Replacing a broken reversing camera
As more vehicles come pre-fitted with a reversing camera we are getting more and more requests for help when they fail. We have separated this help section into 3 parts depending on the vehicle involved. The most common question we are asked is how do you work out if the reversing camera is broken or if it is the monitor. Generally if your monitor can show a menu then it will be the camera at fault. It often helps to disconnect the camera as some monitors have built in protection that my be operating due to a camera fault.
The reversing cameras fitted onto cars are close to impossible to replace without buying the manufacturers version if it is available. If it is just a single reversing camera only then you have some hope, but are fairly slim hope! The first problem you will come across is if you needs a PAL or NTSC format camera. Generally the NTSC format is the one we see most commonly with many vehicles, but you will need to find out before buying the camera. One way of doing that is to take a video signal from something like a digibox and feed it into the video feed for the camera. That leads us to the second problem which is identifying the video feed. Normally you expect a yellow wire to be used for video. Experience tells us this is not always the case. You can usually find help by searching the forums for your vehicle. If when you feed the signal in you get a rolling or black and white image then you need a NTSC format camera. By this stage you will have found the wires going to your broken camera and scanning photographs of reversing cameras you cannot see any of them with matching plugs. Usually you find some form of Molex connector that allows you to disconnect your old camera from the vehicle electrics. It is this connector and leads from your old camera you can use to create an adaptor for your new camera. This will allow you to easily replace your camera in future. We now come across your third problem. You do not know what each wire does! Usually one is the positive power supply, one the negative (ground) and one the video. It is unusal to find a fourth unless sound is fitted to your camera. The next thing to do is check the voltage on the positive wire. You can find this by trial and error with a multimeter using the vehicle body as the earth. You are most likely going to find this is 5 volts. This is now your fourth problem as all the aftermarket cameras are 12 volt and the majority will not work below 9 volts. You can get around this by using a relay to use the 5 volt to switch a 12 volt supply. Ok we are now ready for problem number 5. Finding a vehicle specific camera. There are more and more appearing on the market, but there are only a small number of UK firms offering them. You can find on ebay and these will come direct from China. They will work, but you will be glad you made an adaptor so it can easily be replaced when it fails! The replacement unit will not be to the same specification as the original. This has its greatest effect if you have parking assist lines. They will not quite point you in the correct direction. The other alternative is a universal camera. You can get them to fit in quite discrete places and they will usually be a much higher specification than vehicle specific cameras. They will also be cheaper!
The other type of camera system you may have is a 360 degree or birds eye system. Our advice here is to give up! You will need a 180 degree camera and these need to be calibrated to fit the vehicle you have. The dealer will charge an arm and a leg if they are able to assist you.
Generally the factory fit camera option is done at a budget. Various manufacturers have changed what they do including the cables they fit on an almost yearly basis. A number began fitting fairly standard camera, but due to issues with corrosion or leakage are tending to go with the bullet style camera in a housing. We have a section on the types of connector you may find, but unless you have a female aviation style 4 pin connector or the yellow video connectors you will be looking for adaptors or help making one.
UK made motorhomes:- Generally you will find a male 6 pin PS/2 connector and most of these were provided by Sargent's Electrical. Usually there will be a small control box somewhere in the motorhome that does the job of switching the system on and off. In Autotrails they often used a drop down monitor branded Obserview which could also display a signal from a digibox. Usually it is easier to replace both the camera and monitor in these systems if you have issues. We do stock a 4 pin to 6 pin adaptor for the task to adapt the long cable running through the vehicle. Any control box though needs to be removed from the system. We also stock various adaptor cables that allow the replacement of a camera or monitor. We are able to test the EM control boxes if you suspect that is at fault, although in our experience they are fairly robust.
German made motorhomes:- On motorhomes such as Burstner you often find 6 pin male PS/2 connectors. The age of the vehicle has some impact as on some of the older ones you can find not all 6 pins are connected. The most common solution to a broken camera is to make up an adaptor cable using the lead from the old camera. We usually find the white wire is the video, bare shield the earth and red positive. However experience has taught us never to take anything for granted.
More modern European motorhomes:- Many such a Hobby, Bailey some Chausson etc use Waeco cables. We do adaptors for these, but a complete system needs to be fitted. Waeco in their wisdom have used 3 different pins to carry the video so a camera only adaptor is not available. You can make up an adaptor from the existing camera cable. It is not too difficult finding out which wire carries the video and sound as they are covered in a bare copper shield.
Some lorries like Volvos can come with nice camera systems, but when a camera fails the cost can be over £500 to replace. You can get one of our cameras to work with them by creating an adaptor using you old camera lead. If you do go this route then we have a help page on creating adaptors. We do have the Famos camera adaptors to fit some Volvos. Brigade are fairly easy to find adaptors for depending on the model of system you have. We have some of the adaptors made up usually.
CVBS or AHD
Any camera attached to a DVR or bought since 2020 has a chance of being an AHD camera. AHD stands for analogue high definition and will become the standard over time. An AHD camera will not work in as monitor made for CVBS cameras. The more recent hybrid monitors though will work with the older CVBS cameras and the more modern AHD. Sadly it is not always easy to work out which is which as cameras are often not marked. As a general rule if you have a mobile DVR fitted then the cameras are likely to be AHD. AHD can come in several resolutions and will be described as 720P, 960P or 1080P. Some monitors are fussy over what resolution they will take. On mobile DVRs you often have to set the camera resolution in the menu.