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Hardware Hacking Transportation Build

Hackable In-Car GPS Unit? 208

Posted by timothy
from the what-I-want-is-an-r2-unit dept.
gigne writes "I'm in the market for a new, in-car GPS/sat nav. I am preferably looking for one that has live, up-to-date traffic information and route planning that doesn't make you want to cry. I'm not quite dumb enough to drive off a cliff, but something that doesn't even try and lead me to watery doom is preferable. The only thing I absolutely must have is the ability to hack it. It would be preferable if it ran GNU/Linux, but given a convincing argument, I would be swayed to another OS. Without wanting the Moon on a stick, what is the best device that would offer a decent modding community and a good feature set?"
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Hackable In-Car GPS Unit?

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  • Proprietary Issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by juanergie (909157) <superjuanelo@gmail.com> on Saturday June 27, 2009 @06:49PM (#28498543) Homepage Journal

    Companies comercializing GPS devices are in the business of making money. I am inclined to believe you would run into proprietary and legal stuff should you plan to hack or reverse-engineer the device. Maybe some provide an API?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by loufoque (1400831)

      It is perfectly legal to do whatever you fucking want with an electronic device you own, at least in most countries.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:05PM (#28498663)

        It is perfectly legal to do whatever you fucking want with an electronic device you own, at least in most countries.

        Excellent. I shall now go around bludgeoning people with my keyboard.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by juanergie (909157)

        I don't doubt it is, but please check this site where they explain reverse engineering further: http://www.chillingeffects.org/reverse/faq.cgi [chillingeffects.org]

      • by westlake (615356) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:57PM (#28498981)

        It is perfectly legal to do whatever you fucking want with an electronic device you own, at least in most countries.

        Never without qualifications. For example:

        Microwave radiation.
        Basic electrical safety.
        Eavesdropping on protected frequencies. {Cell phones][Radar]
        RFI

        There is surely the potential for civil liability:

        Your device catches fire and incinerates your cousin's $56,000 daysailer.
        You taser-shock your girl friend.
        Your faulty navigational display sends your mother-in-law off a cliff.

           

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 27, 2009 @08:05PM (#28499017)

          Hey, what me and my girlfriend do in the privacy of our bedroom is no business of yours!

        • by eln (21727) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @08:14PM (#28499071) Homepage

          Your faulty navigational display sends your mother-in-law off a cliff.

          That's not faulty, it's working precisely as intended.

        • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @08:18PM (#28499113) Journal

          Well, it is illegal to eavesdrop on protected frequencies. But it is not illegal to modify a radio set to do so.

          You can do whatever you want with an electronic device you own. But if you do something illegal with said modified device, you'll get in trouble for doing the illegal thing. Not for modifying the device.

          As it should be.

          • In this state its illegal just to have devices that *can* be modified to do certain illegal acts (like changing MAC addresses...)

            • by dlgeek (1065796)
              Changing MAC addresses can be done by pretty much any device at runtime, it's part of the ethernet spec. However, you are correct that it is required to make certain telephony (radio) devices difficult to modify to work on different power levels and frequencies. For example, Part 15 of the FCC Rules (47 CFR 15) requires manufacturers to make it difficult for users to increase the effective power levels of unlicensed devices like wifi cards.
            • by adolf (21054)

              Can't change MAC addresses? "Clone MAC address" is a pretty common feature in the stock firmware of a number of common consumer-grade home routers. Are there special editions available in your locality?

              What barbaric state is this? (I only want to know so that if I ever find myself driving around in those parts, I know to get gas before I get into that state, to drive only on local, non-Federally funded roads, and to avoid stopping for everything but urination. Vote with your bladder, I say.)

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Repossessed (1117929)

                Utah.

                Its not as barbaric as it sounds. The law is full of traps like this nobody has ever heard of, there's around 20000 federal laws, lots of them badly worded enough that things like the mac address problem are present.

                In theory shit like this gets ignored (Unless the prosecutor gets a bug up his ass and makes you the next Lori Drew), some of them do get enforced though, and its impossible to avoid breaking them all, even if you knew all 20000* of them.

                The whole 'I have nothing to hide' thing? Totally f

                • by swillden (191260)
                  Where in the UCA (Utah Code Annotated) is that found? I have a copy on my machine, but couldn't find anything that would outlaw devices with a changeable MAC address. I'm not arguing that it isn't there, just asking because I'd like to read it myself.
          • by dlgeek (1065796)
            That's not true. The modification itself is illegal. 47 CFR 15.121(f) [gpoaccess.gov]:

            (f) Scanning receivers shall have a label permanently affixed to the product, and this label shall be readily visible to the purchaser at the time of purchase. The label shall read as follows:

            WARNING: MODIFICATION OF THIS DEVICE TO RECEIVE CELLULAR RADIOTELEPHONE SERVICE SIGNALS IS PROHIBITED UNDER FCC RULES AND FEDERAL LAW.

            • Oh? I didn't know you could do that.

              Thanks,

              B. Streisand

          • You can do whatever you want with an electronic device you own. But if you do something illegal with said modified device, you'll get in trouble for doing the illegal thing. Not for modifying the device.

            This isn't saying much more than "only illegal stuff is illegal". It would be illegal, for example, to create a mercury tilt switch in a country were such devices are not allowed to be held by private citizens, even if you never used it.

        • by socsoc (1116769)

          Yeah don't taser her bro. You don't want your girlfriend to end up as a melted pile of plastic...

          Also, your nav system sounds perfectly functional to me, some might consider paying extra for that feature.

        • It is perfectly legal to do whatever you fucking want with an electronic device you own, at least in most countries.

          Never without qualifications. For example:

          Microwave radiation.
          Basic electrical safety.
          Eavesdropping on protected frequencies. {Cell phones][Radar]
          RFI

          There is surely the potential for civil liability:

          Your device catches fire and incinerates your cousin's $56,000 daysailer.
          You taser-shock your girl friend.
          Your faulty navigational display sends your mother-in-law off a cliff.

          Ahh gosh darn it, my full proof plan has been foiled!

          And the whole tasering thing just sounds kinky.

  • g1 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blackomegax (807080) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @06:53PM (#28498569) Journal
    what about the android platform. telenav, and soon garmin will be on it.
  • by cwike (1481913) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @06:53PM (#28498577)
    Everyone famously knows tomtom runs (GNU/)Linux, and uses FAT formatted memory cards, just ask Microsoft.
  • in-car computer (Score:5, Informative)

    by socsoc (1116769) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @06:54PM (#28498585)
    Sounds like you want something more than a TomTom. Peruse the forums at mp3car.com and you'll find tons of information. Build a computer in there and you can have whatever flavor of GNU/Linux you like. Add GPS and you're done. Add EVDO and you have Internets to watch pornhub while traveling down the interstate.
    • by EdIII (1114411) *

      watch pornhub while traveling down the interstate.

      Did you just advise him to drive one-handed while watching porn while also driving down the interstate? You must have the strangest carpool ride ever.....

      • by Krneki (1192201)
        I saw once a truck driver cooking pasta while driving on the highway.

        You should never underestimate what a bored driver can do while driving.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Agreed. And If you go this route, you'll be interested in this list [berlios.de], since it tells you which GPS units are likely to work well the gpsd on Linux or *BSD.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cowbutt (21077)
      Actually, the TomTom already runs Linux, and there's an established project for hacking it - OpenTom [opentom.org]. Source code for the FOSS bits and notes on the toolchain TomTom use at www.tomtom.com [tomtom.com].
  • Mio GPS (Score:5, Informative)

    by pkbarbiedoll (851110) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @06:55PM (#28498599)
    I own one of these and it is hackable [google.com]. Good luck!
  • by Saint Stephen (19450) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @06:56PM (#28498609) Homepage Journal

    When I drove from California to NC, I wrote a custom app that read the GPS lat/long coordinates, searched a database of 5000 fast food places, gas stations, and hotels within 1 mile of I-40, so I could find where I wanted to go even if it was 70 miles up the road, and hit a great big button to search for it so I wouldn't wreck my car, and then enter the coordinates in the navsat program to start driving me there.

    Does that count as hacking it?

    I did it on my PocketPC. Does that mean Windows Mobile still sucks and is useless for hackers?

    • by CarpetShark (865376) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:04PM (#28498655)

      When I drove from California to NC, I wrote a custom app that read the GPS lat/long coordinates, searched a database of 5000 fast food places, gas stations, and hotels within 1 mile of I-40, so I could find where I wanted to go

      I believe that's called making your windows GPS function like a proper GPS ;)

    • There are plenty turn-to-turn navigation apps for windows mobile which already have POI databases.

      So yes, I second that. HTC Athena is a pretty decent device with a huge screen, internal GPS and a full keyboard. Good both for hacking and for navigation and is pretty cheap at the used devices market (got one for less than 200 euros).

    • by johannesg (664142)

      When I drove from California to NC, I wrote a custom app that...

      You should be careful with that. The authorities frown on people who program while driving for some reason.

      read the GPS lat/long coordinates, searched a database of 5000 fast food places, gas stations, and hotels within 1 mile of I-40, so I could find where I wanted to go even if it was 70 miles up the road, and hit a great big button to search for it so I wouldn't wreck my car, and then enter the coordinates in the navsat program to start driving me there.

      Does that count as hacking it?

      Not really, you were just using interfaces for their intended purposes here. Besides, while I am sure some people might be greatly in awe of your leet skills, this is actually a basic function of any normal GPS unit...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      I did it on my PocketPC. Does that mean Windows Mobile still sucks and is useless for hackers?

      What? Windows mobile sucks, yet is not useless to hackers, and has not been since about WM5, where they introduced GPS sharing.

      As you sort of suggest though, I think the best platform for what he wants to do is a PocketPC device with Garmin XL. Garmin XL is only $99 on MicroSD card with the USA maps. You can get a reburb PocketPC with GPS for about $200 if you look around.

      • by mspohr (589790)
        Unfortunately, I purchased a Michelin GPS device (950T) which is based on WinCE. It's truly a piece of shite from the underlying hardware (slow), to the WinCE (slow and frequent crashes) to the Michelin GPS software (absolutely terrible user interface).

        I would love to be able to hack this hardware to install Linux and some decent GPS software but haven't found anything.

    • My TomTom will do this out-of-the-box, it's called "Find POI Along Route".

    • And they already wrote it, it's called Places.

  • navigon (Score:4, Informative)

    by eobanb (823187) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:04PM (#28498659) Homepage
    I have a Navigon 2100, which runs WinCE but it is quite hackable. The whole OS and related data is stored on an SD card; you can simply plug it into an SD reader, replace the files, maps, everything.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Baloo Uriza (1582831)

      I have a Navigon 2100, which runs WinCE but it is quite hackable. The whole OS and related data is stored on an SD card; you can simply plug it into an SD reader, replace the files, maps, everything.

      Interesting... so if you can replace the maps, any idea what program would convert OpenStreetMap [osm.org] data to the appropriate format for the Navigon? I have one of these useless doorstops (thanks to the absolute crap map data that it ships with) and i'm trying to rehabilitate it, since Navigon's support told me to go fuck myself (in those words).

  • by BobReturns (1424847) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:08PM (#28498685)
    Randall Munroe had a cool python program on his blag at one point for a simple GPS program for linux. Can be found here [xkcd.com]
  • Get a TomTom. (Score:3, Informative)

    by B5_geek (638928) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:15PM (#28498735)

    It runs Linux, uses mplayer for media output, and is very hackable.

    http://www.webazar.org/tomtom/index.php [webazar.org]

    Tripmaster is the #1 3rd party app that you can install. There is lots of other stuff you can do to it too.

  • by syousef (465911) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:15PM (#28498737) Journal

    Earlier TomToms had a developers kit. With the latest versions of the OS that offer many new features, like text to speech and use of faster aquiring GPS chips, they've removed the ability to do any kind of hacking. A real pity. I came into the game just a little too late. So I get the nice features, but not the nice hacks.

  • OpenMoko (Score:3, Interesting)

    by overshoot (39700) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:16PM (#28498743)
    Sure -- try a FreeRunner. Sure, it's nominally a smartphone but it's got your key requirements: GPS, decent graphics, networking, audio I/O, and ssh.
  • by garryknight (1190179) <[garryknight] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:17PM (#28498759)
    I've just written a hackable gnu/linux satnav program that runs on a USB stick. It's called 'Moon'.







    Disclaimer: No I haven't.
  • by v1 (525388) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:18PM (#28498763) Homepage Journal

    the new garmin units plug in like a usb thumb drive and you have direct access to their .GPX data files. The files are in flat XML, heavily documented, and very flexible. (apparently garmin has gone away from NMEA/serial, good riddance)

    They come with two pieces of software, one that runs locally on your computer and the other is a browser plugin that I assume gives java control over the same things. I was very impressed with the software, but it does have its limits. (such as building routes) But since the files are xml you can use any off the shelf standard .GPX editing program (there are several, and I recently wrote my own too) to edit things how you need to. Some are free, most are pay. But the software for the garmin is free with it.

    You can't ssh into the thing, but as far as file/format goes, this is about as "open" as it gets. FYI I have an Edge 605, use it on my bike. It's got a really small screen unfortunately but those are the breaks for small and long battery life.

  • Lots of potential (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slashqwerty (1099091) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:19PM (#28498777)
    I think the market has lots of room for improvement. It would be nice to have, not just a GPS system, but an in-car computer. Imagine if the computer could hook up to OBD-II, odometer, speedometer, radio, rear-view camera, a cell/wireless network, and other in-car systems. It could track fuel usage on every trip, overlay Wikipedia geographic coordinates, log milage information for tax reasons, record traffic stops (even capturing a few minutes of video prior to the stop), and countless other things.

    A good system would boot up in less than two seconds, start playing music where it left off, and instantly switch on a rear-view camera as soon as the car switches to reverse. Most existing systems have only a few of the aforementioned features, they tend to run fairly slow, and they have startup times that leave you wonting for music.

    I think a feature-complete system would require a fast processor, a large display (probably requiring custom dashboard work), and a lot of wiring.

    My own research turned up Navit [navit-project.org] which looks pretty good for the navigation piece.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:21PM (#28498793)

    The most hackable GPS I have seen and owned is the Omnitech 4.3 inch GPS unit sold at Staples. On a good sale day you could get the GPS unit for under $80, and some have even found them as cheap as 50-60. They run Windows CE5, and all of the files are stored on the SD card so it's incredibly easy to modify. There are already SD card images on the net that include multiple GPS programs like iGo8, TomTom, Nav N Go, Destinator, etc. and also come with a lot of games, programs, utilities, Office for PocketPC, etc. The Omnitech GPS can be had on eBay for as little as 70-80 dollars new if you can't find it in stores. If you cannot find an Omnitech unit, the next best thing would be one of the lower tiered Nextar units sold in Kohl's and Best Buy. I also own the Nextar 43NT (this is the one I use on a daily basis) and my GPS unit normally runs iGo8 as the GPS naviation program, and I also play games on it when I have down time, and have even been known to watch an XviD TV episode on the highway on long trips.

    The downside to almost all GPS units though is that they don't accept SDHC cards. Theoretically 2GB is the maximum for a non-SDHC card to hold, but Transcend does market a 4GB non-SDHC card on Newegg for around $14 bucks. They all have about the same processor speeds and RAM though....the more you pay for the unit, the more you're paying for the software that comes on the device. Do yourself a favor and stick with the cheapie GPS and hack the unit to your satisfaction

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Most newer ones do support SDHC cards.

      I know the DealExtreme ones do.

      While the TomTom units run Linux, all of the "useful" functions are in the highly proprietary NavCore application. Despite being Linux-based, they're not really "hackable". There are some hacks, but they still depend on cooperation with NavCore.

      The Windows CE devices tend to be quite hackable, such as the 4.3" and 5" WinCE + SiRF Atlas-III devices at dealextreme.com. I have one such unit on order and am looking forward to receiving it.

      I

  • Freerunner (Score:5, Informative)

    by wurp (51446) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:34PM (#28498843) Homepage

    Get a Freerunner. It's an open phone with: GPS, internet via gprs, accelerometers, full bluetooth, wifi, 640x480 touchscreen. It runs any of several flavors of Linux (including Debian or Android, but my personal choice is SHR) and there are already Free gps programs that use OpenStreetMap (TangoGPS or Navit).

    It's about $250, IIRC, but of course you can carry it around and use it to browse the web and receive calls, as well as using it in-vehicle for navigation.

    It doesn't get any hackabler.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sgrover (1167171)
      turning on GPS and Bluetooth (supposing you needed BT for some reason), gives you about 1 hour of battery life, in my experience. The Freerunner does "fit the bill" in a number of ways, but it's battery life, and steep learning curve (compared to a TomTom type tool) score it lower. (I've been trying to get the GPS stuff working reliably on the FR for a week or so - getting the base system stable is um, troublesome in my case at least)
      • Hey, almost any car GPS is going to be plugged in; I assume that if the Freerunner is an open phone, it probably uses some fairly standard power plug.

        Of course, if you meant that the battery life using a car battery is about 1 hour, that's a more serious problem... :-)

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:35PM (#28498851)

    . . . it fit's your GNU/Linux/Hackable requirements . . . I dunno about the "live, up-to-date traffic information and route planning " stuff. But worth taking a look at.

  • by timothy (36799) Works for Slashdot on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:50PM (#28498933) Homepage Journal

    I really would like an R2 unit / the earthly equivalent.

    First, I have a penchant for getting lost. As in, it's happened in my own neighborhood -- GPS device, while in some ways it's a crutch, also helps me *learn* streets by taking me the (or a) correct way a few times. As the saying goes, sometimes crutches are useful.

    Second, I like to drive long distances / cross-country (for instance: I plan to go east in not many weeks from now on this route -- and back to Seattle via a slightly less direct path -- ), and would like something that can fake AI pretty well as a travel aid. ("Infotainment!")

    Right now I have a decent-enough (discontinued, middle-end) Garmin, which took me several GPS-buying attempts to settle on, and it does a lot of things well (interface is OK, and it plays MP3s). But a guy can dream ...

    I know this is not yet a reasonable demand for products in my price range, but I'd like to be able to use moderately complex spoken demands / requests / ideas, Star Trek (or Star Wars, or Hitchhiker's Guide) fashion, some of which would require either a really big data store or (at least intermittently) an internet connection:

    "Plot me a course to the nearest used bookstore, artoo."

    "How much longer if I take a route with no tolls?"

    "Does that Taco Bell have a 24 hour drive through?"

    "What happened at this battlefield? Give me the short version."

    "Play that interview from EconTalk.org about the difference between law and legislation, and then some up-tempo Bach."

    "What are reviews like on this cheap motel?"

    • by adolf (21054)

      Timothy, oh most respect-worthy of Slashdot editors:

      Here's a shot in the dark: Didn't you just describe GM's Onstar service?

      And, if not -- didn't you just describe a good secretary?

      Perhaps the thing you want isn't so far-fetched afterall.

  • by jafo (11982) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:51PM (#28498939) Homepage
    It has a GPS and compass, wireless, maps and searching... And the full source code to the OS is available with a fairly good development environment, if you can cope with Java or wait for one of the other available scripting systems they're talking about. You want hackable? Do a "git" of the phone software source, and you can do a "make" to produce new firmware. With the exception of a few Google-only applications, like the gmail app, you've got everything you need. There are community members that are doing their own builds, I've had good luck with the jesusfreeke builds. I've written several applications with a friend of mine -- nothing GPS-based yet, but an IP address calculator and an app that turns the Android into a webcam, and will automatically take pictures and upload them to an HTTP or FTP server. See http://slackey.com/ [slackey.com] for more information. The benefit is that if you can use it for your phone, it's not another device you have to keep with you and keep charged. The down-side is that it only works with GSM phone providers. The biggest thing for me has been that it's something I'd have to be carrying anything, for when I'm on-call. So, it's literally not another thing that I have to keep charged and with me. That's been the biggest issue I've had with the Palms and other GPS devices I've had, and the Nokia 770/N810. It's a GPS that is SO much more useful than the typical GPS. Of course, all IMHO. Sean
  • Pioneer AVIC (Score:4, Informative)

    by gregmac (629064) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @07:56PM (#28498969) Homepage

    I just got a Pioneer AVIC-F700BT (http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Products/Navigation/In-Dash/AVIC-F700BT). It doesn't quite do everything you asked, but there are other models that add traffic updates, etc.

    It runs Windows CE (bear with me here..), and has ways to boot into it. There are people that have hacked the firmware, and added various features to it - check out avic411.com. I haven't tried this myself, but it doesn't look overly difficult. I get the impression that community is not really full of "programmers" per-se, more just enthusiasts, so it's likely that someone who actually knows how to program would get quite far. (Note, I am a programmer, I just haven't had time to mess with my car stereo which works satisfactorily).

    Pros: relatively cheap (note: the MSRP is $900-something, but it can be found for $500), has pretty decent maps, decent directions, plays MP3s from USB/CD/SD (and DVD, in some models), ipod interface, has XM/Sirius capability via add-ons, bluetooth with voice recognition (which works extremely well)

    Cons: slow-ish bootup time (~7 seconds to playing music, another 7-10 before UI is fully available), music-related voice control features only work with ipod (eg, "play songs by ____" doesn't work on cd.. but you can say "next track" or "change source to FM" - which frankly, is kinda useless), playback from SD/USB won't resume right where it left off, it always starts the song over, fast-forward/rewind is frustratingly slow (both of these are probably fixable via firmware, or even hacking.. unfortunately, they contribute to mean I can't really listen to podcasts, which is one thing I was hoping for with the ability to use SD cards). Ships with a stupid "feature" where you can't change Nav destination/settings while driving (luckily, this is easily bypass-able by connecting an extra wire while installing).

    I'm quite happy with it, honestly, and I'd definitely recommend the unit. Like I said, I haven't really gotten in to hack it yet (I likely will), but then again, I haven't really needed to.

  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @08:05PM (#28499013) Homepage Journal

    How much is your time worth?

    Yes, you can screw around hacking GPS units. The question is, why do that instead of buying an ultramobile PC with GPS and navigation software?

    Do you save money? No. Not if your time is worth anything. Also, if you're going to depend on this, say to equip your business or something, you have no guarantee you can do the same hacks when you replace the devices.

    Do you learn anything? Well, sure, especially if you're the one who puts the time in to figure out how to do the hack. But less than you'd learn if you spent the same time just building software on a platform where the manufacturers are scheming to make your life miserable.

    Are you striking a blow for freedom? Nope. You're sending your money to a manufacturer who's trying to restrict people's freedom. They don't really care if you manage to hack the thing, only that the process makes it worthless to most users. So maybe you should support folks who are marketing and supporting platforms, and save yourself a bundle of time too.

    Of course, if the dedicated GPS units are better for their purpose than putting navigation software on an open PC, you can buy both; a GPS unit for navigation, and a UMPC with GPS for hacking. If your time is worth anything, you're still ahead.

    I speak from experience, as an inveterate opener of cases and tweaker of things that are not supposed to be tweaked. It's only worth buying something to hack if the act of getting this thing to do something the manufacturer doesn't want it do has some kind of twisted appeal to you. One possible exception is if there is something unique about the hardware, which is certainly not the case for most GPS units. In fact they probably lack things you'll want, like certain interfaces. If there were a device that was amazingly cheap and known to be super hacker friendly, I might be tempted, but probably wouldn't bother. Where the manufacturer is trying tie your hands, why give them money for the privilege of spending your time escaping?

    If you've bought one without the intention to hack it, and then you get the itch, sure go for it. That's a different story. But I think you'd be nuts to buy one for hacking if that's a high priority for you.

    • by symbolset (646467) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @09:31PM (#28499717) Journal

      Yes, you can screw around hacking GPS units. The question is, why do that instead of buying an ultramobile PC with GPS and navigation software?

      Talk about missing the point...

      You know, I think your attitude is the problem with consumer electronics today. They give you GPS with maps and you think "hey! That's cool! Now I can get navigation!" Some time later they come out with turn by turn spoken directions, and you're thrilled with that too. And then you come here on slashdot and argue against the open products, because they might be hard for you to use, or people might put them to uses the manufacturer had not intended.

      Look: people are clever. Give them neat gear with open interfaces and they'll put it to creative uses the manufacturers had never considered - and publish the source code for anyone to use. If the features are interesting, useful and most importantly, popular, they'll wind up in the next generation of the manufacturer's products and you will benefit. It's like having a half billion geeks working for free.

      Fortunately for you and for the rest of us, most manufacturers have figured out that they don't have the corner on creativity and so they make open, or "hackable" interfaces that allow us to bend these devices to unintended uses that they can then adopt in your next generation product.

      • by hey! (33014)

        No, I'm arguing for open products over struggling to make closed products act like they're open. I'm for spending my money with vendors who treat me right.

  • Pioneer AVICs... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FourG (81910) on Saturday June 27, 2009 @08:09PM (#28499043) Homepage

    There's a healthy hacking community for Pioneer AVIC in-dash units (http://www.avic411.com/). The current generation (F-series) is basically a Mio Windows CE 5.0 Navi that runs iGo 8.0 and interfaces to an AV board for sound out. It uses a Parrot Bluetooth for the handsfree but it's not a full BT stack so no A2DP. The interface Pioneer had an external software house design has been rather bemoaned for some frustrating "quirks", so there's a lot of motivation to hack the units at the moment. There is a way to launch external apps from the iGo script interface now and there's even an effort to write a new interface from scratch that launches from the SD slot (sort of like MioPocket for some of the PNAs). There may also be a way to use SDIO 802.11b/g wireless cards with the units that was borrowed from gpspassion.com.

    Pioneer will be releasing a new series of in-dash units soon (X series) and a 3.0 firmware release for the F-series that apparently removes the ability to use the backdoor method many of us use to hack the unit, so if you do decide to get one make sure it's only got the 2.0 firmware on it.

  • What about a netbook with a built-in mobile broadband card? These can be had for $400 or less (probably much less if you can get the mobile provider to subsidize the device). Add a decent GPS software package that includes a USB receiver and you've got a ~$500 GPS that can do it all with no hacking required.

    Hell, a high-end GPS unit with half the screen size will set you back the same. But with this setup, you can take it out of the car when you get to where you are going and have a handy little netbook.
  • Mac Mini (Score:2, Informative)

    by miggyb (1537903)
    I've heard a lot of people have had success with putting a Mac Mini in vehicles. There's even a site dedicated to it: http://www.macvroom.com/ [macvroom.com] Downside is that while the software hacking would be relatively easy (there's already GPS software for OS X), the hardware would be the hard part. You'd have to find a place for it in the car, as well as a touchscreen, and possibly a keyboard.
  • Seriously, the OpenStreetMap [openstreetmap.org] folks have this one figured out already. See their GPS reviews [openstreetmap.org] wiki entry on their site for your guide to what GPSs are hackable.
  • OpenStreetMap (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ingsocsoc (807544)
    The first thing we need is free map data. All current maps have very tight legal terms, which makes this kind of thing impossible. Check out http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org], there might already be decent maps where you live. For navigation you can use TangoGPS [tangogps.org] but there are other programs available too.
    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      The US Government Tiger road maps [census.gov] are free (and the basis for much of NavTeq's data I believe in the US).

      Quo Vadis [marcosoft.com] for the original Palms used those maps for navigation when you plugged a GPSr into your Palm.

      That was my first in car nav system back in 2002! And it was nice having the separate screens, the GPSr showing speed, average speed, odometer with the map on the Palm separate.

      Although hardly the most bleeding edge tech, obviously there's tons of development for Palms. (Absurdly inexpensive too, just

  • how about IPhone (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Trieuvan (789695)
    Iphone has gps and you can do crazy stuff there ...
  • Nokia N800, N810 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by delafield (1586825)
    The Nokia N800 and N810 both run a version of Debian and can do GPS. The N800 (what I have) does not have the GPS antenna built in, but you can purchase an antenna from Nokia and connect via bluetooth. The N810 has GPS antenna built in. You can run the free maemo mapper (openstreetmap.org) or purchase a commercial product from Nokia (NavTech). And the Nokia N800 and N810 are great for lot of other things too. I teather the N810 using bluetooth and AT&T. With that you can create a port forwarding ssh tun
  • All the stories about watery doom are almost nothing to do with the GPS and entirely due to the maps. The GPS can only give as good instructions as the underlying map data. Map data on highways is usually fine as they don't change much, many people use them and the information is easy to incorporate. Smaller roads change more often, there are lots more of them, and the company making the maps is less likely to keep completely up to date with them. Nowhere do I see how you intend to deal with maps.

  • Or the new 3GS one. It has a GPS receiver, and there are a variety of applications which can utilize that to offer mapping and directions. Plus the backend is OSX - once you jailbreak it, you can ssh in and do all sorts of hacking.

  • I've very happily used an Openmoko Freerunner last december during about one month, which comes with what I believe i the only open-source GPS hardware (in addition to being linux-based).

    I went into Openstreetmap which of course can be both downloaded for offline use and upgraded since you can record paths, and definitely was a happy camper, until a crease appeared in the ubernice touchscreen, soon resulting in 50% of the touch capacity being down (ie the phone is unusable).

    I intended to prepare some startu

  • I have an IPAQ 312, which has a US equivalent,
    the 310. This is easily hackable but is still windows CE. You finish up with a Win95 type desktop look.

    I have got it to run TomTom6 and the open source glider navigation program XCSoar,
    which is very good indeed.

    As another poster mentioned TomTom units run linux.

    There is a lot of good info on the gpspassion forum regarding hacking lots of differnet nav/gps devices.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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