Installing Front & Rear Dash Cameras in C5 X7 Project

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GiveMeABreak
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Installing Front & Rear Dash Cameras in C5 X7 Project

Post by GiveMeABreak » 02 Jan 2017, 17:27

I have just installed a front and rear Dash Camera in my C5 X7 Saloon and thought I might as well take a few snaps while I’m at it and do a write up in case anyone else is feeling completely bonkers adventurous. I’ve often thought about getting one, but when I thought, hang on this is an X7, do I really want to be pulling off lots of trim and messing with the electrics…. But as it turned out, it was a pretty painless affair, once you have had a good think about routing the wiring and the power supply.

I did quite a bit of research on the project as to the right sort of camera to buy. This included many hours of reading reviews from buyers of various models. My conclusion was simply that there seemed to be as many problems with the £200 - £300 models as there were with the sub £100 offerings.

I decided on the Rexing V1P Front and Rear Camera kit. I choose this as they are a relatively popular brand in the USA and have a lot of customer reviews and useful videos of the recording quality, plus firmware upgrades and support via their website. Secondly, at £70 it was above the “I got it in my Christmas cracker”, category, but below the “We’re a known brand, so let’s charge a fortune, even though it’s the same quality” offerings.
V1P.jpg
V1P Kit.jpg
Things you need to be aware of / Consider:

Airbags
1) Never wire anything via the side headlining of the car. Many post 2001 cars have curtain airbags that deploy along the length of the passenger cabin. Should this deploy and you have routed a wire underneath the side headlining, it could act as cheese wire and cause a fatal injury. I should add, that the manual for this model actually recommended wiring the rear camera via the side headlining in the manual! I emailed them to advise them of this and they will be pulling the manual and making amendments ASAP - so result there.

Hard Wiring Kit
2) The kit comes with the standard 12V cigarette lighter adapter. This converts the 12/24V supply to 5V which is what many of the Dash cams run on. In my case, as there are 2 cameras and an optional GPS logger that can be purchased, so the adapter allows 2.5 amps to be drawn.

As I did not want any wires dangling about, I decided to purchase a hard wire kit for dash cams. As the Rexing one was not available in the UK presently, I confirmed with Rexing USA that the Nextbase kit via Amazon (also sold in Halfords for £20) would suffice and that allows 2amps to be drawn. The kit comes with a mini USB lead that plugs into the camera at one end and the other end is hard wired into the 12/24v transformer. The transformer then outputs a positive with a barrel connector and a negative ground wire.
Nextbase.jpg
Included in the pack are 2 ‘piggy back’ fuse adapters. You get the mini and standard types, so fine for PSA cars. Basically, you locate a suitable switched + fuse (20amp recommended) and extract the fuse from the fusebox in the passenger compartment, plug the fuse into the adapter, next to the 2amp fuse already supplied. You then plug the fuse adapter back into the fuse box where the 20 amp fuse was. This provides the power to the original equipment and also to the dash camera. The ground wire then goes to any suitable earth location.

Update Feb 2017:
It turns out that all the Passenger compartment 'Fusebox A' fuses are Battery +, so as I found out to my cost, if you forget to turn the camera off - a serious battery drain will occur over a few days! Having consulted the wiring diagrams, even the 30A Front Accessory socket / Cigar Lighter that is supposed to be 'Accessories +' is also permanently live, but is additionally controlled by the BSI - so the feed at the fuse is permanently on, but there is a third wire on the front accessory socket itself that is directly connected to the BSI. So that was hopeless. Finally I managed to find a 10A fuse that controls the Electrochrome Mirrors, Additional Heater Unit (Diesel) and Auto Gearbox. This is the only ignition controlled + there is on the BSI fuse box in the passenger compartment. Connected this up and bingo - the Camera Unit now fires up on engine start and turns off after about 15 seconds when the car is switched off (and it has drained the small residual charge stored in the camera battery).

Therefore, having looked again, I am going to try the 30A Cigar lighter / front 12v Accessory socket on the Passenger Compartment 'Fusebox C'. This takes the slightly smaller fuses - but the Nextbase kit already includes both types. This on the C5 X7 is Fuse number F9. This is identified as 'Accessory +' in the wiring diagram, so this should ensure the Camera is switched off when the key is taken out of the ignition.

Tools:
Dash Camera Kit
Hard Wiring Kit (optional, but used here)
Piggy back fuse adapter (if not already included in the Hard Wiring Kit)
Trim removal tools
13mm Spanner (for loosening the bolt I used for my earth)
A pair of thin nosed pliers
Coffee
A Thai Massage after the job is complete

1) To make access easier, you will need to remove the dashboard trim side panel from the passenger’s side. Very easy - use your trim removal blunt blade tool to carefully prise the edge and it will easily snap away:
Dashboard Side Trim Panel.jpg
The inside of the end dash panel trim once removed.
Removing the Dashboard Side Trim Panel.jpg
This space makes it easier to work with the fuses and to route the cables.
Dashboard Side With Panel Trim Removed.jpg
2) Open Glovebox and remove fuse box trim.
Fusebox Cover Replaced.jpg
Rear Camera
3) Retract rear blind (if raised) and carefully clean rear window of grease / dirt. Roughly position the rear camera, but do not leave any excess wire here as there is just enough to do the job using the floor route. Don’t fix the camera to the screen at this point as you’ll need to fine tune the position with the camera active later on.
Rear Camera Chosen Location.jpg
4) Start gently tucking the wiring under the back of the parcel shelf
Rear Camera Routing A2.jpg
5) Move the front passenger seat forwards to allow working room at the rear. Lower the rear passenger seat, raise the base cushion so that the seat can fully fold down. Continue routing as shown.
Rear Camera Routing B2.jpg
6) Route the wire under the trim where the seat belt housing is.
Rear Camera Routing C2.jpg
7) Continue wiring under and past the seat belt trim then down and in between the upholstery padding and the boot divider.
Rear Camera Routing D2.jpg
8) Continue routing the wire through to the bottom, where the wire should exit.
Rear Camera Routing E2.jpg
9) Once the wire is through, raise the rear seat backrest in to the upright position.
Rear Camera Routing F2.jpg
10) Now you can thread the wire under the plastic side panel trim that extends under the seat base cushion area. Picture below shows seat base tilted forward behind front passenger seat. The wiring can now be threaded under the carpet sill trim.
Rear Camera Routing K2.jpg
11) Thread the wire under the plastic sill trim.
Rear Camera Routing G2.jpg
12) Continue tucking the wire under the plastic side trim.
Rear Camera Routing H2.jpg
13) When you get to the bump stop for the rear seat base, thread the camera jack under the side trim and gently pull through from the other side of the trim after the bump stop.
Rear Camera Routing J2.jpg
14) Continue to tuck the wire in under the plastic side trim through to the front passenger sill side trim.
Rear Camera Routing L2.jpg
15) Continue to route through to front compartment under the side trim.
Rear Camera Routing M2.jpg
16) Tuck the wire under second sill trim in front passenger compartment, ensuring the wire is relatively taught so will not hang down and interfere with the front passenger seat movement.
Rear Camera Routing N2.jpg
17) Route the wire up the front passenger footwell side trim and up to the dashboard side panel area. Be careful of the metal within this area - it has sharp edges in places!
Deciding Where to Ground Transformer.jpg
18) Feed the front camera power wire through the side panel recess and along behind the tweeter trim. From there feed both the rear and front camera wires up through the ‘A’ pillar trim cushion.
Rear Camera and Front Power Wires Routed to Tweeter.jpg
19) Both wires routed to the side tweeter and up behind the ‘A’ pillar trim.
Wires Hidden Behind Tweeter and Vertical Windscreen Trim.jpg
20) Wires located behind ‘A’ pillar trim - note: there will be a section of the trim (middle to three quarters of the way up) where the wires will not go as far back into the trim. Once past this section they will continue to recess well into the trim.
Wires Routed Via Vertical Trim.jpg
21) Route the wires around the ‘A’ pillar corner and along the windscreen headlining, through to the roof console unit.
Wires Routes Via Windscreen Headlining.jpg
22) Route the wires around the trim using the rounded corners of the trim to gently recess the wires. Be aware that in the middle of the roof console trim, where the main rain sensor moulding merges, the wires will meet some resistance - DO NOT force these into the console, just tuck them in once you have passed this section. There is a ribbon cable behind here that you do not want to damage.
Wires Routed Around and Under Roof Console Trim.jpg
23) Once passed the roof console, continue to tuck under the headlining, leaving the plugs hanging where you have decided to mount the front camera.

Power Supply Connection

Behind the fuse box cover, there is a compartment which stores spare fuses and the fuse removal tool (although I found that pretty useless as there isn’t really enough room to use that for the upper fuses. I used a pair of thin nosed pliers to extract the fuse.
Reverse of Fuse Box Trim Showing Spare Fuses and Tool.jpg
24) Fuse Box A is located above the BSI (note: In a Right Hand Drive, the BSI and passenger fuses are located inside the Passenger Glovebox compartment. In a Left Hand Drive, it is in the same location, but in the Driver’s fold down storage compartment on the left)
C5 X7 Fuses.png
List of Upper Fuses in Fusebox ‘A’
C5 X7 Fuses2.png
List of Lower fuses in Fusebox ‘C’
C5 X7 Fuses3.png
25) In my case, I needed a 20 amp fuse, so decided on the upper G37 ‘Heated Front Seats’. I did not want to use the lower 20 amp fuse used by the radio and other sensitive equipment, so as to avoid any possible interference on the same circuit (although a Ferrite Core Connector was supplied with my Rexing Camera Kit). I used the pliers to extract the 20 amp fuse.

Note: By very careful NOT to pull or stress any of the BSI connectors or wires.
The BSI Showing Upper and Lower Passenger Fuse Boxes.jpg
26) The G37 fuse from Fusebox A uses the standard ATO/C fuses, so I used the large ATO/C adapter from the Nextbase Kit to insert the 20 amp fuse. There is already a 2 amp fuse inserted into the adapter (the brown fuse pictured below) - do not be tempted to pull this out, there is no need and it could be difficult to replace.
20A Power Seat Fuse Moved to Adapter.jpg
27) Using the supplied bullet connector, connect the fuse adapter to the red positive wire from the voltage converter.
Fuse Adapter Live Connector to Transformer.jpg
The voltage Converter unit
12-24V to 5V Transformer.jpg
Piggy Back Fuse and Transformer.jpg
28) Now plug the Fuse adapter into the original location of the fuse you extracted. This will supply the original circuit and provide a 2 amp protected circuit for the camera. Note: this picture was taken upside down to show you the connection - this is the upper fuse box.
Fuse Adapter Plugged into 20A Power Seat Fuse.jpg
29) Now slightly under the bolt as shown using the 13mm spanner, just enough to allow the forked connector of the black ground wire from the voltage transformer sit behind the washer, then retighten the nut. This provides a good earth.
Transformer Grounded to Bolt.jpg
30) Temporarily connect the camera up to the jacks at the headlining and ensure the unit powers on and that both cameras are working.

31) Carefully tidy any excess wire, using a few lightly applied cable ties and stow this into the fuse compartment.
Wiring Bundled Behind Fusebox Cover.jpg
32) Replace the Fusebox lid.
Fusebox Cover Replaced.jpg
33) If all is working, ensure the area of the windscreen glass where the front camera will be attached is clean. Attach the 3M pad to the plastic mount first of all. Then slide the mount into the camera recess and note the fixing position, allowing enough room for the camera to slide upwards when removing from the mount. Remove the other side of the 3M mounting pad and then attach the mount to the screen and hold for several seconds. Leave for a few minutes, before inserting the camera onto the mount. Plug in the camera and switch on.

This unit allows either the front or both cameras to be displayed on the screen at once. For now, select front camera only and then adjust the camera position by carefully turning the camera barrel switch to obtain your preferred view. Now re-engage rear the rear camera and dive into the back seat.
Front and Rear Cameras Active.jpg
34) It is important that the rear camera is mounted with the bracket as shown, otherwise the image will be upside down! Ensure you clean the mounting area thoroughly, but be careful of the heating elements.

I found that I needed to very gently bend the bracket slightly to obtain the correct angle for the C5 Saloon. I also needed to adjust it a few degrees down on the right side to get a level picture on the camera. I suggest using the long nose pliers and wrapping the metal of the bracket in some cloth, so as not to damage the bracket finish whilst bending the bracket - and be very careful as it is not that strong at the join and may break if over manipulated. I found the position just below the second heater element was ideal.

Check the position by looking into the camera display (or with the assistance of a helper). Remove the backing from the adhesive pad and attach to the mounting bracket first, then when you are happy with the location, attach the other side of the pad to the window.
Rear Camera Bracket Positioned and Attached.jpg
‘Shields up!’ Rear blind raised.
Shields Up - Rear Blind Engaged.jpg
Seeing how this pad is a bit conspicuous, I may well buy another 3M pad that has a black backing and use the bracket to cut out a template to replace this as I’m not keen on how this looks!

Rear View
Rear Camera fro Outside.jpg
Front view

Not too bad - hardly noticeable next to the rain / sunlight sensor
Front Camera Outside A2.jpg
Close Up
Oops, left the quality control sticker on!
Front Camera Outside B2.jpg
As per the manual, there is a firmware update for the V1P available that should be downloaded and applied which fixes a few bugs, but allows 64Gb & 128Gb cards to be used!

Note on SD cards:

This camera, like most, takes Micro SD SDHC Class 10 memory cards. The general consensus is Samsung cards won’t cover you for using one of their cards in a dash cam - so best avoid these. Cheaper ones may not always work.

I bought this one, product link:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00 ... UTF8&psc=1

Cost at time of writing £24.95. Has a 2 year warranty and can withstand 10,000 hours of HD video writing. Or put another way, 4 years of use, allowing for 1 hour a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That’s just over £6 a year, so not bad, plus it is temperature, water and shock proof and reads / records at about 20mbps - more than adequate for this purpose.
Sandisk Card.png
And my last tip of the day - if you’re using latex gloves as I was for this project - don’t forget to remove them before using the loo…. ouch!

I've finally managed to bolt together a video of this Dash Cam - but I've had to compress it considerable in order to get it uploaded to Youtube in under a year! The front camera is 1080p and the rear VGA res. The actual picture is very crisp and clear, anyway turn the speakers up!
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