PalmOne m100 & RAM Mount

PalmRAM Mounting Systems Inc.

Palm m100 running GPilotS


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4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!

Palm m100 | Palm Connectors | Palm Software | Test | RAM Mount | More Info...

PalmOne m100

The electronics market is quite fickle.  Today's hot new device that barely stays on the shelf is tomorrows cast-away in the bargain bin.  Some devices don't answer the claims their manufacturers make; others are victims of their own success and the evolution they stimulate.  The Palm or Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) has continuously evolved.  Today, most portable phones provide a significant portion of the functionality (and indeed new features) of yesterday's PDA.

So I never seriously considered what happened to all those "old" PDA's once their owners had lost interest in them and set them aside.  And it never occurred to me that a problem I had with my GPS would be solved by an old PDA.

Chris contacted me about taking a trip with a group of people on the Expedition Portal discussion group.  We finalized trip plans and met at the camp for a wonderful weekend that was memorable in many ways.  The weather was just about perfect for a guy like me who prefers cool, dry sunny days in the woods.  The kids were very well behaved for the most part and we had a chance to do some fall camping, foliage sight-seeing, four-wheeling, and hiking to waterfalls, views and geocaches.  It just doesn't get much better than that.

Chris uses a Garmin GPS-III that shares the same casing and many of the same features of my Garmin GPS V.  Both GPS units are discontinued, but very feature-packed and still very good devices for trips like the one we took.  I also run a couple GPS-12's so that between the three GPSr's that I have, I can usually load all the waypoints I need, and record without over-writing all the track logs I record during a trip.

But too often, even with three GPSr units, I find that I have run out of track memory or want to have more than the allotted waypoints at my disposal.  This caused me to begin considering the replacement of the GPS-V with a unit that has more track, waypoint and map storage capability.  In fact the Garmin GPSMap 76CSx perfectly fits that description and would be a likely candidate.  But how does one justify the purchase of yet another GPSr when there are already four units in the household?  Let's just say there are plenty of things that need attention before I worry about getting another GPSr...

Then along comes Chris with an alternative:  A device that can be used to store tracks, waypoints and routes off the GPSr during a trip!  This means I can leave the laptop at home unless I have a need to upload maps to the GPS!  I was immediately expecting the device to cost too much money to make it a viable solution. 

But the good news was that the device he used, the PalmOne m100 was selling on eBay for a few dollars.  He showed me how he connects it to his GPS using the Garmin cable and the Palm cable, with a null modem connector in between.

Palm m100 and GPS V - Click to Enlarge

Very simple stuff.  I was sold.  Even better, the software for the Palm is free, so it meant simply downloading and installing the necessary code to make it work.  And that was it.

Palm m100 running GPilotS GPS Menu - Click to Enlarge

GPilotS Menu Example

Palm m100 running GPilotS Track Display - Click to Enlarge

GPS Track Display


Palm m100 running GPilotS TrackPalm m100 running GPilotS Display MenuPalm m100 running GPilotS Track List
Palm m100 running GPilotS GPS Upload ModePalm m100 running GPilotS GPS Categories ListPalm m100 running GPilotS Waypoint List
Palm m100 running GPilotS Track SelectionPalm m100 running GPilotS Display MenuPalm m100 running GPilotS Display Options

Garmin GPS VGarmin GPS VGarmin GPS V

In the time it takes you to read through this page and click the links, you will have everything you need on it's way to your home.  One more read through this page and you will have it working.  It took me an hour to pull the pieces together and another 20 minutes to get it working when all the parts were in my hands.  It took me longer to write this page!

Do it!

I got on eBay and did a search for the Palm m100.  I found a few from sellers who take PayPal and have 100% feedback ratings, set the bid and waited.  Soon enough I had won an auction and a few days later the device arrived at my house.


Palm m100 | Palm Connectors | Palm Software | Test | RAM Mount | More Info...



Palm m100 and GPS V with connectors - Click to Enlarge

Radio Shack

While waiting for the Palm to arrive in the mail, I made a trip to Radio Shack and purchased the Null Modem Adapter (Model 26-264B).  (female DB9 to male DB9)

Unfortunately they didn't have the male-to-male version so I had to settle for a male-to-female version and add in a Male DB9 to Male DB9 Gender Adapter (Model: 26-231) so that I would have the correct connector. 

Null Modem Adapter (Model 26-264B) MaleDB9  to Male DB9 Gender Adapter (Model: 26-231)

Just a note for myself - the Palm m125 can be run on external power and a cable that would provide power to both the GPS V and Palm m125 in the car is located here. This might be a better Palm option for a hard-mount solution relying on vehicle power...  Separate Serial cable for the m125 can be ordered from Amazon here.


Palm m100 | Palm Connectors | Palm Software | Test | RAM Mount | More Info...


Palm Software

GPilotS Logo Palm
I went to the web sites for GPilotS and MathLib software and downloaded the GPS software for the Palm m100. 

I went to the Palm site and downloaded the latest version of Palm Desktop software for my PC's. 



So far the preparation of this device has been mindlessly easy:  Buy some commonly available connectors.  Get some commonly available batteries.  Purchase and wait for delivery of a commonly available, cheap electronic device.  So easy in fact it could be done by clicking the links on this page and waving a credit card.

When all the parts were assembled in the same place I started through the task in logical order:

  • Install Palm Desktop for Windows XP on my PC. (Click the install file...)

Palm Install Software in Zip File

  • Configure the Palm Desktop by adding a user and a profile (type in your name twice...)

User Profile

  • Assemble Connector and Gender Changer together to make male-to-male DB9 connector that connects my GPS serial cable to my Palm m100 serial cable. (it only goes together one way if you buy the radio shack parts; skip this step if you buy the male-to-male connector from the Amazon link.

Null Modem Connector and cables

  • Install AAA batteries. (a seven-year-old can do that for you while you read this)
  • Turn on and run through the Palm m100 start up menus.
  • Identify which COM port you are using on your PC to connect the Palm (I started my MapSource program with my GPS connected and it told me when I chose the the Download to GPS function...)
  • Unzip GPilotS and MathLib files
  • Connect the Palm to the PC using just the Palm cable.  (If you don't have a serial plug on the back of your PC, you will also need a USB To Db9 Serial Adapter though I would expect if you have been using the GPS you already have this solved.)

  • Get the Palm to synchronize with the Palm Desktop - put a dummy appointment in the appointment book so you can check that it got over to the Palm.
  • Open the Installer and drag the GPilotS and MathLib files over for installation to the Palm.  Complete the install according to the directions.

Palm Quick Install with GPilotS and MathLib files ready to install

  • Connect the GPS cable to the Palm cable.

PalmOne M100 with parts needed

  • Start the GPilotS program on the Palm and navigate the menu to download from your GPS!

GPS Options

I had to make a couple configuration changes to the GPilotS program to get the tracks and waypoints to download with all available information.  The GPS V keeps altitude in the waypoint and tracks so I had to use the GPS Option menu to set GPilotS to 'etrex' emulation to get altitude data included in the upload and download, but this was easy to change on the options menu of GPilotS.



Palm m100 | Palm Connectors | Palm Software | Test | RAM Mount | More Info...


Lab Test

So once I got all the assembly and installation out of the way I tested the unit by downloading the current contents of my GPS V.  It was track data from the last several days commute, and waypoints from the last trip I had made.  None of it was important so I could afford to lose it if things didn't go well.

The download to the Palm worked right the first time I tried it.  All of the tracks I stored in my GPS as well as the active log, and all of the waypoints were safely stored on the Palm.

Field Test 1

I didn't bother to try uploading to the GPS that night.  In the morning when I was waiting in the line at the drive-up window, I tried to auto-route to work and found that I had deleted all the waypoints from the GPS.  So I connected the Palm and uploaded the waypoints from the test session.  It finished before I got my turn to order.  And the waypoints were all there.

Later, I used the Palm m100 to upload the saved data to my PC.  This was after all, the point - to be able to cache track and waypoint data in the Palm and uploaded it to my store of track and waypoint data when I return from my travels.  This test revealed the need to select the GPS emulation I needed to preserve the altitude data from the GPS V.  It also revealed that the Palm Desktop application "owns" the COM Port as long as it is running and will not give it up for another device (like a GPS or a Palm m100).  So be sure the Palm Desktop application is not running when you try to use the COM port!

The GPilotS software made the decision to segment my 2999-point track into several smaller sections when it saved it to my MapSource application on the PC, but that's not a big problem.

Field Test 2

We took a hike to Henry Clay Furnace in Cooper Rock State Park.  When we finished the hike I transferred the GPS V data to the Palm.  It worked great.

Palm M100 and GPS V - Click to Enlarge

Palm M100Palm M100Palm M100 with GPS VPalm M100 with GPS V

Thanks to Chris for getting me started on this and for the temporary loan of his images!

Field Test 3

With a little more time to play I connected the Palm to one of the GPS 12 units and explored the menus of GPilotS a bit more.  I found that there is a "live" tracking feature that is interesting.  Move to the GPS Track screen, select a track and then go to the Display Menu and select "Nav".

Display Options - Note 'Nav' selection

The track is displayed in a fashion familiar to GPSr owners.  An array of single characters across the top of the screen provide display options:

t l g + - w r
track ?? show grid zoom in zoom out show waypoints show routes

Select "t".  This brings up a track view and a box with an "X" in it.  The "X" is the current position of the GPS.  A basic view with just the "X" and track...

Tracking current position against loaded track

With "w" selected, The view with waypoints, the "X" and track...

Tracking current position against loaded track with Waypoints displayed

With "g" selected, The view with grids, waypoints, the "X" and track...

1/100-mile view, Tracking current position against loaded track with Grid, Waypoints displayed 1/10th mile zoom, Tracking current position against loaded track with Grid, Waypoints displayed
1/100th-Mile View 1/10-mile view

As you move the box moves.  This might be very useful for folks with GPS units like the DeLorme EarthMate that has no display.  It will also be useful for me because it would allow me to have tracks stored in the Palm that are not stored in the GPS units and still be able to find myself on one of those tracks, and optionally load it to the GPS if I decide it might be useful.  It does not appear to save this data - when I recentered the display the track that was building up disappeared.

There is a Speed Profile option that displays the speeds recorded on a track.  Mine was pretty interesting...

Speed Profile - Click to Enlarge

There is an option to get the version data from the connected GPS.

Version Data from attached GPS



Palm m100 | Palm Connectors | Palm Software | Test | RAM Mount | More Info...



RAM-HOL-PD3U - Click to EnlargeRAM-HOL-PD3U - Click to Enlarge

Naturally, a hard mount is needed to keep the Palm wandering around inside the Jeep...  RAM Mounting Systems Inc. provides a generic palm cradle that suits me well.  I removed the mount that I used to use for my cell phone and mounted the bracket in its place.

RAM Mount RAM-HOL-PD3UPalm m100 with RAM Mount RAM-HOL-PD3U - Click to Enlarge

Palm m100 with RAM Mount RAM-HOL-PD3U

Palm m100 with RAM Mount RAM-HOL-PD3U - Click to Enlarge

More Info

PalmOne M100

Palm in use

Chris Shontz's Write-up

PDOP's GPS Pages

GPilotS GPS data program for Palm

MathLib Library (required to Support GPilotS program)

Palm M100 Support

Now if I could just find one of these: (Write to me if you have one with the software to sell)

Memory Safe for m100 8mb

Northstar Memory Safe for m100, Palm(tm) III, Palm(tm) VII - 8 MB

MemorySafe lets you instantly backup and access data stored on your Palm(tm) handheld, on demand without connecting to a desktop or laptop computer.



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