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      02-17-2019, 10:32 PM   #1
doane2u
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Lightbulb 135i Convertible E88 Backup Camera for $60

Just bought a 2012 135i M sport convertible last month and love it, EXCEPT for the horrible rear and rear panel vision with the top up. The "sonar" type image on the Nav screen and the sound warnings are good for parking, but not for rear vision. There have been several solutions to this, the best one, by zx10guy does a lot and is completely integrated into the idrive screen but is about $700 and you have to tear the whole dash apart and figure out where to squeeze the units in. There are also other DIY discussions about this and they vary from wireless systems that use your iPhone as the screen to other ones that have to be hot wired in front or use a cigar lighter socket for power.

After some research and reading what others have attempted I came up with my own solution that is now working like a charm and is inexpensive. Installing it was fairly difficult, mainly getting the cable through the trunk tube and then getting it up to the inside area from the trunk, but I figured it out and this will make it easy for others without having to guess like I did. Also, there is a weird problem that others have run into where there is a lot of screen static and then a black, dead image. Using a trip relay can solve that problem but is also overly complicated and not necessary. All that is needed is a simple, inexpensive, rectifier to get rid of the AC signal riding on the 12-14v DC on most newer German makes.

For those of you just wanting to be able to clearly see what's behind you when backing out of a parking space with the top up and only spend $60 and maybe 4 hours work, here is my solution:

The system I chose is made by Boscam or by Audiovox and appear to be identical and the same price at $50 with shipping on Amazon. They each have the advantage of having good resolution and night vision and viewing angle and only requiring one power hookup at the rear backup taillight wires which also trip them on when in the reverse mode. But like many other units, they won't work on German cars unless you put a rectifier between them and the back up wire power source. I found this Dasaita rectifier does the trick for only $10 with shipping on Amazon. Here is the hookup for my 2012 (check to be sure your wiring to the back up light is the same):


Here is the finished install which only comes on, with no delay, when I go into reverse:





First you have to remove the panel on the trunk lid held on by 8 connectors. The camera is attached behind the license plate. It comes with a centered hole, but I didn't want it centered over the screw cover, so I drilled another hole to the right of it. I then drilled a hole in the right license plate light plastic housing and fed the cable up through that hole. Here's a photo and how it ends up looking very inconspicuous and hidden:





With the cable inside the trunk lid it is fished down to the right where the flexible tube joins the body. (the green line in the photo) This is the fairly hard part, getting the cable through the tube which is already full of wires.
Undo both ends of the tube and using KY jelly fish a 14 gauge electrical wire through it. Then using electrical tape, attach the cable to the end of the fish wire and lubing it up well, pull it through the tube. You will have to try to get the tube straight and do a lot of pulling back and forth, but it will eventually go though. (note: do not use dish soap, etc. as they are caustic and can damage the wires, KY jelly is safe on rubber and plastics) When you get it through the tube you are going to use the same fish wire technique to get the cable down into the trunk area where you have removed an access panel on the right. (see the photo). Lub up the ends of the tube and reinstall the tube by working them back into the sheet metal on the lid and the body and be sure they are well seated and secured. You can then put the trunk lid panel back on, concealing the wires or wait till later. Here's a photo:



Now you plug the camera cable into the marker switch, connect the red + and black - wires to the rectifier and connect the rectifier input wires to the tail light back up wires. I soldered the connections between the marker switch and the rectifier and wrapped them in electrical tape. For my E88 the rectifier wires attach to the tail light positive black/purple and the negative attaches to the brown. I used wire taps so as not to have to cut the tail light wires. Wrap up excess power wires with the marker switch and mount it behind the removable panel with some bubble wrap so they don't rattle.

Next you need to run the long cable from the marker switch up into the cabin and to the screen in the front. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get the cable into the cabin and finally came up with this solution. Put the convertible top half way down as shown in this photo.



You will see that there is access up into the top storage from the trunk. Put the top back up, then from the trunk, using your fish wire again, feed it into that upper top down area. Close the trunk and put the top half way down again. Using you fish wire pull the cable up into the top storage area. Lay it along the existing wire run as shown in the photo and secure with ties. Then feed it through the hole in the sheet metal. You are going to feed the cable down into the cabin after removing the back seat cushion. Here's a photo of the part way down top with the wire feed path.. be sure it isn't going to come in contact with any moving parts.



The back seat cushion has two front center clips that remove fairly easily when you pull up on the seat, There are two other bigger ones on either side that you really have to pull up hard on the seat to release, but then you can remove the seat completely.

When you fish the cable down to the seat you can then run it over to the center area and fish it over to the center drive train column where you can easily tuck it under the plastic panels covering the carpet and up to the front of the dash, then over to the cubby hole in front of the shift. It will be completely invisible, except for maybe a very small area in front of the seat over to the rear of the center console. Put the back seat bottom back in.. it's difficult because you have to get the seat belt retainers into the two holes in the seat bottom. I ended up pushing one up into the hole, then attaching it to the seat belt, then the other, then I pushed the seat back in place and snapped in down onto the four front retainers.

OK, at this point, you can plug the long cable you ran into the screen cable and put the screen in the cubby hole using the supplied adjustable base like this:





If you do it this way, it will sit up higher and will be more permanently mounted. I wanted it to sit lower down and be easy to remove, but secure, so I ended up fiddling around cutting some packing foam, the rubbery kind that cuts cleanly and doesn't make a mess and I then spray painted it flat black. Here are the rough dimensions and what it ended up looking like. The screen pushes into place wedged between the dash and the consol while the foam under it pushes up and keeps it in place and it is very secure, but can be removed easily and is unobtrusive.







Hope some others here find this useful and feel less intimidated to take on a rear camera project and with out spending a lot.
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      02-17-2019, 11:34 PM   #2
doublevanosrc
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Very nice work, however the M badge on the back is a no no.
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      02-18-2019, 07:26 AM   #3
JimD
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Looks good. I used a Garmin rear camera because it interfaces with my always on GPS on the left of the instrument cluster. It transmitts wirelessly but I had the same sort of wiring to do in the rear.

My main reason for comment is my way of getting the camera signal into the trunk where the transmitter is. I pulled out the trunk latch and drilled a hole in it's plastic housing for the wire then snapped it back in place. I like the idea of the hole in this latch which could easily be replaced rather than the trunk.
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      02-18-2019, 08:27 AM   #4
bobdavisnpf
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Doane2u thanks for the great write up and detailed pics, especially for showing the wireways and passages you used. A few questions:

1. In your screenshot image, the far lower left corner - is that your rear bumper? How far toward the taillight assembly is that spot? Trying to get a feel for side-rear visibility here.

2. In your experience, is the screen's size, contrast, and refresh rate good enough to easily spot movement at the right and left peripheral areas? My primary interest in rear camera is spotting pedestrians whose path I might cross while backing and turning to exit a parking space or driveway.

3. If I wanted to slip some flex tubing or shrink tubing over the camera's 2-lead cable (to shield the exposed part running from license plate light to camera body), how big a diameter tube would I need, to fit over the cable end that plugs into the Marker Switch?
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      02-18-2019, 10:42 AM   #5
doane2u
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doublevanosrc View Post
Very nice work, however the M badge on the back is a no no.
I'm so sorry.. It's an M sport and has dual turbos and the sport suspension and dual clutch shifting and it's faster than hades.. what do you want?
Also, now that I can see when I back up, it's pretty much perfect .. this car is amazing.

Last edited by doane2u; 02-18-2019 at 11:36 AM..
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      02-18-2019, 10:50 AM   #6
doane2u
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimD View Post
Looks good. I used a Garmin rear camera because it interfaces with my always on GPS on the left of the instrument cluster. It transmitts wirelessly but I had the same sort of wiring to do in the rear.

My main reason for comment is my way of getting the camera signal into the trunk where the transmitter is. I pulled out the trunk latch and drilled a hole in it's plastic housing for the wire then snapped it back in place. I like the idea of the hole in this latch which could easily be replaced rather than the trunk.
Sounds good, Jim. I drilled a hole in the right license plate pop out unit right next to the slot for a screw driver to remove it (see photo above). was very easy to do.. popped it out, removed the connector, took it over to the bench and drilled the hole, then popped it back in place and fed the cable through it. I didn't drill any holes through the sheet metal.
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      02-18-2019, 11:11 AM   #7
doane2u
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdavisnpf View Post
Doane2u thanks for the great write up and detailed pics, especially for showing the wireways and passages you used. A few questions:

1. In your screenshot image, the far lower left corner - is that your rear bumper? How far toward the taillight assembly is that spot? Trying to get a feel for side-rear visibility here.
Didn't notice it till you pointed it out, I think you're right, must be the edge of the bumper. The rear visibility is a huge improvement for me. Went to the store yesterday and parked, when I pulled out, I could see traffic coming from the sides for the first time, so it's solved it for me.

Quote:
2. In your experience, is the screen's size, contrast, and refresh rate good enough to easily spot movement at the right and left peripheral areas? My primary interest in rear camera is spotting pedestrians whose path I might cross while backing and turning to exit a parking space or driveway.
I would say yes, see above, I'm really pleased with the view angle results and the image quality is better than some others I have seen. Also, on the back of the screen you can adjust the contrast and brightness, but I haven't experimented with that yet, image seems fine as is. I also have the BMW "sonar" type warning image on the Nav screen and sound as a bonus, while looking at the back up screen, the sonar beeps if anything is close to me on the sides

Quote:
3. If I wanted to slip some flex tubing or shrink tubing over the camera's 2-lead cable (to shield the exposed part running from license plate light to camera body), how big a diameter tube would I need, to fit over the cable end that plugs into the Marker Switch?
I only have one cable from the camera that goes through the hole I drilled in the license plate light unit. Camera and cable are water proof. Here's another photo of the camera with bracket. I drilled holes on both sides of the bracket and mounted it off center to the license plate screw with cap. The bracket holding the camera is bendable to adjust it for the view.. probably the only weak spot as it might get bumped out of adjustment, but it can be easily adjusted as well. I find the parking lines actually quite useful to gauge distance, but they don't bend as you turn.
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      02-19-2019, 06:00 PM   #8
doane2u
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobdavisnpf View Post
Doane2u thanks for the great write up and detailed pics, especially for showing the wireways and passages you used. A few questions:
Just a couple of more comments that might help for your questions:

Quote:
1. In your screenshot image, the far lower left corner - is that your rear bumper? How far toward the taillight assembly is that spot? Trying to get a feel for side-rear visibility here.
I just did a test and found that the advertised angle of 170 degrees is exaggerated, it's actually about 160 degrees, still not bad and better then a lot of the others that are only about 110-120 degrees. Anyway, with it's 160 degree view an object that is 5 foot behind the car can be about 12 foot to either side of the camera and will show up in the screen. It really is proving to be useful backing out of parking spaces with cars on either side blocking my view.

Quote:
2. In your experience, is the screen's size, contrast, and refresh rate good enough to easily spot movement at the right and left peripheral areas? My primary interest in rear camera is spotting pedestrians whose path I might cross while backing and turning to exit a parking space or driveway.
Yes, see above. Also, I fiddled with the menu button on the back and it's actually pretty neat... you can adjust the brightness, contrast, color and even the screen format ratio (not sure why you would want to change that though)
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      02-20-2019, 05:48 AM   #9
bobdavisnpf
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Thanks for the additional detail. Great looking project, and looks like it fits my needs for a wicked low cost.
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