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Hacking the Magellan RoadMate 360 @ Floodgap Department of Hacking
Welcome to the Floodgap Dept. O'Hacking page on the Thales-Magellan RM360,
Magellan's consumer automotive Global Positioning System
(GPS) unit. In this mini-exposé, we'll
look at some frequently asked questions from people unfamiliar with the unit,
offer some tips and tricks for getting the most out of it,
and finally gut it from inside and out by
examining its firmware internals and looking at the motherboard. Keep in
mind that some of the operations detailed on this site could
damage your unit. You use the suggestions offered
on this site at your own risk.
Some of the tips and suggestions offered here are broadly applicable to the
RM360's siblings, the RM300, RM700, RM760, RM800 and RM860. However, look at
the manual first if you're not sure.
Done your own hacking on the RM360? Have other suggestions or tips you've
figured out? Send them to me at email@example.com. Do not send
me E-mail asking for firmware or updates -- I don't have any updates,
am unwilling to risk legal action by offering copies of the current firmware.
Any such requests will be ignored. Nothing personal.
This site was last updated 31 January 2008, when I added new information
on the internal memory contents, analysis of the formatting process,
information on the "mute 360" problem, and noted that the product is now
What is the RoadMate 360?
The RoadMate 360, along with the RoadMate 300, represents the low end of
Thales-Magellan's range of automotive GPS products. Using a combination of
GPS and WAAS signaling and its preloaded USA/Canada road atlas, it offers
navigational data, trip tracking and route planning at low cost. Although
lacking the additional trappings of more expensive units, the RM360 offers
solid navigational performance and detailed street-level maps
for one of the lowest prices of any consumer car GPS package.
Here is an
indepth review from gpsinformation.net.
The RoadMate 360 was discontinued in January 2008 and is listed as a
You sound like a commercial. Do you work for Thales-Magellan?
No, I'm just a satisfied customer. Although my day job has nothing to do
with it, one of my abiding passions is roadgeeking and roadgeeks depend on GPS for navigating
all those old alignments and having some idea where the sam heck we are.
So far, my biggest trip was along US Highway 6 in 2006, the longest continuous highway
in America stretching from the Sierra Nevada mountains in Bishop, CA all
the way to the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown, MA (3,205 miles). The RM360
performed admirably from sea to shining sea, plus up to Maine,
down the Appalachians to
Georgia, and back more or
less along old US Highway 80 (represented by modern US 80,
I-20, I-10 and I-8) to Southern California for a total trip mileage of
9,622 miles. Not bad for a couple of hundred
bucks. The picture on the left is the RM360, myself, my Nikon and my Saturn
near Mount Wheeler on US 6 a few miles or so from the Nevada-Utah border.
I also make regular trips to the California Bay Area, and am notorious for
my US Highway 395 research (Hesperia, CA to the
Canadian border), so you can imagine how much of a workout the unit gets.
Thus, when other people tell you this, that or the other thing about a
particular unit, be sure to ask those of us who literally drive across the
country and back which ones they prefer. That's the mark of a real road test.
How good is the GPS?
Very good for its price and consumer range.
First, keep in mind the limitations of current civilian GPS
technology, i.e., 15 meters; this shrinks to 3 meters when augmenting GPS with
WAAS signaling (the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System for civil aviation),
but WAAS isn't available everywhere, and that's still 10 feet
in either direction. Nevertheless, the RM360 has a 12-channel satellite
receiver to ensure that it makes the most of these facilities. While a
under a worst-case scenario can take 10-15 minutes to acquire, most of my locks
were up within a minute or two from a cold start, and as fast as fifteen
seconds from a warm one where the satellite perspective hadn't moved much.
In addition, the limits of GPS/WAAS can be overcome with good software and
this is where the RM360 particularly stood out. To stress-test it after I
bought it, I took it up and down a local frontage road next to one of the
local Interstates that was probably five or six feet from the freeway shoulder
at its narrowest. The RM360's lock-on-road algorithm ensured that it never
wavered. In fact, it took the combination of passing under a bridge near an
on-ramp to the freeway into a recently realigned section of road for the
lock-on to flop to the freeway, it only did this about half the time, and it
recorrected itself within seconds. If I had a route pending, it never
recalculated it until it was sure the road had changed.
In addition to this promising maiden run, across the entire country it
provided flawlessly accurate coordinates and road routings and navigated me
effortlessly from the main road to hotels, gas stations and friends and
family's addresses all as advertised. The only place it had any trouble keeping
a lock was in some of the densely forested areas of Connecticut and California
(the Redwood Highway was somewhat back and forth) and obviously
in long tunnels, but can you blame it?
Look at the screenshot to the right for an example of the compass,
coordinate and exit information, taken on my namesake road (an old alignment
of the now-defunct US 466) off modern CA 58 between Tehachapi and Mojave in
the California desert.
How current are the maps?
The maps are officially Q1 2005, based off NAVTEQ data. So far there has been
no update offered for RM360 users, although future SD card maps might be
compatible with it; however, I would not buy an RM360 with that expectation.
Some user opinions of the unit have panned it for not having particular
streets in its
database. This is invariably incorrect; you just have to be exacting about
spelling, spaces and (where occurring) directional prefixes. For example, it
does distinguish between Washington St and E Washington St (a real life
example). Also, people run street names together, or add spaces where there
aren't any. This is unfortunately not very helpful when one doesn't know the
area and prevailing signage is actually wrong (something I personally
experienced), but I hardly think this is the maps' fault. It is also mitigated
by having a database of cities for streets, and a "smart entry" feature which
minimizes the amount of data entry and thus potential mistakes
by matching partial names for you. I might also point out that during the
entire trip (a month and 9,622 total miles), it happened exactly twice, I
was able to figure out what happened, and so far it has not happened since.
In Canada, the maps are adequate but not as good as in the States. While most
roads are marked, some of the signed side roads in British Columbia, for
example, did not appear (and those that did appear did not always appear with
their given name). This is obviously a NAVTEQ fault, not a Thales-Magellan
fault, but it is worth keeping in mind if you are routing to obscure
destinations in our neighbour up north.
I just bought this on eBay and it doesn't make any sound. What do I do?
The internal memory was formatted. This is a catastrophic occurrence and
the most common E-mail message I get asking for help. Look under Bugs on the
Tips and Tricks page for some background.
Before buying an RM360
on eBay, make sure that it comes with the original Magellan SD map card and
not a blank one, and make sure that the original owner did not
format it! A formatted unit will not speak or make sounds.
Because the RM360 is a discontinued device, Magellan WILL NOT FIX THIS.
If you want to attempt a reflash, see the Hacking
(related) Is there a firmware update?
The original firmware version was 1.76. An update to
What other features does it have?
Well, frankly, not a lot. It has a map, it has a GPS receiver,
and it gets you from point A to point B. That's about it. Oh, and the
screen is pretty nice too.
What about playing MP3s, connecting to my computer, any of that?
No, nothing. Although some of its bigger relatives do have music, image and
entertainment capabilities, the RM360 doesn't. It also doesn't acquire traffic
data, doesn't have a true 3D trip viewer,
doesn't provide coordinates over USB, doesn't offer computer-based
trip planning (neither for Macs nor Windows), and doesn't have an
internal battery. Furthermore, the CPU is fairly slow compared to other
units in its price range (such as the Garmins), and Thales-Magellan seems to
be in no hurry to offer any updates for its maps or firmware (and even if
they did, they would likely not offer them for Macintosh owners such as
So why bother?
When you get right down to it, you buy a GPS based on the strength of its
navigation, not on the bells and whistles. I considered several units when
I was making my choice, including the Garmin StreetPilot series and the
Lowrance iWays, but I chose the RM360 because it gave me more navigational
information than the StreetPilot c series,
it was considerably more accurate than
the iWay series which seemed to suffer from poorer lock-on and routing
algorithms, and it was priced much less than the high-end prosumer models
which offered faster performance and more features, but no additional
benefit in accuracy and a price that was nearly triple.
Although I will definitely not say that the RM360 will satisfy
everyone, the point of this page is not only to advocate it, but to also
show some ways that you can get more out of it. With that information and
a good understanding of what GPS can do for you, the motorist, I think you
will come to the same conclusion I did that the RM360 is a sweet-spot in
bang for the buck.
First, read your manual, drive around the block a few times, and become
familiar with how your RM360 works. Then,
You might also inquire of the GPS hackers at
Magellan RoadMate AIO Forum, or look at some of the RM360's family
members at GPSInformation.net.
- Look at some Tips and Tricks (and some
- Figure out how to hack into the
filesystem and operating system.
- Get down and dirty and
crack the unit open with my quick'n'dirty
disassembly. Also includes how to fix a broken power connector pin, a very
common problem with this line, which is reported to me will also work for the
- Finally, see what else there is at