Before ever thinking about having a reverse camera, I drove my previous car for nearly 10 years without even having reverse or front sensors. Except for a few light scratches, I never felt the need to have any additional ‘gadgets’, until I purchased a brand new car fitted with a whole set of sensors. It was a complete change and reversing the car became even more fun (well, I won’t lie but the car got scratched only 1 week after its purchase). No need to make fun of me, because I believe that a vehicle without a scratch, is comparable to those lying in the showrooms, barely with a few kms on the counter. After a few more scratches (yes!), I decided to buy a reverse camera.
If you have a good amount of bucks to invest, you might probably consider buying one of the latest multimedia players with built in wifi, maps, mp3, high quality screen and a reverse camera. Prices might usually vary from Rs 8,000 up to Rs 25,000 on average. If you are in this category of people, just get into a electronics / gadgets shop and order one. The guys will even install the device for you. Meanwhile, click here to read other posts in my blog.
However, if you have less than Rs 3,500 in your pocket and you still want a reverse camera, continue reading below… Even better, I can get you a complete kit for half that price, let’s say an average of Rs 1, 500 for a decent set of camera and screen!
So, continue reading….
Making a choice
For days, I documented about the different types of cameras and other technical aspects one should know. Briefly, there are 2 types of sensors used in cameras
- CMOS – Cheaper
- CCD – Much better quality and obviously, the one you should buy!
A stand-alone monitor on the dashboard or a monitor in the rear view mirror? I took quite some time to take a decision but I finally opted for a monitor on the dashboard itself. If I hadn’t already a dashcam installed, I would have probably purchased a rear view mirror with a built in monitor and dashcam. So, it’s your choice.
Next, other aspects to look for
- Camera angle
Always look for one with a wide angle for better coverage of the back of your vehicle
- Performance in low light
Better high quality cameras produce good results at night while some cameras come with LEDs which automatically switch on in low light
- Mirrored image
This is important because it ensures that you are viewing a live video with the correct point of view
- Automatic switching on when gear is put in reverse
If you buy a camera or a monitor which needs to be switch on at a push of a button, believe me, you won’t remember to switch them on after 2 days.
- Wired / Wireless
While wireless cameras are much easy to install, they are not recommended because the quality of the image might get disrupted with communication / transmission frequencies. A wired camera is much preferred.
- Guidelines on the screen to easily spot if you are reversing the vehicle correctly
Where can I get a good deal?
I have been around several shops in the island and the prices for a complete kit (camera, monitor, wires) start as from Rs 2,500. And in most cases, you don’t even know if whether they are good CCD sensors or whether they provide good results! Additionally, you should also cater for installation costs ( Rs 500 to Rs 1000).
As I mentioned earlier, if you are more adventurous and you want to have some fun, you can get a very good complete kit for only Rs 1, 500 on eBay, Amazon or AliExpress. Once again, the price difference between purchases made online vs local shops is huge! They practically make 100% profit!!!
A very interesting advantage is that you can choose a camera mount for the exact model of your vehicle. No need to drill holes or glue the camera, it will fit exactly in slots already present. And if you have a couple of hours to spare, you can even install the camera by yourself and save those installation costs.
As a complete novice, it took me some 5 hours to get everything working in my car (and a few screws left behind).
How to install the kit yourself?
Although I initially sought the help of a friend to explain how to connect the wires, the process isn’t that difficult. It sure takes time but you get to know your vehicle much better, especially when you need to remove each piece of plastic covers to see how to pass the wires lol. A large amount of tutorials are available on the net to explain the steps from A to Z. Some of these tutorials even show you how to remove the covers and do the wiring for specific car models!
To sum up the wiring procedures, there’s only one power source for both the camera and the monitor. These 2 devices are powered up when you switch on to the reverse gear. Thus, a positive end of the wiring kit is connected to the white reverse lights at the back of your vehicle. The other end of the wiring kit can either be connected to the chassis of the vehicle or even to the negative terminal of the reverse lights. However, some camera kits might have 2 separate power sources for the camera and the monitor. While the power cable is usually black in color, a yellow cable carries the video signal from the camera to the monitor.
Take measurements for camera slots
I always learn from my mistakes and I always grab the opportunity to use my blog in order to share my experience to prevent the same mishap for others. For this reason, I advise you to take your time when choosing the camera casing. If you are purchasing online, you have good chances to get the exact model for your vehicle. Unfortunately, the camera casing did not fit my vehicle (despite the product description said so) and I had to use my Mac Gyver skills to fix the camera. The seller did apologize and sent back another cover but since the camera was already securely fixed, I did not install the new camera housing cover.
I don’t mean to scare you but you should not be frightened to break anything or end up blowing any fuses. In fact, some months ago, all interior lights in my car stopped working after I tried to change the bulbs to LED ones. After digging the internet and manuals, I finally located the blown up fuse and replaced it with a spare one available on the board itself. For this reason, as a precautionary measure, I purchased a set of fuses just in case they might come handy.
Fortunately, the installation process of the camera kit went smoothly.
You should also buy a set of straps like the one in the picture above. It allows you to securely and easily attach the wires to existing cables. Do not strap the wires altogether until you are sure that the installation is nearly completed. You might find the need to undo everything if ever you are short of the cable, even by a few centimeters. This happened to me but this did not make me lose hope.
Reversing the vehicle will never be the same again
Now that you have a (working) camera kit, you might feel possessing some super powers whenever you need to put your vehicle in reverse gear. However, I highly recommend you to check for the surroundings, more specially on the sides of the vehicle. If you rely solely on your monitor screen, you might ignore other hazards around your car and eventually end up banging the side of the car to a wall or a pole. Remember, you have a camera only at the rear of your vehicle, not on the sides. However, if you really want to have several cameras around your vehicles, you will be glad to know that this is totally feasible and on top of buying a few additional cameras, you will need another device which will merge the video signals before broadcasting them to your monitor. Anyway, I don’t have any plans to grab such setup for now.
The most important thing is that at the end of the day, my camera kit was working flawlessly and it had cost me roughly Rs 1,600 only! Yay!
If you have any questions, please use the comments section. I will gladly reply as far as possible. Also, if you have any experience or tips for the installation process or the camera kit, please share.
Thanks for reading!