GPS Hacking – Magellan 1424

Modern day GPS devices are essentially miniature computers. Many have a compact version of Windows, called Windows CE, installed, and the GPS software runs over top of it. However, GPS manufacturers often lock out this extra functionality. There are different packages and ways to unlock your GPS, however because there are so many different brands, it isn’t always one-size-fits-all.

I Googled for information on unlocking the Magellan RoadMate 1424 (the GPS I have) but the only information I found was a couple of people who couldn’t do it. Not deterred, I set off and entered the unknown. Read on for my story (spoiler: it ends in success).

A popular GPS unlocking distribution is MioPocket. It is compatible with a very wide variety of GPS devices, though it was original designed as a way to free Mio branded devices. Because most GPSes have Win CE 5 as the operating system, MioPocket will run (it has support for CE 4 till 6.)

In searching for people who had tried to unlock their RoadMate 1424s, I found this forum thread. It seemed like neither of the two posters had any luck. Regardless, I began the quest, hoping that I would be able to figure something out.

I won’t repeat the steps for installation, because they are available in the read-me file when you download the MioPocket software. However, there is a remark to be made about the 1424:

  • There is no SD card slot. Therefore, the non-permanent, no-risk SD card method is out of the question for this device. This means that modifications must be made to the device’s internal flash memory, at the risk of “bricking” the GPS.

At this point, before I could copy over the MioPocket files, I needed to clear room. Before you do the following, make a folder on your PC and copy EVERYTHING in the Magellan drive (when you plug your GPS to your computer) into this folder. That way, you have a backup if anything goes wrong. Should anything go wrong, don’t panic. Simply make sure it is plugged into your USB port, move the switch to reset, wait a couple seconds, and turn it back on. It should go to USB mode in about 5 seconds, allowing you to restore the files.

Here is a list of files I deleted, that shouldn’t cause any problems.

  1. In the APP folder, go to the SOUNDS folder. If you only need English (or French, or Spanish) delete the two other language folders.
  2. In the APP folder, go to the speech\languages\speech\vautov5 folder. In there, find the name of the language(s) you want to keep. In my case, Samantha was english (enu). I deleted the two others.
  3. Go up one level, and go into the components folder. In there, I also deleted the files associated with the languages I didn’t want, making sure to keep all the files for Samantha/enu.
  4. Go back to the APP folder. In there, there is a demo.avi video file. It is around 20MB, and takes up enough space. It doesn’t serve any purpose for us, so it can also be removed.

At this point, there is enough room to install MioPocket. However, should you wish to make more room, there was one more set of files I deleted that I didn’t really need.

  1. In the MAP folder, I removed the AAA_TB_POI.poi file. This is just a point of interest file, with locations I think for service stations, etc. I never used it, and figured I could free some room to store a bit of music on the device.
  2. The NA_Traffic.trf file I could also do without, since I don’t think this GPS really supports the full traffic reports feature. Besides, I didn’t need it.
  3. Finally, if you really need space, and you don’t need any points of interest, you can just delete the NA_POI.poi file, saving you almost 320MB.

I configured the GPS through all the steps I could in the read-me, and started it up. The read-me said that the device should begin to load, and prompt me whether I wanted to boot the built in Navigator software, or run MioPocket. However, I encountered the same problem as the other people in the forum: it just sat at the loading screen.

To get it working

Make sure you do try to boot it at least once after you copy the files to your GPS. It will hang, but let it sit for at least 3 minutes as it will still copy some important files.

I did two things before I got it working. I don’t think the first thing solved the issue, but I will mention it anyway.

  1. I opened the Navigator.mscr file (in the MioAutoRun folder on the GPS) in notepad. I then scrolled to the following section, and changed some code:
    If(ScreenWidth() <= 320)
    SetChoiceEntryFormat(31, 25)
    ElseIf(ScreenWidth() < 640)
    SetChoiceEntryFormat(35, 26)
    Else
    SetChoiceEntryFormat(66, 46)
    EndIf

    changes to…

    SetChoiceEntryFormat(35, 26)
    This may not be necessary, but I thought that the setup process was hanging up on the resolution detection.
  2. Then, when that still didn’t fix it, I tried one final thing. I opened the MioAutoRun folder that I copied to the GPS, and opened the MioPocket.ini file that had been created when I first powered it on. In there, I changed one setting: right near the top, the first option [Unlock], I set StartupMenu=0. This means it won’t ask what you want to start from, it will simply starting in MioPocket right away. That solved the problem. Power it on, and let it go. After about 2 minutes it will restart in MioPocket (probably a bit less).

And it all works now. Having done this, I realized that this isn’t the right GPS to use as an in-car entertainment device. Yes, it can now play movies and music, with easy to use buttons. However:

  • No bluetooth
  • No wifi
  • No headphone jack
  • No SD card slot

This means it cannot be hooked up to your stereo, it cannot sync with your phone, or go on the internet (wirelessly), and without an SD card slot, there really isn’t a lot of room to store any music or video.

See, I really did check to see if I could
modify it anymore, but there are
no places for a headphone hack or SD slot.

Tiny motherboard, almost smaller than an Arduino!

Final Thoughts

A lot of the programs do not run correctly with this software for me. However, WMP (Windows Media Player) runs fine, the file managers and most utilities work, and I can still open the original Navigator software and use it as a GPS. But it really is not usable for what I would want ideally.

Windows Media Player

Control Panel

I love how most custom portable OSes
incorporate the iOS lock screen.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 5th, 2011 electronics, projects, software

45 Comments to GPS Hacking – Magellan 1424

  • snakefist says:

    Amazing work. I like how your post is detailed yet easy to follow.

  • Seth says:

    Couldnt you tap into the speaker wire to and install your own headphone jack? If there is no room within couldnt you have it on a wire dongle. Easily incorporated with and wrist strap.

    • Dan says:

      Most definitely, although the output would be in mono. However, because of the lack of an SD card slot, it is not worth it as an audio player, seeing as the internal memory has little room for much music. Heck, these days a 4GB mp3 player can be had for as much as an 8GB SD card.

  • Mike P says:

    Well, the second mod you suggest, “StartupMenu=0″ got Miopocket to run(sort of) on my Magellan 1424! The first mod was not necessary. The problem I now have is getting Miopocket to launch apps. The MP Settings icon will not run so that I can update the various file paths. Any suggestions?

    I’m trying Miopocket 3 (R59) to see if it is any better.

    One thing users should note is that there are a couple of reboots during the installation process. Give it time! It looks like the unit has hanged, but it hasn’t.

    Mike

    • Dan says:

      I didn’t spend so much time with it as to begin setting my own paths. I stuck to using the applications that came with Miopocket, and most of them worked fine. It has been so long, I can’t remember which ones didn’t work right, but for the most part I think they were games.

      I’m glad you got it to start-up! I hadn’t heard of any success stories and hoped sharing my ventures would help someone else. I’d be interested in hearing about how Miopocket 3 works for you!

  • Mike P says:

    I finally got MioPocket 3 to work! Initially, the MP Settings icon was working, but I still couldn’t get it to launch the nav program (iGo Primo). BTW, the same mod to “StartupMenu” is necessary as with ver 4. Anyway, I played around with the GAPI settings (icon on settings page) to select an alternate GAPI setting (or something like that) because the Mag 1424 was not in the list of devices. I think I also modified the Unit.xml file to only load application “175” at startup. This might have helped.

    MioPocket 3 is not perfect; if I hit the “rotate screen” icon, the screen goes into portrait mode and can’t be rotated back. Annoying! Also, how am I supposed to put the unit to sleep without powering down (i.e., reset)? It takes forever to cold boot. I’ll figure it out… eventually.

    Softbutton also works as a launcher. It’s pretty easy to setup and very minimalist. The trick to using it is to kill mgnshell.exe prior to (or after, I suppose) launching your navigation app.

    I’ve come a long way, and I couldn’t have done it without your info.

    Mike

  • Mike P says:

    Alright. I found the sleep/hibernate function in MioPocket 3. As in ver 4 simply click the X in the top right corner and choose a sleep mode.

    • Dan says:

      Success! Excellent, there is always a solution! Hopefully you can find more utility to these modifications than I did :P

  • james says:

    Thanks all for the post. It was very informative. Question: Since you guys got into the OS pretty far, is there a way to remove the annoyning pop up ads: ie: “olive garden or best western hotel”.

    Thanks

    • Dan says:

      You get advertising when you use it? I never noticed any when I used it. Are the ads only present when using certain applications, or do they appear even when nothing other than MioPocket is open? If it is all the time, perhaps there is a program that opens the pop-ups that runs in the background. Check the process manager to see what tasks are running, and maybe you could figure out which one is for ads.

  • James says:

    Hi,

    Thanks you for the reply.

    The ads pop up often on its own. Nope, I don’t have any applications runing. I just use the GPS (Megellan 1424)for finding directions and general maping. Nothing special. The ads (Best Western Hotel) comes up for around 10 seconds and disappears. I do not have MioPocket applicaton. Insidently, these type of ads pop up on my relative Garmin GPS also.

    • Dan says:

      Wait, so these ads appear on a bone stock, unmodified GPS? That is very odd – how low of GPS companies to advertise based on your location. Mine has never done anything like that, is there an option to suggest destinations, or automatically notify you of nearby POIs?

  • James says:

    Hi, Yeap, this is an original unmodified GPS, fresh out of the box. Plug and play. Bought in late 2010. With regards to POI suggestions, you can choose to show on the display if you want but I “uncheck” everything. The adds is annoying and blocked my up coming road names. Okay, for the kicks, I plugged the GPS into my computer a few minute ago. Open the applications, make copies of the entire program to my computer, just in case. I notice there is “AdSet.bin” file with log of today date and time??. I used my gps half an hour ago. Is this the app you mention earlier?

  • James says:

    Hi, forgot one more thing,

    There is an “AdPerformanceData.bin” in the USR folder with today date and exact time? Wonder shoud I delete the AdPerformanceData.bin and AdSet.bin?

    thanks

  • Dan says:

    This is incredibly bizarre. None of the GPS units I have ever used displayed ads for me, and as such, I don’t know what to tell you about these files. I can only assume they are used to log which ads are displayed, and whether or not they are effective (ie, if you visited the locations). Your best bet it to contact Magellan/Garmin directly, and ask them why they are showing ads on a device you purchased. Very odd.

  • James says:

    Hi, Thanks for replying.

    I took a gamble and delete the two files as mention earlier. It seems to work. So far no ads pop up. I was using my gps about an hour ago to get something to eat. I usually see the ads pops up around 2 miles after I drove, but not this time. With regards to contacting Megellan or Garmin, they are useless. They did not help me at all.

  • James says:

    Hi, by any chance you know where I can down load an update maps for the Megellan 1424 for free. I am a litle tight on the budget.

    Thanks

    • Dan says:

      This is where we reach the boundaries of legality. A quick google search doesn’t reveal any obvious sources of open source maps. The map updates are themselves products sold by the GPS companies – they are there to make money, not friends. As such, to download official maps freely would likely be considered piracy.

      So unfortunately, I do not know where you could find free updates. For my usage, I haven’t needed to update maps since the roads I frequent most haven’t changed so drastically as to lead to frustration.

  • James says:

    Hi, thanks for the reply. No needs, places and road do not change that much here in LA either, but just a thought. The maps software on my gps is 2009 still very much up to date.

  • Bill says:

    Hi I followed every instruction and did everything but but it still just sit at the start loading screen. Please help me. Also I tried those methods you did.

    • Dan says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if success varied by model, perhaps the firmware differs and some work differently to modify.

      I noticed I didn’t say which version of MioPocket I was using in my post. I used Version 4 – R68, which is the one I directly linked to. However, there are a lot of other releases, so just double check you used the same version I did. That could also affect your success.

      Maybe some of the files didn’t get copied over properly. If you haven’t tried yet, recopy the Mio files again, to make sure nothing is missing or damaged.

      Did you make a backup of everything? Before ending up with a soft-bricked device, I would make sure I could get back to a functional, stock unit. You just need to delete the files you copied over, and restore the ones you removed. Better this than a non-functional unit.

  • Bill says:

    Hi my Model is Magellan Roadmate 1424, the exact one you have. Thanks alot!!

    • Dan says:

      Sorry, I meant hardware revision, not model. Still, check that you are using the same version of MioPocket, and even then, try experimenting with other versions too, maybe another one will work better. I was lucky and only those two modifications had me up and running, but it may be more involved for you. I won’t pretend that I know how MioPocket works inside and out, I haven’t touched it since I wrote the article. Dig around, read config files, get a sense of what MioPocket does, how it works.

      If you can’t figure it out, as long as you have a backup, you can go back to square one, and try from a different approach.

  • Bill says:

    I tried version 3.0 and it works perfectly Thank You!!!

  • Andre says:

    hello I’m from Brazil and I got this GPS from a friend. but it comes with a map of the USA and CANADA as I do to change the map of Brazil to put?
    Thank you!

    • Dan says:

      Chances are you won’t be able to, easily or legally. Map upgrades are very protected by GPS makers, they want you to pay $70 for a one-time upgrade! The GPS cost the same. I don’t know if the map format is identical from device to device, or if they put safeguards to prevent using maps from one device on another. If you found someone else with a Magellan GPS, you could experiment by copying their maps to your device. Or, if you follow the instructions in this post to unlock Windows CE, you could find a Windows CE GPS software that has South American maps.

  • Jay says:

    Hi an idiot friend decided he knew how to mod my gps and didn’t back it up! Now I have two problems, I dont have the stock files for the gps…would your backup work on my unit? I am so pissed right now……

    • Dan says:

      If you have the exact same model as I do, then my backup should do the trick. I will email you.

      • Josue says:

        Hello, I have the same model that you have and can’t get it working. I reset my computer and forgot I had my magellan backup. Can you send it to me? Thanks!

        • Josue says:

          Lol, I am the idiot friend of another guy! I though it was going to work, but I think the problem is that is not creating the .ini file, it just stays as settings.
          Any advices?

          • Josue says:

            It Worked!!!! LOL after 4 minutes.. I was so impatience, but how can I run the Magellan Navigator? It says that can’t find the navigator.exe, or where can I find the answers for this? I don’t want to bother you.. :)

          • Dan says:

            I’m glad you got it working again. I also had that issue, it couldn’t find the .exe either. I didn’t care, because I was more interested in finding out how it performed with audio/video, and didn’t use it as a GPS anymore. See if, in file explorer, you can open the Navigator.exe file yourself. Perhaps the shortcut to it is just out of date. It could be something you can modify in the settings file. I don’t own this GPS anymore, so I can’t do any more experimentation.

      • Josue says:

        Can you please email me the stock files? Thanks!

        • Dan says:

          I sold this GPS a year ago, and I cannot find my backup of these files at the moment. If I do find them, I will let you know!

          • Josue says:

            Hey bro, did you find the files?? I really need them :( or can you give me any ideas on how to restore it to stock? my friend wants to kill me.. thanks!

  • Fabio says:

    Hi Dan

    I used the softbutton, I downloaded it and renamed to navigator.exe at APP directory, after that seems that gps bricked, now usb device is not mounting and it’s inaccessible device. The error message “Application mgnShell.exe has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down”. Nothing happens after the error window popup.

    Any idea how to solve it? am I loose it?
    Thanks
    Fabio

    • Dan says:

      Strange that the USB device would not mount – once connected to a computer it should go straight to USB mode.

      Try turning it completely off, plugging in the USB cord to the GPS and the computer, then turn it on. Perhaps it will mount right away, preventing it from starting and getting the error message. Then you can try restoring the trusty backup you made.

      • Fabio says:

        Unfortunately it goes directly to error message prior to mount of unit. Do you know any software or something else that could format the gps unit?

        Thank you
        Fabio

        • Dan says:

          If you are unable to gain any kind of control on the device itself (ie, you can’t open any applications), the next logical step would be to try to restore it to default state. Unfortunately, you cannot connect to it for mass storage. Thus, the next step would be to find a way to force it into mass storage mode.

          I know of no way to force this. Perhaps there is a hidden recovery mode, triggered by holding reset for a certain amount of time? I no longer use the GPS, so I’m not as familiar with it as I was.

          • Fabio says:

            This unit has the reset power switch, it is not possible to hold to perform a factory reset. Thank you for your help.

            Reset Power Switch If your unit has a Reset Power Switch then it will have a three position power switch (Reset, Off, On), if this is the case slide the switch to the reset position and hold it for 10 seconds to perform the reset.

  • Dam h says:

    this program is shit. wont even let me run the settings option or even run my own navigation menu. great idea just shit when its all put into action

    • Dan says:

      I don’t disagree – as much as it opened up my GPS so that I could use the underlying Windows CE, it failed to make it any more usable. The interface did have bugs and lots of features did not work properly. Keep in mind you are running 5 year old non-commercial software on a decade old platform. After little time I restored my GPS to stock; miopocket didn’t do it for me.

  • Kamil says:

    Guys did you manage to revuve a MioPocket bricked Magellan device?

    My has no sd card slot, after I installed miopocket is kept rebooting saying it has not enough memory and has to reboot to optimize performance. Then I used uninstall MioPocket from startup menu and now it hags on some miopocket file error missing. USB does not mount, it is recognizable but it just wont mount drive to access files. ANY idea to do hard reset? (tried holding power slide like 5 minutes, nothing helps) I even unscrew the device and tried do shortcut many pins to reset flash. Plz give me some more ideas…. I need that device back :(

  • Josue says:

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE SHARE THE MAGELLAN ROADMATE 1424-LM STOCK FILES??? PLEASE!!!???
    THANKS!!

    • Dan says:

      Hi Josue, no, I did not find the files. All I can say is, if you cannot find the stock files, you will need to get it working with MioPocket, or take advantage of the fact that a GPS is a cheap device. Buy another 1424, copy the files from it, and you now have 2 working GPS!

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