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My laptop GPS setup in my 4x4
off-roader
New to the forums but have a just a touch (literally) of user experience in this area and I wanted to share my recently installed laptop w/ gps navagation system in my vehicle.

I had some severe criteria was for my GPS solution
- user friendly (IMHO even the Etrex Legend is far from user friendly)
- rugged and off road friendly (lightweight and no hard drives!!)
- large screen viewable in direct sunlight (Laptop of some type)
- 1:24k topos for the entire western US
- vehicle mountable: Lightweight (use Etrex Legend/Compass/Map for hiking out if necessary versus the vehicle mounted unit)

My solution, an in vehicle mounted Acer Aspire One running Win XP with 16GB of Solid State Storage (8 GB SSD + 8 GB SD card of which ~10GB was available for apps) that weighed under 3lbs and was only $299.

Here are a couple of pics of the laptop w/ my home fabricated mount inside my 4x4 ('89 Mitsubishi Montero).

[broken links]

The mount was built using a piece of 1/16" thick aluminum plate cut to size and bent slightly to provide a more comfortable angle to use the laptop.

It's mounted to the dash with three 1/8" machine screws than hold the center guage pod in place. Because the front of the dash is raised slightly (~1/4") I also cut a piece of 1/4" aluminum plate to act as a spacer and raise the mounting surface up to about the same height as the front of the dash (minimizes the number of bends to the large mounting plate).

Since the laptop is so light (under 3lbs) I was able to simply use velcro to fasten it to the laptop mount. Also due to the light weight and because it's center of gravity is near the back hinge, it hardly bounces even when used in a harsh off road environment.

Since these pictures were taken, I've gone ahead and added a support underneath the plate to hold it up just in case.

Total cost for the mount... (literally a few dollars and a bit of labor measuring, cutting, & bending it to fit).

For software I'm using MS Streets and Trips (purchased it w/ the Pharos GPS) and also Nat Geo's Hi Res Topo Software of California. As needed I'll buy Nat Geo Topo software for other states.

HTH some of you who are looking for a similar solution.

Ray
Marvin Hlavac
Hi Ray,

Welcome to Laptop GPS World.

I love simplicity, and your home made laptop mount is an excellent simple solution for a mini laptop. Several members here own Acer Aspire One, but I've never seen it myself. How bright is it? Is it really readable in sunlight? How does the screen brightness of this netbook compare to inexpensive laptops?
dtong22
Quote:
Originally Posted by off-roader

literally a few dollars and a bit of labor measuring, cutting, & bending it to fit).
Ray,

Geez this is the best in simple design so far I have seen. Next time I need to shop for a car or truck with a flat dash - and there are quite a few models having that.

Thumbs up

Daniel
off-roader
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin Hlavac
Hi Ray,

Welcome to Laptop GPS World.

I love simplicity, and your home made laptop mount is an excellent simple solution for a mini laptop. Several members here own Acer Aspire One, but I've never seen it myself. How bright is it? Is it really readable in sunlight? How does the screen brightness of this netbook compare to inexpensive laptops?
Thanks Marvin!!

The screen is pretty bright. I can read it on a sunny day (in my vehicle) without issues. I haven't compared it to other Laptops though (I own 2 others). It wasn't as big a consideration since I didn't have much choice when it came to my requirements. The other laptops would all be too heavy to mount in this way (or at least almost 2x the cost) and I'd have to fabricate/buy a much sturdier mount.

I've also done what you suggested and added these pics to my album... thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtong22
Ray,

Geez this is the best in simple design so far I have seen. Next time I need to shop for a car or truck with a flat dash - and there are quite a few models having that.

Thumbs up

Daniel
Thanks Daniel,

Yes having a car with flat surfaces on the dash really helped make this an easy project with a pretty simple design. It's what I was shooting for in my design criteria. Additionally, I wanted something that I could remove if I ever sold the vehicle and the buyer would never have known it was ever there when they looked at the car.

Thanks again you two.

I do still have to get my NatGeo Topo software which is an earlier version (v2.6??) to recognize the Pharos GPS that came with the MS Streets & Trips software. I might have to pay to upgrade it to the current version to get it to work but I've also been told it should work with the last version which is a free upgrade for me. That's my next step and if that doesn't work then I'll pay for the upgrade to the current version. Alternatively I may break out my Etrex Legend as it should work with the Topo software.

I also want to mount the laptop power supply to the vehicle so it doesn't move around (right now, it just sits on the floor) and and remove all the excess wire from the USB cable going to the GPS which I currently have wrapped around the passenger's industrial strength 'oh sh*t' handle.
T.Low
Great mount mod. Gives me ideas for my needed set up.

I want to take out the center seat in my Dodge Ram and build a custom cabinet with brochure files underneath and laptop on top for my construction sales job, but also some sort of mt like yours for overlanding in my modified 4x4 Astro van. (Are you on Expeditionportal.com?) I don't want a center cabinet in the van because we walk thru there into the back (and climbing down from the pop top).

Links to pics of the Montero?
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