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Old 10-16-2011, 08:22 PM   #21
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Ok, I received my camera system last Friday and played around with several temporary configurations on a 300 mile camping trip this weekend. I need some help from antenna type gurus.
The antennas which come on the 4ucam system at the link below, are pretty small and anemic.

Wireless car backup camera color monitor RV Truck Trailer Rear View Backup Wireless Camera RVCam Day & Night Vision

I needed to move them closer together, but I think that any more than 10 feet of extension cable is resulting in more dB loss than I am gaining by closing the distance between the antennas.

Can someone fill me in on the best way to get a signal boost. I am going to try the 2M antenna listed at the bottom of the page in the above link. Can someone explain the gain in a 2M? I will still need to use a 10' extension to get the antenna where it needs to be...both to hide it as well as give as clear a shot into the cab of the truck as possible.
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Old 10-18-2011, 05:24 PM   #22
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Just a quick update. I have been experimenting with antennae locations and setups. Will be trying the larger omni-directional antenna at the bottom of the page here:
Wireless car backup camera color monitor RV Truck Trailer Rear View Backup Wireless Camera RVCam Day & Night Vision

However, berfore it arrived I sought help from some wireless camera experts at a remote Control hobbyist forum here:
Please help..2.4GHz antenna/reception issues - RC-CAM Forum

They were kind enough to walk me through some really basic stuff and I ended up ordering 2 of these:

2.4 GHz 8 dBi RH Circular Polarized Patch Antenna - 4ft SMA Male Connector - HG2409PCR-SM

The windsurfer antenna experiment was a success and I think I'm on the right track toward a pretty clear wireless backup camera setup for longer Airstreams.
Stay tuned for installation steps and results, probably next week.
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Old 10-18-2011, 05:56 PM   #23
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Just curious.
Why don't you guys want to hardwire them?
That would seem to be flawless.
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Old 10-18-2011, 06:02 PM   #24
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I don't want to run all that wire and have more to connect while hitching up. I also use 2 - 3 different tow vehicles each year, so I need portability between TVs. Also, If I want more cameras in the future, for security purposes, this system is a 4 channel and just unplugs from the cig lighter, take it in the AS and plug it into a 12V power port and I'm set. If hardwire works for you, have at it. We all have different needs.

I think, once we find the correct hardware to use in an AS, there will be little trade offs, except competing equipment in the same bandwidth. Those include, older wireless land line phones, other cameras, and bluetooth equipment.
The issue with ASes is the fact that the whole thing is a pretty efficient RF reflector.
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Old 10-20-2011, 02:53 PM   #25
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Hitch camera, too?

DZN, I'm very interested in reading more about your installation. I've been close to pulling the trigger on a similar system. I've looked over the offerings at 4ucam and this site: Tadi Brothers | Backup Camera system, Wireless Backup Camera for RV and trucks

I see we pull with similar TVs.

I want to add the magnetic mount camera to the system. The additional camera will help in solo hitching and low views when backing into camping spots.

The main view will be from the IR wireless camera mounted at the center rear marker light. I'd sure like to see how you've arranged that mount. I've read that cameras mounted at the license plate level have poor night vision, since they're looking right into headlights of vehicles behind.

Please keep the posts coming, with pictures!
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Old 10-20-2011, 03:00 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by jspafford View Post
DZN, I'm very interested in reading more about your installation. I've been close to pulling the trigger on a similar system. I've looked over the offerings at 4ucam and this site: Tadi Brothers | Backup Camera system, Wireless Backup Camera for RV and trucks

I see we pull with similar TVs.

I want to add the magnetic mount camera to the system. The additional camera will help in solo hitching and low views when backing into camping spots.

The main view will be from the IR wireless camera mounted at the center rear marker light. I'd sure like to see how you've arranged that mount. I've read that cameras mounted at the license plate level have poor night vision, since they're looking right into headlights of vehicles behind.

Please keep the posts coming, with pictures!
Will do. The system I ordered is 4 channel and an additional magnet mount hitch camera can be added easily.

Since I have to have the center top section replaced at JC due to damage, they will run the wire for an antenna extension to the interior if the AS. The camera will be mounted just below the center marker and backplated before the panel is installed on the trailer. The antenna wire and power wires will run under the center marker bezel.

I will document the install with pics, if they will let me in the shop. If not, I'll shoot the finished product. It will be a couple of weeks though, my appt. at JC isn't till 11/3.
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Old 10-21-2011, 12:05 PM   #27
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Sorry about the damage you have to fix.

I plan to remove the center marker light and replace it with the camera mount. I don't know how I'll affix the camera, or if it will cover the hole left by the light. You mentioned backer panel, and that makes sense. Perhaps I could insert an aluminum backer bar through the hole, with threaded hole to bolt to. The bar could span the hole on the inside of the exterior panel. Then connect to the 12VDC wire for the light, mount the camera with the bolt, and Vulcum.

I don't know if the camera transmitter will be sufficient to send good quality data to the receiver on my dashboard. You have indicated that you will use a transmitter antenna, mounted forward on the trailer. I could also mount an antenna right at the camera location.

Will you have an auxillary receiving antenna on the van? Would the van's radio antenna work, with a split to the monitor? I think your plan to have a plug-in system for the monitor makes sense, so that you can move it to other vehicles.
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Old 10-21-2011, 12:25 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by jspafford View Post
Sorry about the damage you have to fix.

I plan to remove the center marker light and replace it with the camera mount. I don't know how I'll affix the camera, or if it will cover the hole left by the light. You mentioned backer panel, and that makes sense. Perhaps I could insert an aluminum backer bar through the hole, with threaded hole to bolt to. The bar could span the hole on the inside of the exterior panel. Then connect to the 12VDC wire for the light, mount the camera with the bolt, and Vulcum.

I don't know if the camera transmitter will be sufficient to send good quality data to the receiver on my dashboard. You have indicated that you will use a transmitter antenna, mounted forward on the trailer. I could also mount an antenna right at the camera location.

Will you have an auxillary receiving antenna on the van? Would the van's radio antenna work, with a split to the monitor? I think your plan to have a plug-in system for the monitor makes sense, so that you can move it to other vehicles.
Thanks, I'm over it...that's what insurance is for...my first claim in over 20 years on ANYTHING!
I'm not sure of the legality of eliminating a marker light. Might want to check into that. Mine will go just below the light, just far enough to prevent obstruction of the light.

The system I am getting has the transmitter internal to the camera housing with an antenna attached to the camera housing. The monitor has the receiver internal to the monitor housing with an antenna mounted on the monitor. Problem is, an AS is a HUGE RF reflector and with this setup your are trying to pass a relatively high frequency FM signal through a lot of aluminum and steel. I will remove the antenna on both units and replace with 8dB circular polorized patch antennas. I will have JC run an extension from the antenna connector (SMA) through the back wall of the AS while they have the section off. I will mount one of the directional patch antennas either inside the rear over head locker or behind the drapery valence, pointed directly down the center aisle. This eliminates 2 aluminum skins and framework from the RF reflective issue, and gives me a straight shot through only 2 panes of glass and one plexiglass pane to the dash of the truck.

The second patch antenna will be mounted somewhere in the cab of the truck facing backward. Maybe suction cupped to the rear view mirror...or back window....will have to experiment with that.

Ya know, the camers are light. I'm really not sure a backer plate is necessary, but since the panel is off, why not? I think you'd be fine just riveting the bracket to the skin, or fabricating an aluminum bracket which mounts under the center marker, if you didn't want to pierce the skin.
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Old 11-06-2011, 08:43 PM   #29
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OK I got the install all done. I'll run through each portion of the install one at a time. I did get quite a bit of help from the RC helicopter forum listed above. I am not a wireless transmission and reception expert, so the comments made are from what I learned from the folks who are....but I'll try to be accurate.
My choice of components are:

Camera and monitor: Wireless car backup camera color monitor RV Truck Trailer Rear View Backup Wireless Camera RVCam Day & Night Vision
I also picked up this for hitching up: 842T_spec

These are the additional antennae I picked up (more on this later): 2.4 GHz 8 dBi RH Circular Polarized Patch Antenna - 4ft SMA Male Connector - HG2409PCR-SM

For the camera mounting, as explained above, I had the tech at JC mount the camera and find my antenna lead behind the skin when he replaced my center section. He also ran the power leads to the center clearance light.

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And as finished:

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Old 11-06-2011, 08:51 PM   #30
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The guys at the RC forum really helped a lot with antenna choices. Here is the problem; an AS is a really good RF reflector. The camera system came with a short"stubby" antenna mounted on the camera as well as the monitor. These meant the signal had to pass through a lot of TV metal and the rear AS aluminum skin. This caused a considerable amount of picture jumping and white snowy lines on the picture.
After some experimenting with some other higher gain omni directrional antennae, I finally got the recommendation to use the ones in the previous post. The patch antenna is a directional antenna which focuses the available transmission strength forward to the directional receiving antenna in the TV.

Here's how the camera (transmitter) antenna is mounted in the rear overhead locker:

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It is simply velcro'ed onto the locker door and is pointed forward with a clear view down the AS corridor and out the front window.
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Old 11-06-2011, 08:57 PM   #31
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The receiver (monitor) antenna is mounted to a piece of aluminum plate bent into an L shape. I am just pinching it between the rear seat and headrest, so it is pointed out the rear glass of the TV.

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You could use suction cups or velcro or whatever if you prefer. However you do want to get it as close to the rear of the TV as possible, so this antenna has a clear view of the AS front window. This necessitates using a 10', 50 ohm extension coax for the antenna. This is where some experimenting is in order. Any addition to the antenna lead causes a loss in signal strength. The question becomes, is that loss less than shooting through metal. In my case the answer was, yes.
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:10 PM   #32
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The monitor is quite large. On the one had it is large enough and so crystal clear that I can determine car brand behind me at several hundred yards! On the other hand, it eats up a lot of real estate:

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Overall I am VERY happy with the results..Reception is excellent with absolutely no picture problems with signal strength. (picture jump or roll, no white snow lines).

HOWEVER, ALL 2.4 GHz cameras are susceptible to a somewhat crowded bandwidth. You will see some issues when you pass close to wireless hotspots, other cameras, older land line cordless phones and bluetooth items.

My picture goes crazy when I start the car and my phone automatically pairs with the TV. This lasts until the pair is successfully completed. (10 seconds). Also, the picture is jumpy while on a bluetooth call.

Other than that, other outside frequency issues are minor and only frequent in more highly populated areas.

The picture is certainly usable in all situations except the on board bluetooth issues above.

The only shot I have of the screen is, unfortunately, not representative of the normal quality, BUT I wanted to include it BECAUSE the cause of the blinding of the camera eye in the late afternoon sun, is the reflecting rays off of 3 Airstreams at the Terraport.....priceless.

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It does however, show the relative clarity and field of vision.

If you need a more representative pic, I can get one tomorrow.
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Old 11-07-2011, 07:29 AM   #33
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This thread makes a good case for a rearview camera of any sort, so thanks for the time & trouble.
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Old 11-07-2011, 03:09 PM   #34
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Thumbs up The new standard!

Thanks for this very thorough description, dzn, and the links. I estimate you spent about $325 for cameras and monitor, and $75 for antenna boosters, plus tax, shipping, additional antenna coax and the modifications at JC.

Did the boosters plug right into the monitor and camera? Your booster mounting position in the AS is simple and non-invasive.

Did you try mounting the TV antenna on the front console before settling on the back seat position? This looks like you didn't mount it in the van mentioned earlier in your posts. I would consider mounting it to the back window of my van with adhesive velcro.

In operation, can you use the AS camera both as a rear view for highway travel with views down the road as well as a back-up camera with closer views in the campsite? I expect there is a compromise. Can you also use the magnetic camera simultaneously when backing into a tight campsite?

Would you please comment and perhaps post a photo or two of the magnetic mount camera in use during hitching? How does it work to switch between cameras?

You've provided a valuable service to the rest of us!
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Old 11-07-2011, 05:54 PM   #35
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John, you're about right on final cost, except for tax....all net orders from out-of-state so no tax. Additionally, since I was the experiment, I had another set of antennas and some more cabling that I am not using in the final setup.

The link I provided for the "booster" (it's not a booster, but just a polarized patch directional antenna) is the correct connectors for this particular camera and monitor (SMA Male for both).

Yes I did try the patch antenna on the dash and console. It worked fine there as long as it had a clear view of the rear glass. It's 4.5" X4.5" though....pretty large to have on the dash. A little creativity could find a more discreet spot, I'm sure. The reason for my temporary positioning, and the reason it's not in my van....I get a new company car every 6 months, and of course, I try and swing a suitable TV. But everything I put in (brake controller, monitor, wiring, etc.) must be temporary and non intrusive.

I only use my van when I have to, as it's a 1500 and is overloaded with this AS. My old SOB only weighed in at 5500#.

The monitor is a 4 channel with a handy little remote. I have the hitch camera on channel 1 and the rear camera on channel 4, so, yes both can be used at the same time by a one button push to change channels on the remote.

Since I wired the power for the rear camera to the center clearance light, I can use the rear camera while driving, by switching on the running lights. With the camera adjusted so that the bottom of the field of view just clears the rear awning roll, the top of the screen is just over the horizon, so you do see whatever is behind you, all the way to the horizon. The width of the field is in excess of the width of the AS at about 10' behind the AS. Because of the curve of the rear of the AS and the protrusion of the awning roll, Items disappear from view at the bottom of the screen at a distance of about 5' from the bumper.
Everything is in focus at all distances, but it is a fish eye (wide angle) lens so it does take some getting used to. (Objects in the monitor are closer than they appear).

I would post some pics of the hitch camera....but....I took the trailer back to storage today FOR THE WINTER!!!!! Not a good day!

I could post a pic of it with just the hitch on, would that work for you? I'll do that tomorrow as I brought both cameras and monitor home.

Just another note: The backup camera is CCD chip technology, which is far superior, and more costly than CMOS.
The magnetic hitch camera is CMOS....not as clear, but fine for hitching.
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:09 PM   #36
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With the rear facing camera at that height, I assume you don't have much of an issue with glare from the headlights behind you. Have you had a chance to try it out at night with someone behind you? Do you just switch off the monitor if that's too distracting and then turn it back on when you want to check on things?
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:24 PM   #37
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I have not had an opportunity to use it at night, but others with high cameras on a variety of applications say it is fine above a line just below the level of the inside rear view mirror. Headlights are supposed to be aimed below that. I do find myself turning it off except when traffic is heavy, or I need to see something in particular.
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Old 11-08-2011, 04:14 PM   #38
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John, here's the pics of the hitch cam:

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Old 11-11-2011, 11:01 AM   #39
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That's about all I need the hitch cam to do, dzn. We're heading out this weekend to portrero county park and I'll take a long look at how I could fish that antenna wire from the marker light to the cabinet. You show that a 4' cable will reach. All other installation seems straightforward.

This will be a project for next spring, and I'll come back to this thread with my report to add to yours, dzn. thanks again for all this good info. You've saved us many hours of effort and research, and $ too!

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Old 11-11-2011, 11:38 AM   #40
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That's about all I need the hitch cam to do, dzn. We're heading out this weekend to portrero county park and I'll take a long look at how I could fish that antenna wire from the marker light to the cabinet. You show that a 4' cable will reach. All other installation seems straightforward.

This will be a project for next spring, and I'll come back to this thread with my report to add to yours, dzn. thanks again for all this good info. You've saved us many hours of effort and research, and $ too!

Spaf
It's pretty easy to get the antenna cable through. There is no inner skin up in the high rounded sections. Just go through the outer skin, poke it through the insulation and find it behind your lockers.

I have run into something else I need to report. The camera I chose above is a great camera for the application. Remote antenna capability, fantastic clarity and color, etc. THERE IS A SEALING ISSUE WITH THESE. I have been working with forum member,"Spot", on this. He has returned 2 units with fogging and moisture inside the case.
Mine fogged up the first rainy cool day. Rather than get caught up in several returns and shipping, I decided to fix it myself.
I am ABSOLUTELY certain the issue is the lack of good seal for the 12 V power and ground wires. They relied only on a pressure squeezed rubber grommet there. Elsewhere they used sealer quite well and effectively. I had to completely disassemble mine to dry it, but a new unit would need only to have sealer applied to the exterior of the lug where the wires enter the case.

I used Permatex Ultra black. Afterwards I warmed the camera to over 100* by the fireplace and then immediately went to the sink and submerged it in a stream of water. I repeated this cycle 12 times, and have no fogging nor moisture entering the case. Shouldn't have to do this with a new camera, I know, but I just couldn't find another camera with all the features and configuration I wanted.

Spot is working with the vendor re. my findings and will, I assume report back to me.
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