Poor Mans GPS




Introduction: Poor Mans GPS

A cheap version of GPS for navigation on a bike..... Well Kinda

Step 1: The Idea

Firstly I would like to apologise for the images, (and my spelling) my camera is broken, so this is the webcam, lol.

I was on holiday by the seaside, and was looking round some shops; you know the ones which sell all the tourist junk.

I came across one of the "floating" compasses, if you have never seen one, look at the picture below, I wasn't thinking of an instructable when I was making this so there is only pictures of the finished product- sorry!

Basically it’s a sphere, which is filled with a fluid of some kind; inside the sphere is a hemisphere which is weighted at the bottom, and with compass markings on the top. There is probably a piece of magnetised metal inside too to actually make it point to north!

The idea of these is to be able to point to north no matter which way up the sphere is! they look quite freaky rolling across the table, because it doesn’t look like rolling!!

Right back on topic- I saw this and thought about using it on my bike, as it is able to always point north, unlike normal compass's which will only point north if they are perfectly flat.

Basically this instructable is about making a mount for this. I call it poor mans GPS, because if you have a map holder (a future project) then you can navigate!, lol, more of a gimmick than a necessity.


Step 2: The Mount

I needed some way to mount the Sphere compass onto my bike. I wanted it to be removable and yet secure, like the normal mounts found for bike lights.

I found one of the bike mounts for a front bike light which my sister has lost. This gave me a mount to put onto the bike, but if I just glued the compass sphere onto that, it would have a very small point of contact, as spheres generally do.

When I was searching through one of the junk packed drawers looking for some ever useful superglue, I came across a bracket for holding kickboards onto the bottom of cupboards; it clips onto the leg of the cupboard once a board is attacked to the clip. One the piece of plastic that fixes to the kickboard was removed, it was a perfect fit.

This is just the right size for the sphere compass to fit in meaning that the clip can be glued to the compass sphere, giving me much more contact area to glue to the light mount, as now the whole of the clip and the bottom of the sphere compass is in contact with the light mount.

Step 3: The Assembly

I glued the compass sphere to the clip, then the clip to the light mount. , the screw hole for mounting the light mount, is right under where I was originally going to glue the clip. So I had to move the clip forward.

For a total cost of £1.25, the glue, clip, and light mount, where lying around the house, I think this was a worthwhile project.

Now I need to make a map holder for a map!!

Thank you for reading my first Instructable!



    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest

    25 Discussions

    Lots of comments along the lines of "it won't work". It does depend on the bike (especially if it's got steel handlebars), but the easiest way to check it's working (or not) is to fit it and then lift the bike up and slowly spin it round. If the compass doesn't keep pointing north then you know the bike is interfering with it, if it does keep pointing north you know it's ok.

    When I've tried this on my bike, it turned out to be useless but I've got a lot of ironmongery on mine I suspect. I wouldn't discount it though and it's cheap enough to try.

    Nice job.
    I was thinking of doing the same with a flat compass that came off a watch someone gave me. I prefer a round compass though. Where'd you get yours?

    wooot ..... ... you should post another Instructable on how to use it, or how to geocache with it ;P

    1 reply

    actually.. geocaching with this is pretty useful, you use it as a ring, and punch coords into GOOGEARTH or another mapping program, print out, and go.

    Well done! The bike will interfere, as the metals in the bike throw the magnetic compass needle off; but...who cares? It'll give you a basic north, enough to keep from getting fubar'd.. Good for you.

    1 reply

    i dont know why the bike would interfere... it wirks on my bike. only thing i can suggest is a new camera

    Hey- Any comments welcome, as long as they are constructive = D

    2 replies

    Sorry to say it wont work, the bike will interfere with the magnetic field and wont even give you an accurate north.

    not if you used to be rich and purchased an invisible gas based bike. . .

    It is better than a compass, so you wouldn't call it a "Poor man's compass" I think that "Compass for Unlevel Grounds" would be better. So CUG!

    common superglue isn't that waterproof, perhaps use another adhesive for outdoor use, unless you live in a completely dry area I guess.


    11 years ago

    Nombre, ches mmadas con las que sales, ese no es un gps para hombres pobres, es un gps para pendejos como tu.

    I wanted to say something obvious that would make me appear not very bright, like "That's not a GPS" but that's already been said. So I'll just say "Neat idea". Only problem I see is that most people don't know how to use one anymore. You might want to add some form of declination chart somewhere to make it more useful no matter where you travel too.


    12 years ago

    I have a magazine that has how to mount a map to your bike but i have 2 find it


    12 years ago

    Global positioning system. Positioning is there for a reason-a compass tells you which direction you are pointing, not where you are (as a GPS does).

    That's not a GPS. It's a ball compass.