Sunday, March 18, 2012

Breaking a RAM mount


Last fall, my wife actually managed to crack the RAM handlebar mount which held her Magellan Meridian Platinum. The damage is shown in the photo to the left. Thishappened during our vacation at Anza Borrego. It broke while she was pounding (or getting pounded by) the downhill shown below on the right. See the people in the photo? Those are park rangers moving boulders so they can take their 4WD up the "road!"

RAM mounts have a reputation for being very tough, and they come with a lifetime warranty, so when we returned, I sent them an email explaining the problem. I got no response, so after a few days, I called them. It was after hours (I’m on the west coast) and I got their voice mail. I left a message, but still received no response. Now I was getting frustrated. I finally managed to call during business hours and they gave me 4wd_roadan email address and said send a digital photo if possible. I did and, while I got no reply, five days later a new handlebar mounting bracket showed up in the mail. All’s well that ends well.

RAM mounts are great and I have no complaints. I’m not sure I’ve ever even heard of one breaking before. But sometimes a RAM mount is overkill. They can be fairly bulky. I have one for my Garmin 60CS on my bike, but the mount in my car is a Garmin windshield suction cup mount. RAM mounts are great for where you need something fairly rugged, like on a mountain bike, ATV or 4WD. Still, Garmin’s eTrex bicycle mount worked great for my old eTrex Venture. I suggest finding a discussion board for your make of GPS and asking there before making a purchase.

If you do decide to buy a RAM mount, you may find their catalog confusing. These are component mounts, and you’ll likely be selecting a couple of different items. I’ve found it easier to identify the proper components at GPSCity, so you may want to check there.

Rechargeable batteries for your GPS

For some time now, I’ve been wanting to research and blog about choosing recharegable batteries for your GPS receiver. This is one of the few topics I regret not covering in my book, GPS Mapping: Make Your Own Maps. I didn’t have to look far to research the subject. I turned to one of my favorite GPS/mapping software discussion boards and found this thread. The idea of being able to recharge batteries in only 15 minutes was quite enticing, so I went out and bought the suggested unit, a 15-minute charger from Energizer (Amazon link), which comes with 4 AA batteries. I got mine at Target, but as you can see from the link, Target is also selling them through Amazon.

I did a quick test with my GPS, a Garmin GPSMap 60CS (Amazon). Granted, it wasn’t the most scientific test, but I was pleased to get 20 hours out of two batteries, which is exactly what the unit is rated. I’m quite excited, since all four of my GPS receivers use AA batteries, as does my digital camera.