Sunday, January 3, 2010

Installing Wireless Camera on Motorcycle Trailer

Something that I've quickly grown accustom to is having a backup camera.  I love being able to see directly behind the Jeep -- especially since the huge tire takes up most of my rear window ;).  I was pulling the Harley trailer the other day and was thinking it would be nice to have a camera on the trailer as well.  It's impossible to see directly behind the trailer.  It would also be useful when backing it into a tight space or when changing lanes.  I'm getting ready for a road trip from Chicago to Key West, so I figured now would be a good time to find a camera and install it.

I previously installed an Alpine A/V system in the Jeep, so I already have the display.  I just need a camera mounted on the trailer and somehow wire it into the Jeep.  Of course, running wiring from the back of a 14 ft. trailer to the front of the Jeep is not a practical solution. I had to do a bit of research...

I came across a company called 4UCam on the web that sells wireless 2.4GHz vehicle cameras, displays and accessories.  There website isn't the best, but they have everything I needed to do the job (a good camera that could transmit a clean signal, IR night vision since the trailer doesn't have backup lights and parts to integrate the camera output with my Alpine A/V system).  They sell quite a few kits, but not exactly what I needed, so I pieced the parts together from their website. Here's what I ordered:
Note: you have to hunt around on their site to find the parts, but they seem to be a quality operation.  They shipped my parts within 24 hours and I had them in my hand in less than 3 days.  

The first step in the project is installing the wireless receiver in the Jeep.  This was super easy.  I mounted the receiver in the rear of the Jeep on the hard-top.  This is an out of the way location that puts the receiver as close as possible to the camera transmitter on the trailer.  There are only two plugs (composite video & power).  I used Velcro to mount it.  The entire receiver can easily be removed when I take off the top or want to use it in another vehicle.

Receiver mounted in Jeep

The next step was to figure out where to mount the camera on the trailer.  It isn't easy when the entire back is hinged for a motorcycle ramp.  I didn't want to mount it on the top because it could get damaged if I go under a low bridge or hit tree branches.  Looking at the Trailer lights the location seemed to be obvious.  There are three lights grouped together in the center.  I just removed the light in the middle.  This also solved the issue of getting power to the camera.  I wired it to the parking lights.  When I need to turn the camera on, I switch on the parking lights.  When the lights are off, the camera's off.  Not the most elegant solution, but it saved a ton of time by not having to run wiring that would require pulling the interior of the trailer.

Here's some pics of the project:

Trailer with running lights above door

Center light removed exposing power wire

Camera frame mounted

Soldering camera power to parking light circuit

Melting Heat shrink tubing

Crimping ring connector for ground

Ground installed then pushing wiring back into trailer

The completed project:

View from the display (excuse the messy shelves)

I will update this post after I get a chance to run it on the highway, but so far I am pleased with the results.  The camera works great in complete darkness and the picture quality is excellent. 

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