Friday 27 November 2015

Inside another DC-to-DC 12v to 5v adapter

Thursday 26 November 2015

Inside a cheap car 12v to 5v USB adapter

Monday 16 November 2015

New Video: Inside a cheap chinese LED E15 lightbulb

I've posted a new video to +YouTube "Inside a cheap chinese LED E15 lightbulb"

Sunday 15 November 2015

Dashcam/Reversing camera to Chrysler Grand Voyager - part 2

Briefly to complete my installation of the dashcam/reversing camera to my Chrysler Grand Voyager, I wanted to connect up the 12v 'sense' wires that are attached to the rear camera. These will then switch the screen on and set it to reverse mode (the reversing camera full screen), so I set about trying to connect these up.
The exterior light cluster on the GV comes out quite easily, two clips and the whole assembly pops out, and again the lights pop out from a clip, I can then see the wiring harness disappear into the chassis, typically further back than I'd hoped, so not within easy reach to any of the edges of the plastic boot covers.
So I set about taking the majority of the left-hand plastic covers off. This is additionally difficult as it has the boot opener/closer motor fitted to the chassis, so the plastic covers wouldn't come off completely as I'd need to disconnect the boot motor, which I didn't want to attempt.
So initially you have to take the boot tray/sill off, which is shown below. Just prise it up from one side as it has metal pop-clips on it, and comes off quite easily.

Then, unscrew the two retaining clips (These are what I assume support a boot cover if you have one too, they are crosshead screws inside), then start to prise off the side plastic panel:

These pop open from the back, and you have to slightly lift when doing that as they sit down onto retaining clips. This is quite tricky, as there are so many parts to this piece of plastic. It's a one-piece that goes from the base of the boot, up around the boot motor, round into the car and contains the rear window motor assembly and also the rear speakers, so quite a large piece of plastic with many shapes and fasteners.
I found that this was about as far as I could get, so could just move the plastic around and bend it slightly, just enough to get inside to route the wires and figure out whats going on.

I then discovered several odd things. The first was that a control box had been mounted inside the bodywork, and had a whole heap of wires coming out of it. Then, I noticed one of the wires from the main car wiring loom had been cut, extended and then joined into this black control box. The extension wire you can just see on the photo below, it's the red closest on the picture.

This had been black-taped at the joins, which always makes me think after-market fitting/work, basically because that's something I'd have done! After continuing with the job in hand, I started to test and trace for the cable connected to reverse lights, and found it's white with a light-green stripe. Sure enough, this is the wire that had been cut and extended as shown in the above photo, so now I know what this box was (probably), reversing sensors.

I'd always assumed the reversing sensors on my GV were factory fit, the sensors certainly looked it, and the module was sensibly fitted (It's a small black round circle with about 3 or 4 LEDs from green to red), but perhaps not! So anyway, this meant I could take another branch off this wire and use it for my reverse sense wire.

Wiring that in, the system worked great, when I select reverse the camera switches over and displays on the rear view mirror.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Fitting and wiring a dashcam to my Chrysler Grand Voyager

A few tips and guides from when I fitted a dashcam to my Chrysler Grand Voyager. The dashcam I decided on was a cheap chinese import, It's a Buyee HD 1080p 4.3" Dual lens Mirror dashcam.
Below is the product information from ebay (It was around £30 which seemed a cheap enough price to play around with!)

The idea is you clip the unit over your existing rear view mirror. Normally (when it's screen is off, which is most of the time) the unit is reflective so it acts like a normal mirror. The mirror finish is good, and my only comment would be it's a little 'blue' in it's reflection, but this is pretty good, so as a rear view mirror, no problems.
The power to it is via a supplied 12v cigarette style power plug, which has a really nice long power cable on it so you can thread it around the car. It also comes with a small rear-view camera to put at the back of your car for additional recording, and it also acts as a reversing camera (and has a 12v sensing cable to connect to reverse lights so the screen switches on and flicks to view this when it reverse).
Fastening it around the Chrysler mirror was fine, the mirror was about the same size (and the Chrysler mirror is large) and the camera pops out the side quite nicely (The camera is to the left of the back of the mirror). The issue here is I think this was designed for left-hand-drive, and so the camera swivel on it's mount wasn't quite good enough, I viewed more of the left pavement than of the right of the road (it was fine, but just not covering the right of the road as much as I wanted).
So I therefore decided to install the mirror upside down! This means that all menus, etc, are upside down, and the images recorded were upside down, but it had a better field of vision. I might look to open the unit up and flip the camera at some point, but not yet!

So now onto fitting the cables. Luckily along the top of the front windscreen it is just soft foam padding to the roof so gently pushing the cable up and hiding it was easy. At the left door pillar, same again just gently prise the rubber and plastic fittings and there is plenty room to put the cables in (one for power, one for rear view camera). Once above the passenger left hand door I left the camera cable there, as I was going to take the rear camera cable along the top of the car.
The power, I then fed down the pillar, again just gently hiding it behind the plastic pillar cover, and down towards the glovebox. At the left just above the glovebox was a plastic cover, prising this open (It has those metal pop-clips, so fine to prise open gently) let me feed the cable in and behind the glovebox (Glovebox, open it, gently squeeze the limiters and it drops fully open revealing behind it)
This is the view when the glovebox is completely dropped open (down towards the bottom of the picture).
You can see to the left the black cable is the dashcam power cable I was threading through.

Pass the cable straight through, then onto the hard part, into the base of the centre console (where the old tape storage box was on these cars).
What I was going to do was put a cigarette socket inside this storage box at the base of the centre console, and wire that into the current cigarette lighter socket that was operated via the ignition. Therefore the dashcam would automatically switch on when ignition on, and then off again when off.
I took most of the centre console panels apart (Removing the 'wooden' fascia by taking the top two screws out and prising it out). Here is the cigarette lighter socket removed:

To remove it, you can just about see the small push in clips. So with a flat screwdriver head, gently push this into the top of the socket, between the black plastic and the grey dashboard surround. You should be able to prise it out and it'll drop out like you see here.

Pull it out and you see the connector at the back. Press the release button and the connector comes out. Then I found the problem, this cable is really tight and not much spare. Trying to trace the wire drew a blank, it's in a harness that goes round the right hand side of the radio and I suspect straight to the ignition wires (or at least that harness) so getting 'spare' wire doesn't look an option. I therefore decided to take the whole plastic connector apart and solder straight onto it. The connector comes apart easily, sliding the metal contacts out, I was then able to solder on my wires and a bit of electrical tape for good measure. It ended up looking like this:

However, if you do the same thing, make sure the solder and electrical tape is tight (not like mine!) as when you come to push the connectors back on, they'll struggle as they're too wide for the connector. After a struggle that went back on, and so did the cigarette lighter socket. Testing each time, and all the way to ensure polarity is correct, etc. All looked good. So I know had my extension sockets in the lower tape compartment powering on and off with the ignition.

The socket I chose was also from ebay and was around £3 which included two sockets and usb charging sockets on them too, you can never have too many charging sockets!
All I did then was plug in the dashcam cable to the socket and it was ready to go!

Wiring the rear camera was more of a challenge, mainly because of the wiring route I had to take. I'll need to update this with photos and more info when I can but it got dark so I gave up for the day.
In brief, I ran the cable over the top of the passenger door, round the pillar plastic cover and along the top of the rear sliding door. Again just gently prising it into the gap from the rubber seal as there is a generous amount of space behind these without compromising the seal. Round the very rear window, and up to the roof again, then to the boot. I screwed the camera into the grey plastic of the boot lid so it was sat at the top of the boot window. It was pretty small and not obvious which was ideal.

The next problem was to connect into the reverse lights. The camera cable branches off and gives you a red+black cable to run for this. I prised the plastic around the left rear speaker (just below the electric window housing). I found the hard way, this plastic does prise apart, but it should be removed by sliding outwards, towards the boot. I think, as this is an entire plastic component you are supposed to take the whole piece out together (including the plastic cover around the boot opener, etc), but I just forced it and ended up almost snapping (and bending) the plastic retaining clips. That way, I managed to feed the cable down towards the jack stowage locker.

(red and black wire on the photo above just hanging at the moment, this is the sense wire for the dashcam for when reverse is engaged)

That's as far as I've got, taking the rear light cluster out I found nothing more than a small cable and rubber fitting going into the body, no easy/big access hole to feed the cable to! So I suspect I am going to have to remove more of the whole plastic covers at the rear to get to this, so that's a job for another day.

But for now, I'm happy with the job, the unit powers on and starts recording when ignition goes on, and the view from front and rear cameras is ideal!

Get in touch if you'd like any specific details, etc, or to let me know if you've given it a go too!