Archive for May 2015

For installing the dashcam, I largely followed the method here, except I used a USB to Mini-USB cable, with a USB power adapter in the 12V socket:

A simple, non-hardwired dash cam install (B40/A118)

First step was to attach the camera to the windshield with the included double-sided tape, and I made the mistake of putting it on the passenger side. I thought that would prevent it from blocking my view, but it also meant the SD card slot is very hard to reach, as the mirror gets in the way. I had to use a pen to push the card in and out, and ejected it across the car a couple of times. Hence, the best solution was to leave it in permanently, and use the USB cable to copy videos off to my laptop on the few occasions when I need to download one.

Next step was to remove the cover over the windshield pillar. As mentioned in the linked post, you can just grab it in the middle and carefully pull it away. It’s attached more solidly at the bottom, but can be pulled out. Then it hangs from the pillar by a plastic cable, and I just moved it aside rather than disconnect that.

That done, I used a piece of plastic to push the cable into the roof of the car–there’s a hole behind the mirror which is just about the right size for the cable to go through–and along until it reached the pillar. Then dropped it down the hole between the speaker and pillar, and pulled it out into the passenger footwell through one of the holes at the bottom.

Cable installed down pillar.

About half the pillar is taken up by the side curtain airbag, and I didn’t want to risk having the cable interfere with that if it went off. So I used cable ties to attach it to the existing wiring that runs down the pillar. I managed to drop one of the cable ties and it fell down behind the airbag, but fortunately, after I poked it a couple of times, it fell down further until I was able to pull it out.

To reattach the cover, just push it back in at the bottom, then push the sides back into the pillar. Just be careful that the sides go inside the weather stripping on the door frame and not outside. I got a couple of inches at the bottom outside the weather stripping, and had to pull it out again.

Plug into centre console

Dashcam plug

I used the cable clips which came with the camera to run the cable across beneath the glove box, but that’s not really ideal, since there’s not much clearance for passengers’ feet, and they could easily kick it away. I think I’ll have to tape it up.

Then I ended up with about six inches of the ten foot cable left over to plug into the power socket. Just about enough to comfortably plug it into the laptop when I need to.

Dashcam on the windshield

After that, all I had left to do was attach the cable cover. The base was already stuck to the windshield, but the cover was difficult to fit as I’d left too much slack in the cable to the camera, and had to carefully push it in until the cover would actually fit. Since I don’t plan to detach the camera at any point, I should have only left enough cable up there to reach it, and the cover would have fit more easily.

Bought one of these, too, to record some of the crazy stuff the local drivers do around town:

I-Max 1.5″ LCD A118C Dash Cam

It installs easily, using double-sided tape to attach the camera and cable cover to the windshield. It then looks like a pre-installed camera to anyone outside the car, but I still have to hide the wires. I’m going to run a USB cable down to the power socket and used a USB power adapter there, so I don’t have to remove the SD card to get video off the camera, I can just plug it into my laptop and read the files directly.

This is the capacitor model, so there are no worries about the battery wearing out, but it takes a few seconds to start up. It beeps and starts recording before I’ve put on my driving glasses and shifted into drive, so not a big deal. The only real downside is that it doesn’t support parking mode, if someone hits the car in a parking lot.

I installed a Sandisk Ultra 64GB SD card, even though the manufacture claims it only supports 32GB. It was a bit tricky, as the camera initially rejected the card, but when I found the Format option hidden away in the menus I formatted it in the camera and it’s working fine so far. I just haven’t verified that it rolls over and deletes old files when it gets full.

Video images are pretty good in daylight. I haven’t tried it at night yet.

Note that I took this image the first day I had the camera installed, before I realized there’s a protective plastic film over the lens. Removing that eliminated the slight blurriness in places on the image:

Driving along the road

Scaled down video frame capture

Next exercise after I complete the wiring will be figuring out how to install another one at the rear for the moronic tailgaters. There’s a power socket, but, since the camera is attached directly to the windshield, it will either be pointed too low down at the back, or on top of the heated glass elements. There is quite a lot of adjustment on the lens, but I’ve got some thinking to do there.

Bought one of these recently, though I haven’t had much time to fly it yet. One problem I’ve had is that VLC on Linux won’t play the video files correctly from the SD card; I found this page which has a script to transcode and rescale them from their weird aspect ratio, and the files play fine afterwards:

Recoding H107D Videos

However, I did have to replace ‘ffmpeg’ with ‘avconv’ in the script, as it seems Mint no longer ships with ffmpeg, but uses a fork of the code.