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Hooking an Axim x5 to a portable GPS

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I've only had my Axim for a little over a week now, so I'm far from and expert at it. So far though, I can connect to my Sportrak Map, and my GIII+, but not my eTrex.


From reading various forums, it appears that the serial cable for the Dell has an inline converter to go from USB to regular serial port. It unfortunately requires a voltage at one of the pins to turn on the converter. If you read through the message boards on Dells website you'll find information on it. Bottom line, it appears you can't use the null modem to connect an eTrex, or Meridian color from what I've read so far, and based on my own attempts at using the eTrex. I read on the Dell site that someone had used a 9 volt battery to get it to work, but I'll wait for others to work out the bugs before I try anything like that.


So far, I love the Axim setup with my GPS. The old GIII+ needed a new task so it could get out to play more anyway. Pocket streets is only so so, but I subscribed to Mapopolis, and so far that program is fantastic. Works fast, extremely accurate maps that are more up to date than Streets 2003. It even talks you along as you travel, and re-routes in about 5 seconds when you don't go the way it had planned for you originally.


Good luck



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The answer to your question is in the Axim Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Axim/). Subscribe and search the archives for Garmin. Essentially, you need the Dell serial sync cable, a null modem adaptor (the one from Radio Shack for 6.95 works great), a male-male gender changer, and you're all set. You will probably need a program like NMEA Monitor (do a google serach to find it) as well. If you hook the GPSr up to the Axim, ActiveSync tries to grab the data and it slows the machine down to a crawl. Instead, run NMEA Monitor, hook up the cables, when you are getting GPS data into NMEA Monitor, shut the program down. Then start Pocket Streets or Mapopolis (or your GPS program) and you should be golden. This setup works for my magellan m330 and others have had success with Garmins as well.


Good luck.


dyslexics of the world, untie.

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Good luck, and let us know how it works. The null modem set up is what I'm using, but I can't seem to get it to work with my Legend. Only the sportrak and GIII+.


Cache_Cows sent me a neat little program that helps me convert my pocket query waypoint files to view on mapopolis. Right now I'm working on getting everything loaded up into the computer, this weekend, I'll see if it helps me much in finding any caches. My normal method has been just load the waypoints into the GPS, drive, and half the fun is trying to find a close place to park. I've hiked 3 plus miles to find caches only to notice a road or parking lot within a short distance of the cache. icon_razz.gif

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I found the following information on the Dell site. I guess I'm not alone! This has GOT to be a mess to set up! Wires everywhere, bulky, and it works, but maybe room for improvement.


Which makes me wonder... I can imagine what all this crap must look like strung together. I'm curious if some online shop is already making one (time to pop off some emails). The engineer in me says "Baaaah!" I can get another Vista cable, Dell's serial cable, and my multi-meter and make my own cable! Take the solution created below, figure out what's going where and start constructing. I'm seriously considering this option.


How bad do I want to make the two units talk? Bad! A couple of options I have to look into...an online company making the cable and figuring out the pin-outs and making my own. I'll do some more research and post what happens.


With my luck, I'll make the cable and then drop the Axim on a rock and crack the screen a week later! Anyway, check out this guy's efforts.



Team Coordinated






After much headache I have finally successful made my eTrex Vista work with my Axim. I followed advice posted on this site with little luck, but it did give me a great start. Heavy research of groups relating to the eTrex interface and the Axim interface drew me to a conclusion. The conclusion is that the eTrex did not like the data being transmitted to it from the Axim and would essentially stall or distort it's output. Even with the Axim being tricked with a Null adapter, the Axim's GPS software couldn't interpret the garbage being sent to it from the eTrex. I determined that I must stop the data flowing from the Axim to the eTrex.

This method allows me to start my GPS and Axim consistently every time without performing any funny tricks. In fact, I can start the Axim with the serial cable plugged in. (still must disable ActiveSync though) I have used this with Mapopolis, GPSEngine, and MiniStumbler. The problem with the eTrex series units is the NMEA interface is picky.

Parts Used:



- Axim

- eTrex Vista

- eTrex Serial Cable (came with unit)


(had to buy)

- Dell Serial Cable (Part# 310-3474 must be ordered by phone)

- Male to Male Gender Changer (Radio Shack Part#26-231)

- DB9 Null Modem Adapter (Radio Shack Part# 26-264B)


Attaching Cables;



+The eTrex "data in" must be blocked. If you don't want to destroy the cable, here is a simple solution. I placed a tiny cut of masking tape over the "Power(+)" and the "Data In" terminal on the back of the eTrex. When I slide the eTrex cable on the eTrex, these contacts now don't contact anymore (this also allows for reverting easily so you can update your firmware etc...). If you need pin outs for the eTrex, visit www.garmin.com and download the PDF manual.


+Attach the gender changer on the other end of the eTrex cable.


+Attach the null adapter to the gender changer (The Male side MUST be facing the Axim)


+Attach the Axim cable to the open male end of the null adapter.


+Attach the remaining end of the Axim cable to the Axim. (make sure you disable ActiveSync first).


This setup has guaranteed a solid working GPS connection between my eTrex and Axim every time!!!

I'm not the best at communicating my ideas on paper, so if you have questions, reply and I will help. Please feel free to elaborate (or disagree) this post to help others.



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These forums are great, but there is so much information out there. I hadn't found that posting on dells website. I'll have to try it and see if I can get my legend working. As anyone who has read my posts knows, I haven't been much of a fan of road maps with GPS till I finally got a setup that could use features, and maps that were up to date and worthwhile enough to be worth my trouble. The maps on the PC are so much better than what I can load into my receivers.


As for the wires, they can be a pain, but not as bad as you'd think. It wouldn't be hard though once you figure out for sure just how you want the wiring to get a connector for the etrex and wire it to the axim serial connector instead of the serial port connector that's already there.

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CF GPS is over $150 last time I checked. If you already have a handheld GPS, then for about $30 you can get the pieces you need to make the cable. I'd rather spend that $120 on my next GPSr upgrade personally. The cables really aren't that annoying. You don't use them in the field. Use the GPSr attached to your Axim to drive to the cache and then just the GPSr when you get out. I don't want to take my $300+ non-waterproof Axim into the woods anyway.


dyslexics of the world, untie.

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Hey folks -


Just ordered my cable from Dell. In a previous post, I quoted:


Dell Serial Cable (Part# 310-3474 must be ordered by phone)


If you type this in at Dell's site, it gives you:



Palm HotSync Cable - Serial

Cable, Serial, 6 ft, 9-Pin D-Sub and Proprietary Connectors, For PalmT i705 / m515 / m505 / m500 / m130 / m125 Handhelds


As the Dell rep was telling me, this is NOT the cable for the AXIM.


You have to call Dell directly and ask for the serial cable for the Axim. Now, normal companies would be able to give me a part number that you can type into a search engine. This however is not the case with Dell. The Dell rep blew me smoke about not being about to give a part# that works on their website, yet he has the information to get the part ordered. Whatever. Did I mention that Dell support sucks? Just be aware of this if you order the cable to do the hook-up. It would be unfortunate if you went through all this and got the wrong cable from Dell.


At any rate, my cable is ordered and should be here next week. I also have a couple of e-mails out for custom made cables, but I don't have any responses yet. It's good to hear that Jeff got his etex working.


Soon to have my Vista talking to my Axim,


Team Coordinated

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I'm sure if you had software on your GPS unit that would send them, and assuming the serial cable is built to be bi-directional (I'm not saavy enough about serial cables to know what is involved in two way communication) I don't see why you couldn't send waypoints to your GPS from your PDA.


That would actually rock pretty hard if there was such a way.


This software would probably do it:



There is a version for pocket PC. If the serial cable allows it... that program might let you send the updated coords to your GPS right from your PDA. Which would be extremely cool.



trippy1976 - Cache Approval Account

MiGO Steering Group


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I had followed the user group discussions but found there always seem to be variables in someone's "success".


I had MS Streets & Trips in my Axim and couldn't get it to recognize the GPS.


Following the suggestions, I made a male-male null adapter that does NOT contain pin 2 on the Axim side (same as if pin 3 on the GPS side is missing). If you can't find a male-male null adapter, get the male-female null adapter and a male-male gender bender. You can make this easily by removing pin 2 on the side you are aiming at the Axim.


Still didn't work. There were suggestions about stopping Activesync (already did that). But there was another about using another piece of PPC GPS software to "wake up" the Axim's serial port.


THen I got "GPS Engine" freeware from the web. Don't remember where, but the software screen says, "www.arecon.de"


So, you connect the Axim and GPS via cables with the null adapter (less a pin), stop Activesync, startup GPS Engine (pretty cool to watch anyways), stop GPS Engine, startup Streets & Trips, and it works.


After all that, I wasn't too excited about streets & trips. I picked up the Delorme Xmap Street Atlas Handheld edition and love it.


The delorme software autoroutes within the PPC!!


Good Luck.


Faster, Better, Cheaper

Pick any two.

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I haven't seen any reports of people being able to have two way communications with the axim and a GPS. The problem is in the serial adapter Dell built into the serial cable. You can send data from the GPS to the Dell, as long as you're just trying to read the NMEA data the GPS sends out. I've had good sucess with Mapopolis, Microsoft Pocket streets and VisualGPS. I can't however get it to work with G7toCE, as the program evidently requires two way communication.


By the way, the latest upgrade to mapopolis doesn't work with the mapconverter program, which makes using it for geocaching tough. You can't enter coordinates into it......

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