Camera Install PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 16 May 2010 08:45

Before I purchased the Challenger the only complaint I heard from owners was how bad the blind spots were. I normally try to back into paring spaces and was worried I may hit something if it did not have some help. My Audi S8 has backup sensors front and rear. I have become so reliant on these that I wanted something similar.

I was looking at the Mopar backup sensor kit but decided I did not want to drill holes into my new bumpers. I found this cool license plate frame camera, Boyo VTC200C.

I planned on using this in the back and connecting it to the OEM stereo. I then discovered that the video capabilities of the AV unit would not work if the vehicle was in motion. Not good if you are trying to use it as a backup camera display. So I did some more searching and found a device called a lockpick. This device intercepts the CAN message and fakes out the AV unit to think the vehicle is stationary allowing video to function at all times. This device also allows you to use 2 cameras to I purchased this unit and two license plate cameras.

Mounting the cameras

I had to drill holes in the license plates to allow the video cable to pass through them.

The camera frames came with nuts and bolts for installation. The frame has hex recesses for the bolt heads and the nuts are supposed to be installed from behind. This is to make the frames a little more theft proof. However, I could not find a way to get to the back of the bumper without removing them from the vehicle which I did not want to do. I purchased some #14 sheet metal screws with button head tamper resistant torx heads. I machined the head diameters down to 10mm on my lathe so they would fit in the hex recesses in the frames. I then simply screwed them to the stock bumper locations.

On the front bumper there is a mounting plate that spaces the front plate away from the bumper. This is required as the front bumper is not flat. The bracket screws to the bumper and the license plate then screws to the bracket. I drilled a hole on the face of this bracket to allow the video cable to pass through it and then I drilled a hole in the bottom of the bracket to accept a grommet and passed the video cable through this as well. With the way the bumper tapers you can not see the cable as it exists the bottom of the bracket.

Running the rear video cable

I performed this installation at the same time I installed my Hurst shifter and I had the center console removed from the vehicle.  It seemed like routing the video cables under this console would be easier than trying to remove the door sill plates so that was to option I choose.

It looked like the best place to install the lockpick, and therefore where the video cables would terminate, was behind the glove compartment. I removed the glove box from the vehicle. I then removed the bezel around the AV unit. This was a simple matter of pulling it straight out but man is it tight. I thought it was going to break for sure but it finally came out.

Starting at the glove compartment I routed the cable behind the AV unit  and down to the center console. I then routed it along side the console and then under the carpet at the rear of the console. It then is routed under the carpet to the passenger side rear quarter panel following an existing wiring harness. It then goes under the rear seat cushion again following the existing harness  back along the trunk floor terminating in the battery compartment.

The camera has a small length of wire that I first routed up through the square opening next license plate light. I then fished it through a vapor barrier in the rear of the trunk by the battery and plugged it into the main video cable.

Running the front video cable

This one I was worried about. I was not sure how to get through the firewall. I decided to route through the center of a plug in the firewall on the drivers side near the center of the vehicle. It come out close to the steering column. I had reservations on this but it seemed better that disrupting the grommets used by the other harnesses.

I first drilled a hole in the center of the plug. I then pushed a coat hanger through this hole from the engine side. I attached a string to the wire on the passenger compartment side and pulled half into the engine compartment. I then routed the video cable from the glove compartment behind center dash to the string. I taped the cable to his string and pulled it through the firewall plug.  I routed it over the brake vacuum booster and then followed the hood release cable. I then snaked it down the front bumper to the lower grill. I ran it behind this lower grill and had it come through right under the license plate and plugged it into the camera.

Installing the lockpick

The lockpick comes with two cables. The first is a is used to power the lockpick and contains the CAN lines to allow the lockpick to works its magic. You first have to remove the AV unit from the dash, unplug the factory cable from the AV unit, plug this into the lockpick cable, and plug the lockpick cable back into the AV Unit. The second cable has all the Video inputs. This plugs into the unused connector on the back of the AV unit.

The main lockpick cable and the video input cables were then tun into the area behind the glove box. There I mounted the lockpick with Velcro to a frame member and used tie wraps to tidy up the wiring. I had to make a video splitter to connect the two camera video cables to the single video input on the lockpick.  I made a connector for the camera power lines. The rear camera is powered by a dedicated reverse power line from the lockpick and the front camera is powered by a dedicated baby camera power line. When you switch from front to rear cameras these power lines cycle so only one camera has power at a time. This allows the use of one video input with the two cameras.

Testing and Finishing it all off

To test the system I turned the vehicle on and let the AV unit boot. First thing you notice is there are new pages on display, one named AUX and the other VES. To turn the camera on you press the UConnect button twice. This did not seem to work until the AV unit was powered for some time but finally the rear camera view came to life. Pressing the power button twice switched to the front camera. Pressing UConnect twice again turns off the camera display. Putting the vehicle in reverse causes the rear camera to be displayed automatically.

With everything working it was time to finish off the installation by replacing the glove box, radio bezel, rear seat cushion, rear trunk liner, and trunk floor liner. The console was reinstalled after the shifter install.

Last thoughts

The cameras have pretty good video quality when the engine is not running but as soon as you start the engine you can see some video artifacts. I guess there is some EMI being picked up. These are not too bad but are noticeable.

Parking close to barriers is a breeze with this system. You can adjust the camera angle to your liking. The only thing I missed was the front camera does not have a mirror image mode so when things are moving in from the right, they show up on the left in the video display. Not a real problem but it would have been nice to have this display properly.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 May 2010 15:51