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Upgrading old Garmin GPS, USB car upgrades


Apologies in advance to Idaho, Montana, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota.

I currently use a Garmin DriveAssist 51 LMT-S. Works great for the most part, but I do have backups just in case the 51 fails. I keep a nuvi 50LM I keep in the glove box, an app on the phone preloaded with "offline maps", and lastly a road atlas kept under the seat.

The GPS I'm going to talk about here is the decidedly old Garmin StreetPilot i5 from the mid-2000s, and address its biggest drawback, the maximum 2GB capacity microSD memory it supports.

The last time all the contiguous USA (i.e. 48-state area) fit within 2GB was with 2017 map data. To fit 2020 map data within 2GB, some states had to go.

I used Garmin BaseCamp to install 2020.1 map data and decided to give Idaho, Montana, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota the boot. With those states cut out, the rest fit within 2GB.

Why bother?


I wanted to see if it could be done. Can a GPS made almost over 15 years ago still work with modern map data? Yes. Yes, it can.

However, for the i5 to be actually needed, very specific things would need to happen. If the charger port in my car failed and my phone's GPS antenna for whatever didn't want to work, that's when the i5 would be needed since it can run off just two AA batteries...

...but even if all that occurred, using the i5 would be very temporary. I would quickly install an add-a-circuit tap to an accessory fuse, add on a car cigarette lighter power adapter (snip off the part that would ordinarily go to the port and wire directly to the tap) and be back in business quickly.

Possible future USB upgrade plans for the car

That add-a-circuit thing is most likely something I will do anyway because there have been a few ideas I've been kicking around for USB-specific upgrades to my car.

The previous owner of my car put in an aftermarket stereo like an idiot. I've always hated it. Buying a new-old-stock factory radio just to undo what that idiot did would cost over 70 bucks, and I'm not about to do that.

For a while I've been entertaining the idea of simply having no radio and converting the space into a pocket a.k.a. cubby with a double din blank like this one:


This would be great because then that ridiculous radio is gone and replaced with usable storage.

But I'd take it one step further, place a car charging pad in there, drill a hole in the bottom of the pocket, snake the power lead for the pad to the wire that previously powered the stereo and ta-da, now I have a place to charge my phone whenever I'm driving.

This to me makes a whole lot more sense than a stupid aftermarket car radio I don't even use. Charging pad on one side, and the other side for extra storage.

What bothers me is that if I did all this, my speakers are then useless. I'd like to install a hidden amplifier that could accept Bluetooth from my phone so I could just play the music through the car speakers whenever I feel like it.

Do these amps exist? Yes. The problem is finding an amp with the features I want that is not high-powered garbage. All I need is 50 watts. That's it. This mini amp would probably fit the bill, but I have to do more research before I commit to anything.

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