In my pursuit of gradually converting my V-STROM into a long distance touring vehicle, I’ve recently made some good upgrades to it. One is simply a larger windscreen, and the other is a Tablet PC converted to a GPS Tracking module and mounted on a Tank Bag!
Before these modifications – I used the bungee spider web neeting as a convenient way to quickly hold things, such as maps.
On my last trip, my printed google map blew off my bike in mid ride in a place I had no maps for. Frustrated with that, and realizing how much I’ve spent on maps, I decided to get a GPS Module. However, motorcycle GPS modules are quite pricey. I realized that I keep my tablet PC with me anyway, and that GPS receivers alone only cost $20 - $40. So the result was getting a tank bag and map bag and mounting my laptop to the tank bag with the GPS module so it becomes a real time full screen electronic map! The results were a rousing success!
1st though, the new GIVI Windscreen.
Very nice, wind noise was reduced drastically and I feel no turbulence on my helmet at all now. The Givi screen is taller and wider, but among all the after market screens I think it has the best style too it, keeping the curve and feel of the V-Strom.
On to the GPS setup.
After researching tank bags I settled on the strap mount Tourmaster T-12, moderate sized and stylish. For mounting the laptop, I needed a larger bag that the laptop would fit, and came across TourRiggs large map bag, at 16"x12"
First modifcations are to the Map bag, these bags usually seal up tight and have a vinyl cover to protect the map. The Wacom tablet pens used on tablet PC’s are very cool in that they used inductive loops so don’t need to actually touch the screen of the laptop and work perfectly fine through the vinyl cover.
Here is the map bag with holes cut out of it’s backing for ventilation for the laptop.
Flipping it over, I want to add spacers so that it ‘floats’ above the tank bag leaving plenty of room for air to swirl around under the laptop.
To hold the spacers I used some light nylon sewn into a long hollow rectangle.
Here the spacers are inserted into the nylon sock
sewn closed in front of and behind foam spacers
both spacers now sewn onto the back of the Map bag
They were able to move side to side to much, so I added small adhesive Velcro to both the spacer and the bottom side of the back of the map bag to keep them in place.
Here I added a side strap and a zipper attachment for connecting to the tank bag. You can also see how much the spacers are able to move side to side
The laptop now nice and cozy inside the bag
closer view of the underside with the foam spacers and the holes cut out for ventilation
the other side of the map bag also has spacers so the laptop floats above the backing of the map bag, again to help increase airflow.
I opted for the strap mounted tank bag, unfortunately these allowed for a great deal of side to side movement no matter how tight I made the straps. The map bag came with power full rare earth magnet mounts which just stick to your metal gas tank. I decided to sew those onto the tank bag to give it laterally stiffness, so the tank bag is now both strap and magnetic mounted.
Here you can see the map bag, now laptop bag, without the laptop. You can clearly see the ventilation holes and the spacers on the laptop side of the base.
The tank bag slides down easily revealing the gas cap by just disconnecting the front two strap latches. The magnetic flaps keep it in place quite well. http://www.matus1976.com/public/pictures/25_05_09/P1010895.JPG
Here is the underside of the map bag, now the laptop bag, you can see the spacers, the front and side nylon Velcro straps, and the zipper which keeps it attached. This is a separating sport zipper to it separates completely.
The Velcro side strap holds the bag down nice and tight. Here you can see the magnetic flaps that were added protruding down as well. http://www.matus1976.com/public/pictures/25_05_09/P1010890.JPG
At the front is another Velcro strap, 3 points of connection should keep the laptop nice and stiff. http://www.matus1976.com/public/pictures/25_05_09/P1010891.JPG
Pics of the the whole assembly mounted. http://www.matus1976.com/public/pictures/25_05_09/P1010889.JPG
Now it’s on to powering the unit. Here are the gizmos for powering it. On the left is the Powerlet plug, these are like cigarette lighter plugs but better and smaller. In the middle is an adapter which converts from Powerlet to a regular automotive type cigarette lighter plug, because the converters needed to power the laptop AC unit only come with those connectors. Next to the right is the power block, this plugs into your battery positive terminal and has six attachments points for later accessories and each has it’s own slot for fuses. It wasn’t necessary for this, but when I add more components it will be. Last on the right is the main relay switch and fuse, this is actually what directly connects to your battery and the power block attaches to it. The relay opens up the 30A from the battery to your accessories but uses a small current to actually throw that switch. Relays basically use small switches to close big switches making the whole setup more reliable and safer.
The instructions say to find a suitable place to mount your power block, I removed the seat and found plenty of secure shielded room there. The seems to be exactly where virtually everyone finds to mount power blocks like these. On the left with the large red rubber cap is the battery, just to the right of that is the fuse for my accessory device, to the right of that is the relay, and then to the right of that is the power block. Above center is my grounding block, made from Ultra High Molecular Weight polyethylene (the coolest stuff ever – used for medical implants and as lighter than water bullet proof armor!) In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have my grounding block so close to my positive power block, I’ll move it.
At this point the relay switch needs to be connected to something that turns on when you turn your key on. Most people connect this to your rear taillight which is always on in motorcycles. Lacking any easily accessible screws or mounts, I used a T crimping terminal which you just clamp around an insulated wire, it cuts through the insulation and makes contact with the wire, then you can just plug another connector to that.
Here is the rear tail light assembly removed, I had to remove my Givi side case mounting bars to get this off.
I confirmed which wire was the constant on wire using a multimeter - it’s the solid grey one. The red probe from the multimeter is sticking into the wire nut on the right.
Purple T crimp is clamped onto the grey wire, in my hand is the plug which connects to that, now creating a new circuit.
After that, I reconnected the ground, added the fuses, and tested it out. Here is the multimeter showing power in my Powerlet plug
I drilled a mounting hole for the powerlett plug.
Plug installed! http://www.matus1976.com/public/pictures/25_05_09/P1010910.JPG
Wiring added. Obviously that little 6" plug was not enough to get to my tank bag, so I wound my own and gave it Velcro attatching points to the frame. Wrapping the adhesive Velcro around the wire, making quick and easy cabling which can be removed possible. http://www.matus1976.com/public/pictures/25_05_09/P1010912.JPG
The wire goes under the tank bag base and comes out on the right. Now, everything’s ready! http://www.matus1976.com/public/pictures/25_05_09/P1010911.JPG
Power up and running off the motorcycle’s electrical system! Woo hoo!!! http://www.matus1976.com/public/pictures/25_05_09/P1010914.JPG
Problems, Complications, Modifications
It’s rather ridiculous to take the 12V DC from the Powerlet plug and through an inverter change it to 120V AC only to use the laptop adapter to convert it back to 12V DC! With some more electronics knowledge I think a simple box that accomplishes this would be reasonable.
The Laptop + Battery are too big for the map bag, I have to disconnect the battery to use it, which is annoying. However I have the long life battery I think the normal battery would fit just fine.
The screen is hard to see in bright sunlight even at it’s brightest setting.
These new Wacom tablets are supposed to work just as a touch screen without needing the pen tablet. I have not been able to get that to work yet though.
Power wise, I need to devise some sort of quick connect system so the tank bag can be disconnected quickly.
The DeLorme Streets and Trips program is buggy, at the tall resolution of the tablet, the zoom out button is off screen.
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