Rear View Camera install, w/pics

#1
I’ve been wanting to try out a back up camera system for a while now, but it wasn’t until I saw one the other day, that I sort of had this impulse to really give it a try.

I looked around at a bunch of different systems. Including some camera/LCD combos and separate camera and LCDs. You can really spend some cash on this stuff if you want too. But the one problem I had with all of the set ups, is that I didn’t really have a place to mount the LCD, which usually was meant to go on the dash or flip down from the ceiling.

There was one set up that really caught my eye. It’s from Audiovox (The kit is Audiovox RVMPKG4) and essentially replaces your rearview mirror. Or more accurately straps over it.

The result is a large standard looking rear view mirror, when the system is turned off, and a 4.5” LCD screen in the mirror, when its turned on.

What I like most about this set up is, that there’s no LCDs in the vehicle to attracts thieves (not that I don’t enough other garbage to attract them instead) and it looks like a stock mirror at first glance. But even better, the location of the LCD is very natural, since we’re all used to looking in the rear view mirror to see what’s behind us anyway.

Set up is not super fancy, but it does have a few cool features. The LCD is a 4.5 TFT screen 480x234 resolution at 4:3 ratio. Definitely not the highest and its not widescreen, but it works. The constrast ratio is fixed at 150 to 1, but the brightness is adjustable via a dial on the mirror.

The camera is ¼” CMOS Sensor, color, same resolution as the screen with a wide viewing angle of 130 degrees. There are definitely better cameras out there, but I’m fairly happy with it. It’s pretty heavy for its size with a metal water proof housing. Minimum illumination is .3 Lux.

What’s interesting is the camera comes with a built in microphone and the mirror has a speaker, with a volume dial. This is meant to allow you to hear people or kids behind the vehicle before you back up. It actually works pretty good. For example, I could hear the exhaust turbo like whistle going down the road (bear in mind, my exhaust is stock and in good shape). Of course, it’s not meant to be used while driving and I just leave the volume down, unless I need it.

The LCD can toggle between two cameras if you have a second one. I bought a second one with the intention of mounting it up front and down low for better off road visibility, but I nixed that plan and instead mounted one camera up high on the roof rack and the other down low just above the license plate. This gives me two different, very useful rear views.

The kit is designed to come on automaticly with the reserve lights and only come on with the parking brake on…so you can’t watch the video while in motion. Of course, I didn’t wire it up that way, because I want to be able to use it while driving and especially while backing up. Instead, I wired it so that it has power with the ignition on only and then, you can toggle the on/off switch on the mirror as desired.

Pic one: Shows the two cameras mounted. One on the roof rack and one just above the license plate, under the license plate light hood.

Pic two: Shows the upper camera

Pic three: Shows the lower camera
 

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#2
Pic one: Shows the mirror/LCD with the LCD off. You can use it just like a regular rearview mirror, although it’s a tad darker than the stock mirror. It's larger than the stock mirror and actually increases rear visibility even with the LCD off.

Pic two: Shows the mirror from the side. It just straps over the front of the stock mirror, but is actually pretty secure.

Pic three: Shows the bottom and buttons. The two dial buttons on the bottom control LCD brightness and volume of the speaker. Button 1 is the power on/off toggle. Button 2 toggles between the two cameras. The speaker is on the backside of the mirror.
 

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#3
Pic one: Shows the LCD turned on inside my garage using the lower camera.

Pic two: Shows the LCD turned on with the brightness turned down slightly and my rear lights turned on, on a dark country road, using the upper camera. (so far I’ve only used it at night)

Conclusion so far….

At night, especially with the aid of street lights, the visibility to the rear is just staggering. Far better than without. On a dark road, turning on my (not so bright) rear lights and I can see as if I were looking down the road using headlights.

As far as driving at night with traffic headlights behind you, I prefer to leave the LCD off and just use the mirror, because the lights end up being too bright on dark roads. Not so bad in the city.

Backing up using the camera is much easier now. Especially when combined with the side mirrors. I could literally drive backwards without ever turning my head. The whole point of the system for me is backing up on a trail or old road and here is where it will shine the most. You still need to use the side mirrors to judge the sides of the road/trail. The wide angle of the camera and the essentially 2D view give a false depth perception, so the camera can't be used on its own to back up, but it sure makes things a lot easier and safer.

The screen and camera resolution are only OK. There are better cameras and better LCDs out there. Not sure if any of them use this mirror style or not. So far, I'm pretty happy with this set up. Its simple. Not a lot of frills, but it works. And whoever came up with the idea to mount a rear view camera LCD into the rearview mirror deserves major kudos, because it just makes perfect sense.
 

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spressomon

Expedition Leader
#8
Brian,
You're on a roll! Great idea, parts sourcing and install! That would be sooooo nice for aligning the trailer tongue by me-self!
 

Hltoppr

El Gringo Spectacular!
#10
Thanks for doing the write up. I was looking at one last weekend for the Troopy...

Please post your thoughts as to how it continues to work on the road, in inclement weather etc., too!

-H-
 
#13
Apparently, this exact model that I purchased is discontinued and has been replaced with a newer version. I'm not sure of the updates, other than duel speakers.

Here's Audiovox's website that shows all their current mirror LCD options and there is more than I realized:

http://www.audiovox.com/webapp/wcs/...&langId=-1&page=&urlString=&productId=&brand=

The bottom one would be the newer version of the one I have.

As far as inclimate weather, I drove yesterday in a major rainstorm, and once the camera lens gets wet, you're not able to see much. One thought on this is that the system is really meant for backing up, as opposed for using while driving forward and one could just clean the lens prior to backing up if needed.

The other thing is that the mic for the upper camera has quit working. I don't know if this is related to the rainstorm or a wiring issue. I haven't had time to troubleshoot. The camera is said to be waterproof, but weather resistent, whatever that means.

I've thought about moving one of the cameras inside and pointing out the back window. That way, one camera always stays clean and the window can be cleared with the window wiper.
 
#14
Thanks for the detail info. I've been looking for a setup like this for awhile. Another thing to add to the to-do list.
The newer Audiovox RVMPKG3, is much more expensive than the RVMPKG4. I just bought the Audiovox RVMPKG4 for $210 shipped.
 
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#15
Nice Brian. My 100 has a rear backup camera. I have thought about putting a camera actually on the front for hard to see places when going up over obstacles.....
 
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