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Connecting a Handheld GPS Receiver to your PDA

1st June 2003

 Article by Dave Burrows


One thing we receive a lot of questions about both in the forums and also by email is people would like to connect their nice new Handheld GPS Receiver to their current Pocket PC or Palm PDA, but don't know if it's possible.


Connecting a PDA and a Handheld GPS Receiver is very easy now thanks to one company who has pioneered the creation of mobile and GPS cables.  This company is called PC-Mobile, and currently has a forum at Pocket GPS.


Connecting a Garmin to a PDA

Garmin currently have two types of data cable formats for their current range of GPS Receivers.  There's the Rounded plug (R-Type), and an oblong plug (E-Type).


Garmin Rounded Plug R-Type (GRDC)

Garmin Oblong Plug E-Type (GEDC)


This plug supports the following GPS Receivers:-


This plug supports the following GPS Receivers:-


Garmin GPS II

Garmin GPS III

Garmin GPS V

Garmin GPS 12

Garmin GPS 30

Garmin GPS 40

Garmin GPS 45

Garmin GPS 48

Garmin GPS 89

Garmin GPS 90

Garmin GPS76

Garmin GPSMAP76

Garmin GPSMAP76S

Street Pilot III


Garmin eTrex

Garmin eTrex Camo

Garmin eTrex Summit

Garmin eTrex Vista

Garmin eTrex Legend

Garmin eTrex Venture

Garmin Geko 201

Garmin eMap


Using cables from PC-Mobile make the hook-up of PDA to handheld GPS Receiver very easy because the PC-Mobile cables are modular.  If you purchase the Garmin end of the cable, say a GRDC or GEDC cable, you can interface it with nearly any PDA cable that PC-Mobile supplies which not only keeps retail prices down but also allows you to easily match any PDA device together with a handheld GPS Receiver.  One end comes fitted with the Garmin R-Type or E-Type plug, the other end comes with a 2.5mm jack.


PC-Mobile Garmin R-Type cable (GRDC)




PC-Mobile Garmin E-Type cable (GEDC)



This then allows you to purchase any other PDA style cable that terminates in a 2.5mm socket on one end, and the other end that comes with a moulded PDA plug like below.


PC-Mobile PDA data cable





Connecting a Magellan to a PDA

Connecting a Magellan GPS Receiver is slightly easier as Magellan only have one type of plug, so there's less choice which makes it easier.



PC-Mobile Magellan cable (GMDC)



PC-Mobile PDA data cable





So what do I need ?

Once you know what type of plug your GPS Receiver has, visit the PC-Mobile website.  The key is to utilise the top menu system as pictured below




Visit the page for your GPS Receiver, e.g. Garmin or Magellan, make a note of the GPS Receiver cable code (on the left), eg GMDC.



 Now that you have this, look further down on the page for the Pocket PC type code (again on the left), eg GQ38.



This will enable you to connect a Compaq 3800 series iPAQ to a Magellan GPS Receiver.  Now if you wanted to connect a Garmin receiver then you would do the same on the Garmin page.  The Pocket PC connector would still be the same, but instead you would select the GRDC like below and this would allow you to connect a Compaq 3800 series iPAQ to a Garmin GPSMap76S.



Now if you wanted to go one step further with a Garmin or Magellan and also be able to power the Pocket PC whilst it's connected to the GPS Receiver, you could go to the Garmin cable with Power page, you wouldn't need to change the GPS Receiver cable, but instead of ordering the regular Pocket PC cable, order a powered version which has a split cable coming out of the plug like this


PC-Mobile Powered PDA data cable


Coupled with an in-car charger, you could run your Garmin receiver on it's regular batteries but also power your Pocket PC via the in-car accessory socket using the standard PDA in-car charge lead for your PDA.


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