Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Even The Simple Repairs: Replace Your Tired Wireless Backup Camera

    A while ago (years, actually!) I added a wireless back-up camera and 7" screen to my RV. It lasted a long time, but recently I noticed some additional static creeping into the picture and sometimes it wouldn't come on at all. The screen was working fine, but the camera wasn't. On closer inspection, the camera was filled (almost) with water. Guess the "waterproofing" didn't last. Hmmm...What to do. I had gotten a really good deal on the system and the screen was beautiful and mounted in the perfect place. Surely, I could simply get a replacement camera from the company. Nope. Now what?

The Transmitter
My system was made as a set, so the camera frequency and the monitor frequency match. Was it even possible to get a new camera with the same frequency and just replace it? Luckily, I had a couple of extra cameras lying around(!) to test. Nope. None of them worked with the screen. Back to the drawing board. Fortunately, the original, now not working, system had a separate transmitter that was not attached to the camera. It had proprietary connectors leading to the camera but I believed I could wire a NON-wireless backup camera into the existing transmitter. It SHOULD work. So, I carefully cut the wires leading from the old camera to the existing transmitter and wired in the new one. Success!! I had a picture.

Now I had to remove the old camera and figure out how to wire in the new one. I remembered that it was REALLY difficult to fish the wires through the first time, so I tried to keep as many old wires as possible. That didn't work. I ended up putting the new camera on the back of the RV and running its wires through the existing hole. Of course, the camera isn't as wide of an angle, so it had to be placed differently to give me a reasonable view of the back bumper. I mostly use it to see if I am going to hit something when backing up! That would be bad.

Leave The Tape On Until The Adhesive Cures!!
On my RV, there was no easy way to power the camera from the inside. I wanted to have it powered by the chassis battery rather than the house batteries, so power had to come from someplace on the rear of the RV. After a lot of searching I ultimately tapped into the wiring for one of the clearance lights in the center. Not a perfect solution as they tend to get a bit low in voltage. Later on I found that they are all wired in a "daisy-chain" fashion that reduces the voltage across all the lights (and now the camera as well.) Replacing them with LEDs will likely solve that issue as they are much lower in power consumption. (But that's for another article!)

See The Double Lines
So now I have a newer camera working with my older display. Everything is fine, but the new camera puts its own backup lines on the screen and the screen does its own. A little bit confusing...but workable for now. I had to remove the old camera and sealant from where it was installed and find a spot for the new one. Helpful Hint: Use TAPE to position the camera BEFORE drilling holes or using adhesive!!! I was lucky, I could see my 7" display through the back window of the RV, so positioning the camera was MUCH easier. After I figured out where it was to be placed, I affixed it with a silicone adhesive. Letting it fully cure before removing the tape.

I am so glad I managed to get this done before my last trip. I was towing a trailer. It's REALLY nice to be able to see how the trailer is doing in the rear view display. Both when backing up and while underway. Not to mention how much easier it is to hitch it up when you can SEE the distance to the hitch! I highly recommend having some kind of a backup camera system.

Be Seeing You... Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

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