Old meets new: Small neat 3D printed rear view camera for an air cooled VW Beetle.
This is a Mexican Beetle made in 2000 with some older style panels and lights fitted. The good thing is that you get modern electronic ignition, fuel injection, and even a cable you can connect to read diagnostic codes. The bad thing is nobody can service it so you need to be a mix of VW enthusiast and tech-geek, just like me.
Using it almost as a daily driver so I need some modern aids. Having been hit from behind twice in the past in old cars due to the fact that people's brains are only tuned look for a central high level brake light these days, I have already done that modification in period style.
Described here is how to fit a low cost (approx $30) rear view camera since the rear of the car is not visible when parking, and the side mirrors are nothing like as useful as on modern cars.
The view it gives is of the rear fender and also what is behind me, so I needed it to point downwards slightly. I did not want to drill holes in the body to take this camera but in any case, none of the rear panels slope the right way anyway unless you like watching clouds, so this is housed in a neat little 3D printed housing that clips to the air cooling vents beneath the rear window.
3D printer, a friend with one, or use a company like Shapeways who will print the file for you. 3D files are attached to the step with the name "3D printed structure to house the camera" which is Step 3.
A low cost parking camera kit from an on-line retailer. Loads of them out there. I found one with a very small camera that is cylindrical and about 1.8cm in diameter. It is of the type that is designed for fitting into a hole cut in your car bodywork. It is unusually small because it has no array of infra-red LED's to illuminate things behind you at night.
Some cable ties, a glue gun and some patience as wiring it in neatly is a bit of a pain!
Step 1: View of the Camera Housing
The housing clips onto the air inlet grilles for cooling air for the engine.
The camera is glued into the 3D printed housing.
The camera kit I used is exactly the same as the one in this instructable by someone else, only my screen is a little different:
Step 2: View of the Flat Screen
The screen is typically 4 or 5 inches across. My car has been converted to right hand drive and so the dashboard is actually a fibreglass moulding made by the original importers.
The monitor has been fitted to this dash to one side of the speedometer and a hole drilled for the 12V power supply. This has been taken (under front trunk lid where the back of the dashboard electrics are all exposed and easy to get at) from a 12V supply terminal that goes live when the ignition is turned on.
In these kits there is a cable that you need to run from the camera at the back of the car to the monitor at the front on the dashboard. It contains a red wire (+12V supply), a black wire (ground to bodywork) and a cable that transfers the video signal from camera to monitor, this one has a yellow RCA plug on each end (like the input plugs to a Hi-Fi amplifier but yellow in colour). This is a real pain but basically you have to run it from the monitor as neatly as you can, under the carpet along edge of the car, around side of the rear seat, through rear bulkhead into the engine bay on one side of the engine. Best to actually start at the camera end and work forwards........
You must use a rubber grommet in the hole after you have drilled a hole in rear bulkhead to make the edges of the hole soft and not rough. Then feed the cable in from the engine bay side and run it towards the front of the car.
The camera has a short cable about 10 inches long coming out of rear end that plugs into the power and yellow video rear ends of the cable that you have just run from rear to front of car.
Feed the cable through a central air vent below rear window, (file the sides of the rubber plugs just slightly and they will fit through the air vents slots). Then, feed it through the "inner" vent louvres that face forwards inside the space behind the outer air vents. Eventually the ends will dangle down into the engine bay. Connect the plugs to the leads running to front of car and cable tie everything up neatly and away from hot areas of engine.
You should now have a tiny camera dangling out of one of the air vent slots below the rear window, pointing backwards.
Step 3: 3D Printed Structure to House the Camera
I made this in Google Sketchup.
It is attached as a sketchup file and also as an .stl file
The .stl file is the one the 3D printer will use.
The slot underneath allows you to fit it over the cable that emerges from back of the camera, then slide the camera back into the hole and glue it in place.
You can see that the 3D printed part then clips onto the air vent astride one of the vertical air vent slots.
Step 4: Slot to Allow It to Be Slipped Over the Cable
The slot is only partially formed in the 3D print. I finished it off using a soldering iron to melt the plastic so the slot ran all the way into the interior of the tubular hole that the camera slides back into.
I have painted it in primer here.
Step 5: Painted
I used some spare paint, brushed on, to match the colour of the car.
Step 6: Camera Wiring Threaded Through Engine Air Vents
Here is the camera hanging out of the air vent, with its wire running into the vent then down into the engine bay, then through a hole in rear bulkhead, then to front of car to the flat monitor mounted on dash - as neatly as possible.
I did say at the start you need some patience to do this neatly!
Step 7: Slide Camera Into Housing Then Clip It to the Grille
The plastic housing has been slotted over the wire that emerges from the back of the camera, then the camera is being slid back into the housing. I used some hot melt glue to hold it securely.
NOTE: Before glueing anything make sure camera is the right way up by checking the monitor screen!
Step 8: Camera Finished.
Here the camera has been glued in and the housing has been clipped onto the air vent louvres. I used a little bit of epoxy glue here to keep it completely secure.
Also, where the cable goes down through the "inner louvres" into the engine bay, I slid some plastic tubing over it just to make sure the inner louvre edges did not chafe the cable over time.