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Back Up Camera Installation


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#1 LeeFaa

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 10:34 AM

I own a 2003 Gulf Stream B Touring Cruiser (Model 5230) and would like to install a back up camera system.

What is the best way to route the camera cable to the monitor?

Would a wireless camera system be a better choice?

If so, what brand would you suggest.

Thanks,

Lee
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#2 paulcarson

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 11:35 AM

I would also like to install a camera on my 2008 Winnebago Class C.

I think a wireless system would be good.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated....

Thanks,

Paul
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#3 chucknewman

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 12:27 PM

Lee and Paul,

First off, Lee welcome to the FMCA forums.

After 4 decades working with wireless (yes their has been wireless long before WiFi), I can say most of the time you are much better off with a hardwired installation -- be it audio, video, data, whatever. That doesn't mean I am anti-wireless, but that statement is based on years of both hardwire and wireless projects. And certainly video wireless offers flexibility and easier installation than hardwire, but the engineering trade-offs of speed and noise immunity, among other parameters, are considerable in many cases. OK, engineering class is over.

Very simply, you can run RG-6 cable on the roof inside split loom for protection. Most "professional" installers don't even use loom, but I am more conservative than most, because it does protect the wire/cable. You can also run RG-6 (and other cables) under the RV. I have both configurations on my coach. Where the underside cable(s) cannot be run next to the frame rails or inside a storage bay (using split loom in all occasions), I run the cable through the very durable but flexible plastic electrical conduit (at Home Depot and Lowes) for road debris protection, anchored every 2 to 3 feet. It also works well for hydraulic hose protection.

Take your time and plan the cable runs. I generally take much longer planning a job than the actual installation.

All that said, most folks will recommend wireless because it is easier to install. And most of the time the performance is acceptable for the application. That said, you need to be aware of a few pitfalls with wireless:

Some wireless video systems use 400 MHz spectrum; some use 900 MHz spectrum; some use 2400 MHz spectrum. Any of the above can and will suffer interference from time to time. And not only from another user on frequency. These devices do not have the hardware selectivity necessary to be immune from broadband radio frequency and impulse noise. So, you will have an acceptable picture most of the time, but the video will degrade sometimes. And that will happen (when it does happen), more so in urban environments -- typically when you need the camera the most.
For me, a fading or noisy video screen is a distraction from my driving.

Make sure anything wireless is not tunable. It will drift with vibration and you don't want to have to mess with a potentiometer while driving. Or anytime for that matter. Usually the more costly units are locked oscillator designs and more stable.

Literally, 6 inches of revised placement can make the difference between acceptable video and complete noise on screen. If you go wireless, mount the camera and/or transmitter where you want it, then connect the receiver unit to the video monitor or TV (depending on how you use it), and test it in various locations for a good signal before permanently mounting it.

Generally speaking, since the camera/transmitter is mounted high on the back wall, the receiver will get the best RF signal when it is mounted high in the front overhead -- if possible. This keeps the receiver away from the heavy steel of the chassis (as in under the dash), that has much more RF attenuation (reducing) capability than light weight aluminum and fiberglass. I ran into that very issue when installing a wireless tire pressuring monitoring system in my coach. Running a multi-conductor cable from the overhead cabinets (receiver location) down the window post to under the dash (computer location) took some time, but I included other cables needed for other systems at the same time, so I had to remove the various covers and fish everything through only once.

A friend of mine, with a burned out monitor, said "... I only need to see if the tow is back there from time to time." Actually, you also need to see if it has a flat tire (smoke and debris); if the tow is on fire; if someone hits it --whether they run or not; how well it tracks behind the coach -- particularly in tight turns; how close the 18 wheeler is behind you; whether you have an engine fire in your pusher; and on and on.

I don't have any particular manufacturer recommendations. I purchase on type of use and equipment specifications, so I have components from different manufactures. For the non-technical, a package system is the best choice, but that will generally get the highest prices. The best recommendation is from the tried and true, so I will differ that issue to others who have purchased various systems.
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#4 LeeFaa

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 02:53 PM

Chuck,

What great information. Thank you so much.

Lee
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#5 paulcarson

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 03:08 PM

Lee and Paul,

First off, Lee welcome to the FMCA forums.

After 4 decades working with wireless (yes their has been wireless long before WiFi), I can say most of the time you are much better off with a hardwired installation -- be it audio, video, data, whatever. That doesn't mean I am anti-wireless, but that statement is based on years of both hardwire and wireless projects. And certainly video wireless offers flexibility and easier installation than hardwire, but the engineering trade-offs of speed and noise immunity, among other parameters, are considerable in many cases. OK, engineering class is over.

Very simply, you can run RG-6 cable on the roof inside split loom for protection. Most "professional" installers don't even use loom, but I am more conservative than most, because it does protect the wire/cable. You can also run RG-6 (and other cables) under the RV. I have both configurations on my coach. Where the underside cable(s) cannot be run next to the frame rails or inside a storage bay (using split loom in all occasions), I run the cable through the very durable but flexible plastic electrical conduit (at Home Depot and Lowes) for road debris protection, anchored every 2 to 3 feet. It also works well for hydraulic hose protection.

Take your time and plan the cable runs. I generally take much longer planning a job than the actual installation.

All that said, most folks will recommend wireless because it is easier to install. And most of the time the performance is acceptable for the application. That said, you need to be aware of a few pitfalls with wireless:

Some wireless video systems use 400 MHz spectrum; some use 900 MHz spectrum; some use 2400 MHz spectrum. Any of the above can and will suffer interference from time to time. And not only from another user on frequency. These devices do not have the hardware selectivity necessary to be immune from broadband radio frequency and impulse noise. So, you will have an acceptable picture most of the time, but the video will degrade sometimes. And that will happen (when it does happen), more so in urban environments -- typically when you need the camera the most.
For me, a fading or noisy video screen is a distraction from my driving.

Make sure anything wireless is not tunable. It will drift with vibration and you don't want to have to mess with a potentiometer while driving. Or anytime for that matter. Usually the more costly units are locked oscillator designs and more stable.

Literally, 6 inches of revised placement can make the difference between acceptable video and complete noise on screen. If you go wireless, mount the camera and/or transmitter where you want it, then connect the receiver unit to the video monitor or TV (depending on how you use it), and test it in various locations for a good signal before permanently mounting it.

Generally speaking, since the camera/transmitter is mounted high on the back wall, the receiver will get the best RF signal when it is mounted high in the front overhead -- if possible. This keeps the receiver away from the heavy steel of the chassis (as in under the dash), that has much more RF attenuation (reducing) capability than light weight aluminum and fiberglass. I ran into that very issue when installing a wireless tire pressuring monitoring system in my coach. Running a multi-conductor cable from the overhead cabinets (receiver location) down the window post to under the dash (computer location) took some time, but I included other cables needed for other systems at the same time, so I had to remove the various covers and fish everything through only once.

A friend of mine, with a burned out monitor, said "... I only need to see if the tow is back there from time to time." Actually, you also need to see if it has a flat tire (smoke and debris); if the tow is on fire; if someone hits it --whether they run or not; how well it tracks behind the coach -- particularly in tight turns; how close the 18 wheeler is behind you; whether you have an engine fire in your pusher; and on and on.

I don't have any particular manufacturer recommendations. I purchase on type of use and equipment specifications, so I have components from different manufactures. For the non-technical, a package system is the best choice, but that will generally get the highest prices. The best recommendation is from the tried and true, so I will differ that issue to others who have purchased various systems.

Chuck, I really appreciate the info. Not real sure which way I will go, but your info was very detailed. Thanks again.....Paul
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#6 skyking8

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 07:25 PM

Not disrepect to the "Cable Guys" out there, but I am a fan of wireless. On my previous 5W which was about 50 feet to the cab, I used a wireless color system. On my current MH, I recently replaced the defective wired back up camera with a wireless system. Both worked great. I did both installations.

A Class C should not be a problem with wireless due to the shorter length. The only two issues would be weather proofing the camera and obtaining 12Vs. An after market box housing can be bought online for not much and 12Vs can come from wiring into one of the running lights. If you are fortunate to have a read window, then weatherproofing is not an issue. You will still need to find a DC source of power inside the rig.

Perhaps my lack of knowledge, but I have never understood why someone would point their camera at the hitch and not into rear traffic. Watching what is behind you is far more useful that the unlikely event of the hitch coming loose.
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#7 chucknewman

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 09:00 AM

skyking8,

Lee and Paul might be interested in the make and model systems you have used, if the manufacturers still are in business.

"...I have never understood why someone would point their camera at the hitch and not into rear traffic. Watching what is behind you is far more useful than the unlikely event of the hitch coming loose." I can't agree more. Plus, after you use the camera for awhile, you will know exactly where the towed is supposed to be. If it breaks away, it will suddenly lurch back and not be tracking the coach properly as the safety cables do their job. All of which will get your attention on the monitor.

Also Skyking8's point on 12 vdc is important in that you don't want to buy a system that requires 120vac. True, most of those systems have a plug in transformer that puts out DC, but many times the DC requirement for the camera or monitor is 5vdc, 9vdc, or some other voltage that the designer opted for. Unless you have 120vac outlet close to the camera and monitor location (very rare), you want to be sure you purchase equipment that will operate on 12vdc.
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#8 Tireman9

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:49 PM

I see back-up camera systems for RVs advertised for $300 to $1600.

I have a Class-C and installed a Peak/Wireless back-up camera system with 2.4 in. LCD monitor for $80.

It turns on whenever I shift to reverse and is wireless to the driver seat area. Not as big a screen as the thousand dollar units but it works for me.

You can check the auto parts web sites to locate a store near you that has the unit.

Now if you want the camera on full time you will need to run 12v power to the back of your RV but if you are only concerned when backing up this unit works just fine.
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#9 paulcarson

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 08:23 PM

I see back-up camera systems for RVs advertised for $300 to $1600.

I have a Class-C and installed a Peak/Wireless back-up camera system with 2.4 in. LCD monitor for $80.

It turns on whenever I shift to reverse and is wireless to the driver seat area. Not as big a screen as the thousand dollar units but it works for me.

You can check the auto parts web sites to locate a store near you that has the unit.

Now if you want the camera on full time you will need to run 12v power to the back of your RV but if you are only concerned when backing up this unit works just fine.

Tireman9, If I understand you correctly to get the camera to work full time all I need to do is run wire to the 12V batteries under my step? I have a VR3 system that sounds very much like your Peak. I am thinking of mounting the camera on the ladder. Thanks for your reply....Paul
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#10 skyking8

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 03:24 PM

Tireman9, If I understand you correctly to get the camera to work full time all I need to do is run wire to the 12V batteries under my step? I have a VR3 system that sounds very much like your Peak. I am thinking of mounting the camera on the ladder. Thanks for your reply....Paul

Paul,

If you run the power to any battery then it will be on 24/7 and you may not want that. But you may have inadvertently come up with an idea. For those whose electric steps retract when the door is closed, it might be possible to wire it into that system so when the step comes in and you are ready to hit the road, the camera comes on.
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#11 wolfe10

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 03:40 PM

Actually, for camera 12 VDC that is only hot when you are driving, use any "ignition hot" source.

As mentioned, the alternate is to tie into a clearance light or tail light. Negative to that is that you have to leave the lights on in order to have the camera on.

Brett
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#12 paulcarson

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 06:41 AM

Paul,

If you run the power to any battery then it will be on 24/7 and you may not want that. But you may have inadvertently come up with an idea. For those whose electric steps retract when the door is closed, it might be possible to wire it into that system so when the step comes in and you are ready to hit the road, the camera comes on.

Skyking8,
See what happens when one does not think it through completely....I did not think about the camera being on 24/7 wired to the battery. I am intrigued by the thought of the camera coming on when the steps retract. I am not sure how to wire it up to work that way. Any thoughts. By the way, THANK YOU for your service to our country!!!! 73's.....

Paul
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#13 Tireman9

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 05:23 PM

Initially I just wired to the back-up light to test the system. Since I have a C and can see out the back window (have one of those special flat lens things) plus good rearview mirrors, having the distraction of a small monitor while driving isn't needed.
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Indy 2012, and Perry & Redmond 2014

I hope to present two seminars on RV Tires & Three on Genealogy at Madison, WI  in August 2015

See my blog www.RVTireSafety.com and subscribe if you want notice of new posts.





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