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Old 06-12-2012, 11:27 PM   #1
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The Camper Cam Project

We bought a new Roo and the combination of me disliking blind spots, being new to towing, and having nerd'ish tendencies with a couple of open weekends yielded the Camper Cam Project.


Lots of pics and details here: Towing Cameras - jasonsmith's Photos | SmugMug
(each image has a comment at the bottom explaining what is shown in the image)


Happy to try and answer any questions!
Jason



Parts List
From Amazon
4 Cameras: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000MCKA5Q/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i05
1 Quad Channel 7" Monitor: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006ZOEQZU/ref=oh_details_o05_s01_i00
1 Suction Cup Mount: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002K8Q0EU/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00
2 Heavy Duty 25-ft RCA Cables (for trailer): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0033SH9WI/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00
1 Heavy Duty 50-ft RCA Cable (for trailer's rear cam) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0033SH9Y6/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i04
2 Lighter Duty 25-ft RCA Cables (for truck): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002GWRXK/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i03
100 ft of 1/2" Split Loom Tubing: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0017686ZC/ref=oh_details_o05_s03_i00

From Lowes:
100' 14-guage wire (black)
100' 14-guage wire (white)
5 big rolls of electrical tape for connections and wrapping the split loom
Various steel rods, tubes, flats, and angle iron for making the brackets
Worm gear clamps to hold a couple of the cameras to their bracket
Black and white spray paint

From my garage
4 PVC connectors (1" couplers)
1 PVC connector (1" T)
3' (give or take) of 1" PVC pipe
Silicone to secure the cameras in place
PVC primer and glue to make the rear-view bracket
C-clamp for the rear-view bracket

Tools Used
Drill (drilling the plastic in the tail gate handle)
Dremmel (making the tail gate hole oblong so the camera could be angled down
Saw (cutting the various metal pieces)
Welder (welding the brackets toghether and in place)
Angle Grinder
Wire cutters/strippers for making all of the connections
Various other common household tools (screwdrivers, utility knife, etc)
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:05 AM   #2
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Nice job with that project! I've got the camera and cable for the trailer, but have been trying to figure out the connection to the tow rig. Did you just put the RCA cable inside some split loom and and empty connector, or did you solder the cable into an actual 7 pin connector? Any picts of the connection unplugged from each other?
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:13 AM   #3
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Very nice!
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Old 06-13-2012, 12:55 AM   #4
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Thank you both!

Quackor, I struggled with coming up with a way to keep the RCA ends protected/clean at the bumper of the truck and the tongue of the trailer. I thought about doing something like keeping the ends in a little project box or something similar, but never really could envision a good way to do it. I slept on it and it occurred to me that I simply needed to get 6 wires (a pair for each of the 3 RCA cables feeding the cameras on the trailer) plugged into the truck and shouldn't get bogged down with the fact that they were RCA plugs at the moment. In hindsight, the 7-way connector seems obvious… It has enough leads and is already relatively well protected from the elements.

After second guessing myself a few times (didn’t want to have to redo all of that wiring!) I cut the ends off of the 3 RCA cables at the truck’s bumper and also the 3 that I had run up to the tongue of the trailer from the cams. The 7-way connector (both male and female side) itself is completely unmodified. It was one that they sell at Lowes and once you get it apart, all of the wires are simply held in by pressure plates and screws. So I just had to make sure that I kept my pairing the same… one pair of the trailer’s former RCA cable went to screws 1 and 2 on the 7-way’s male end, and one pair of the former RCA cable on the truck end also went to screws 1 and 2 of the 7-way’s female side… screw’s 3 and 4 were paired up in the same manner as were screw’s 5 and 6.

Unfortunately (and surprisingly for me) I failed to take any pics while all of this was coming together. I hope that the explanation above helped rather than making it worse.
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Old 06-13-2012, 01:25 AM   #5
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Wow, that's the nicest rear view camera setup I've seen. Have you used it on the road and reversing yet to know if you have the angles where you want them?

For the original Ford rear camera, did you splice it so you still see the image in the rearview mirror, or is that blank now?
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Old 06-13-2012, 02:21 AM   #6
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Thanks for the explanation on the connector. Was only thinking of two wires, but with the three cameras the connector isn't overkill. Very clean install.
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:08 AM   #7
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Outstanding project, and post!!!

Thank you for the details!
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:15 AM   #8
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Well done!

A copy of this thread moved to FAQ so it will be easy for me (and maybe you! - not Jason of course) to find when I do it next year!
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:50 AM   #9
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Sweet!
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCOC View Post
Wow, that's the nicest rear view camera setup I've seen. Have you used it on the road and reversing yet to know if you have the angles where you want them?

For the original Ford rear camera, did you splice it so you still see the image in the rearview mirror, or is that blank now?

Thank you! I finished the project this past Friday afternoon before taking the camper out for our first little camping trip to a nearby lake. Honestly, there are probably some things that I will try to rectify at some point. These little cameras (I think it is going to be common to all cams marketed as "reverse cameras" are very wide angle, so there is no depth of field on them. It is very much like looking into the little convex mirrors that most of you are familiar with.... You can see lots of area, but something has to be really close to judge its distance or even be visible. That is ok on the two side cameras and the tailgate cam. The one at the back of the camper though is only so-so. I might try to find something that isn't quite so wide for back there because I would like to see what is coming up, not just what is already there!

Even the back one is still more useful than nothing, but I had slightly higher hopes for it. That was actually the main one that I wanted to do all of this for.... The tailgate was second (and is VERY useful). Since I had already decided to go with 2 cams and found the 4-channel monitor, I thought "what the heck" and went ahead and slapped the 2 side-views on. At the moment, those two are in a pretty nice angle. My thought was primarily for them to have uselfulness when in a reverse turn and one side is fully blind. I am going to need some more practice with it to judge their practicality. I noticed that I was paying more attention to my wife when I was backing up than to the cameras that I had just finished sweating over. Definitely better than nothing if I'm out doing something alone though.

Another thing that I have notice and that may not be practically solvable ($$) is that these cameras do not have a very wide dynamic range... If there is an area that is fully lit by the unobstructed sun and another area that is in shadow both in the frame, it is going to expose for whatever is taking up the majority of the frame (which it should)... If the image is mostly in shadow, the highlights are pretty well blown out (solid white) and very little detail can be made out in it. The opposite if the image is mostly brightly lit... shadow areas will be underexposed (solid black) and also hard to make out details. So not perfect, but I have to keep in mind that these were inexpensive cameras.

The tailgate cam is not OEM.... (my F-150 did not come with one.... it is a 2006, so it wasn't a popular thing back then). It is one of the same little $23 cams that I used on the trailer and installed as part of this project. I drilled through the plastic housing that frames the tailgate handle (after taking off the back panel of the tailgate to see if I would have enough room inside there to do so. I had to Dremmel out that hole into a very long oval before it was all said and done in order to get the camera at an angle that was steep enough to see the hitch. Just barely was able to get it at a high enough angle because the cameras are not very long. Wrapped it in some thick aluminum to hide the threads of the camera. I had started out with one of the little ones that mounts on top of the license plate, but the hitch ball was pretty much at the same level and the whole lack-of-depth-of-field problem was very evident. It was very hard to judge how far away the tongue of the trailer was. Looking down from where it is currently installed was MUCH better. Of the 4 cams, this was by far the most successful as far as achieving what I had hoped for.... Very very handy. Anyway, I didn't have the monitor built into the rear-view mirror like you are referring to. If I DID.... that is tough to say if I would have spliced it. Probably not. I cut exactly two wires on the truck in this project... I tapped into the 12v aux and ground that feed the original 7-way port. I used those to power the tailgate cam and since I was pulling RCA cables to the cab I went ahead and used the same 12v aux / ground to power the monitor by running a couple of power wires up front along with the video wires. I'm not incredibly familiar with auto wiring, so that just let me limit my splices and keep the truck relatively in-tact.

On the trailer side, I picked up the same 12v aux / ground from the junction box at the front of the trailer where the main cord branches out. I went ahead and ran the ground wire along with the 12v wire to all 4 cams and the monitor... no particular reason really, but that's what I did.



Quote:
Originally Posted by quackor View Post
Thanks for the explanation on the connector. Was only thinking of two wires, but with the three cameras the connector isn't overkill. Very clean install.
You're very welcome... Thanks!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fire Instructor View Post
Outstanding project, and post!!!

Thank you for the details!
Thank you!


Quote:
Originally Posted by herk7769 View Post
Well done!

A copy of this thread moved to FAQ so it will be easy for me (and maybe you! - not Jason of course) to find when I do it next year!
Thank you.... All in all, it was a fun project!


Quote:
Originally Posted by comfun1 View Post
Sweet!
Thanks!
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