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Dashcam Talk
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subego
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Sep 20, 2018, 03:41 AM
 
Pimp your dashcam.
     
Laminar
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Location: Iowa, how long can this be? Does it really ruin the left column spacing?
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Sep 20, 2018, 11:33 AM
 
You asked for it.

I picked up a dashcam a couple of years ago, wanting to get in on all of the great YouTube videos of meteorites, and explosions, and cars flipping over, and everything else that definitely happens during my daily commute. I've mounted it temporarily in a couple of cars, but never permanently. After picking up the MKZ last week, I decided to get it in there for real, because otherwise I'm going to see Bigfoot and have no proof.

I bought this dashcam, which offers full HD recording and a host of other nice features.

The first step was to find a good mounting location for the camera. I wanted to give it a good view of the road, but also try and hide it from my view to minimize any blind spots created by extra junk on the windshield. I ended up putting it on the passenger side of the rear view mirror. I have the lane-keeping feature which means I have a bulky camera housing behind the rear view mirror, which made things a bit more difficult. In the end, I have some of the housing in the dashcam's view, but it should block any important area of the frame. From the front of the car, the camera is mostly hidden in the mirror's outline, which will hopefully reduce any attention it gets from potential thieves or police thinking it's a radar detector.



With the camera mounted, I was ready to wire. My primary goal here was to leave the car untouched - no holes drilled and no wires tapped, spliced, or cut. I started at the fuse box trying to find a circuit that was on with the ignition. The fuse box is under the dash to the left of the steering column. I found that dropping the lower dash down provided the easiest access. There are two clips on the left side of the steering wheel and one on the right. Yank the dash carefully, as close to the clips as possible, and it pops out and folds down.



I settled on fuse #37 - heated steering wheel and all-wheel-drive relay. My car has neither of those, so I didn't mind messing with that circuit. The add-a-circuit kit will allow you to keep the stock circuit functional, but I'd rather not mess with something important like steering or seat belts or the ignition. The MKZ uses "Micro2" size fuses, so I picked up a Micro2 add-a-circuit kit with a 5A fuse. The kit works by taking power from the original power feed and splitting it across two fuses. The first fuse is the original fuse, and power gets routed back down into the fuse box. The second fuse goes to a pigtail that can be crimped or soldered to your new circuit.



That gives me +12V, now I need a ground. Any bare metal on the car is generally a ground, so I found a hole in the metal structure behind the dash and slipped an M5 bolt through it. I crimped a ring terminal onto a short length of wire and tested with my multimeter to ensure a good ground.



The camera came with a cigarette lighter power adapter and an extra long USB cable. I popped open the power plug and soldered positive and ground leads to the circuit board to replace the standard contacts. In hindsight, it would have been easier to pick up a hardwire kit like this one, but a few minutes of soldering beats two days of waiting for Amazon.

With the add-a-circuit in place, I tested for voltage with the ignition on and off to confirm it worked as designed, and everything was perfect. I crimped a spade terminal onto the end of the ground pigtail and the add-a-circuit so that the power to the cam could be unplugged if needed.



Time to route the USB cable! I started at the camera and, after leaving just a little slack, tucked it between the windshield and headliner headed toward the driver's side of the car. Once I got to the A pillar, I grabbed that trim at the top and pulled down and toward the passenger side of the car, and the top of the trim popped out.



This gave me enough access to route the cable across to the outside of the A pillar and then down toward the dashboard.



The triangular piece of trim that caps the part of the dashboard hidden by the door when it's closed popped out with a little persuasion. I sent the cable in through that area and right in front of the fuse box.



From there it was a matter of plugging my spade terminals into one another and securing the plug to the dash bracing with some zip ties. I popped the trim back into place and everything now not only looks factory, but can easily be returned to 100% factory condition in just a few minutes with no permanent modifications to the car.

Here are a couple of quick clips to help give you an idea of the picture quality. The second clip shows the Pre-Collision Warning Avoidance feature in action when the car in front of me slows down to allow a truck to merge.



The camera records video in 5 minute chunks and once the SD card is full, it just overwrites the oldest chunks. I have an older 8GB MicroSD card in the camera, and it was able to hold 2-3 hours of video before the oldest files were overwritten. My goal is to be able to hold an entire day's typical driving on one card so that I can save the video once I'm home. I ran some extra errands yesterday and the beginning of my morning commute where someone tried to plow into me in a roundabout was gone. I ordered a 32GB MicroSD card so that I'll be able to easily hold a couple days of driving.

So bring it on, erratic drivers and apocalyptic events, just please happen in front of my car.
( Last edited by Laminar; Sep 20, 2018 at 06:00 PM. )
     
reader50
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Sep 20, 2018, 01:44 PM
 
It's interesting that you bought a capacitor model. I hadn't heard of those. I bought one of these several years ago. It had great night vision, 170º view, and 2.5K resolution during the day. Using the 2.5K costs you the HDR at night though, so I left it at 1080p all the time.

The camera lasted less than 2 years, before the battery swelled and busted it from within. Replaced it with a cheap model, which turned out to have poor night vision. As I have yet to record any flying cars or fights with baseball bats, I've been reluctant to buy a 3rd camera.
     
subego  (op)
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Sep 20, 2018, 03:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Stuff
     
Laminar
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Location: Iowa, how long can this be? Does it really ruin the left column spacing?
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Sep 20, 2018, 03:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I did that writeup for the MKZ forum, I think I missed a couple of links when I copied/pasted it. They don't have a plaintext editor so I couldn't just copy/paste the UBB code. I actually had my windshield delaminate and crack a few months after I got the car, so I had that replaced under warranty. But I pulled the dashcam off the windshield when they did the fix and haven't put it back yet, like a year later. I'll get around to it...
     
subego  (op)
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Sep 20, 2018, 03:58 PM
 
Quick note... YouTube linking is just the ID.

     
subego  (op)
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Sep 20, 2018, 04:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
It's interesting that you bought a capacitor model. I hadn't heard of those. I bought one of these several years ago. It had great night vision, 170º view, and 2.5K resolution during the day. Using the 2.5K costs you the HDR at night though, so I left it at 1080p all the time.

The camera lasted less than 2 years, before the battery swelled and busted it from within. Replaced it with a cheap model, which turned out to have poor night vision. As I have yet to record any flying cars or fights with baseball bats, I've been reluctant to buy a 3rd camera.
I’m starting to get a little freaked out by having ‘splodey batteries everywhere.
     
subego  (op)
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Sep 20, 2018, 04:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
I did that writeup for the MKZ forum, I think I missed a couple of links when I copied/pasted it. They don't have a plaintext editor so I couldn't just copy/paste the UBB code. I actually had my windshield delaminate and crack a few months after I got the car, so I had that replaced under warranty. But I pulled the dashcam off the windshield when they did the fix and haven't put it back yet, like a year later. I'll get around to it...
Where you mounted your cam is where I have my tollway pass.



I put it there with the same thought as you with the dashcam. It’s mostly blocked from my view by the mirror.

I’m thinking I can attach the camera to the mirror itself, and run the wiring alongside the backup camera cable. I’d likewise like to go hidden with my cables, though I’d probably get someone other than me to do it.
     
Laminar
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Location: Iowa, how long can this be? Does it really ruin the left column spacing?
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Sep 20, 2018, 06:02 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Where you mounted your cam is where I have my tollway pass.

I’m thinking I can attach the camera to the mirror itself, and run the wiring alongside the backup camera cable. I’d likewise like to go hidden with my cables, though I’d probably get someone other than me to do it.
Wife's iPass is on the left side of the mirror. "We go to Chicago so much and tolls are so pricey that we have to get one!!" Nevermind that the $10 minimum balance we have to maintain is more than we've saved in tolls over the...like...three times we've been there this year.

They do make mirror mounts for dashcams. I'd have used one but I have a bulky mirror surround with the front-facing camera/radar thingy.
     
reader50
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Sep 20, 2018, 06:02 PM
 
I ended up hanging mine from the mirror arm - California is strict with attachments to windshields. They do allow behind the mirror, but my windshield has a shade treatment there, to reduce glare when looking at the mirror.

I considered installing a USB power socket in my map light panel, to minimize cords. Problem: I didn't buy the maplights option, so I'd have to get it aftermarket first. The project was too expansive for just a camera. The cord got hidden under the door foam seal most of the way.

subego, there was no battery explosion. CA can have very hot summers, and I leave the camera in place. With the mirror-sunblock under it often, so it got double-baked. One day, it didn't come on. The case had popped open a bit, investigation revealed the battery swelled in the heat. btw - they have a battery so if the car gets bumped while parked, the camera will come on briefly. Maybe get a shot of the guy stealing your battery.

Laminar, nice project writeup.
     
subego  (op)
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Sep 21, 2018, 02:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
subego, there was no battery explosion.
I understood.

My comment would have been more precisely stated as “I’m starting to get a little freaked out by having [potential] ‘splodey batteries everywhere”.

What bothers me is the difference between ‘splodey and not is catching the MFers before they blow.
     
subego  (op)
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Sep 21, 2018, 05:29 AM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Wife's iPass is on the left side of the mirror. "We go to Chicago so much and tolls are so pricey that we have to get one!!" Nevermind that the $10 minimum balance we have to maintain is more than we've saved in tolls over the...like...three times we've been there this year.
Even though I live here, I only have one because the cash lanes are such a cluster. Since I don’t really want it in the first place, I’m happy it’s not on my side of the window.
     
subego  (op)
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Sep 21, 2018, 06:00 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
California is strict with attachments to windshields.
Today I learned the windshield mount I’m using for my iPad Mini is like totally illegal in my waste of a state.
     
subego  (op)
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Sep 21, 2018, 05:07 PM
 
Decided on:

https://www.amazon.com/Street-Guardi.../dp/B076ZYPTPF

It’s the only one I’ve found with the combo of good reviews, and no one bitching on Amazon about it.
     
The Final Dakar
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Sep 21, 2018, 10:52 PM
 
Who knew someone posting about their dashcam could make me feel like I've done nothing with my life. Jesus.
     
Jawbone54
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Sep 24, 2018, 05:35 PM
 
I know, right?

Oh, to know as much about anything at that level.
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 2, 2018, 04:59 AM
 
Finally got the cam!

No way to attach it to the mirror without blocking the display and controls. Dash mount would have the controls and display upside-down, along with making the camera difficult to aim.

Looks like I’m breakin’ the law!
     
Laminar
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Location: Iowa, how long can this be? Does it really ruin the left column spacing?
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Oct 2, 2018, 10:24 AM
 
I've considered a dashcam more of a set-it-and-forget-it type of deal. On the rare occasion that I get in an accident and need to get access to the controls immediately, I'd pull it off of its mount. Otherwise I don't touch it and I'd prefer I can't even see it. Mine makes a startup sound when the car starts, other than that I don't need to know about it.
     
reader50
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Oct 2, 2018, 01:50 PM
 
I mounted mine with this bugger. It clamps to the mirror mount arm. The camera ends up just below (and behind) the mirror. The controls are within reach, and you can tilt it if you needed to see any top buttons.
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 2, 2018, 03:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
I've considered a dashcam more of a set-it-and-forget-it type of deal. On the rare occasion that I get in an accident and need to get access to the controls immediately, I'd pull it off of its mount. Otherwise I don't touch it and I'd prefer I can't even see it. Mine makes a startup sound when the car starts, other than that I don't need to know about it.
Ideally I’d like the camera to be FnF, but the comment on your OP about theft made me think it would be nice if I could hide it easily. I can end up in sketchy neighborhoods.

However, I’m thinking I can sorta hide it behind this dithered area.



The display’s only relevant so I can aim the thing.
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 2, 2018, 03:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
I mounted mine with this bugger. It clamps to the mirror mount arm. The camera ends up just below (and behind) the mirror. The controls are within reach, and you can tilt it if you needed to see any top buttons.
Very tempting!

The only thing which worries me is it makes the camera more obvious.
     
ghporter
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Oct 6, 2018, 11:22 PM
 
Interestingly, I just got an email about this crowd funded dash cam:
Indiegogo 70mai Dash Cam. It looks interesting. I like the extras, like GPS integration and driver assistance features. It looks like most dash cams are just loop recorders, maybe with an impact sensing capacity, so the extra stuff with the 70mai are pretty neat.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 8, 2018, 04:43 PM
 
The feature I decided to prioritize was low-light performance. I figure there’s no point if I can’t pick out a license plate in the dark.

From there it was easy, because all the top low-light performers other than the Street Guardian had tons of QA complaints.

I actually haven’t driven since I got it, so I haven’t done a night test.
     
reader50
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Oct 8, 2018, 09:29 PM
 
Now you have a reason to go out bar-hopping. Gotta give it a real-world test under a variety of circumstances.
     
subego  (op)
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Oct 9, 2018, 06:02 PM
 
In a pinch there’s always wiper fluid.
     
   
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