Dash Mount for GPS

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About: I run a small design consultancy specializing in custom electronic prototypes and one-off builds

Intro: Dash Mount for GPS

I recently bought my wife a Garmin Nuvi 360 GPS for her Honda van. It came with this snazzy suction cup mount. However, the van has a curved dash board with a faux leather texture. This made it next to impossible to securely mount it in a convenient location. Here's how I solved the problem...

Step 1: Here's the Mount

Here's the snazzy bracket, but as you can clearly see it needed to be mounted on a flat surface. Some people mount this to their windshield. However, I'd heard that this is illegal in CA. We wouldn't want to break the law.

Step 2: Figure Out Where We Want to Mount It...

I picked the spot on the dash where I wanted to mount the GPS and covered the area in packing tape. This was to protect the dashboard.

Step 3: Building the Mold...

Next, I built up a mold to the rough shape of the mount. I just used cardboard and lots of packing tape. Tape is cheap and I needed to make it water tight (otherwise it would have been a mess when I filled the mold with resin).

Step 4: Mixing Up the Resin...

Now I busted out my supply of Polyurethane Resin. I really like Smoothcast 325. You can buy it here. I mixed a little black pigment in there for good measure. Be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions.

Step 5: Pour the Resin...

I covered the surrounding area with towels and newspaper. It would be a major problem if I spilled resin on my wife's van. I kept a roll of paper towels around just in case. Next, I poured the resin into the mold.

Step 6: Remove the New Mount...

I waited until the resin cured and yanked it off the dash. It didn't take too much force as the resin doesn't stick to the packing tape too well. At this point, I had an ugly blob of plastic.

Step 7: Start Sanding...

For this step, I used a table top belt sander. I just sanded right through the cardboard as it was well stuck to the resin. After that, I shaped the hunk of resin into its final form. To match the rest of the dash, I went for a smooth rounded look. I was careful not to sand the bottom of the mount to ensure that it would fit perfectly with the original shape of the dash (that's why I casted it in place).

Step 8: Hit It With a Little Paint

After sanding, the resin has a dull look to it. To give it a nice glossy finish, I used some black spray paint (I prefer Rustoleum for Plastic).

Step 9: Cleaning and Mounting

For mounting, I used 3M heavy duty double sided tape. They claim it can hold 5lbs per sq inch. The trick to getting a good bond is making sure everything is clean. To do this, I rubbed everything down with isopropyl alcohol. Then I cut a few pieces of tape and positioned them on the mount.

Step 10: Final Mounting

I pressed the mount onto the dash and was ready to mount the GPS bracket. It uses a suction cup that sticks nicely to the flat surface I created. Voila!

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    25 Discussions

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    judgeyoung

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Get a short glass tumbler with a smooth bottom at your local Goodwill Thrift store. Suck the base to it and place it in the middle cup holder. Works great, easily removeable, not permanent... and you can use it to haul water if we get to TEOTWAWKI!

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    doo da do

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Go to Cracker Barrel or other store and get one of those sticky pads. I wedge my gps between the wind shield and the sticky pads works very well. From doo da do

    3 replies
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    T2Pogidoo da do

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    sticking anything to your dash will cause it to crack in time. the uneven temps created by the shadow (covered area) vs the exposed part of the dash will cause excessive stress on the dash's skin. in time cracks will appear. you know how hot a dash gets under the sun. otherwise, this instructable is a good idea.

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    T2Pogigormly

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Take it as an advice. there is really a good chance it'll cause a crack on the dash over time. not to spoil the party. like what i said, it is a good idea, but...

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    mwarren_us

    9 years ago on Step 10

    That's a great mount idea and I like how well it matches the van's contours.

    For what it's worth, the mounting position shown in the pictures probably still doesn't meet California law (at least section 26708 of CA's Vehicle Code) because it's above the dash but not in one of the "safe zones".

    SB 1567 updated that section to add: "A portable Global Positioning System (GPS), which may be mounted in a 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver, if the system is used only for door-to-door navigation while the motor vehicle is being operated and outside of an airbag deployment zone."

    1 reply
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    dns106

    9 years ago on Step 7

    what kinds of sanding paper did you use? (type of grit) I plan to do this with a hand block sander, you think it'll work just as well? or should I get something electronic for the sanding?

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    skaldedgrifon

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for sharing the process, materials, and method. This is very applicable to many similar project and give me ideas aplenty.

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    bob.smitty

    10 years ago on Introduction

    i bought the identical thing for my wife... if you turn the suction cup arm 180 degrees, you can stick it in the window, which is what we do. our nuvi came with a round piece of plastic with self adhesive tape that claimed to be a "dashboard mount system"... i imagine it can be stuck on the dash and then the suction cup attached to the disc. given the ball mount on the unit, it doesn't really matter if you have it perfectly (or even aproximately, remotley) horizontal. still, i wish i had taken advantage of the opportunity to play with resin plastics and cast stuff!

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    Shawk

    10 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't want to have anything indicating that I have a GPS as they get stolen around here, so I made a mount by buying a coffee cup holder at Target for $7 that clips to your dash vent. I pried the mounting bracket off and screwed it to the swivel arm of the GPS. Now I can easily clip the GPS to the dash vent or hide it when not in use. Cheap fix.

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    hashim

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Very clever idea! I really have problem mounting on the windscreen. It blocks my vision and sometimes it falls off. This is going to solve my problem. Thanks a lot!

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    picbuck

    10 years ago on Introduction

    WOW! Do it once, do it right, and be done. Very cool!

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    spicyballz

    11 years ago on Introduction

    Wouldn't it be easier just buying wond of those clip on vent mount for cellphone or gps on ebay. $ 5 t

    1 reply

    I found a way easier way... inspired by the infamous Mohammed Atta. I take a handheld GPS gizmo and shove it between the dash and the windscreen after it's programmed to show the arrow and the compass wheel. When programmed, I set it to show the arrow and compass and drive to a major road out in the suburbs and turn as the arrow is at a 90 degree angle. While not perfect, I do find my destination by this crude method. While I find this method of using GPS useful, most people will prefer the map display devices. :)

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    Shad3d

    11 years ago on Introduction

    excellent solution and love the pics. but did you try mounting the suction cup thingy to the glass in a corner some where like it was supposed to be? just a thought. :)

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    briank

    11 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea. I have a NUVI too and hate the windshield mount. Job well done..

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    Ibanezfoo

    11 years ago

    This is a cool idea! I was going to do something like this but then figured forget it... everyone around here has GPS and satellite radio things stuck to their windshields. The irony of the stupid CA law is that doing something like this forces you to look down and away from the road, instead of keeping your eyes on the road and only glancing a tad to the side.... good ol' CA lawmakers, always looking out for us....LOL But, good solution nonetheless