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Stupid cheap backup camera system - Printable Version

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Stupid cheap backup camera system - sneaks - 05-23-2020

I have curtains in my rig (VW bus) and while mirrors are great, a little more visibility to the rear would be nice. I’ve been looking at cheap Chinese back up camera systems in Fleabay and was about to pull the trigger when shipping went from a couple of weeks to “sometime before Christmas 2021. Maybe” I put this together for $3.99 for the USB outlet. If you have a rig that has 12v in the rear, you could do this for even less. Most of us have a drawer or box at home with outdated/unused older technology, just like me, and an older vehicle without a backup camera.

part list:
Old network router (I used a Belkin W54n made in 2011, but any old WiFi G or higher will work)
At least one old smartphone with charging cable
Suction cup cell phone mount
Some 14ga wire & connectors or a ciggy plug
Free WebCam app (MiniWebCam, Webcam+, or similar)

99.99999999% of home routers are 12v with a wall wort. Clip the cable close to the wort, depending on how you are going to power it will determine what ends to put on. I’m running mine to my house system distribution blocks so I used spades but could power offa cig outlet, they only pull 0.5a. Hint - wire marked with white dashes or stripe is + terminal. Mount router someplace out of the way like under a seat, distance isn’t far so impact on signal strength negligible. Mine right now is on my sideboard, I’ll move this weekend

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load the app on cell phone. I’m using two phones - iPhone 5se for camera, 4s for viewer since I use the 4s as an iPod up front already - though could use an existing front mounted tablet as long as the app can run on both systems (will work with Android too, I tested it with an HTC Phone & A Fire tablet). Wouldn’t want to use your primary phone as it will try to use the WiFi for internet instead of cell data. Since the router is only being used for local traffic (unless you want to bridge it, which is too much work IMHO), you won’t have an internet connection on your “good phone,” which would be bad Smile. Put the camera phone in back window with suction mount. I put mine on the head banger with a telescoping mount because the 5se has a wonky charging port and didn’t want to deal with that each time I opened the hatch. Otherwise, I’d use a simple suction mount that lets the phone mount 90* to the floor of the rig and allows the rear camera to not be shrouded. I already had the mount In the junk drawer so cost was $0.00.

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Connect both devices to the WiFi, connect to power if it is going to be running for hours(my battery lasts about 6.5 hours broadcasting), start the app on back phone as the feed, front system as viewer. Done.
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Newer vehicles wit tinted factory glass (or aftermarket tint), it shouldn’t be obvious what you have going on back there, which should reduce the chance of a snatch & grab by someone with a fetish for old phonesSmile. Even with untinted glass, it really doesn’t draw attention to it.

Notes/disclaimer:
It was 88F today with full sun on the back window for several hours, phone did not overheat, cannot promise this will be the case for every phone or In Death Valley in July, but Im in Maine so it’s the best test I can do today Smile I did keep it in its Bentoben rugged ”hard duty” case, since it has served it well against damage when I used this phone daily. I’m not really concerned about vibration damage, this isn’t really any different than having it mounted up front. Depending on the app, you can set frame rate and quality several different levels. Since nothing else is on the network, mine in highest of both had no noticeable lag or clipping, though battery life at highest dropped about 20%. Since I have it set up to be plugged in all the time, I don’t care Smile. YMMV.

Side note: the bus is parked facing the driveway, I was able to connect to it with my iPad in the house this evening by joining the bus’s network and see when UPS showed up with my case of fuel filtersSmile