Suction cups suck. Every few days I’d find my GPS lying on the floor of my car because the suction cup lost suction. I decided what I really wanted was a magnetic mount. So here’s what I did…
Step 1: Make a Magnetic Mount
Start with the standard mount. You can modify the one that came with the GPS or you can get them cheap from Ebay if you want to preserve one for use in rental cars.
Take it apart… I grabbed a piece of music wire with a pair of pliers and just pushed the pin out.
Cut out a small piece of plastic or cardboard to cover the hole in the base to keep the epoxy from running into the stem and out the sides (you’ll see).
Put a piece of waxed paper over a piece of steel and arrange 6 magnets on the steel such that the hollow mount will fit nicely over the magnets. I bought neodymium magnets from Ebay. They’re cheap and strong.
Fill the base of the mount partially with 5 minute epoxy.
Place the piece of steel with magnets facing down over the epoxy filled base. You don’t want so much epoxy in the base that it will squeeze out at this point.
Hold the plate in place for about 5 minutes while the epoxy cures. This will set the magnets perfectly flush with the bottom of the mount base.
Once the epoxy is cured you can remove the piece of steel and fill the voids in between the magnets with some more epoxy.
You now have a magnetic base with plenty of grabbing strength.
Step 2: Make a Base for the Magnets to Stick To
Since your dashboard is probably not steel you’ll need a piece of steel that the magnets will stick to. I got a 2” washer from the local hardware store and powder-coated it black at the TechShop. On a previous mount I simply covered the washer with a piece of black packing tape. Not as spiffy – but it was for my old car.
Cover the bottom of the powder-coated washer with double-stick tape. You kind of want to use tape that’s not too thick or it will be more visible than you might want it to be. I used 3M VHB tape. This is VERY sticky stuff. Like everything else – you can get it on Ebay.
Decide exactly where you want the GPS mounted to your dashboard and stick the washer there with the VXB tape.
Step 3: Route the Power Cable
Finally, you might want to route the power cable nicely so it’s not hanging in front of the radio, AC controls, etc. I couldn’t really find a good off-the-shelf way to route the cable that I was happy with so I made myself some little clips from a piece of ABS plastic. I got a piece of scrap ABS from Tap Plastics that was black, textured on one side, and .065” thick. I cut a small strip from the scrap of plastic with a pair of scissors.
I then heated the small strip of plastic with a heat gun (textured side down) until it began to curl.
Next I bent the plastic strip around a 1/8” drill bit (wearing a ski glove).
I then used a Dremel tool with a carbide cut-off wheel to cut the tab off on one side of the clip – leaving just enough to go around the radius.
I then cut the excess off the other end of the clip with a pair of scissors. This clip is going to wedge in-between two panels of your dashboard. On mine the clip could only wedge in maybe ½” deep.
Then I used a bit of relatively coarse sandpaper to make a bevel on the long end of the clip to make it easier to wedge it in-between the panels of the dashboard.
Finally I routed the GPS power cable the way I wanted, used three of these clips to hold it in place, and used a plastic cable-tie to hold the excess cable down at the plug end.