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Old 09-15-2016, 05:43 PM   #1
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2016 26' Flying Cloud
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USB to run a backup camera

I've followed Greg1410's questions and the help he is getting, all helpful. Here is my situation and questions.

I want a backup camera, but am loath to drill a hole in my shinny new 26U. I can mount the camera in the back window and run a power wire through the support strut slot and find power inside, with no holes. I have a 115VAC to 12VDC gizzmo, but don't want the inverter running, as it must, to energize these sockets. There is a USB port right there, hot when the TV is plugged in and running. That particular one is difficult to reach for testing, but the USB under the dinnette seems to have 12VDC running to it, without the inverter running.

So my thought: tap the wires to the USB (back at the rear window). These seem to be about 20g wires, pretty thin. The camera draws 2 amps, but I think that is what a USB is rated.


I've looked at the owners manual wiring schematic, something I don't read especially well, but I don't find any mention of the USB ports and the circuits supporting them.

So the questions:
Is it okay to tap those wires leading to the USB for a camera?

Is there such a thing as a USB to 12VDC cord/gizzmo?

Should I get over the apprehension of drilling a hole in the AS skin (up by the rear running lights) to mount a camera there? (The height of a license plate mount seems inadequate, and it appears to require a hole in the skin too.)

Any suggestions as to the camera/monitor brand or variety to use? (I'm for certain using wireless, but there are digital and analog choices.) I've looked at Voyager, Furion, Tadi Brothers and Garmin. Each have merits and some negative reviews.

It annoys me that this is not somehow built in to the AS and/or my 2016 RAM1500, like the 7-pin plug. There is a commercial "hack" available to tap the monitor in the RAM dashboard, but I don't think I want to go there.
Thanks,
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Old 09-15-2016, 07:20 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WherryWillie View Post
I've followed Greg1410's questions and the help he is getting, all helpful. Here is my situation and questions.

I want a backup camera, but am loath to drill a hole in my shinny new 26U. I can mount the camera in the back window and run a power wire through the support strut slot and find power inside, with no holes. I have a 115VAC to 12VDC gizzmo, but don't want the inverter running, as it must, to energize these sockets. There is a USB port right there, hot when the TV is plugged in and running. That particular one is difficult to reach for testing, but the USB under the dinnette seems to have 12VDC running to it, without the inverter running.

So my thought: tap the wires to the USB (back at the rear window). These seem to be about 20g wires, pretty thin. The camera draws 2 amps, but I think that is what a USB is rated.

I've looked at the owners manual wiring schematic, something I don't read especially well, but I don't find any mention of the USB ports and the circuits supporting them.

So the questions:
Is it okay to tap those wires leading to the USB for a camera?

Is there such a thing as a USB to 12VDC cord/gizzmo?

Should I get over the apprehension of drilling a hole in the AS skin (up by the rear running lights) to mount a camera there? (The height of a license plate mount seems inadequate, and it appears to require a hole in the skin too.)

Any suggestions as to the camera/monitor brand or variety to use? (I'm for certain using wireless, but there are digital and analog choices.) I've looked at Voyager, Furion, Tadi Brothers and Garmin. Each have merits and some negative reviews.

It annoys me that this is not somehow built in to the AS and/or my 2016 RAM1500, like the 7-pin plug. There is a commercial "hack" available to tap the monitor in the RAM dashboard, but I don't think I want to go there.
Thanks,
I never drill holes in the Airstream skin when mounting a Voyager wireless rear vision system. You can easily remove the center marker light and splice into that circuit, allowing you to power the camera from your TV's running light circuit.

I also bond the camera mounting frame to the skin with 3M VHB tape and SikaFlex 221. No holes and haven't lost one yet!!
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Old 09-16-2016, 10:43 PM   #3
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That makes sense, and is much appreciated. I wonder if I might ask a further question. I think I'm going to get the Garmin and have it installed tomorrow in time for a trip starting next week. A technician at Best Buy is going to do it. Here is my question (for guiding him).
This I know: No holes in the skin. Open up the light.

But when you put it back together the wire from the camera has to pass into/through what is currently the sealed up light and fuselage.
= Do you drill a hole in the lens or the base?
= Does the wire squeeze between the red lens and the base or the base and aluminium skin?
Somehow the camera on the "outside" has to get its wire to the power on "inside" and I'm not understanding where and how that is accomplished.

FYI: I've picked out the Garmin DriveAssist 50 LMT and BC30 Camera. The monitor is GPS, camera monitor and dashcam. Comments and reviews on that choice are welcomed.
Thanks
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Old 09-16-2016, 11:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by WherryWillie View Post
That makes sense, and is much appreciated. I wonder if I might ask a further question. I think I'm going to get the Garmin and have it installed tomorrow in time for a trip starting next week. A technician at Best Buy is going to do it. Here is my question (for guiding him).
This I know: No holes in the skin. Open up the light.

But when you put it back together the wire from the camera has to pass into/through what is currently the sealed up light and fuselage.
= Do you drill a hole in the lens or the base?
= Does the wire squeeze between the red lens and the base or the base and aluminium skin?
Somehow the camera on the "outside" has to get its wire to the power on "inside" and I'm not understanding where and how that is accomplished.

FYI: I've picked out the Garmin DriveAssist 50 LMT and BC30 Camera. The monitor is GPS, camera monitor and dashcam. Comments and reviews on that choice are welcomed.
Thanks
Place a notch in the bottom of the light housing facing rearward where it meets the aluminum skin just large enough for the power cable to fit snugly. If the installer has any chops, he should certainly be able to figure out the rest.
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Old 09-17-2016, 12:37 AM   #5
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Lew, should I be considering mounting the rear-view camera below the marker lights or above. I'm thinking below to prevent glare from the lights in the camera. And cable routing would stay down and away from the lights.

Thoughts?


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Old 09-17-2016, 12:51 PM   #6
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Below us where I always place them.


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Old 09-17-2016, 01:13 PM   #7
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A couple thoughts here. I understand not wanting to make 3 little holes in the AS skin bit if done properly & sealed its a mute issue. The real issue here is that at the end of the day you want a reliable dependable camera that produces an uninterrupted wireless signal to the monitor in your TV. I did a ton of research before purchasing and having mine installed at Camping World in Ft Myers. FL. Some cameras when installed on an Airstream (I don't know about Garmin) have a very difficult time transmitting to the tow vehicle as the aluminum skin interrupts the signal between camera & monitor. The one camera that does always work is the newer Voyager Wireless Cameras. I've towed over 10K miles with my Voyager & never once lost a signal. Before haveing it installed I even went as far as buying a remote antenna that would put the signal closer to my truck but never had to install it.
The point here is make sure the camera you install is comparable with the aluminum skin, no matter where or how you install it. BTW, mine is directly below the center running light on my AS.
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Old 09-17-2016, 02:06 PM   #8
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Here is what I used https://www.rvrearviewcamera.com/. It works great. I replaced the center running light (up top) with the camera and power the camera from the 12 volt circuit that ran the light. You use your Apple or Android phone as the viewer (I have an iPhone 6). I put the network router in the cabinet above the front window and power it with the circuit that goes to the under-cabinet lighting. BTW, the guy that developed the system is an AS owner.

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Old 09-17-2016, 09:47 PM   #9
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The key word in the question was "back-up camera" suggesting that it is to be used only when backing up - not the same as a rear view camera which functions while on the highway. I have a 30' horse trailer as well as a 30' AS Classic and I solved the back up vision issue for both trailers with a wireless "Ramcam" and my iPhone. The camera has rechargeable battery and magnetic base mount - since both trailers are aluminium I had to attach a small steel plate for this (a can lid works fine on the AS - glued on to the rear bumper) The Wifi connection with my iPhone has worked pretty well and the App is straightforward and easy to use. I keep the camera in the TV and charge the battery with the USB connection. When I need to back up I just go place the camera on the plate, turn it on and my iPhone pairs with it automatically - return to the cab, mount the iPhone on the dash with one of those air-vent holders, and I am ready to manoeuvre with peace of mind and rear vision. Being portable it is also great for hitching up any trailer - I have a couple of utility trailers too. I simply mount the camera on the TV in front of the hitch - either on the deck for the 5th wheel or on the hitch for the bumper pull. It has proven a rather useful and inexpensive piece of technology.
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Old 09-17-2016, 11:01 PM   #10
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I used a WiFi webcam I had on hand and mounted it inside the trailer below and looking out through the rear window. I put a Linksys router (also on hand) in the trailer. Both of them are powered from the 12V cigarette lighter sockets near them. I use a webcam viewer app on my iPad in the cab of the truck.

The viewer app has some speed problems, it will only run at about 2 fps so I continue to search for a better app. While there are a lot of apps to choose from, the one I'm using is the only one I have found that provides the capability for left-right reversal which is needed for a proper rear view.

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Old 09-18-2016, 08:44 PM   #11
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First, thanks for the comments.
Second, here is how it has turned out. I opted for a Garmin DriverAssist that has both dashcam and rearview in addition to its GPS (for which I was looking for an up-grade). Granted I have to switch between function on the 5" screen but there was not room on my dashboard for so many dedicated components.

I bought it at Best Buy and the installation was going to be 40". Both the tech and I were blind-sided by the transmitter on the Garmin is not integral to the camera and is not an all-weather component. It is assumed to be "inside." The tech and I confirmed that the transmitter would reach the truck, but sort of gave up on what I wanted. He didn't charge me, threw in a little switch that I would need for my DIY, and sent me on my way.

So -- leaving out the details -- it is installed thus: the camera is adhered to the outside of the rear window. The cord goes "inside" at the corner of the window. Then through the window strut slot, and gets power from the purple wire leading to the USB port back by the bed. The little switch is set on the hot (red) leg of the Garmin power cord so that it can be shut off. I intend to leave it running while driving.

Third point, a comment: The back-up function is useful and works well. However, that was not the real driver in buying this. I want it while I'm driving. I want to know if there is somebody back there as I break for an exit, slow on a descent, or consider pulling over. I made a brief trial trip and it worked very well for these things. Additionally, the guide lines helped confirm that I am in fact in my lane and when I pulled into a parking lot, that my stern was out of the thorough-fare.

I really find these uses other than just backing up, the handiest. I think they increase safety and decrease stress.

Fourth, and finally, I hope AS recognizes this. This feature should be built into the new coaches and there should be a simple retro-install kit that goes on the center marker light. Just pull off the red lens and pop in a new lens with camera and transmitter plugged into the power there. I figured out how to snake these wires around, but we shouldn't have to. I regard this as a must-have safety feature and it shouldn't be that complicated to install.
Thanks,
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Old 10-02-2016, 08:52 PM   #12
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AS Friends,
I thought I might post an after-action report on this installation following a 2,500 trek to Colorado and back.
Generally this worked well, with a few "howevers" as follows.
Once you have this rearview, you'll want it nearly full time. It is especially handy when going through cities and making exits. Also a time when I rely on my GPS to point the way. It is handy to have both functions in one screen but Garmin has fumbled badly in how you switch from one to the other. In both directions you have to stab the monitor twice, at opposite corners, to go from either rearview to map or vice versa. You cannot use the "voice command" function for either change.
So just when you want both hands on the wheel you are flailing at the GPS monitor.

The other issue is a peculiar one. On two afternoons when I was on a long east-bound stretch, the camera to monitor transmission failed repeatedly. It could be reestablished by switching to GPS and back to rearview, but then it would fail again in a few minutes. I don't know if it was the heat from the sun, or the dazzling light. They were hot, cloudless afternoons. On a cloudy, cool afternoon, also east-bound, I did not have the issue. I don't know what is going on there and will be contacting Garmin with the question.

I mounted the transmitter on the inside, center of the AS on the theory that it could transmit directly through the trailer. I think this worked, because occasionally, when making a sharp turn at low speed, and the open interior "tunnel" of the AS was obstructed, the transmission failed. A switch back and forth (see above) reset the picture.

What did turn out to work well was threading the wire through the window, tapping the power to the USB plug, and placing the transmitter inside. The top of the window proved a very good location for the camera.

I had to contend with some small gas stations in South Dakota (way off the interstate) and being able to see behind my rig, to back out, made them entirely accessible.

So the two take-aways here:
A full-time rearview is really handy.
You can install one in the AS without having to drill holes or remove lights.
Thanks,
Bill
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Old 10-02-2016, 10:53 PM   #13
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So whip out those iphones etc. you are using in your setups and take and post some pics
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Old 10-11-2016, 08:36 PM   #14
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Soyboy, et al,
You have graciously prompted me into a technical feat that rivals the installation, posting pictures. Here we go.
Three shots: Window, Camera and Transmitter.

"Window" is my back window with the camera installed, center top of the window. I used Gorilla double sided which is doing well. Then the camera cord goes up to the gutter over the window, runs along the gutter and snakes "inside" at the uppper starboard corner. It is staked along the way with a few pieces of Gorilla tape. The gasket material there is young and ample to provide a seal. Maybe when it is older or brittle this won't work. I fashioned a bit of an awning over this intrusion with another chunk of Gorilla tape, to try to keep rain from following the cord through the window. It appears to have been successful, but the trip that followed the installation had very little rain to test this. But the camera stayed put.

"Camera" is detail of the camera. As far as I can tell the Garmin has no "night vision" or IR lights to assist it. This didn't seem to detract from its performance.

"Transmitter" is the inside half of the installation. Top center, through the screen you can see the camera cord has come into the space between the glass and the screen. Then it passes through the slot through which the window levers work. I'll note that the Garmin plug just fits this space. I tried a Tadi Brothers camera initially and its plug wouldn't thread through this narrow slot. There were some other issues with Tadi's that caused me to send it back (no complaints about Tadi, it might work for you). Tadi's did it all, I could have cut the cord, threaded it through, and respliced it. However, if, for example, I put this is uncovered storage or park it for an extended period I can easily tuck the camera inside the AS.

Back to the picture: So the camera cord is past the glass and throuth the slot and totally "inside." It plugs into harness with one lead going to power and the other going to the transmitter. The match-box-sized transmitter is just to the left of this picture, stuck to the aluminum just above the screen. The idea is that situated thus, it has a clear shot to the Garmin GPS monitor stuck to my TV windshield. I know this central location works, because when I make a tight corner, it is briefly interrupted. Conversely, I unhitch and drive around to the back of my AS, I get transmitted picture for about 75'.

The power lead of that harness, then threads to the hot and ground wires leading to the USB plug in the bed-side shelf. I inserted a very small switch in the hot lead. If I'm spending the night on the battery, I do shut it off. I like that the camera is on when the switch is on. I don't have to turn on my lights to have the rearview camera operating. However, the GPS reception antenna is in the GPS powercord, and it has to be hot for the reception to occur.

Some observations on this installation.
I'm a terrible handyman and I try not to do irreversible things like remove light lenses or cut holes. The only thing I had to cut was the electric wires, a pretty low risk proposition if you shut the power down.

Not a large task to uninstall this either partially or completely.

I like the location of the camera. It provides a good view and prospective. It, like most of these, is very wide-angle. So even a semi, 50' back just a spec. Having the camera down at this level helps that some, and gives a good perspective when I'm backing. That said, the wire is just a little short, and the camera is about five inches off center. However, the track lines can be custom located and you can correct for this.

I need to tidy up the interior wires a little. A plastic wire jacket might do it, maybe a putty-colored cord track. AS it is, it is tacked to the window frame, inside and out, with some clamps and is not easily dislodged. So the additional steps are just to make it look nice, it stays put and is out of the way as it is.

See previous post for the short-comings of the Garmin, but I'm okay with it and will keep it. This Garmin also has a channel for a baby monitor. As a new Grandpa, I'll be getting that for when my grandson is in the back seat.

I hope that was sufficient but not excessive. I'm pleased to answer any questions.
Thanks,
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