Rear View Camera

Poor field-of-view in this big box

On the drive home from the dealer, I kept looking at the interior rearview mirror. In a van that has no windows, that is an exercise in futility. Of course, there are the very nice Promaster power-folding side mirrors with individual adjustments for both the right and left main mirrors, as well as separate adjustments for the convex blind spot mirrors. I have driven plenty of trucks that only have side mirrors, but I could not stop staring at the useless inside rearview mirror.

Factory backup camera

The little dash display can be set to show the backup camera even when you are tooling down the highway, but it only shows a very short-range image, and it times out after a few minutes. Additionally, it takes several distracting touches on the screen to get to the backup camera view.

Dashcams

We have dash cams in some of our other vehicles, and I thought that I would look for a front+back dash cam that had a decently sized screen that I could set to display the rear camera while the dashcam continues recording both the back and front cameras.

Solution: rearview mirror back up camera

After surfing Amazon for a bit, I decided to take a shot on this rearview mirror camera: Rearview mirror backup camera. It only had a few reviews at the time, and they were already pretty positive.

Camera install step-by-step

So the first challenge was to mount the rear camera. I loved the idea of putting it in the factory housing that holds the factory backup camera, so we popped off the cover to see what was in there:

Rear light panel removed

The wire and camera on the left is the factory camera, which will still be functional. The wire on the right runs the marker lights.

Looking inside the cover, it appeared that there would be room for the new camera:

Plenty of room

Some careful work with a Dremel made a nice hole:

Dremel hole for new rear-view cam

A quick test fit:

Product review: rear-view camera in a Promaster van
Fits like it was made to be there

Keeping things simple, I used SEM 29392 Automotive Seam Sealer (this is great stuff) to bond and seal the camera into the housing:

Product review: rear-view camera in a Promaster van
Gooey great stuff

I used a couple of C clamps to hold the camera’s metal bracket in place while the seam sealer cures.

Product review: rear-view camera in a Promaster van
Ready to cure

Here is a shot of the factory housing reinstalled, sporting the new camera:

Product review: rear-view camera in a Promaster van
New cam in place (upper right side)

Unless you were looking for it, I do not think it would be noticed.
Since the van is entirely empty, running the cable was easy. However, the cable that comes with the camera–while long enough for any normal car–was not long enough for the Promaster. It was pretty easy to find an extension cable through the juggernaut that is Amazon. I used this one:
Rearview camera extension cable.

The attachment of the camera to your existing rearview mirror is a couple of simple elastic rubber straps. It seems secure enough for now. Could always resort to some VHB if it wobbles or the bands break–though that would probably be overkill.

Product review: rear-view camera in a Promaster van
Rear-view cam attached to existing mirror

From the front of the van, it is a reasonably low profile:

Product review: rear-view camera in a Promaster van

Sorry for the reflections in the dirty window. The front camera has a ball mount that allows it to be aimed through a small range. You can rotate the entire mirror to do coarser aiming.

The rear camera has a vertical aiming function in software. The rear camera always records the entire resolution vertically, but you can scroll which portion of that is shown on the TFT. Works well. It has a nice wide view, so there is no adjustment needed side-to-side.

It turns out that the camera will accept a 256GB micro SD card, as long as you format it in the camera.

Here is a short trip we took, the front camera video.

And the corresponding rear camera video.

I found myself glancing at the “mirror” (actually a very nice custom-shape TFT display) for lane changes. To me, that is proof that the TFT display and camera is performing the function of a real mirror.

Night vision

We took a photo of both the Dmyco and normal rear views as we were backing up to a door. This first shot is from my wife’s iPhone, and though not in focus it shows the different fields of view.

This image is from a single photo, I cut the photo to put the images close together:

This second photo is from my (not as good) Android’s camera. Even with this rather cruddy photo, you can see so much more detail in the Dmyco than in the OEM mirror.

This image is from a single photograph, chopped to put the images close together.

Related:

Question from a viewer

We received this question via email: “I could not find how the rear camera cable was fed through the cab area to the mirror.”

Our reply:

Thanks for your question.
Our van was (is) empty, so it was easy to run the signal cable in the upper driver side chase from the rear enclosure up to the cab. It did require an extension cable.

We taped over the extension connectors so it could not easily come undone.

Once we got to the cab area, it gets more interesting. Since we were disassembling the headliner for insulation we just ran the backup camera signal wire above the lower headliner and dropped it down right above the mirror. You can see the cables in various pictures in this post.

We used this to supply power: it is a “hardwire” 12v to 5v power supply with a mating “mini USB” connector. Between the length of the 5v USB cable and the red/black 12v wires on that power supply, it is just long enough to go diagonally across the headliner and down the B-Pillar trim, reaching the reach the upfitter connectors.   

In these pictures:

you can see the 5v USB wire (starts to the left of the bar, crosses over the bar and goes to the right. (The rear-view wire starts on the right, over the bar and heads off to the left.)

This picture:

shows the wire cutting across, where it will be after the headliner is replaced.

In this picture:

you can see a glimpse of at the right edge where it goes from over the headliner and angles down behind the B-Pillar trim.

If you are not going to remove your headliner, you might be able to tuck the wires under the edges of the headliner and route them over to the mirror area that way. You would probably need to extend the wires on the power supply to have enough length.

I hope that your install goes well!

In summary

The only annoyance so far is that the mirror defaults to the front view, so you have to do a quick left swipe when it first powers up. Every time it powers up. ☹️

Update: I found out that turning on the randomly named “Stream Mode” setting makes the rearview camera the default. So now it works automatically as a rearview mirror without touching it.

Other than that minor annoyance, this rear-view cam is very useful. Frankly, it is better than a factory mirror. There are no obstructions and a wider view.

Additionally, mounted way up high in the Promaster’s factory camera housing gives great rear visibility—looking right over the top of most vehicles. Definitely worth it! 


Unless otherwise noted, we have purchased all review items ourselves. We offer our own opinions about the product/service. Full terms and conditions here.

Comments are closed.