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How to utilize Nuvi 50LM with DEAD car electrical socket?

I was just given a Nuvi 50LM with lifetime maps as a gift and I love it.

My car's cigarette lighter/electrical socket is and has been broken for years. It will cost quite a bit more than I want to spend right now to have it fixed. Which means I'm limited to battery use only when driving which doesn't last very long.

I want to find out if I'm stuck with this until I get the socket fixed or if there's some other work around I can try.

My radio has a USB plug that I connect to my ipod. Will this connection work to charge my Nuvi and will it function while it's charging or will it be locked in PC mode?

If that doesn't work can I use a Portable External Battery Charger like the Anker Astro3E (see link below) or some other unit with my Nuvi 50LM?

http://www.amazon.com/Thunderbolt-Incredible-cellphone-connectors-customized/dp/B009USAJCC/ref=sr_1_7?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1369346833&sr=1-7&keywords=usb+power+supply+with+micro+usb+cable+1a+@+5v

Any other options?

Comments

  • Boyd 1999 Points
    I think the USB socket will work fine - try it. The newer models use USB style power supplies and don't usually have the problem of going into computer mode like some older models. Frankly, it sounds like a much more elegant way to power your nuvi than the ugly, bulky lighter adaptor. :)
  • jimirb 81 Points
    And if the USB port doesn't charge the Nuvi, you should be able to locate a switched or unswitched 12 V source to tap into in your fuse panel. Cigarette lighter sockets on extension cords are readilly available at Radio Shack. Simply run the extension cord under a floor mat and under a seat and you've got a low amperage 12 V socket hidden out of the way. Be sure you fuse the hookup just to be super safe.
  • I think the USB socket will work fine - try it.
    I'll give it a try this morning and post whether it works or not for the benefit of those who read this thread in the future. Thanks.
  • And if the USB port doesn't charge the Nuvi, you should be able to locate a switched or unswitched 12 V source to tap into in your fuse panel. Cigarette lighter sockets on extension cords are readilly available at Radio Shack. Simply run the extension cord under a floor mat and under a seat and you've got a low amperage 12 V socket hidden out of the way. Be sure you fuse the hookup just to be super safe.
    Here's to hoping that the USB port works because just about everything you said after the bolded text above turned my brain innards to gobbledygook. :lol:

    I'm crossing my fingers in the hope that this doesn't come down to jerry rigging electrical connections.
  • Also just for the record will the Nuvi work with a Portable External Battery Charger? If so, any specific model reccomendations?
  • willyboy 68 Points
    edited May 2013
    Also just for the record will the Nuvi work with a Portable External Battery Charger? If so, any specific model reccomendations?
    The cigarette lighter socket in your car is a simple design, a two wire system. One hot wire and one ground wire.
    Have you ever checked your owners manual for the fuse that controls the cigarette lighter?

    The link you provided in your original post shows the price for the portable external battery charger for 40.00.
    I'm sure you can find somebody that can repair your cigarette lighter socket for less than that. I wouldn't want to be carrying around a portable battery charger just to use my GPS unless your intentions are to use it more for pedestrian mode.

    In the mean time you can decrease your screen brightness to conserve battery power.
  • SergZak 340 Points
    Also just for the record will the Nuvi work with a Portable External Battery Charger? If so, any specific model reccomendations?
    Yes it will. I swear by a company called New Trent (yes, ending with a "t"). They make high quality products with very reasonable prices. I have 3 of their IMP500's (5,000 mAh, discontinued) and one iTorch (5,200 mAh), all of which work wonders with virtually any portable USB device (GPS, cell phones, etc). You likely won't need one of their higher capacity units (9000 mAh or above) but you can certainly use one of those models if you like. In general, the higher the capacity, the larger (and less portable) the unit size is. I've used these units all day long powering my iPhones (4 & 5) and they really work great. You can find them on Amazon and their website directly. Just Google "New Trent".
  • I think the USB socket will work fine - try it.


    I'll give it a try this morning and post whether it works or not for the benefit of those who read this thread in the future. Thanks.
    I gave it a go and NO JOY. <insert Debbie Downer music>

    Whenever I plug in the USB cable it goes straight to PC mode. :(

    In searching for a solution yesterday I read that there is a work around that prevents the Nuvi from automatically going into PC mode. It involves some specific sequence of turning the unit on/off and plugging/unplugging the cable at specific points in the power up cycle.

    Unfortunately I can't locate that particular post. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    If it isn't working, it us probably due to the kind of USB cable you have. There are two kinds of cables, the data cables have extra wires while power cables are missing these. It is the presence of these extra data wires that can fool the Nuvi into thinking it's connected to a computer.

    Perhaps try visiting a Radio Shack store and ask them about this. I've found them pretty helpful and they also tend to use packages that can be re-sealed so you can return the cable if it doesn't work.
  • If it isn't working, it us probably due to the kind of USB cable you have. There are two kinds of cables, the data cables have extra wires while power cables are missing these. It is the presence of these extra data wires that can fool the Nuvi into thinking it's connected to a computer. <snip>
    Thank you for your prompt and well considered response.

    I'm currently using the cable that came with the Nuvi-- which was presumably designed for PC transfer of data.

    If I understand you correctly, you're saying there's another cable (with fewer wires) that will potentially aleviate the "PC mode" problem.

    Is there any way to tell, say on Amazon.com, if a particular cable is "power only"?
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    Yes, a data cable is what should have been provided. Not sure how clear this will be with an Amazon product.

    But we're talking about something that should be pretty cheap. Since you need some "hand holding' that's why I suggested Radio Shack. You can take it right out to your car and try it, then if it doesn't work you can go back into the store and get a refund. So you could be up and running this morning if it works. :)
  • <snip>Since you need some "hand holding"<snip>
    Choose snappy reply from below:

    1. Never on a 1st date.
    2. Does Radio Shack provide "happy endings"?
    3. And of course the classic-- That's what she said.

    :D

    OK, I'm sold. I'll make a side trip to the Shack when I grab lunch later today. (fingers crossed)
  • Also just for the record will the Nuvi work with a Portable External Battery Charger? If so, any specific model reccomendations?


    The link you provided in your original post shows the price for the portable external battery charger for 40.00.
    I'm sure you can find somebody that can repair your cigarette lighter socket for less than that.
    I called the most popular electrical repair shop in the immediate area(which just happens to be the ONLY electrical repair shop in the immediate area) for an estimate. They said anywhere from a minimum of $98 (which sounds so much less than a hundred I guess) to a max of $117.

    Which of course means it's at least $120 plus anything else he decides needs fixin' along the way.

    When I asked why it was so costly to repair/replace an electric socket he claimed my Volvo V70 station wagon requires a bit more labor to remove the panels or some such contrivance that he no doubt made up on the spot.
    I wouldn't want to be carrying around a portable battery charger just to use my GPS unless your intentions are to use it more for pedestrian mode.
    I was actually thinking of using it for all of my portable electronics but your point is well taken all the same.
  • Also just for the record will the Nuvi work with a Portable External Battery Charger? If so, any specific model reccomendations?
    Yes it will. I swear by a company called New Trent (yes, ending with a "t"). They make high quality products with very reasonable prices. I have 3 of their IMP500's (5,000 mAh, discontinued) and one iTorch (5,200 mAh), all of which work wonders with virtually any portable USB device (GPS, cell phones, etc). You likely won't need one of their higher capacity units (9000 mAh or above) but you can certainly use one of those models if you like. In general, the higher the capacity, the larger (and less portable) the unit size is. I've used these units all day long powering my iPhones (4 & 5) and they really work great. You can find them on Amazon and their website directly. Just Google "New Trent".
    Thanks for the recomendation SergZak.

    I may end up purchasing a portable charger regardless of how this situation resolves itself.
  • Hmmm very interesting. With this unit the obvious advantage is that I could use the fool proof cigarette lighter cable that comes with the Nuvi 50 and it's only 20 bucks.

    On the negative side I couldn't use it with my cell phone, ipad etc., it looks huge compared to even a 10K MAh USB power pack and the reviews aren't exactyly glowing.

    Intriguing solution all the same. Thanks for sharing.
  • SergZak 340 Points
    it's only 20 bucks.
    That price seems like it's one of those "too good to be true" things. One of the reviews at the Amazon link stated that the battery (inside the unit) was manufactured six years prior. This would make me very hesitant to even take the chance, even with that $20 price. It's also advertized as an emergency "car starter" yet the other review stated that it didn't work at all in that regard. :roll:
  • Billw439 0 Points
    Why go to an electrical specialty shop? to have the socket repaired? Any auto repair shop could repair it for you. Try calling a few. 99% of the time toe problem is a blown fuse. The socket is usually fused with a 15 amp fuse, not designed to plug a cigarette lighter in. In fact a cigarette lighter will usually blow the fuse as will a lot of 110 v converters plugged in it.
    Look at the fuse panel and see if a fuse is labeled for the power socket and see if it is blown.
  • roadster 96 Points
    piggyback fuse
  • Time for a Memorial weekend holiday delayed update.

    I went to Radio Shack last Friday and found no joy. The salesman was very helpful once I explained to him the concept of a "charge only" usb cord. Unfortunately everything he had available (he allowed me to try them in my car before buying) put my Nuvi into PC mode.

    I checked out Amazon.com again and found a couple of possible solutions:

    1. The Mediabridge USB Charging Cable
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009W34X5O/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i02?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    combined with

    2. Wilson Electronics Micro - Mini USB Charging Adapter
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003NQ0QES/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Combined with free Amazon prime 2 day shipping the cost is about $16 which is less than putting in a new electrical socket. If this doesn't work I'll just return the cables and try something else.

    They should be here by Thursday and I'll update this thread for posterity's sake shortly thereafter.

    Thanks again to all who have posted.
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    Wow, that is surprising. We actually have a thread on this topic with instructions for making a cable but I did not mention it before because it's very technical. :wink: Make your own USB charging cable (to prevent Nuvi from going into disk mode)
  • SeaScorpion 0 Points
    edited May 2013
    Wow, that is surprising. We actually have a thread on this topic with instructions for making a cable but I did not mention it before because it's very technical. :wink: Make your own USB charging cable (to prevent Nuvi from going into disk mode)
    Thanks Boyd. While the soldering of cables using a microscope is not a project I'll be undertaking there's a post in that thread which includes a rather simple and cost free solution that seems to have been all but forgotten...
    On the nuvi, if you hold the battery icon down until it enters the "secret screen", then plug your usb cord in, then turn the power off, it will go into regular charging mode and you can use it while plugged into the computer.
    A couple of questions (I don't have my Nuvi available at the moment):

    1. Is the battery icon mentioned above just the power button, the actual batterty/charge meter or something else?

    2. What is meant by the "secret screen"?
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    Not certain, but I think that trick only worked on older models of the Nuvi. Seems to me there have been a bunch of complaints here in the forum that Garmin removed this feature awhile ago. I could be wrong though, have never tried myself.

    The secret screen contains developer info. On most current models you can get it by pressing and holding down on the speedometer display in the trip computer.
  • Not certain, but I think that trick only worked on older models of the Nuvi. Seems to me there have been a bunch of complaints here in the forum that Garmin removed this feature awhile ago. I could be wrong though, have never tried myself.
    So they removed a feature that caused no harm and would have provided an elegant solution to this issue.

    This is how I feel about that...

    "They finally went and did it. The maniacs. Damn them! Damn them ALL to hell!"









    image
  • popej 57 Points
    There are 2 hidden menus in nuvi (ok, there are more but not so interesting).

    One is developers menu, you get there pressing speedometer for about 6-10 seconds. On newer nuvi you can press upper right corner of screen at volume menu too. Developer menu have some interesting items, for example you can clear all user data, clear nonvolatile memory and start hidden tracklog.

    Second menu is diagnostic menu. You get there pressing battery icon on main screen for about 6-10 seconds. In diagnostic menu you can see voltages, test screen colors, see part numbers for hardware and software, calibrate sensors and more.

    If you connect power supply while in diagnostic menu, GPS won't switch to PC connection mode. But different nuvi behave differently when you exit form diagnostic menu. Some go back to navigation mode, others perform restart. In second case nuvi will return to PC connection mode.
  • So they removed a feature that caused no harm and would have provided an elegant solution to this issue.
    Not always true about the "caused no harm". I'm not familiar with the Nuvis specifically, but on some electronic gadgets the hidden screens (diagnostic, developer, etc) can have features that can cause serious damage if not used properly. That's why they're normally hidden.

    Again, just a general comment and I'm not sure if it's applicable to any Garmin units or not.
  • class3 52 Points
    Another option is eBay. Search for "Garmin charge only cable." There's currently a US seller with one for $3.89 w/ free shipping.
  • Another option is eBay. Search for "Garmin charge only cable." There's currently a US seller with one for $3.89 w/ free shipping.
    Thanks Class3! I wish you had posted last week but beggars can't be choosers. I just purchased the last cable they had on Ebay it should arrive by Saturday.

    Assuming that it works as advertised I'll either keep it as a backup or return the more expensive cables from Amazon.
  • Wanted to close this out for anyone who runs across a similar problem in the future and needs a clear solution.

    1. The USB charge only cord I received from Ebay worked perfectly and if you can find one it is the simplest solution.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/130906088277?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

    2. The Mediabridge charging cable works fine and feels like it is built to last. it's not cheap though and it needs to be paired with some sort of micro/mini adapter to connect to the Nuvi.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009W34X5O/ref=oh_details_o01_s01_i03?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    3. The Wilson Electronics Micro - Mini USB Charging Adapter was not useful in my situation. It has 2 male connections, when I actually needed one female and one male connection. This was entirely my error. If I had inspected the photos I would have seen this and avoided having to return the item.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003NQ0QES/ref=oh_details_o01_s01_i02?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    4. The StarTech.com Micro USB to Mini USB 2.0 Adapter F/M worked perfectly in concert with the Mediabridge charging cable.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002O1S8IE/ref=oh_details_o01_s01_i04?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    5. I also tried the Retractable Micro USB Charging Cables (NO DATA FUNCTION) which seems to work fine and was cheap. However the cable is very thin and flimsy and it retracts somewhat weakly. It just feels like it won't last long. I decided to keep it in a small container in my glovebox as an "always there" backup.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004A8OMLQ/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Thank you to everyone who took the time and effort to respond in my hour (make that week ;) ) of need. I am humbled that a stranger was treated so kindly.

    And a very special thanks to the indefatigable Boyd for his unequaled knowledge combined with an enthusiastic desire to help and teach.
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    Glad we could help. :)

    FWIW, I had forgotten to mention this but noticed it while digging through a crate of old electronics junk. I got a GPS power supply "kit" from Staples a couple years ago that included a USB style car charger and wall charger along with one of those flimsy retractible power cables like you describe. That might be another option for someone in the future. It was very inexpensive
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