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Dashboard Camera Install

Got my Blackvue DR400G-HD camera installed today at TM Dania. I would have done it myself (did it on my Range Rover) but the trim is actually much tighter on the S than the RR and so thought I'd better get some help from someone who knows how to remove the trim pieces properly. Glad I did (though it cost me an hour labor)

They ran the cable through the headliner, down the A pillar, under the carpet in the passenger footwell, along the side of the center console area, then up and out next to the lighter socket. For simplicity we decided to stick with the lighter socket and not do a permanent install to the fuse box - it was too much work to route the cable through the firewall.

Works great!! The only downside is the lighter socket is not powered when the car turns off. Might look to tap into a non-switched 12V source - if I can find one.

For those that don't know the Blackvue, it is a full HD, 30fps, 120 deg FOV camera with GPS and three-axis accelerometer recording. It auto wraps recordings on a microSD card (last in, first out), but will automatically lock down (make read only) recordings if it senses high G (settable), on the assumption you've had an accident.

I've got the Original 400G; there's now a Mark II version and a 500 version with wi-fi streaming to mobile devices. The 400G forum can be found here. Originally from Korea it can be a bit cryptic to do firmware upgrades, but it is a great package for the price ($250)

Here's what's behind the grill. All very neat with the sheathes around the cables. There are the wires for the lights, but I didn't disassemble it any further to see where those wires subsequently run.

There are some wires tucked up into the head liner (not visible in this shot), as far back towards the windshield as you can go.

The more interesting thing is the terminator that isn't connected to anything (right picture)...intriguing! I didn't put a meter on any of the pins to see if there's current there. Might try when I have more time.

Roof grillRoof grill

I purchased a BlackVue DR500GW-HD Wi-Fi Dashcam from http://www.luxuryblack.com/blackvue.html ($279 free shipping) and installed it on my Model S.

I used the center unused connector that is behind the headliner grill to get power (thanks Nick). The other connectors are for the microphones and I didn't want to mess with those. The unused connector has "12V" ( actually about 13.5V measured) continuous power and another signal wire. I used a Pin Header to determine the power pins and polarity and as you'd expect, black is ground. Red/blue is power. The power pins are the outside pins:

I made a connector/adapter cable with an inline fuse holder (5mmx20mm) bought at Radio Shack. I used a 2A fuse as found in the Blackvue cigarette adapter. The pin header that the wires are soldered to has standard 0.1" spacing. This makes it convenient to just plug in the adapter cable without having to damage the existing wiring.

The adapter cable fits nicely in the grill location and I reused the tape holding the connector. I ran the cable out the corner of the grill, because it looked too difficult to run it through the headliner, although there is enough cable length for that. The headliner also looked like it had some adhesive holding other wiring in place and I didn't want to disturb it:

I mounted the camera so that it's centered under the mirror. I also moved it down slightly so that the adhesive does not stick to the silk screened area in case I want to remove it in the future. Because the camera sensor is off-center, the camera is not centered in the windshield. This is what the installed camera looks like:


Because power is available all the time, I leave the camera plugged in when stopped. The camera automatically goes into parking mode. I usually unplug the camera when parked at home to reduce vampire load.

Being WiFi enabled is really nice with this camera. I can view the recorded or live video on my iPhone and it made adjusting the camera angle very easy. One problem I had was that the camera needs to have the timezone set. This is easy with the phone app (or can be done on a desktop machine). But after the timezone is set, the time display is still off. I found a suggestion on an online forum to reinitialize the SD card after setting the timezone. This sets the time zone properly. Given that the dashcam has GPS and keeps proper time, I would think they could adjust the time properly.

Nice job @Alex! Might try that myself. The fact that the cigarette lighter is a switched outlet is a pain.

I'll try and find out from my contacts what the unused connector is for.

@nickjhowe | MARCH 8, 2013: I'll try and find out from my contacts what the unused connector is for.

That would be nice. The other connectors are for the microphones and are shielded. The unused connector is not shielded, so I doubt it's for something like a camera or other analog signal. I didn't have time to put a scope on it, but my guess would be that it's a LIN bus signal, that could be used for anything. Maybe they were thinking at some point to have the Pano roof controls in there?

This turned into a great post... Good Job NIck & Alex!

For the BlackView 500, the current is about 310ma with WiFi on. You can just leave it on all the time unless you're going away for a month.

Thanks for the excellent information guys! I was looking into dashcams for my upcoming Model S and it's great to see that you guys figured out how to install them. I wouldn't need Parking Mode so I would be cool with plugging it to the lighter outlet even if it's powered only while the car is on.

I was reading a lot of comparisons and I'm still undecided between the BlackVue DR500GW-HD and the FineVu CR-500HD. I was favoring the FineVu because it's smaller, but it looks like the BlackVue is pretty well hidden behind the mirror so that could totally work too.

My main concern however is regarding the legality of dash cams. Has anyone here researched that at all (and specifically for California, in case state laws differ here)? These cameras have microphones so they could record conversations with other drivers, and apparently some states make it illegal to record someone without their consent. There may be other implications when recording law enforcement, etc.

There is a config option to disable the mic.

@Alex.
I received my DR400 today but had to create my own power connection ( 2nd hand buy ). I wired the + pole to the center (inside) of the power pin, the - to the outside of the pin. Connecting the camera, I either get a red LED on the outer button if no SD is inserted or I get all colors in sequence when a card is inserted. This makes me wonder wether the power is inverted. Can you confirm that for the camera, the center pin gets + and the outer wall gets - ?
Anybody ever seen this sequencing lights issue? Maybe a non conformal SD? I ordered a new one, so lets see what happens with that one.

@haansberger all colors in sequence usually means it is formatting the card and installing the software. Leave it a few minutes. The colors should eventually stop. Once it is finished, take the card out and check it on your PC. You should see the application has been installed on the card, and you can fire it up and change the configuration settings for the camera - they get written back to the card.

@Nick
Indeed - after a while everything settled and it works like a champ now. The only thing that won't work are the voice alarms. They are selected in the settings menu, but I hear nothing. No big deal - the footage is what is important :-)

Does anyone know if this method could be used to power a radar detector?

I don't see why not. The alternatives are not easy. The only issue is radar detectors don't work through the metallic windshield! There are long threads elsewhere on radar detector issues.

Hate to be a dick, but why in earth would you want this? Paranoia?
I really don't understand. I see something about documenting an accident? Really?
It really seems odd to me that you live your live like this. Do you worry about every potential risk in life? If so, how do u get out of bed?
Folks, it's a car. It's a material object. It insurable.
What a sad way to live. My view: If you can't afford to lose it, you can't afford to own it.
Somebody, please explain what this is all about.
I'm creeped out by this.

Establishing fault, or lack thereof, after an accident. Beats "He said, she said".

@Tomas | MARCH 27, 2013: Hate to be a dick, but why in earth would you want this?

My primary purpose for a Dashcam is to record my trips. Not only do these cameras record the scenery in front of the car, they also record GPS position, speed, time and audio. Some of the non-camera features are also useful for recording mileage and location, which helps in using the car for business purposes. You can also map out your trip after the fact. This is useful for an EV so you can correlate your energy usage with the previously driven terrain. When the car is parked, the Dashcam goes into parking mode and records events such as someone hitting your car, people staring at your car, people dancing on your car, etc.

@Tomas - a guy pulled a stupid manoeuvre cutting across three lanes of traffic then stopping dead. There was no way I could avoid hitting him. When the cops came he lied to them and said I ran into him when he was driving normally. None of the other drivers stopped, so no witnesses.

Since then I've had a dashboard cam.

I have considered this in the past because I think it's pretty cool, but you are also creating evidence that could be used against you. Each individual needs to weigh the benefit vs risk.

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/is-it-wise-to-install-a-dashboard-came...

I find the concept of a dash camera rather creepy it feels like an intrusion.

Nick,

Great install and I'd really like to replicate this on my MSP. However, you lost me a little with your description of creating the cable. Working with pin headers like this is not something I've done before.

Any chance you can provide a little more detail on just the cable creation part. Essentially, from the polarity establishment point to the point where you plug the pin header in to the unused connector.

Great work!

Hi Tomas:

I admire your principle that after all,"it's a car" and If you can't afford to lose it, you can't afford to own it."

However, the art of storytelling has been as ancient as the beginning of time.

Human has a need to share story, whether by mouth, literature, movies or in other forms.

Tesla dashcam is another way of telling a story to enrich human culture.

You gotta be kidding.
You're comparing wonderful discussions of myth and mythology, telling tails, spinning yarns, developing a culture through oral history, creating folklore with video taping a drive on the Freeway.
Wow. How sad.

Great for autocross.

I installed my Blackvue 500 today and followed alexk post and build the same cord. My Tesla service manager then helped me route it through the header to so that only a little of the cord is exposed. Love the look and the capabilities of the cam. Thanks to all the advice on this post!

J

Hello everyone. I'm a freelance writer working on an article about dashboard cameras in the U.S. I'm looking for individuals who may be interested in sharing some of their dashboard camera experiences, specifically as it relates to accidents, insurance fraud, crime or other situations where the camera captures moments that are out of the ordinary.

We've seen how prevalent dashboard cameras are in Russia nowadays. With this article I would like to give the reader a better understanding of what is available in the U.S., and the reasons behind using these devices.

If you are interested in sharing your experiences please e-mail me at arturo@artrubio.com.

Regards,

Arturo Rubio

Great thread, lots to take home - and to use when I get my car. I have sympathy with Thomas' angle to it all, nevertheless I like the recording ability. Too many jerks on the road.
As recording is becoming quite usual, I am somewhat surprised TM has not put this in as an option.

@artrubio - so far (thankfully) I've never needed to use the footage from mine. Sorry I can't help.

@tomas

Are you in this thread just to argue with people who might like to install a cam and would find nick's thread helpful?

You don't have to understand why people would want one, and your personal philosophy on the subject has no place in the thread IMO.

@Artrubio

I hope that your freelance article focuses in the broader social implications of this trend in America.
Of course Russians have cameras in their cars. Has anybody been to Russia lately? It's the freaking Wild West over there. Some parts of Moscow boarder in compete lawlessness. Makes sense there, especially if you are a paranoid, insecure, Russian (which, culturally, most of them are).
So want does this paranoid-driven need to film your driving say about us?

Sorry to be an ass, and yes, I know this is the wrong place for this discussion, but perhaps you could educate me on why this is so important. I really don't get it. I have been driving for 40 years and I have been in only one minor accident (my fault). It's not like we all drive around in a demolition derby all day. Accidents are rare and if you're in one, insurance pays. Sure, you may have to argue a bit over who's fault it is, but insurance is still gonna pay.

I say, relax and enjoy your Model S and stop worrying and filming your next big accident.

@Tomas

I think a dash cam is one of those many things in life that you probably won't ever need. That said, it's also one of those things that you'd really wish you had in certain scenarios. Those scenarios will probably/hopefully never arise. However, if one does, having a dash cam could really save your a@#.

Let me point to the recent fatal accident in Laguna where a Model S hit a Honda head on and two people in the Honda were killed. Who knows what the circumstances were in that accident, but the accident report indicates a third car was involved and may have forced the Model S in to the oncoming traffic.

If the Model S driver was being reckless, was racing the other car and ended up swerving in to oncoming traffice, he's almost certainly going to prison and subject to significant civil actions. If, however, the Model S driver was being responsible and the other car forced him in to the oncoming traffic, there could be no liability at all. A dash cam could provide the key piece of evidence that would make the difference between prison and freedom.

Like I said, it will probably never be needed. But like a earthquake prep kit (if you live in California), it's one of those things you might want to have in the event of outlier scenarios.

I don't have one, but I must admit, the Laguna accident certainly has made me think about getting one.


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