Retro Navigation GPS Mod

Introduction: Retro Navigation GPS Mod

Here in this project, I will show you how I took a broken GPS and turned it in to a retro-looking "GPS" which is a scrolling map.


  • Two Pencils
  • An Old Map (can print)
  • An Old or Broken GPS (You could use something similar)
  • Contact Paper (optional)
  • Paint (white works well)


  • A Drill
  • A Screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • A Saw (or something similar)
  • A Printer (optional)
  • A Soldering Iron (optional)

Step 1: Take Apart GPS

All you will need for this step is a screwdriver. Take apart the GPS. Yours will probably be different, and may not have screws. If so, you might need to pry it open with a knife or spudger.

Step 2: Optional- You May Want a Backlit Map

You can put together your own circuit, whether it's battery powered or plug-in, or you can modify the main circuit. Here, I took an LED off the ON indicator, and replaced it with a brighter yellow LED. Then I could simply use the GPS's main plug to turn it on. Warning: Soldering fumes are dangerous. Use proper ventilation, and be careful when handling the soldering iron.

Step 3: Drilling

Drill two holes into the sides of the casing unit where the pencils will fit. make them slightly smaller in diameter than the actual pencil, because later you will cut a grove around the edge of the pencil. Make the holes about as far apart as the screen is tall. You can refer to the finished product in the picture above, where the knobs are. Then, drill two holes in the same place on the other side.

Step 4: Painting

You can paint the housing if you'd like. I did mine white, similar to older electronics. You do not need to paint the inside.

Step 5: Cut or Print Map

You will need to trim the map, or print it out, and make it about as wide as the screen. Next, tape or glue the maps edge to the pencils as seen in the photo above. then wrap around pencils to make something like a scroll. Optional: You may want to put contact paper or laminate the map, I found this harder to put together, and ended up photocopying the map and using plain paper.

Step 6: Finish

Place pencils inside enclosure and screw shut. You will want to have them parallel to each other so they do not unwind map. You are now finished!

Step 7: Conclusion

The hardest part in this whole project was probably winding the map up, then fitting it inside. Several times I accidentally broke the pencils. I found two knobs on the mounting piece which I fitted to the pencils to create knobs to scroll the map. How to use: If you added a lighting system, you can plug that in. Turn knobs to scroll. NEVER turn both the opposite direction, this could rip the map.

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