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Hacking the nuvi

Lexx 0 Points
I think the time is past ripe for some of us to hack the nuvi series of GPS devices. Ideal outcome of hacking is to learn enough of the internals to allow at least some basic functional modifications. It may well turn out to be a sufficiently closed design to make this impractical, but I really haven't seen anyone seriously try -- has anyone else? Links, pointers please if you have.

I think one of the reasons this hasn't really been done is because the nuvis (and most other GPS devices) are so expensive. The other is that Garmin isn't making it easy or encouraging it. The later is likely very typically misguided. Consider Linksys WRT54G and related hardware. The open source software of that unit spurred an entire industry of new applications for the device and likely increased Linksys sales of the device by a very significant amount. I know that I am not interested in buying another router that I can't readily patch and have several WRT54GL handy. I know, I know, GPS is different, Garmin derives much of revenue from map updates and not as much from hardware sales, but still, I bet there is a way for them to make it work, but it won't happen, it's too scary for a big business to take that kind of "risk".

The former issue, the expense, is becoming less pronounced, with the introduction of the 200-series devices. However, I would rather start hacking on the 300-series, say the 350.

So, I am willing to spend time and money to get this off the ground. Does anyone know of or have a cheap, used, but working nuvi 350 they want to get rid of for the purpose of hacking? Let me know. Best deal I've seen on the web so far is still around $300 USD, so I am looking for something better than that. I don't care about the condition of the unit, as long as it's fully functional and doesn't require [much] duct tape to stay assembled, yet -- scratches and dents are fine.

Lexx

Comments

  • Tim 1271 Points
    Do you have the technical background to look into this yourself, or are you looking to encourage others to do so? There may be some areas where I can help.
  • Lexx 0 Points
    Do you have the technical background to look into this yourself, or are you looking to encourage others to do so? There may be some areas where I can help.
    I am an electrical engineer (well, computer engineer, actually), 15 years experience in hardware, software, logic i.e. ASIC/FPGA, architecture, and product/system-level design in many application areas; currently running a design center for an embedded electronics design services provider. I have much of the technical background, but it's always more fun to work with others than alone :-). What I am most short of is time ...
  • Tim 1271 Points
    Perhaps we should talk offline, but I might be able to help out from the perspective of getting a device to work on, providing web space for anything that might get developed, etc.
  • Lexx 0 Points
    Perhaps we should talk offline, but I might be able to help out from the perspective of getting a device to work on, providing web space for anything that might get developed, etc.
    PM sent.
  • I'm sure you know about this, but just in case, you may want to start here: http://developer.garmin.com/
  • shawn95id 0 Points
    Not sure if this discussion ever got off the ground or not but I'm very interested to know if it did.

    Overall, my Garmin is very user friendly and does what I need it to but there were several major oversites in its development that shoudl be addressed via updates. Unfortunately, I can't find anything from Garmin that says they're thinking about it.

    The two biggest problems are:
    1) The Nuvi does not give the option of the last searched city (like it does for the state) on the address entry screens.
    2) The Nuvi does not have a qwerty keyboard option. For what species is data entry on a A-Z keyboard faster and easier?

    I would think that both of these interface issues could be "patched" by someone with technical expertise. Unfortunately that's not me but I'd be gald to help the cause as a beta tester. I'd also be glad to pay anyone for their time if they could resolve the two issues above for me.

  • The two biggest problems are:
    1) The Nuvi does not give the option of the last searched city (like it does for the state) on the address entry screens.
    2) The Nuvi does not have a qwerty keyboard option. For what species is data entry on a A-Z keyboard faster and easier?
    I'd also love to know about follow up on hacking the Nuvi. I love the Nuvi 660. I mean its just so elegant in how effortlessly you can use it.

    But indeed, these are two good very good entries, and now that you mention it the qwerty keyboard seems an obvious option.

    Additionally:

    3) Multiple VIA's. We really ought to be able to have the ability to load a series of stops, or an itinerary the day before in an elegant way.
    4) Lookup by business phone number. Unless I'm missing something we don't have this. Its in the database, so seems like we ought to be able to reverse lookup by biz phone, confirm, and GO!
  • I am guessing this went no where?
  • I am guessing this went no where?

    I've never heard anything back on it.
  • Bummer. I'd like very much to have a qwerty keyboard :-)
  • Hm, or better yet a dvorak, but my guess is that's not in high demand.
  • hersh 0 Points
    My Nuvi 350 has a qwerty option in the settings. Don't have it in front of me now but if you don't find it I can post later.
  • Hm. I looked high and low for that option and couldn't find it. I did a google for nuvi 350 qwerty and the only hits I found were people complaining it did not have a qwerty keyboard.
  • hersh 0 Points
    OOPS. It was my eyes. No qwerty option. It was the keyboard mode that could be changed to give accented characters.
  • http://www.gpsreview.net/forums/discussion/6842/x/p1/

    check my post regarding hacking the nüvi - we need a team.
  • Boyd 1271 Points
    :?: That's a thread about buying an all-purpose GPS...

    <edit>Nevermind, my bad...
  • bocephus 0 Points
    edited June 2008
    Agree it is time to see what makes these thing tick. Maybe there are options that are built in just waiting to be activated and such. Hope you guys can come up with some good ideas. Best luck keep us informed. I just found this on another forum you guys may be interested in this:

    http://www.gpspassion.com/forumsen/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=95274

    http://www.gpspassion.com/forumsen/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=100355
  • jfenton 0 Points
    The one hack that I am interested in which would likely be quite simple is to install software from other versions onto the Nuvi. Specifically, I believe that these units are software differentiated as opposed to hardware differentiated, which may make it quite easy to gain some access to higher end features on lower end units. I would like to try installing a high-end Nuvi engligh keyboard file such that I can get a QWERTY keyboard on my Nuvi 200W.
  • patruns 10 Points
    Agree it is time to see what makes these thing tick. Maybe there are options that are built in just waiting to be activated and such. Hope you guys can come up with some good ideas. Best luck keep us informed.
    If the software were from a third party I would agree. But I believe Garmin does their own software.
  • jfenton 0 Points
    When you plug the unit into a computer with the USB, you can access the language and keyboard files very easily. The unit appears as a disk drive. It should be simple to copy the QWERTY files from a 700 series to a 200W. If I had a more expensive unit I would try it myself.
  • I am looking to hack the Nuvi as well... Looking for JTAG pinouts to get me started,

    please let me know if you have any information. Thx
  • http://www.gpsreview.net/forums/discussion/6842/x/p1/

    check my post regarding hacking the nüvi - we need a team.
    I am looking to hack the nuvi also.

    Currently looking for the JTAG pinouts...

    Have you had any luck?
  • Yes, JTAG is a good idea. Could be useful to dump the content of the flash memory to disk. It would provide an easy access to the FW, the POIs, etc...
  • Have you attempted this on the Garmin Nuvi, or any Garmin for that matter?


    Please let me know,

    I am trying to find the correct pinouts... and its proving to be difficult. :R
  • I have not tried anything in that area.

    As for the pinout, you should look on your pcb for test pads. If you find 5 or 6 pads side by side, that may be it. Otherwise, you need to find the spec for the Garmin chip where the pinout is described.

    It is never easy to sart with nothing...
  • Have you all seen this video?



    Seems like one of the pages might have addresses for useful things?
  • @rt 0 Points
    I'm a little confused about this forum's official stance on supporting unofficial modifications.

    I know this thread is about something different, but just as unofficial.
    On the two occasions I have posted my own programs that at least
    make a clear start, they have been deleted without explanation,
    which wouldn't do anything to encourage the activity at all.

    Then I stumbled on this thread by Googling "Garmin Hacking".
  • Tim 1271 Points
    I'm a little confused about this forum's official stance on supporting unofficial modifications.
    The bulk of this thread was from quite a long time ago. We haven't created an official policy on this because it doesn't come up often. The moderators would need to discuss an official policy. But my thoughts are this.

    We will not support anything that allows or facilitates users bypassing or breaking license agreements. For example getting City Navigator maps for free.

    We won't support direct links to executable files-- we don't want users to think any executable/installer was verified by or endorsed by us. Instead, they should be served as links from an external site where the authorship and risks are clearly identified.

    Tools that make modifications to firmware (device application) are a bit of a grey area. We've seen examples in the past where people made certain modifications that then made future (official) application updates fail. Our audience tends to be more basic and beginner users, and we've seen users get into trouble with their devices as a result of not understanding what they were doing to their device.
  • KattKatt 0 Points
    So, has anyone successfully tried a QWERTY keyboard file on a Nuvi that doesn't have it, like the 600 series? If so, can you post an external link, per Tim, so we can get the file? Thanks in advance.
  • KattKatt 0 Points
    Our audience tends to be more basic and beginner users, and we've seen users get into trouble with their devices as a result of not understanding what they were doing to their device.
    Because of this, I'm surprised I don't see more recommendations hammering it into peoples' heads to back their entire units up. It's not something beyond the capabilities of a beginner at all and they can completely restore it if they screw something up. I know it works because I had to do it to bring mine back to life before. oops
  • kubel 0 Points
    I'm a little confused about this forum's official stance on supporting unofficial modifications.

    I know this thread is about something different, but just as unofficial.
    On the two occasions I have posted my own programs that at least
    make a clear start, they have been deleted without explanation,
    which wouldn't do anything to encourage the activity at all.

    Then I stumbled on this thread by Googling "Garmin Hacking".
    There's nothing illegal or even unethical about modifying something you own or software that is licensed under GPL, as long as you understand that any damage you cause cannot be repaired through the warranty, and that you cannot expect Garmin to assist you while the unit is not "stock". In the case of software modification, Garmin uses Linux (under GPL) on the Nuvi 5xx, 8xx, and 9xx series. As per the GPL, Garmin must make available its source code (and does so on their website at http://developer.garmin.com/linux/). So as long as you stay clear of modifying the non-GPL software, the sky is the limit.

    So I say as long as there are no license restrictions, and as long as the modifiers post a clear disclaimer (warning that damage may be caused, that support will be unavailable, and that future problems may arise), there's really no need for any kind of policy restricting the hacking or modifying of at least these three series families.
  • Boyd 1271 Points
    Garmin uses Linux (under GPL) on the Nuvi 5xx, 8xx, and 9xx series.


    Also on the Nuvi 5000. But take a look at those files. You will not find much there which you can "hack". The actual navigation program is proprietary and they do not make it available. They have posted their changes to the Linux system files and not the software which makes a Nuvi a Nuvi.
  • kubel 0 Points
    What I would really like to see is a hack to modify and save FM transmitter power. The underpowered FM transmitter in my 885T is disappointing, especially for such a high priced item. It's sad to see that it's very much capable of working properly, but won't because of a simple setting.

    Garmin's excuse is "FCC regulations", but I think that's bull. Other devices are FCC approved and work well.
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