Adding a Wireless Rear-View Camera – The AUTO-VOX Solar4


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The back wall in our Winnebago EKKO is solid – there are no windows in it.  So the standard-issue rear-view mirror on the windshield doesn’t get you much.  But we really wanted a rear view mirror!  Years of driving have conditioned us to look in exactly that place to see what’s behind us.  After a year of looking, I finally decided on this solution.  I go through the product evaluation and (two) complete install(s) in this video!

 

The camera you see me installing is the AUTO-VOX Solar4.  It’s a fairly new product from AUTO-VOX, and they sent it to me so that I could review it.  As a fair disclosure, I received the Solar4 free of charge.  Although, I had been looking at products from AUTO-VOX anyway, so it was a happy coincidence when they contacted us.

This just in!! AUTO-VOX is offering 20% off to Fit RV readers. Just enter the code “TheFitRV” at Amazon checkout. This is good until July 31st, 2022, and it *can* be combined with the coupon currently on the product.

Initial Impressions

One of the big selling points of the Solar4 is that it’s wireless (or nearly so).  The picture transmission happens wirelessly, so you don’t have to string wires from the head unit back to the camera.  That was a huge bonus for me, because running wires invisibly is time consuming.  We have yet to experience a loss of reception that would affect the picture, so their transmission approach seems solid.  (I believe it’s WiFi.)  The camera and the monitor came pre-paired, so you don’t have to go through the pairing process unless you want to install a second camera.

You will need to provide power for the monitor, but they provide a cigarette-lighter plug adapter for that.  The camera has its own battery, so it technically doesn’t even need power once it’s charged.  But they provide you with a small solar panel that you can hook up to the camera to keep it charged up.  AutoVox claims that in sunshine, the camera will work for up to 15 hours.  (I didn’t drive around for 15 hours just to check that though…)

The picture quality in daytime was great.  It’s 1080p, and though the frame rate is not 60 fps, it’s perfectly adequate for a rear view mirror.  It’s incredibly sunny here, and the video shooting out the windshield doesn’t quite do the picture justice.  I had no trouble seeing the display even while wearing sunglasses in bright daylight.

At night, the camera switches to IR mode.  This is great for backing up, because it gives you a lot of detail even in pitch darkness.  But for driving around at night… headlights behind us did blow out the picture, as you see in the video.  I honestly wished there was a way I could shut off the IR vision mode at night for driving, and then toggle it on if I needed to back up.  Let’s call that a feature suggestion for them.

There are other menu settings you can see in the video, but for me, the important one was the timeout.  It has a “Never” setting, which means you can leave it on as a rear view camera and it won’t ever turn off.  Perfect.

The 10 Minute Install

The manufacturer claims an easy, 10 minute install, and I feel like that’s a legitimate claim – if you’re willing to install it as they instruct.  The dash mount is easy enough to use, and if you don’t mind plugging something in to your 12v lighter socket, the dash bits go right in.  I didn’t stick it to our dash, but I have no reason to believe the provided tape wouldn’t work – as long as you take your time installing it.

You do have to pay attention when installing the camera mounting bracket.  This is because you’ll be screwing it into your vehicle and you don’t want to create any leaks in the process.  To keep out leaks, I created a custom gasket using some material I got from Organized Obie (that they don’t have on their website yet, so I can’t link to it directly).

The install kit does come with two versions of the mounting bracket.  There’s the small bracket – which you would use if you were going to install it on a mostly vertical surface, and the “Z” bracket, which you’d want to use to install it on a horizontal surface, like a roof.  I wound up using both of these brackets at different points in the video.  They work the same, so just use the one that fits your install situation.

Once you’ve got the bracket installed, the camera snaps right in and secures with a set screw.  If you’re installing the solar panel, that will just mount to your roof with the double sided tape that’s provided.

My Significantly More Involved Install

Once I had decided we were keeping it, I pursued an installation that makes the Solar4 seem almost like it was built into the coach.  Naturally, this was more complicated than the 10 minute install, but I think the results are worth it.

I installed a cigarette lighter plug underneath the dash by the steering wheel.  I tapped into an existing ignition-on circuit at the fuse box with a simple fuse tap.  Once that was done, I just used the provided cable and routed it up and around the windshield.

The physical mounting of the camera to the windshield was a bit more difficult.  There wasn’t anything commercially available to convert the AUTO-VOX mount to a Ford Transit Rear View Mirror mount, so I had to 3D print something myself.  Developing the model took a bit of trial and error, but paid off in the end.

I imagine people may want that (I know I would have), so I’ve shared the model here.  You’ll also need to get an oval head 8-32 machine screw and nut, approximately 1.5” long.  (Though I used a 2 inch screw and cut it down, so I can’t say for certain.) Nyloc nut recommended as it will keep from backing out.  Available at any hardware store.

If you don’t have access to a 3D Printer, I’ve also uploaded the model to Treatstock, where you can arrange to have it printed and shipped to you by a 3D printing company.  The link to the product on Treatstock is here.  (The model is currently being reviewed, give it a couple days and check back if you don’t see it yet.)

Finally, there was the issue of getting power to the rear camera to keep its battery charged.  I can’t take complete credit for the solution, because it was our friend Steve who had the idea.  You can see it in the video, but basically, I just drilled a hole right into the RV to run a USB cable through.  Someone will ask me about the grommets I used to seal up the hole in the trim.  You can find those on Amazon, here.

Once that hole was cut, everything hooked right up.

 

So, there you have it.  This was a project on my “try to find a solution for this long-term” list, and I’m happy to have it knocked out.  I’m also happy with the way the install turned out in the end, and the appearance is overall pretty good.

If you have any comments or questions, sound off in the comments below.  Cheers!

 



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    41 thoughts on “Adding a Wireless Rear-View Camera – The AUTO-VOX Solar4

      1. James - Post author

        I don’t remember where I put that one.
        It might not have done you much good anyway – I had to print like, 9 copies to get the clearance between the threads right. And I understand that’s slightly different – printer to printer.

        Reply
    1. Bill G

      About the rechargeable battery in the camera: Is it something standard like AA that I could recharge? How accessible is it? I am concerned because here in Seattle I have to recharge the batteries in our solar-powered outdoor motion lights in December and January.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I hear you on the low-solar months.
        The batteries are not removable. However, the entire camera is removable, and you could take it inside to charge via a USB cable.

        Reply
    2. Debra Burnaman

      Hi James,
      Thank you for the video. I received my camera today and I am trying to install with the help of your video. My camera’s movable angle seems to be the opposite of yours. 38 degrees down and 60 degrees up (with the power button on the bottom). Am I missing something, or do you think my camera was put together wrong?

      Thank you for the help

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Interesting.
        I’m not sure what’s going on there.
        I’d suggest contacting the manufacturer to see what they say. It seems odd that it would rotate further up than down, and the button and USB connection definitely belong on the bottom.

        Reply
        1. Debra

          Hi James,
          Apparently I wasn’t using enough force to change the angle. So… user error. On a side note….I received excellent customer service from Kaya at Audio-vox.
          Onto the install…

    3. Deb

      Hi, may I tap into your noggin of knowledge for a moment?

      I am ready to install the AUTO-VOX Solar4 on our 2017(.5) Travato 59K. I’d like to attach the z-bracket mounted camera to the top surface of the plastic backup camera housing located above the rear doors. Instead of drilling into that housing, I’d prefer to use 3M VHB double-sided tape if possible. Do you think VHB tape would be sufficiently strong enough to mount the AUTO-VOX Solar4 camera to that housing while withstanding the outdoor elements? If so, which 3M VHB double-sided tape product would you be comfortable recommending?

      I sure do appreciate your advice,
      Deb

      Reply
    4. John

      I used your file to get the part 3D printed. The screw that was used to attach the mirror was too short for the new part. Do you have the specs for what I will need? Wondering what you did. Thx

      Reply
    5. Mike Rosenberg

      I love this video (I love all your videos) Until I watched this video I did not know this oprion was avaiable. We have a SMB converted 2020 Sprinter, and seeing what is coming up on the right side to safely change lanes is an issue. Is 90 degrees sufficient field of view? We could offset it, or mount two cameras offset.
      Thanks,
      Mike

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We’ve been happy with the field of view from our camera so far. But I don’t know what your expectations are.
        You can – as you mention – install a second camera, and view a split-screen image.
        You could even install that camera on the *side* of your RV, on the right side (instead of the back), to really get a good view of what is there.

        Reply
    6. Jim McCrea

      Did you consider wiring the camera to the rear marker light so that it was powered whenever the Transit lights were on? I have been thinking about that approach for my EKKO. Thoughts on that approach? Thanks.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Considered it but dismissed it.
        We like to know what’s behind us whether our lights are on or not.
        If there was an ignition-on circuit in that area, I would have used it, but I didn’t see one.

        Reply
    7. Tom Tobiassen

      Thanks for this post James! Amazon has a “clip coupon” for this item so, between your discount and the Amazon coupon, I am saving $100 on this purchase. YAY! I’m checking around with my local RV builders to see if someone can 3D print the adapter. Carol and I are getting ready for a long trip to Florida in our EKKO and it would be nice to have this rearview mirror installed and working.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Fantastic!
        If you can’t find anyone locally to print the adapter, you could try a service like Treatstock, which can send the design to a printer and have it printed and shipped to you.

        Reply
        1. Tom Tobiassen

          Great info James! I sent your file to our RV shop to see if they can do it. If not, I will definitely check into Treatstock! We appreciate everything you have done and do for the EKKO community!

    8. Dan

      Love the install, James. I have a travel trailer that I installed a back up camera, wired it to a wifi transponder. The single is captured via an old iPhone. Very inexpensive and wireless. Only problem is I haven’t been able to find a stand alone rear view camera. The back up camera is more of “fish-eye” view. Have you come across cameras that are for rear view and not back up view? This is what I have now.
      https://amzn.to/3MTKuRN

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Well, the camera on our AUTO-VOX doesn’t seem to be very “fish-eyed”.
        It doesn’t have the view angles that our Winnebago-installed camera does, but for rear view we think that’s OK.
        AUTO-VOX does sell a stand alone camera that could be added to our system. I don’t know if it would work for yours.
        https://amzn.to/3aYe638

        Reply
    9. Judy Jones

      I have a possible answer on the why we have a rearview camera without a view.

      After my Lasix surgery I have dual focus one eye reading or close up one distance.. yes somehow my brain makes the adjustments..
      The BMV now requires me to have a rearview camera. .. and yes an officer can be picky about it.

      Reply
    10. Graham Smith

      Nice work, as usual. Seemed a bit complicated for a “wireless” install but it looks pretty slick. I put a HaloView rear view camera on my EKKO a couple months ago. The monitor clips over the rear view mirror and has a dash cam on it so I have both front and rear cameras. Monitor powered by the usual cigarette lighter plug. Camera powered from a 12V switch I put behind the middle cubby and runs up through the roof port. Also “wireless” in that there’s an antenna on the camera and one of the monitor. Not a big fan of nighttime view, but it does work.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        The Haloview units look nice, but I think the clip-on ones aren’t available right now. At least, I couldn’t find one.
        Regardless, recording and a forward camera are things I’m missing with this one, for sure.
        Is your Haloview “always” recording? Or do you have to start it recording each trip? That’s one thing I never could figure out about them.

        Reply
        1. Graham Smith

          They do go in and out of stock and have to ship from Hong Kong so it’s not the fastest. There are a three versions. The battery powered one seems to be easiest to get now but at the time only the one with an extension antenna was available so that’s what I got.

          While I have not spent any time fiddling with the video function, the dash cam appears to be always on. Don’t seem to be able to video the rear camera but you can record sound from the rear. The manual is rather limited.

        2. James - Post author

          What does the coverage look like on the Transit mirror? Does the mirror show through around the edges or sides of the Haloview? I think that would upset my OCD.

          Thinking about this, I suppose one advantage of the screen that’s closer to 4:3 is that it’s easier to get the Vanmade shade put up around it!

          Still… I wish this one had a dash cam and recorded.

        3. Graham Smith

          The Haloview monitor is larger than the Transit mirror so you don’t see the mirror at all. As far as the display, you can scroll the display up and down to change the apparent angle of view. You can have a look at GNR and we can compare the view.

        4. James - Post author

          OK. That’s actually good.
          Installing the under-dash plug and running the cable around the headliner actually isn’t terribly difficult – if you wanted to hide any wires.

        5. Dave Stecker

          What location/ fuse did you tap into for power? There are two fuse boxes under the dash.I haven’t been successful finding a switched fuse. Thanks.

      1. James - Post author

        I knew someone would notice. 🙂
        There are literally ALWAYS songs playing in the background inside my head!

        Reply
    11. John Williamson

      Another great review! Did you consider the Garmin BC™ 50 with Night Vision? I’m basically looking for a rearview mirror for Transit (Storyteller LT), and was sad to hear you couldn’t find a suitable way t make the Ford camera work full time.
      Thanks,
      John

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I did look at the BC 30, 35, 40. Not specifically the 50 though.
        Resolution on the others was poor in comparison. The 50 at least goes up to 720P.
        But the real kicker on the Garmin cameras was that you need a compatible Garmin head unit to display them.
        They were significantly more expensive than the “just a monitor” solution we wound up with.

        Reply
    12. Iggy Konrad

      I’m looking for a mirror mounted dash cam and wireless rear camera that records video to a memory card in the dash cam. Most everything I find uses a wired rear camera or is a wireless rear camera with no dash cam. I want to record both onto a memory card. My motorhome has a full time rear camera but it does not record.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        That would be the holy grail, wouldn’t it?
        Front cam. Rear Cam. Wireeless. And records both cameras.
        We never found one either.

        Reply
    13. Richard

      Thanks for the review. Best part is your adapter. Sorry but the quality at night is vey poor for on coming traffic. Being blown out that bad it’s hard to even tell it’s a car to truck or train coming at you at night back there. I’ve seen much better rear facing cameras and I think even from this company. Maybe they can fix it it firmware. I definitely will not be purchasing this one. Better than nothing, yes. Love that adapter you designed.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I did send the the suggestion for a quick toggle – IR on and off. That would be fantastic.
        Hopefully, they can do it.
        In the mean time, even blown out, the rear camera is more than we previously had… which was nothing

        Reply

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