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I've just ordered the parts for testing, and, if all goes well, I'm going to setup something similar to this video for a rearview camera solution. The video transmitter has gotten some mixed reviews, but I'll just return everything if I'm not confident that it'll be fairly reliable. For a monitor, I picked up a crazy-cheap Kindle Fire HD 7, which will replace the existing (useless) rearview mirror and be mounted to the top-center of the windshield. 

I'm planning on centering the camera up above the the rear bath window, which will allow me to easily hide the little transmitter gizmo inside the over-sink cabinet, as well as tie power for both into the nearby clearance lights circuit. The idea, of course, is to have the camera and transmitter powered up whenever my lights are on, and I plan on always having the tablet active and receiving video, when traveling. (Kindle will be mounted with one of these but will also serve as a reader while camping, since I do love my books.)

To be continued...

Edited by Ctgriffi
fixed broken link

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The only problem I see with this setup is the latency you'll experience between the camera and the display. 

 

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4 hours ago, Sigmaz said:

The only problem I see with this setup is the latency you'll experience between the camera and the display. 

 

Good point. I'll need to get a feel for that during my testing, to see if it's going to be a deal-breaker or not.

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Given how cheap off-the-shelf solutions are, why? Are you interested in the DIY aspects?

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I'm following also!!

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4 hours ago, sweetleon said:

Given how cheap off-the-shelf solutions are, why? Are you interested in the DIY aspects?

Oh, couple of reasons:

  1. Cost-wise, this isn't going to be much more than the options you mentioned, since I've already got the Kindle and plan on bringing it along for other reasons. 
  2. It's a little more "tailored" solution that should make for a cleaner installation on my rig, thanks to...
  3. A small flush-mount camera that will be centered and high enough to get a good, long look back, above my cargo carrier and assorted gear.
  4. The Wi-Fi method of transmission, which has no wires and won't require a bulky, powered receiver (something I would not be able to hide easily, given that I want a sizable video display right where the rearview mirror currently sits).
  5. The tablet itself, which offers a great quality 7" display, easy "installation" and zero wires hanging in your face (assuming the battery performs as intended).

And, like you suggested, it's just way more fun to try and come up with your own approach, something that hasn't been done a thousand times already. :D

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So, there are downsides of this solution too. Major -- no distance/parking lines/markers on the video. Latency, variable at that. Power consumption. Wifi also wants a router for the camera and the tablet to connect.

On the positive side, you could have more than one camera, and you can add/remove/ replace/upgrade parts practically on the fly.

As a dashcam, the solution has great potential. As rear view, probably not a great idea because of reliability concerns.  There are wired USB cameras, possibly compatible with the fire but 20+ feet is too long for unpowered USB.

I havent come across an acceptable solution for rear view yet. I am doing android auto if I get that far --carpentry is hard.  I actually took down the old wireless rear view camera, because of dashboard clutter. Something is needed to replace it here as well.

edit: i see some of these cameras act as a router. But those also limit the applications you can use to see the video.

Edited by neubie

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10 hours ago, neubie said:

So, there are downsides of this solution too...

Yeah, I agree about the reliability concerns; I plan on doing a lot of testing (on the bench and in the RV) before any drilling/screwing and all the permanent stuff. The guidelines are not an issue for me because I really don't want/need them—I'm just doing this for a decent view, straight out the back: a virtual rearview mirror. And, the transmitter I'm using doesn't require a router because it basically establishes an ad-hoc network between itself and the tablet, which does simplify things quite a bit, assuming it does what it was designed to do. 

So, anyway, we'll see, we'll see—maybe it'll all crash and burn. But, it might just be the ticket for me and the Warrior.

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28 minutes ago, Ctgriffi said:

Yeah, I agree about the reliability concerns; I plan on doing a lot of testing (on the bench and in the RV) before any drilling/screwing and all the permanent stuff. The guidelines are not an issue for me because I really don't want/need them—I'm just doing this for a decent view, straight out the back: a virtual rearview mirror. And, the transmitter I'm using doesn't require a router because it basically establishes an ad-hoc network between itself and the tablet, which does simplify things quite a bit, assuming it does what it was designed to do. 

So, anyway, we'll see, we'll see—maybe it'll all crash and burn. But, it might just be the ticket for me and the Warrior.

If you find a solution that is ONVIF compliant (any standard viewer can connect, or at least some sort of rstp type streaming method) with low latency then do post the details.

2.4GHz is not a reliable solution no matter whether you use this wifi or the receiver/transmitter posted by the other poster. The other common complaint is that performance severly degrades in real traffic. And thats if there arent others using similar devices near you. Congested traffic is really when this might actually come handy.

I have an adhoc solution (suffers the same reliability concern to some extent, but phones have larger antennae and are better hotspots than the camera) -- using a cheap prepaid phone, instead of a camera like this. They are better constructed, can act as DVR with internal storage, have own batteries, better cameras, some sort of LED lighting (but usually poor or no functional night vision), and the software is generally reliable and usable with any viewer. A cheap wide angle lense glued on to a prepaid phone installed inside with the lense poking out could be a great solution. Unfortunately: poor night vision.

I can do four of these to get a 360+ degrees view+DVR for basically zero cost if you use your own tablet. It serves a secondary security camera function.  Probably this hack, and a wired USB video input with decent night performance is what I will end up with.

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Most wifi cameras that I've encountered tend to work by sending their video feed up to a server in "the cloud." So unless the camera you're considering operates differently, you'll need a way for it to connect to the internet. (Also, your Kindle will need to connect.)

 

You can make your phone a wifi hotspot for that, but that can be costly unless you have an unlimited-data phone plan. And it'll introduce a fair bit of latency while the video goes from the camera to the server and then from the server back to your Kindle.

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3 hours ago, sweetleon said:

Most wifi cameras that I've encountered tend to work by sending their video feed up to a server in "the cloud." So unless the camera you're considering operates differently, you'll need a way for it to connect to the internet. (Also, your Kindle will need to connect.)

 

You can make your phone a wifi hotspot for that, but that can be costly unless you have an unlimited-data phone plan. And it'll introduce a fair bit of latency while the video goes from the camera to the server and then from the server back to your Kindle.

Nope, this works differently: take a minute to read the post or two above or, better yet, watch the video I referenced in the very first post.

Anywho... I should have the stuff in a few; will check in again in a week or two, with an update. 

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Interesting. I have a double din Pioneer Deck with wired rear view camera attached to intended for backup only but I found out that I could leave it on permanently so with wide angle lense, it serves as my rear view mirror. The rear view mirror actually not useless if you have a fresnel (sp) lense attached to the emergency exit window (in my case)

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On 8/15/2017 at 4:25 PM, sweetleon said:

Most wifi cameras that I've encountered tend to work by sending their video feed up to a server in "the cloud." So unless the camera you're considering operates differently, you'll need a way for it to connect to the internet. (Also, your Kindle will need to connect.)

 

You can make your phone a wifi hotspot for that, but that can be costly unless you have an unlimited-data phone plan. And it'll introduce a fair bit of latency while the video goes from the camera to the server and then from the server back to your Kindle.

This isnt really true (wifi to the cloud bit). The security camera firms want additional data/dollars, so they force the cloud bit on you sometimes. But as a rule, any standard wifi camera will support what is called ONVIF

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ONVIF

the cheap chinese non-standard ones will create a server accessible only to its own app. But even there a cloud shouldnt be involved.

The solution originally propose (as also noted by the poster in a reply) relies on a camera that creates its own hotspot, that the kindle will connect to.

I have been nitpicking by replying with wifi router required type of solutions. Again, no internet traffic involved.

But given that it is a motor*home*, perhaps smart plugs, cameras etc come into play too. They need internet.

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FPV used on drones has direct WIFI connection with built-in app that works with Smart phone. Some are removable 

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Finally got everything tested, installed, and in-use while driving, and I have to say that I'm pretty darn happy with it! It's not a perfect solution, but I feel like it's 1000x better than a dummy rearview mirror, pointed at the bathroom (what I used to have). I like the simple installation, the lack of major wiring headaches, and the fact that video gets piped right to my Kindle Fire HD tablet, which I like to bring along in the RV anyway. Also, since it's all fairly modular, it should be easy to replace broken components, or upgrade with new/better.

Before I get into details and photos, here's a list of what I used:

TESTING

Once I had everything on hand, I used a simple 12V power supply with a standard connector to power up the transmitter for testing indoors (transmitter is supposed to work with 9-30V, according to the specs). The camera is a separate unit, of course, and plugs straight into a handy power connector on the transmitter, so it's all daisy-chained together, and you only need to make one connection to a power source on your rig.

The video transmitter connects directly with your device (smartphone, tablet, etc) over Wi-Fi and video is displayed using an iOS or Android app. The app is barebones and kind of crap, to be honest, but it seems to do the job: I left the whole setup running for a few days and was able to receive smooth, consistent video at a distance of about 30-40 feet, with a few stud walls in between. Video quality is VGA (at best!) and the h.264 codec starts to break up pretty fast with a lot of onscreen movement... but, it's plenty of detail for me to see what's going on behind the RV, so I'm good with it. Don't plan on watching any movies with this system. :)

Some of you brought up the question of lag-time, which is a serious consideration. Here's what I experienced: at start-up, I measured lag at very close to one-half a second, which is not bad at all and very usable for my purposes. However, after a few hours, the lag-time seems to increase to close to a full second—not sure if it's a problem with the transmitter or the cheesy app, but it's not ideal when you're in traffic! Still, I figured out that a power reset of the transmitter brings you back to square one pretty quickly, which is very easy to do from the driver's seat if you've got it all wired to the clearance lights: just flick 'em off/on.

Last thing I did with testing was make sure that my fully charged Kindle (which is an Android-y platform) would successfully display the video signal for five hours straight, without dying. This is about the max drive-time that we ever do in our Warrior, so I wanted to be sure that the battery was up to the task.

INSTALLATION

  1. Drilled a hole straight through the middle of the upper center clearance light into the back of the over-sink bath cabinet. I tied the transmitter power cord into the clearance light circuit.
  2. From the inside, using the hole saw provided with the camera kit, I drilled another hole at the base of the cabinet, straight out the back of the RV.
  3. Then, I used a box cutter to cut a slightly larger, square opening in the back of the cabinet, around the camera hole, removing the luan ply and foam insulation, to make room for the camera's inner retaining ring. The camera is inserted from the inside, followed by a threaded finish ring on the outside (extra pair of hands recommended).
  4. After the camera was installed, I plugged everything together and... it worked. A few zip ties and strips of velcro were used to tidy things up, with plenty of room left for towels, etc. in the cabinet.
  5. The rearview mirror came down easily with a few screws, and I attached the suction-mount to the top of the windshield, where it holds the tablet very securely as a virtual rearview mirror.

(This post is getting too long, so I'll add some photos in the next...)

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Transmitter Kit

video-transmitter-kit.thumb.jpg.d8adfd24ec18bd93aca6e4bb88f16d1c.jpg

 

Camera Kit

camera-kit.thumb.jpg.188b3a765f1edeef74c377949e654253.jpg

 

Camera Close-Up

camera-close-up.jpg.b358b6f1a4f1b865094f86127e2720de.jpg

 

Holes Inside Cabinet

holes-cut-inside.thumb.jpg.3df1bbff6d85e714556468bf11eb0ac2.jpg

 

Camera Installed

camera-installed.jpg.9fa53764428d15fcf26769114b71aa56.jpg

 

Rearview Camera Display

virtual-rearview-mirror.jpg.9141d58bf3e6a8fb027189f10b92e208.jpg

 

A Few Thoughts

  • The camera I chose has two small jumper wires that can be clipped for add'l functionality. I cut the "blue wire" to reverse the image, to match the standard behavior of a rearview mirror.
  • If I'm being real nitpicky, I wish the camera were pointed a few degrees further down, but there's not much you can do to alter that angle when you're dealing with a flush-mount setup (other than mounting it on a different surface, of course). Still, it's not a big deal; I can see plenty.
  • In the app, you can change the transmitter SSID to whatever you wish... I went with "Warrior." ;)
Edited by Ctgriffi
so much to say

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ctgriffi,

Thanks for posting the details.

The keepers of the law and order (in the national capital, by the capitol, on the day of the great bonfire and lighting night) once commented upon the size of the tablet I was using as GPS as being too big to be legal. They suggested the grounds of objection as blocking/preventing clear view ahead.  No idea if this has a corresponding size specification in written regulation somewhere.

A phone may be a better substitute, given that camera quality isnt steller anyway.

 

I am just about done digging up in the rear quarter and plan a completely software solution of a. an app, b. the camera phone hotspot, and c. similar identical phone facing forward mounted near/under/over rear view as dual dashcam+viewer. The solution is stable, cheap,  has better resolution, but probably greater delay than the solution above. For rear view it should be fine.  Something else for folks to consider.  Android phones can be any cheap prepaid camera. An onvif dashcam app, an onvif viewer app of your choice. No real customization needed, other than mounting. And then there is this:

https://www.amazon.com/YI-Wireless-Security-Surveillance-US/dp/B016F3M7OM

great field of view,  built in sdcard recording, custom firmwares that support onvif. takes 5v input. There is a delay. Enough to make it useless for rearview.

 

 

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Nice work!

On 8/28/2017 at 8:12 PM, Ctgriffi said:

I wish the camera were pointed a few degrees further down, but there's not much you can do to alter that angle when you're dealing with a flush-mount setup

Perhaps plastic toilet shims could help. 

Alternatively, you might be able to get a "custom" angle with putty. 

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