To start the blog of El Jardín Digital I bring you a very interesting workshop. It could get you out of some trouble in the future. It involves the installation of video cameras in the car to record all the movements of the vehicle. It is a very simple concept but it is enormously useful for storing recordings about especially nice trips, curious things that can happen on the road and especially to record any incident (or accident) where you can be involved or you can be a witness.
In my case I have installed two cameras in the car for more than a year ago. One of the cameras are recording forward and the other one is recording backward, so I cover almost all important points in the path of the vehicle. The operation is as follows: when I start the engine, the cameras begin to record continuously, creating videos in blocks of 5 minutes. When a video ends the next begins. In this way the videos are stored on the microSD card into video blocks of 5 minutes and when the card capacity is over, the oldest records are replaced with the new one. The cameras are powered with the electricity of the car cigarette lighter and they record continuously until the engine stops, and then the cameras start to operate on its own batteries and continue recording until the battery runs out. Whit that configuration the recording cycles always begin when the engine starts and it ends a while after stopping the engine (depending on the battery charge of the camera, this time can range from several minutes to an hour and a half after engine shutdown).
Whit this function you can forget the cameras because they doesn’t require any maintenance or additional configuration. The interesting situation come when there is an accident or a situation in which you want to get the latest videos. In this case, you just have to remove the microSD card and take the videos. For a 16GB capacity and the maximum recording quality (fullHD) is stored about 2 hours of video, the last 2 hours.
This system was implemented several years ago in countries like China and Russia. In these countries there are many problems with fraudulent car accidents or culprits who don’t take responsibility. Europe is beginning to implement these systems and some insurance companies are beginning to accept these recordings as evidence to prove guilt or innocence.
In my case I was involved in an accident in which the other driver didn’t assume guilt and only after viewing the video the other company admitted the fault and repaired my car without putting more problems.
So let’s go to the mess. Wat camera do I need? How much will it cost? How do I install it? We will try to answer all these questions.
DASHCAM MODEL CHOSEN
When I installed the cameras in the car (a little over one year ago), I researched models and features and I chose the one with the best price/quality ratio and with the best configuration options. Today it remains the best option to install as a security camera in the car. The model is Mobius Actioncam, a Chinese and lowcost version of GoPro but with a recording quality similar to the best cameras.
The price of each camera is around 70€ and you can buy it with a lot of accessories for the installation (suction, sticker, helmet straps, etc.) Also you can buy cables for video output, different lenses…
The main features and specifications of the Mobius Actioncam are:
- Video: 1080P 30FPS, 720P 60FPS with audio
- Video format: MOV, AVI, MP4
- Picture: 2304×1536, 1920×1080, 1280,720
- Time lapse support
- LIPO 500mah rechargable battery. About 80 minutes of recording
- Micro SD 32GB (but it also works with 64 y 128GB)
- USB 2.0
- Small size: 61mm x 35mm x 18mm
- Featherweight: 38g
PART INVENTORY AND BUDGET
The main thing is to buy the camera, the support and the microSD card. Besides, you need the USB cable that will provide power to the camera and a cigarette lighter to USB transformer. Below I detail the elements with approximate prices and links to the pages where I recommend you to buy everything (at least if you are in Spain):
- Camera: 70€
- Suction support o Sticker support: 5€
- 16GB MicroSD: 6€
- Mini USB 5m cable : 10€
- Doble cigarette lighter to USB transformer: 10€
- Total: +/- 100€ if you want to install only one camera or +/- 200€ if you want to install two
Now that we have our fantastic cameras and all the necessary accessories for installation, it is the funniest moment: installing the cameras in the car. Te main step is to choose the best place for the installation and fix the camera in that position whit the chosen support.
Let’s talk a moment about the support. In my case, for front camera I chose a suction support and for the back camera I chose a sticker one. Now I’m thinking about changing the front support for another sticker one because it is more discreet and the camera is better fixed.
We will proceed with the installation. The most important thing is to choose a location that provides good recording image through the windshield without any obstacle and make it as discreet as possible. The less you see the camera, the less you have to worry about theft.
Whether we choose suction or sticker support, the installation is very simple and don’t worth further explanation.
The next step is to connect the USB cable from the camera to the area of the car lighter. There are cars that have a lighter in the rear seats or in the trunk. In these cases the installation is probably easier because the access to that areas is maybe better. If you don’t have that possibility you must bring the cable to the dashboard cigarette lighter. In my case the cables are hidden by the door frames and windshields and is pretty good because I mustn’t disassemble any part and the cable is completely hidden.
The hardest part is the lighter connection. If you don’t want to dismantle anything you can drive the cable directly to a nearby area of the lighter and use the lighter adapter directly connected to it, but you will leave the lighter inaccessible for other uses and the result will not be as integrated. If you dare to make the pro assembly, you have to remove the cigarette lighter and connect 2 wires to the lighter socket (one wire to each terminal). These wires must be soldered or somehow fix to both poles of the adapter. Do you already have it? Well, that was the most complicated part of the installation.
Now all that remains is to plug the USB cable to the adapter and put back all the pieces of the car in place.
NOTE: This tutorial is optimized to vehicles where the cigarette lighter is powered automatically when starting the car engine and off when the driver turn off the ignition. If your car lighter is constantly fed it is better to locate another point that works with the ignition to connect the cameras cable. Otherwise the cameras will be constantly working and they can burn or deplete the vehicle battery.
We have everything ready. Now we just have to set the cameras and we’re done.
Te configuration can be done manually by editing the SYSCFG.txt file located in the camera memory or more simply through Windows, Mac or Android applications. I use my smartphone because it’s the easiest way to do it but you need a special miniUSB to microUSB cable or a miniUSB to micoUSB adapter and a normal USB cable.
Once you have chosen the operating system, the main options you can configure are:
- Set the correct date and time for the timestamp
- Set the video resolution and frame rate independently for mode 1 and mode 2:
- Available resolutions: 1080p, 720p, WVGA
- Available frame per second: 5fps, 10fps, 15fps, 20fps, 25fps, 30fps, 50fps, 60fps
- Narrow or width view field
- Set the photo resolution: 2304×1536, 1920×1080, 1280,720, 848×480
- Set time lapse recording
- Set the recording duration (3 min, 5 min, 10 min, 15 min, maximum time up to 4GB)
- Set recording when motion detection by setting the sensivility and the time limit
- Video format: MOV, AVI, MP4 o WAV (audio only)
- Set cyclic recording on or off
- Print timestamp on or off
- Enable or disable audio recordings
- Rotate the recording orientation 180º for ceiling installation
- Set the video quality: Low, Standard, High
- Set the auto-on and auto-off in relation to the power that receive the camera and set the waiting times
- Set the use of the function LEDs
The necessary settings for using the camera in your car is as follows:
- Video: 1080p 30fps (the maximum to ensure that the vehicle plate number and any important detail is recorded)
- Audio: I recommend to set on the audio to have sound record or to be able to leave a message, such as a car plate number without removing hands from the wheel)
- Image rotated 180º if the installation is on the windshield or on the car roof
- Automatic recording when the camera receive feed throw the USB cable. The best mode is to start recording immediately on power supply and when the power is cut continue recording until the camera battery is exhausted
- Activate timestamp on the video to have time record in case of incident.
And with these last things we have everything. I hope you enjoyed the workshop and the installation of the cameras can get you out of any trouble, although the ideal scenario is to never have to use the recordings, at least not for incident or accident causes.
Finnaly, here you can see a sample video recorded with the front camera:
And another one recorded with the rear one:
Greetings and see you in the next workshop of El Jardín Digital.