Mod #12: Rear View Camera

Mod #12: Rear View Camera

Submitted on: 06/16/08

     Category: electrical
Mod Rating: 12345

(23 ratings)

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Mod Description:

Do you wonder how those guys back their RVs, whether motorhome or trailer, in to that perfect spot everyone else says can’t be done? Chances are they either a retired trucker or they have a backup camera. While there is no substitute for experience, a backup camera can help you look like the campground hero. Well, not exactly, but it is probably one of the cooler mods you can do to your RV, and is sure to arouse interest with those in awe of your backing skills.

Mod Difficulty:

Aside from assisting you with backing, they can also help if you tow a car behind your motorhome or a boat behind your 5th wheel. You will be able to see if something is wrong with your towing setup before someone pulls up next to you waving frantically and pointing to the back of your RV. And if your traveling in a caravan, you can keep tabs on the group behind if your leading the pack.

There are several features you should be aware of when selecting a backup camera. Most importantly, if you will be driving and/or backing up at night, make sure the camera you choose has night vision. This means that the camera has infrared lighting assistance, typically in the form of LEDs surrounding the lens of the camera, allowing night time vision. Also ensure the camera is waterproof. Hopefully you will always have fair weather during your travels but in the event of rain, you don’t want to ruin your camera by getting water in the internals.

Another consideration is whether you want a color or black and white capable camera. Color will provide a more realistic image and since most backup cameras have some distortion due to their wide angle lenses, the more realism the better. Mounting options include everything from an integrated housing to a simple bracket screwed to the back of your RV to a license plate bracket mount. Your choice will depend on how “clean” you want the install to look and what you want to observe behind you.

There are several options for displays including a CRT tube screen, standalone LCD flat screen, visor-mounted display, and rear-view mirror integration for tow vehicles. The most common is the standalone display since it is the easiest to install. It has a pedestal that uses Velcro to attach the base to the dash. This is very convenient but some RVs and/or tow vehicles may not have room for the standalone. In this case, the next best option is the rear-view mirror display. While a little harder to install, this option for tow vehicles works well since it is natural to look in your rear-view mirror when backing up.

Class A and class C motorhomes handle the backup camera installation a little differently. Most have an option from the factory with a display integrated in to the dash. This would the recommended way to go if you are ordering new. If not, components can be sourced to provide a clean and straightforward install. The visor-mount display can be used in both class A and class C motorhomes as an alternative but tends to not be as intuitive to look at when backing.

Connecting the camera to the display is either done by a special video cable or through a wireless connection. If you go wireless, be sure the video signal transmitter has a range of at least 100 feet, even if your trailer is only 30 feet long. A strong transmitter will ensure you get a clear picture with no interference since the signal will have to travel through and around the trailer to the tow vehicle receiver. This can be as far as 60 feet in some cases.

TipPractice in an open lot, backing up in to an empty parking space before trying to back in to a campsite. This will give you some idea of your rig reacts to small movements when using you camera. Also, your camera may require some adjustments to ensure you get the best view of the area behind you.

ModMyRV recommends these parts for this mod:
Rear View Night Vision Back Camera System for RV’S, Trucks, BUS, Trailers
Voyager Color Back-Up Camera - S028-221403
Backup Camera System w/ 4.2″ TFT LCD Color Rear View Mirror Monitor, 130° CCD Camera with Night Vision

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13 Comments For This Mod

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  1. Bob Vaughn

    I did this mod to my pickup truck…..Now my wife can stay in the house out of the way ……I can back right up to the hitch on my TT and just drop it on the ball because the monitor can be switched to view it correctly…..

  2. ModMyRV

    On my F150KR, I have the factory backup camera option with the display in the mirror. It’s kinda small but works really well for hooking up the TT. It has distance markers on each side of the display and the backup sensors beep progressively faster the closer I get. Almost foolproof. Is yours a license plate mount type? What switching are you doing?

  3. Bob Vaughn

    Believe it or not I bought this camera and monitor at WalMart for less than 100 dollars…It gets its power from the back up light….and it is wireless transmitted to the monitor which I attatched to my sun visor…I had to run a power supply line to the fuse panel on the side of my dash…It works great…

  4. McKannick

    I also did this mod to my Tundra, makes hooking up the 21′ TT a snap. When the Arrow equalizer hitch is on the truck, with the camera angled down a bit, I can see the hitch ball while backing up and can nail the hitch with only one or two tries. Also got mine from Walmart, it’s a cheap little wireless gizmo, so don’t expect too much for performance, has ’static’ and interference fairly often, but gets the hookups done in record time with minimum hassle. Wired the camera into the backup light wiring and the monitor uses the cigarette lighter plug. Find it handy in tight parking lots and so forth as well.
    I may try a second unit on the back of the TT for keeping track of traffic while towing.

  5. partero

    Another way to do this, and economical too, is to purchase a #91851-Y Color Video Camera from Harbor freight tools. This Camera comes with 80 feet of cable and at $29.95, is quite a bargain. It has reasonably good resolution, is waterproof and also has a built in microphone. It runs on 7.5 VDC, from a plug in transformer, so it is easy to use a LM317T IC voltage regulator to use your 12 VDC power to step the voltage down to 7.5 VDC. Radio Shack has this item, Catalog #: 276-1778 @ $2.29 If anyone is really interested in doing this, I will post the circuit for this. Then, to make this MOD really interesting, get a Radio Shack #15-1214 RF modulator, connect the Audio and Video to the modulator, and then connect the RF modulator to your RV’s Antenna cable, and then you can see what is in back of your RV on channel 3 on any TV in your RV! I use my 42 inch flat screen for my backup monitor!

  6. tgrshaw

    I bought one like this and it worked great until the first time it rained. The “waterproof” camera leaked. No electronic problem… but the image was foggy. I (carefully) drilled a 1/16″ hole in the bottom of the camera housing and drained the water. A few days in the sun and the fog problem was gone. It has worked well the rest of the season. It makes backing up a breeze

  7. Scott.S

    I did this mod to my 31 foot rv the hardest thing was how to run the cable of the camera to the monitor but once i fig how no problum works grat got the hole systum for 215.00 from rearview safety inc.Thanks RV Mod for this tip.

  8. mikeintn

    Heres the one from Harbor Freight
    It’s $39.99 and as described above

  9. MT-Head

    If this thing prevents one small backing collision, it paid for itself. Wife and I don’t argue about her backing directions any more and THAT may be the best thing about it! Got mine on-line from Costco.

  10. Jack

    I bought two camera, one wireless and one wired. After a very hard install the wireless reception was very poor. The wired camera didn’t work much better. I called I was told to go to Radio Shack and buy a a part. I Told them it was to be a complete system and I wanted my money back. I shipped it back to them. After a long time I got back $217. Back from a $373. Purchase. I was charged a 25% restocking fee and was charged $50.00 more than I was quoted at the time of purchase.
    Let the buyer beware.

  11. Alex Tomson

    Great camera and LCD. Bought it on ebay and UAWIFI UA3 wifi adapter form and now my RV had everything I need, back up camera and powerful wifi adapter specially made for RVs. Very happy with purchases.


  12. piercej63

    Did this mod to my Truck, adding the wireless camera to my Camper, bought the kit on Amazon with a 7 inch screen and 2 video inputs, ordered the “wireless back up camera” kit.. as well as a 2nd camera,I can switch from camera to camera in cab, also has night vision on both camera’s. kind of tricky to get it all wired up. but for less than $100 in equipement, my Rig exceeds one that can cost $800.

  13. Scott

    Just put the hf security system on my 35′ Sprinter. It came with 2 cams so I put one on the camper, and one on the bumper of the truck for hitching up, use an on-board inverter to power it up. Works like a charm. Cost 60.00$. Next mods are gonna be those awning rafter bows.

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