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Author Topic: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile  (Read 9071 times)

DennyHayes

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Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« on: October 29, 2006, 03:00:09 PM »

I have a Pioneer AVIC-N2 navigation system installed in my car, which has various audio and video inputs, which can be used for TV, XM Radio, etc.  It also has a few extra auxiliary inputs that can be used for other features.  I would like to instal a pan zoom camera in the rear window of my car, which can be controlled with some sort of remote, and sends video to one of the aux video inputs of my nav system.

I have found something called the Vangard on the X10 web site, but am not sure if it will work or if there might be a better one.  There is not a lot of technical description on the web site, though I assume that it needs 110VAC, which is easy to achieve with any small off the shelf convertors.  But I am not sure if there are any other problems, or if there is a better way to do this.
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tjdavj

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2006, 03:54:29 PM »

Dennis,
            The Vanguard camera should work fine in your car, and it does have a remote control, although you will have to figure out how to mount it.

The power requirements for the camera is 15vdc @ 800ma. This is provided by a wall wart style power adapter that has a transformer in it.

To be on the safe side, I would recommend that you invest in a true sine wave converter since most transformer based wall warts do not last when using modified sine wave converters. [they tend to overheat]

Also look at the Video Calling system. It uses the same camera [XC21A] as the Vanguard system and is considerably less expensive.
(it comes with different software and a short video cable)
Heres the link: http://www.theworldsbestwebcam.com/

Hope this helps and let us know how it turns out..
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DennyHayes

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2006, 11:01:41 PM »

Very interesting that you can get the same thing for that much less :)  Hmmmmmm.... so it actually runs off of 15 VDC, and most cars put out almost 14 VDC when the car is running,  Since most electronic devices are not created to run exactly on a specific voltage, it is a good bet that it would run on the 13.6 VDC supplied by a typical car electrical system.  Also, the logic circuitry probably uses 5 VDC or less, which is regulated down from the 15 VDC, and the 15 VDC is probably for the DC motors, which typically will run on almost any voltage, just a little slower, so it is a good bet that it will even run on 12 VDC, which is what a car electrical supply has with the motor off.  I assume that the video out is just the typical video signal that will work too.
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tjdavj

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2006, 12:19:50 AM »

Quote
so it is a good bet that it will even run on 12 VDC, which is what a car electrical supply has with the motor off

I was actually wondering about that too, please let me know if it works..

Quote
  I assume that the video out is just the typical video signal that will work too.

You are correct,  it is standard composite video.
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2006, 12:52:38 AM »

Very interesting that you can get the same thing for that much less :)  Hmmmmmm.... so it actually runs off of 15 VDC, and most cars put out almost 14 VDC when the car is running,  Since most electronic devices are not created to run exactly on a specific voltage, it is a good bet that it would run on the 13.6 VDC supplied by a typical car electrical system.  Also, the logic circuitry probably uses 5 VDC or less, which is regulated down from the 15 VDC, and the 15 VDC is probably for the DC motors, which typically will run on almost any voltage, just a little slower, so it is a good bet that it will even run on 12 VDC, which is what a car electrical supply has with the motor off.  I assume that the video out is just the typical video signal that will work too.

You've got to be careful when powering electronic devices from an automotive electrical system when the devices are not designed to be used that way.  There can be some wicked transients generated when heavy loads are switched on and off, e.g., starter, AC compressor, various fans.

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DennyHayes

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2006, 01:56:16 PM »

Yea, that is always a consideration, though as an electrical engineer, it would be easy to make a little cheap filter/regulator with a zener diode.  Also, I don't know what kind of plug-in power supply they use, but most of those are kinda cheap, pickup transients from the power line, and are not even regulated. Because of that, most electronic devices filter what comes in and then regulate it.  I'm sure that they don't run the logic electronics off of 15 VDC, so they have to regulate it down anyway, which does filtering.  Just in the case they did a bad job of that, just buying a cheap MOV varistor for a few cents and tacking it across the line will pull out any spikes.  I see Digi-Key has some good ones that would work at http://www.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?Criteria?Ref=228742&Site=US&Cat=33359061. That is all they do when you pay $5 more for a protected AC power strip vs a non protected one :)  My main concern is will it really work on 12VDC, though my guess is that it will. I'll hook it to my variable DC power supply when I get it, and crank the voltage down to see what it does.
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2006, 04:02:52 PM »

Denny:
Better add a diode too for reverse transients.

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DennyHayes

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2006, 05:55:03 PM »

Yea, probably a good idea, though that will drop the DC voltage another .5 volts. If I use like a 17 V varistor, it should stop any reverse voltage over 17 VDC, and I doubt that a reverse voltage of 17 volts will hurt anything.  Most electronics have diode protection, in the case that you use a power suppy with reverse polarity anyway. People have so many of those plugin power supplies these days, and often grab the wrong one.  They would be getting a lot of returns if they didn't protect the device against that :)
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2006, 08:00:44 PM »

Denny:
I was thinking of a diode in parallel with the MOV.

This goes back quite a few years, but I recall the qualification specs published by a couple of the Detroit biggies called for electronic equipment to withstand short spikes of several thousand volts (which was probably overkill, but still ...).  This was before there were many  electronics in cars other than radio and electronic ignition.  Modern automotive electrical systems may have more built-in transient suppression.  Nevertheless, we're talking about a $300 camera at risk here.
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DennyHayes

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2006, 10:02:31 PM »

Interesting .... A varistor is basically two back to back zener diodes, which will short out a spike larger than the zener rating through the other zener forward direction. Spikes either direction over that rating should be shorted.  So if you parallel it with a regular diode, all that I can see that you are doing is reducing the short voltage in the reverse direction to 0.5 V.  That protects the circuit from a reverse direction spike between 0.5 V and the zener rating.  I don't think a reverse direction spike of say 17 V will hurt anything, but we have no idea of how they designed the input power circuit, and since it doesn't hurt anything, I guess it is a good idea :)
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2006, 10:21:44 PM »

Denny:
One other thing you may need to be concerned with is the temperature in the back window of a closed car parked in the summer sun, especially if the sun is beating down on the camera.  I've had some plastic things get badly warped from exposure like that.

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DennyHayes

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2006, 01:25:31 PM »

Yea, I kinda considered that, and I found another problem.  The car I want to instal it in, is a Camaro Z28, which is a hatchback with a strong slope to the window.  Light striking a glass surface at a sharp angle gets bent, and it cuts down the amount of light that goes through.  If the angle is too great, the glass becomes a mirror and no light goes through.  I tried using binoculars with a zoom, to see what it would be like, and what I was didn't look good.  The sharpness was gone, and the objects were pale in color.  The rear window defroster lines also reduce the light. So I have decided to try to design a nice looking streamlined case for it, that looks good on a sports car, and mount it outside, probably above the rear bumper.  If I get hit in the rear I am in trouble, but I don't park my car where it is at risk. I will have to design the enclosure to that it is rain proof, but allows air flow. I was thinking about getting a piece of a 6 to 10 in diameter clear polycarbonate tube, and then cutting it is half, so that I have a curved half circle window. I can tape off the inside, where the camera needs to see, and spray paint the rest of the inside black.  Then make a cover for the top and back out of thin metal, and painting it to match the car.  It would have a Darth Vader look.

I can see that this is becoming a big project :)  Before I go through all this, I need my camera to see if it is even worth it. I looked at the demo of the camera on the X-10 web site, where it zooms in on a girl in a swimming pool, who must be 150 to 200 ft away. The way it works, shows that it is mostly a digital zoom, and it is hard for me to believe that you can end up with the clarity they show of the girl's face.  If it is that sharp, since my nav system has an output for recording what appears on the screen, I can see many other good uses for this.
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tjdavj

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2006, 02:44:10 PM »

Denny,

You may want to try mounting the camera upside down where the roof meets the top of the rear window. This may alleviate the mirror effect created by the refection of sunlight on the window. [You can flip the camera image via the remote control so it will be rightside up on your video display]

Also, regarding the zoom capabilities, I was able to read the lettering on a quarter at ~20ft, just using the optical zoom [22x]. Very impressive in my experience.

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DennyHayes

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2006, 08:21:42 PM »

There are a few problems with that idea.  First, as I mentioned, the steep angle of the glass cuts down the amount of light, because light entering a piece of glass gets bent, and much of the light is reflected off, instead of going through the glass. Mounting at the top or bottom of the window would have the same angle.  Second, the top of the rear window on Camaros is tinted with little dots.  Third, if it is at the top of the window, it would be between the two rear seats, and anyone sitting in those seats would have it next to their head. Forth, as was mentioned, it could get very hot in a car with the windows closed, and since heat rises, it would be even hotter near the roof.  Especially in sunny California :) I think mounting it outside is probably the best bet.

Man, if you can read a quarter at 20 feet, that is really good!
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DennyHayes

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Re: Installing A Pan Zoom Camera In An Automobile
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2006, 03:40:41 AM »

Well, I got my camera, and it is pretty impressive on one of my PCs, though I noticed they have no Mac support, which is my preference. I only have 3 PCs, and the rest of my computers are Macs.  There does seem to be a problem with the software on the PC, and some things that I haven't figured out how to change.  First, the camera ap, has a window in a window, with one window showing the whole of what the camera see, and the smaller window shows what part of the whole you have selected to view. On my computer, the larger window looks fine, but the smaller window shows nothing but a box that you can move around. The manual says I should see the whole of what the camera sees, but it shows nothing.

Also, I would like to find a way to turn off the words "Camera 1" that appears in the larger window.  The "Camera 1" even appeared when I connected it directly to a TV monitor. That is really annoying.
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