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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)

Have you ever had an instance where it was notably useful? Accidents or other?

Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

I think surveillance camera is useful in case you want to document traffic lights, accidents or even pranksters such as a judge who were taped scratching the neighbor car's paint...

For a constant 12V source, how about tracing to the emergency/hazard light switch?

Thanks @Tam - good suggestion.

@Brian - I had an accident that led me to get the camera in the first place. Was leaving an airport and the guy three lanes to the right of me decided to cut over four lanes to return to the airport - only the exit he was trying to get to was backed up. He stopped dead in front of me at a 45 deg angle. Impossible for me to avoid him. I was held to be at fault (a) because no one else was an eye witness; (b) it was obvious that I hit him from behind/on the side; (c) the driver lied and said he was travelling slowly and I just drove into him. A camera would have told the whole story...

Thanks nickjhowe. I recently purchased a Blackvue 500, and I should be picking up my Tesla in about a week. I am curious about the steps you took to have yours installed. Did you just call up Tesla service and schedule an appointment to have it done? Did they know what you were talking about? Were they reluctant/willing? Thanks for any info. I have been debating the best way to install mine, and I think you hit the mark.

@jzahrt - yes. Called them up. They charged me an hour for it, though it took closer to an hour and a half. Part of that was just trying to figure out the best route to run the cable, part was Byrone's (the service tech) attention to detail.

They were more than happy to help, though it was the first dash camera they'd seen/done. They'd previously fitted radar detectors, but that was to the front grill.

It is easy to run the cable along the headliner where it meets the windscreen without needing to remove the headliner. A small tool will give enough clearance to push the cable up and hide it.

The A pillar cover will need to be removed, then the plastic cover to the end of the dash, then both plastic panels along the door edge. From there we ran the cable under the carpet in the footwell to the center console area. Remove the plastic trim along the console edge from the footwell to the seat - it is a single piece. Voila - you can route the cable so the cigarette lighter connection is right were the cable terminates.

We used adhesive plastic wire clips to keep the cable routed neatly - especially along the center console area.

As I said above we decided just to plug into the lighter socket rather than wire it directly in. Byrone said removing the arm rest to get access to the cable behind the lighter is a pain. Likewise routing it through the firewall is a major operation, I think.

I'm going to pop the trim in the foot well and see if I can get to the hazard light wire from the passenger side. We ran the cable on the passenger side; if you are going to tap into the hazard lights it would probably be best to run it on the driver's side I think.

All the trim removes easily enough - everything is held on with automotive push-clips, with the exception of the A pillar. You'll see a small plastic cover part way up. Pop that off and there's a screw inside. Undo that and the A pillar cover pops off. There is a cubic foam dampener/spacer that can fall out. Make note of where it is.

The two small panels by the door are easy. The larger panel that runs along the bottom edge of the chassis below the door can be a pain. There is a blue clip that you'll see. Rather than try to reattach the trip with the clip in place, byrone pulled it out of the bulkhead and clipped it to the trim piece. It is easier to push it into the bulkhead when attached to the trim than to try to attach the to the clip.

The large trim piece alongside the center console is a very tight fit where it meets the carpet. Needs a bit of brute force to get it out and back in. That is part of the reason I asked TM to do it. I figured if they broke anything they'd replace it. :-)

Good luck!!

Thought I'd post a quick screen shot of the Dashboard cam app that runs on Windows and OSX. Click the image for a full size view. Top right you'll see the 3 axis accelerometer readings.

Below that is the real time speed and GPS recordings. Below that the list of files that the camera recorded. It records a continuous stream of 1 min videos so that they are both manageable and can be individually locked by the camera in the event of an accident.

The list of files can be replaced by a moving map view showing the car location. N, E and P allow filtering of the individual 1 min files to include/exclude normal videos, videos that include an 'event' (acceleration exceeding a threshold), and parked videos.

The camera can be automatically or manually put into 'parking' mode where it will motion detect and only record when something is moving in its field of view.

Below the video are the normal replay controls, and at the bottom is a calendar showing months, days, hours, minutes and seconds to select or filter the playback. Grey means nothing was recorded, green is a normal recording, red would show a time period that includes an event, and blue is parked.

The camera records MP4 files that can be viewed with OSX QuickLook, QuickTime or other video apps.


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One of the things I forgot to mention that stands out about the camera is that it does full 1080p, 30fps recording and has amazing low light capability compared with most other dash cameras.

Nick, does using this decrease the Model S's range in any significant way? It will be great if there is a recorder that has rechargeable or replaceable batteries.

~ Prash.

I can't answer the range exactly, but it's unlikely to have a significant effect. I've looked all over the Blackvue site for the power/amperage requirements, but I was unable to find anything. It does plug into the cigarette lighter, which is limited to 15A. There is no way it takes 15 amps.

Let's say it takes 2 amps x 12 V = 24W (I expect it is less than this, but just a wild guess right now). To put it in perspective, the two rear license plate bulbs take a combined 20W. The 85KW battery pack fully charged would take 4250 hours (177 days) to discharge if this was the only load.

From what I remember the camera takes 4W. So use for one hour would reduce the car's range by about 25ft.

Thanks Frank and Nick. 25ft ... Lol!

Ooops - made a mistake in my calc. 65ft not 25ft. Sorry. You might have got stranded at the end of your drive instead of making it back to the garage. Hope this didn't mess anyone up. :-P

if we can get the backup camera to record, would have the entire car covered almost. I could have really used that feature. Lady backed out of a parking spot and hit me on Saturday, now she is claiming I hit her! Lesson learned, not to trust anyone and use your phone camera to interview person right afterward, to get their confession.

@nickjhowe | FEBRUARY 9, 2013: They ran the cable through the headliner, down the A pillar...

I am wondering why they didn't tap into the power that would be available near the grill by the mirror? I would think there is constant power there (or at least when the car is on). The map lights can be turned on any time and the chromatic mirror should also have power. I had one of my map lights replaced, and although they removed the grill (which just pops out), they eventually removed the top of the headliner. It took about 20 minutes.

The power in the mirror was reversed. ;)

@Alex - good question - I think that was more my direction than anything else. I'll pop the cover and take a look. Might be something to look at.

There is a small box that you can get from Blackvue that monitors the voltage and cuts the power to the camera if it drops below a certain threshold. Stops the camera flattening the 12V battery.

I've no idea whether this is necessary in the Model S. Is it possible to flatted the 12V if there's still charge in the main battery? Will the DC-DC system keep the 12V going for months, even if there's a very small current drain?

nice to see. this is my first post here (so hi y'all). I'm familiar with the Blackvue, and it is one of the better event recorders out there.

I want to install one facing in each of all four directions.

Is the lens mounted into the back of the stock rear view mirror? I can't quite figure it out from the picture.

@DouglasR - it is completely separate from the mirror. Sorry for the confusion.

Here's a picture of the unit itself.

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It rotates so can face forwards or backwards and sticks to the windshield.

Picture 3 from Nick first post makes it clear it's attached to the windshield, just below the black box mounted to the windshield (for rain detection).

I don't think you'd want it attached to the rear-view mirror, as the aim would change as you adjust the mirror.

I try to position it so that the majority of the camera is hidden behind the mirror when viewed from the driving position, but also it is roughly central to be aesthetically pleasing when viewed by others (to the extent that a dash cam attached to a windshield can be aesthetically pleasing. :-S)

@nick et al

Please enlighten me as to why I should buy one of these. Is it mostly for accidents, getting cut off etc? I want one but I don't know why?

For the forensics guys after your fatal accident. Makes their job so much easier! Be considerate.

\8-)

Why do you need these?????

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VzGF3wEI6c

Spend six minutes watching this and you'll install one tomorrow.

Oh, and if there's ever a meteorite striking Earth, you'll be able to record it!

http://rt.com/news/meteorite-crash-urals-chelyabinsk-283/

@Mark2131 ... I guess I am getting one. Thanks for the video; the invisible ghost cars with just their tires visible were enough to creep me out :)

Is there anyway to install this Cam without ripping up the car and putting it back together?

@NOPetrol - yes, just dangle the wire straight down and don't conceal it. Or use a GoPro and keep recharging the batteries (but you lose out on a bunch of features)

Alex K's suggestion might be the best - there is probably a 12V feed to the rain sensor/mirror that you can tap into behind the square grill on the headliner. Am going to pull it and check. Unfortunately I threw my back out this morning and am nearly immobile, so might be a couple of days before I'm limber enough to do anything.

@nickjhowe | FEBRUARY 15, 2013: there is probably a 12V feed to the rain sensor/mirror that you can tap into behind the square grill on the headliner.

Did you ever check out the power behind the grill area? I just got a BlackVue WiFi DR500GW-HD from http://luxuryblack.com ($279), but I'm a bit shy to try to pry off the grill and look inside. I really hate to just mount it and leave the cable visible while plugging into the 12V accessory socket. If I don't just mount the camera and plug it in, I know it'll wind up in my box of bought-and-not-installed-items.

Alex/nick

Please let us know what you do. I will call Tesla to see if they will install it but do you have any idea what power it takes away? It wood be nice to have it on all day in the parking lot but off in the garage.


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