorry for the delay, hoggdoc; I meant to answer this a couple days ago, but got tied up with some other stuff.

As far as a data signal, no, you don't need data in order for the GPS to function. Now, I may be wrong in how this works, but I believe the issue isn't that the GPS part of the phone won't function without a data signal, it's that if you don't have a map stored on your phone that doesn't require a constant data stream to update it (like while you're moving), the GPS signal doesn't have anything to interface with to associate your actual physical longitude and latitude with a location on a map. The map program I use is OSMand; with this app, you download maps of whatever state you're traveling in. In this aspect they work like any Garmin; the maps are always on the device, and don't require any any sort of constant updating while you ride. I think Locus Pro operates the same way, though I haven't played with that enough to know its ins and outs. Now, if you're using a navigation app that doesn't have maps actually stored on the phone and it depends on a data signal to constantly update the map as you travel, then yes, I would say that you'll need a data signal. Google Maps worked like this a few years back but they now have offline maps that you can download, so a constant data connection wouldn't be required.

I don't think there's a difference between Android and Apple phone in how the GPS works.
 

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Sorry for the delay, hoggdoc; I meant to answer this a couple days ago, but got tied up with some other stuff.

As far as a data signal, no, you don't need data in order for the GPS to function. Now, I may be wrong in how this works, but I believe the issue isn't that the GPS part of the phone won't function without a data signal, it's that if you don't have a map stored on your phone that doesn't require a constant data stream to update it (like while you're moving), the GPS signal doesn't have anything to interface with to associate your actual physical longitude and latitude with a location on a map. The map program I use is OSMand; with this app, you download maps of whatever state you're traveling in. In this aspect they work like any Garmin; the maps are always on the device, and don't require any any sort of constant updating while you ride. I think Locus Pro operates the same way, though I haven't played with that enough to know its ins and outs. Now, if you're using a navigation app that doesn't have maps actually stored on the phone and it depends on a data signal to constantly update the map as you travel, then yes, I would say that you'll need a data signal. Google Maps worked like this a few years back but they now have offline maps that you can download, so a constant data connection wouldn't be required.

I don't think there's a difference between Android and Apple phone in how the GPS works.
Thanks, now that you mentioned this I remember way back when I used to use a stand alone GPS you had to download maps for the area you were traveling. It makes total sense why my iPhone is wanting Cell Data.

I wonder if there are offline Google maps available for the iPhone, I used both the Apple maps and Google maps on my iPhone. Guess I need to do some research.

Thanks again for the refresher course.
 

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Well, I've come up with a solution for how to power the cell phone while it's in the mount, and still maintain the waterproof integrity of the box.

I didn't get any photos of this component under construction, but it was fairly simple. It looks like this:


First I cut a hole in the lid of the waterproof box that corresponded to the location of the USB port on the cell phone. I did this with a drill, and then squared the hole with a needle file.

Next I made the foundation for the waterproof door for the lid of the box. It's a piece of 1/4" thick aluminum from my scrap box. I held the block up against the lid in order to transfer the location of the hole in the lid to the aluminum block. I then drilled out the hole in the block to match the one in the lid, and tapped two 6-32 holes in the block to serve as the attachment points for the waterproof door. In order to get the aluminum block to match the contour of the lid of the waterproof box, I mixed up some Steel Stik epoxy putty and spread it across the top rear part of the aluminum block. I put some masking tape along the lid of the box to prevent the putty from sticking to the lid, then pushed the aluminum block against the lid. The putty follows the lid's contours, and I sculpted it to make sure the joint between the aluminum block and lid was smooth. I left the aluminum block on the lid for about twenty minutes, then popped it off. I smoothed out the putty with sandpaper, and then boxed in the top and sides of the aluminum block with .040" ABS sheet. That was done basically to hide the epoxy putty.

After the aluminum block/putty/ABS sheet combination had set, I attached the aluminum block to the lid of the waterproof box with JB Weld. I made sure to mask around the area with masking tape, so there was no chance of the JB Weld getting onto areas of the box lid that I didn't want. I let the JB Weld set overnight.


This is a closer photo of what the contoured side of the aluminum block looks like, after the block was fastened to the lid of the waterproof box with the JB Weld.


This photo shows how the hole in the aluminum block lines up with the corresponding hole in the lid of the waterproof box.


This shows what the block looks like from the inside of the waterproof lid.

I couldn't find any small threaded knobs at the hardware store that would fit with this project, so I made my own. They're just a couple sections of telescoping styrene tubing, placed inside each other to make the knob as wide as I wanted. I cut off the head of a 6-32 machine screw and put this through the center of the tubing. The screw was then cemented in place with JB Weld. After this all set, I used a small needle file to cut the finger grooves into the knobs.


These are the knobs after shaping.


These are the knobs after being sprayed with truck bed liner.


This is the waterproof lid that covers the power opening in the aluminum block. It's made from a scrap piece of 1/16" hardware store aluminum angle. The gasket was made from a small piece of 1/16" neoprene rubber.


Here's the waterproof door with the attachment knobs installed.


The waterproof door screws into the aluminum block on the waterproof lid, and the neoprene gasket makes a water tight seal between the door and the block. The JB Weld makes a waterproof seal between the block and the lid of the box. When the lid of the box is closed, and the aluminum waterproof door is screwed down, the watertight integrity of the box is maintained.


When I want to power the phone externally, I just have to unscrew one of the knobs and move the aluminum door out of the way towards the rear of the waterproof box.


This is the USB power cable installed.

It's true that the box is no longer watertight when the aluminum door is open. However, the box is sufficiently water resistant that it can remain plugged in to external power even during heavy rain with no issues. In the event that I need the watertight feature, like for a stream crossing, it's simple and quick to secure the waterproof door.


Here it is on the bike, with the waterproof door secured.


And here it is, powered up.

I did submerge the box in my sink at about 8 inches to test the integrity of the waterproof seal. I left it there for a half hour, with no leaks.

Like a lot of systems, it's not perfect. If the USB power cable is installed, I can't open the lid of the box without removing the cable, so that'll make for a little more effort if I have to manipulate the phone screen.

I still don't know if overheating will be a problem, so I'll have to wait or some warmer days to evaluate that. If it does become an issue, I'll probably make a vent on top the case similar to the waterproof door on the bottom, but I'll save that project until I see if I actually need it. Might be simpler just to open the lid on a hot day.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well, some testing of the mount revealed a weakness; the JB Weld did not make a good bond between the clear lid and the aluminum block, and the block (which contains the waterproof door) broke free. I had some reservations about this during the design; JB Weld doesn't stick to some kinds of plastic, and whatever the clear lid is made of, it fell into that category. The solution was to use mechanical fasteners to hold the aluminum block to the lid.



I remade the aluminum block in the same manner as the original, and made the waterproof door a little narrower. I tapped two additional 6-32 holes in the block, and countersunk two holes from the inside of the clear lid. The block was then screwed to the clear lid using two 6-32 screws.



Before the aluminum block was screwed to the clear lid, I put a bead of clear silicone caulk around the perimeter of the block. It was then attached to the block with 6-32 screws, and the bead of silicone was smoothed out.



Since the waterproof door is now a little narrower, the original knobs I made couldn't be used because they were too wide in diameter. They would have interfered with the fit of the USB power cable. I made a couple smaller knobs in the same manner as the originals.



The waterproof door opens in the same manner as before, but since it isn't as wide, it doesn't stick out as far behind the mount as the original did.

I did the same waterproof test as for the original design, and I'm still good with submersion. I just wanted to post this update in case anyone out there decided to replicate this, so I could save them the trouble of trying a design that didn't work out.
 
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