Mod #12: Rear View Camera
Submitted on: 06/16/08
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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.
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.
Practice 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, 130Â° CCD Camera with Night Vision