Google maps wristlet navigator

This on-wrist navigation system uses Google Maps and something called… paper. This is a throwback to scroll-based directions from the 1920’s and 30’s that [Simon] built. He soldered a couple of brass tubes to a brass back plate, then added sides and a face crystal. Now he prints out step by step direction from the popular mapping website and winds them onto scrolls. We’re not sure that we’d take the time to do this, but hey, at least the screen resolution is fantastic and you don’t have to worry about battery life.


  1. Jordan says:

    It’s streamlined steampunk.

  2. l33ThAXOR says:

    You dudes are posting too much. Chill out hack a day. This shitznit isn’t even hack. It’s a printout….

  3. LazyMegaMan says:

    I think it looks cool regardless of the time required to set up the print size and such.

  4. Leithoa says:

    You could speed things up by using cash register receipt printers and then add a motor to the wristlet synced to the printers feed motors so that it winds as it prints. Then a simple slider cutter when the print is done.

  5. Masta Squidge says:

    Would be perfect for use on a motorcycle.

  6. Choscura says:

    interesting idea, a nice solution to a problem that was solved with the advent of roadmaps. I’d make a joke about somebody in goggles and fingerless gloves labeling it ‘steampunk’ because they see brass in the picture, but Jordan already beat me to it.

  7. Vendeta says:

    I’m pretty sure this gadget is aimed at bikers who need directions without power and the glarey screens. I know my dad who ride his bike all across north america would love something like this. just set from start to finish and turn it in reverse to get back. I will actually email him this :P

  8. bolke says:

    Vendeta, turning back won’t work, unless left and right get turned around as well.

  9. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    Using modern technology to produce an inefficient and impractical device is kind of absurd. I like the thought process and care that went into it but seriously…. I don’t get the appeal.

  10. SomeGuy says:

    Looks like it could be expanded upon to use with e-paper or a display with the bars doing a scroll, add a usb connection and upload the text file.. then we’ve got some really cool stuff going on.

  11. Vonskippy says:

    Seems like a lot of work – it was easier for me to just get a wife and hand her the printouts. She loves telling me where to go anyways, plus she has a really sultry voice.

  12. Biker says:


    This is awesome for someone on a motorcycle. I bought a tank mounted map holder for this for 75 bucks, then printed maps and put in it.It worked,but had a few glitches. I could not change pages while riding, and after a bit in the sun the clear plastic was hard to see through. Ever try to mount and wire a gps to an older bike? What happens when you get stuck in the rain? byby GPS. Not to mention having a wire hanging off your bike even when your not using gps, and maybe your charging system is a little weak on your older bike.

    This is perfect.
    Funny when people label things absurd because it does not solve any of their problems.

  13. AK says:

    I think a cool step (at least for cars), make a simple projection HUD on your windshield. You could even scroll manually if you had to – keeping your eyes on the road and not having to focus from wrist to road constantly.

  14. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    GPS Voice fetish?

    At the vagina, make a u-turn and proceed to the nearest exit.

    The jokes, they write themselves.

  15. I love it! I print out directions all the time. I use to put in plastic sleve and tape to my gas tank on the motorcycle.

    thumbs up from me.

  16. M4CGYV3R says:

    These things are older than the internet(both the original device and the re-realized concept of it) and have no place here.

    I should fill a Pringles can with fortune cookies with one step of the directions on each fortune in order. I think it would be just as easy to use while on a motorcycle.

  17. Paul Potter says:

    Simple, effective, and very nice.

  18. Mike Szczys says:

    @l33ThAXOR: I disagree. Google Maps isn’t really meant to be used this way. So it is a hack, see?

  19. Patrick (not the right-wing one) says:

    Geez, what a bunch of small-minded fools. So it doesn’t appeal to you…why do you feel the need to crap all over someone else’s ideas? Just move along and quite being so negative.

    I think it’s a neat concept. Maybe not the best solution for a car, but would be great on a bike.

  20. Ben Wright says:

    @mike Im pretty sure google maps are ment to be printed and read. I don’t know what you do with your goggle maps?? I can see why you would go through all the trouble/ time if you were on a motorcycle. I would of just strapped an iphone in the wrist – good to go. It lookes like he re typed the directions to save paper.

  21. Patrick (not the right-wing one) says:


  22. chippy says:

    Stay on Target

  23. Ah, but what happens when the mighty google is wrong? Happenned to me once, i drove for an extra half-hour before realising it.

  24. stol24 says:

    Do you ever get bored with the OMG_THIS_IS_NO_HACK comments?
    I certainly don’t ! Guys getting trolled by HAD is priceless.!

    As for the contraption, it is just a printout holder/scroller and seems a nice one at that. It is better than having random prints floating around the seats of a car and lazy people don’t use maps.

  25. Osgeld says:

    back in my day we used to print our google maps!

    seriously how long is a typical direction list from google maps, I guess the precious generation are too good to roll up less than a foot of paper

  26. M4CGYV3R says:

    Two words: Receipt Printer.

  27. steven-x says:

    I like it. Excellent workmanship. This would be a great “instructable”. Those who don’t like it miss the point (beside the obvious motorcycle application) that things like this can inspire similar projects, or at least teach building techniques.

  28. gezepi says:

    I think it’s awesome.

  29. jeditalian says:

    well if you didn’t have a cellphone..
    if you DO happen to be one of the lucky few that own such a device, here’s an awesome hack: text message to 46645: To (your destination) From (where you want to begin) no parenthesis needed.. your destination and starting point can be: Zipcode; city, state; complete address;
    simple, practical.. you can text when you don’t have enough battery power to make a voice call, or use the internet.
    perhaps you could hack the ol’ gameboy printer up to your cell, so you could print new directions on the go :D

  30. Mr. N. Required says:

    The e-paper idea with scroll was the first thing that came to mind to me, too.
    That said, I would not want to have a large piece of metal fixed to my wrist in the event of an accident. During WWII a US watch band manufacturer came up with a stainless steel band to replace the issued canvas strap that was normally supplied on USAAF pilot’s hack watches. The reason was that in the Pacific theatre the canvas bands quickly broke due to rotting from the humidity. It turned out the steel straps were worse because they badly cut up the pilot’s wrist in a crash.

  31. jeditalian says:

    theres another thing you can do with a printer and that substance you call ‘paper': nano cheatsheets! lol i printed off one 8.5×11″ sheet of ‘paper’ full of these nano cheatsheets.. approximately the size of 2 postage stamps, or the game genie book for gameboy. i didn’t really need or use them because once you spend the time and effort making a cheat sheet the information sinks in.. distributed to the entire classroom and when the teacher found one, it looked like a little piece of paper with lines on it, but he used a magnifying glass and was like dammit and got pissed but he was cool and like nobody could read that shit anyway

  32. strider_mt2k says:

    It’s a cool project.
    Perhaps not a hack, but it didn’t make me all angry and pissy like it did some of you guys.

    Geesh you guys need thicker skins.

  33. I just have to say, good info. i’ve been looking for something like this for a while. can i subscribe somehow to new content? like email subscription or rss feed?

  34. hoopycat says:

    These sorts of things are often used for RallyMoto ( events and the like. Unlike “normal” car-based rally, motorcycles lack a passenger seat for a co-driver/navigator. This is a lot more convenient than dealing with the usual spiral-bound route book.

    This is a very nice build, and “modernizing” it with Google Maps is a very good idea. These things are easier and safer to work with than an unfamiliar nav system or printed maps when driving solo, that’s for sure.

  35. Scott says:

    This could be improved with arduino.

  36. mehville rite says:

    This is so cool! I’m glad HAD is lowering its standards so much.

    I’ve just taped two pencils together and now can write twice as much without sharpening! I’m submitting to HAD! Where’s my polaroid, Mertle?

    Oh no, wait for the followup post where I sharpen BOTH ends of the pencil and increase efficiency even more!


  37. Patrick (not the right-wing one) says:

    @mehville rite:

    If you tape two pencils together, you’ll have to use a knife to sharpen them, since they won’t fit in a pencil sharpener anymore. I recommend sharpening them before taping them together.

    Or, you could just stop being a total prick.

  38. Khordas says:

    Here’s another vote for ‘don’t be a prick’. This is better than some of the stuff that makes the grade here: buying an arduino starter kit, hooking a few prebuilt modules from sparkfun or lady ada onto it and calling it a hack. For the stated application, route finding for motorcyclists, this is pretty slick. You don’t have the spare hands free to punch buttons, it’s too damn windy to hear the sexy ‘turn here’ voice, and electronic gear is nothing but a dangerous distraction while operating a vehicle.

  39. M4CGYV3R says:


    Clearly you need to work on your pencil sharpening skills. Didn’t you read his writeup? The pencils are taped with the ends pointing opposite directions so you just sharpen one end then the other. Nice hack, mehville. Let’s see if you can do it with pens!

  40. Gottabethatguy says:

    So you don’t have spare hands free to punch buttons but you got spare hands free to work small dials with gloved fingers?

  41. Word says:

    Thank God for the invention of… GPS? lol…

  42. steven-x says:

    Ok dudes… this is starting to feel like a Mac vs PC discussion. Not every solution works for everyone. That’s called a free market for those who spent their school days drunk or high. You get to decide what works for you. And just because you don’t have a use for something does NOT mean it lacks value to others.

    As for 2 pens taped together… Been there, done that.

    I almost feel compelled to build one myself just to piss off all the complainers.

  43. gyro_john says:

    @Romeo Elhosni:

    You wrote: “can i subscribe somehow to new content? like email subscription or rss feed?”

    How I get it every day: I use iGoogle as my home page. There is a HackaDay gadget which shows me a window of the last 6 or so articles

    And if there’s an article where I really care about what all the other commenters are saying even after I’m done with the article, I can click on ‘Notify me of follow-up comments via email’ and Bob’s my uncle.

  44. mehville rite says:

    @ Patrick:

    I’m not crapping on other people’s ideas. I’m crapping on HAD for posting this as a hack. This is a hacking site. Replicating something from the ’20’s and using it exactly like it was intended is not hacking. Now, say, if this scroll was installed inside a motorcycle helmet and had a little scroll wheel you could move with your tongue, that’s a hack.

  45. Rudolph says:

    The photo appears to be sitting in his ’78 MGB, where a GPS would just be… sacrilegious.

  46. kichimi says:

    That was the first thing i thought of when i saw it. I needed something like this yesterday! Problem with my bike is not only is it older (so no GPS) but the tank is 7 litres, and not large enough to put a tank mounted map on (without making my own of course, i cant find any small enough). So i have to make do with scraps of paper and lay-by stops every 10 to 20 miles.

  47. Ramon says:

    The hack isn’t that he printed off paper, its the resurrection of a 90 year old idea and fabricating it himself. This inspired me; I only wish I had the box of brass bits that the author does. I would love to make one for myself, but now I’m trying to source the brass and design the glass window holder. Hell, he even improved upon the old invention by adding the window.

    Taking something that doesn’t exist any more, improving the design, fabricating it yourself, and making it applicable to modern life is most definitely a hack.

    If someone will criticize this post, please be so kind as to tell me where to get some brass like this. I’m not being sarcastic, I would earnestly like to know.

  48. Masta Squidge says:

    How is someone called “M4CGYV3R” talking about this being difficult to use…

    Talk about epic fail. This would be INCREDIBLY easy to use on a motorcycle. Far easier than a tank mounted pack with a map window…. The only problem is you would probably want to switch hands, as you will have your right hand on the throttle the whole time.

  49. Masta Squidge says:

    @ mehville rite

    Hacking is a very loose term and does not strictly apply to creating only new and original things that never existed before. And certainly is not limited to electronics.

    This isn’t “Invention-A-Day”. Grow up, get a life. If you don’t like it, then don’t comment on it. Because frankly you just look like an ass.

  50. davo says:

    theyve been using this in the Darkar Rally for years…

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