Starting in 2012, backup cameras will become a standard option on new
cars to comply with the
Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act
This safety legislation is something I support as I have had several
backup car body scrapes. The worst was when I backed into a pole:
Cars and stuff can be fixed but what if it had been someone, a kid too
small to see, a family pet, or as statistics indicate likely, my wife?
I've tried several experiments to improve my rear view but they have
only been slightly successful:
In this case, the convex mirrors provide more blind-spot coverage but
nothing behind and below the trunk of our 2003 Prius.
I hired my local, independent shop to buy and install a combination
rear view mirror, backup camera, GPS and bluetooth unit. The shop
This part has a mirror and a 4.2" LCD screen. At $549 to me, this was
higher than similar units available over the net. Still this was his
first order but when I picked up my Prius, he had another car with a
similar order, his second job. So there were lessons learned by all.
The first problem was the mounting assumed a 1 inch square post could
be glued to the inside of the windshield . . . WRONG! The technician
tried to hold the post and get me to adjust the mirror and it came
right off. I told him I never wanted the original mirror in my car
again so I proposed we take the ball mount off the original mirror and
fit it to the new mirror/screen system.
With a screwdriver and some effort including breaking the mirror out,
we got the ball mechanism and with a bit of trimming, the ball socket
could be attached. However, we needed some longer, smaller machine
screws so I went to Lowe's and at the same time, I picked up a 1/4",
fine grained plywood square. Over the weekend, the technician figured
out the fixture and now the new mirror/screen uses the original mount.
This particular unit has an especially lame "User Manual" and no
warranty card or support contact information. Eventually, I was able
to find the likely USA vendor and sent an email asking about warranty
and support. So far, no answer.
The bluetooth synced with our cell phone without any problem. The
voice quality is good and the only draw back is having to enter the
phone number on the screen. So I have to reach up to the touch screen,
almost as if I'm adjusting it. Otherwise, it is hands free.
The backup camera works well but there was nothing to adjust the
pitch. As installed in the trunk lid, I need to fabricate a semi-
circular shim to pitch it down a little more so I can see objects
closer to the bumper. Still the the daylight images are clear and it
works fine at night using the backup and stop lights. Sad to say,
during the day running the software, the screen can be somewhat washed
out. However, it is usable, at least for now. I do not know how well
it will be in a year or more from now. Also, the new mirror/screen is
larger than the OE mirror so there can be some interference with the
visors. But it is still easy enough to position them to block the sun.
This unit uses Route66, GPS software, ROUTE66N7.exe, under some sort
of windows derived software. Different than the Garmin nuvi, it
appears I can get software and map updates from the Route66 web site
although I may have to buy it from them. The software and map is on an
SD card. Still, it is a pleasure to see the GPS velocity on the
display as I'm running oversized, tires that make it is easy to drive
faster than desired.
Here the GPS software is running and even later, after increasing the
LCD contrast, it still seems washed out in daylight. Also a better
installation would hide the wires so I may yet go back and rework that
[*]bluetooth connection to iPad - to play audio
]second composite video - a laptop display of OBD data?
[*]playing other media (of course you have to be in the car to enjoy
I probably paid more for the unit than necessary. Worse, the warranty
and support options are 'do it yourself'. However, I've already paid a
$500 deductible from one backing accident. Best of all, I can now see
the area directly behind the car, an area previously blind.