A dash cam, dashboard camera, car DVR, driving recorder, or event data recorder (EDR) is an on board camera that continuously records the view via vehicle’s front windscreen and sometimes rear or other windows. Some dash cams have a camera to record the interior of the car in 360 degrees (inside camera, usually in a ball form) and can automatically send pictures as well as video (using 4G).
EDRs and some dash cams can also record acceleration/deceleration (g-force), speed, steering angle, GPS data, etc.
A wide-angle (130, 170° or more) front camera might be attached to the interior windscreen, to the rear-view mirror (clip on), or to the top of the dashboard, by suction cup or adhesive-tape mount. A rear camera is mostly mounted in the rear window or in the registration plate, with a RCA Video output to the display monitor / screen.
The resolution will show the overall quality of the video. Full HD or 1080p (1920×1080) is usually standard for Dash HD cams. Front cameras might have 1080p, 1296p, 1440p, or higher definition for a front camera and 720p for a back camera and include f/1.8 aperture and night vision mode.
Dash cams can also provide video evidence in the event of a road accident. Whenever the car is parked, dash cams can capture video as well as picture evidence if vandalism is detected (360° parking monitor) and send it to the owner (usually employing 4G).
By targeted field of view:
- Exterior view (like, for recording the front view only, the back view, etc.)
- Cabin or inside viewing mode (also called a “taxi cam” and Uber/Lyft cam sometimes).
Some cabin cams have a screen (also known as a rear view mirror dash cam) that can be attached to the rear-view mirror employing usually rubble rings or straps or as a direct replacement of the rear view mirror itself. Others can be attached to the windshield, dash, or other suitable interior surfaces
A lot of dash cams include rechargeable batteries (not needed when connected to car battery wire) or capacitors.
To make sure that recorded video files are not tampered with once they have been recorded, videos can be time stamped in a tamper-proof manner, a procedure termed trusted time stamping.
To make sure a reliable 24/7 parking surveillance when capacity is an issue, a motion detector might be used to record only when an approaching human/vehicle is detected, in order to save power and storage media.
Advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) and park location save can also be included.
Dash cams with a G-sensor make sure that recordings of a collision are not overwritten by new data (usually by storing them in a separate folder and/or making them read-only). The G-sensor makes sure that the dash cam makes separate recordings.
The integrated radar detector answers to police radars and warns the driver about approaching them, as a rule, with a sound signal.
Some dash cams consist of touch screens, which vary in size (the wider ones are usually mounted on the rear view mirror).
SD, satellite and wireless
Dash cams generally use class 10 or above MicroSDHC or MicroSDXC cards (usually 16 GB or higher) or internal memory to save videos.
The port to connect the GPS antenna can utilize a micro USB or 3.5 mm jack connection. The antenna is mostly 1575 to 1568 MHz and 3.0 to 5.0 V.
GPS coordinate stamping function is included in most dash cams (some require an external GPS antenna, but other dash cam systems have built-in GPS), and others include GPS (online as well as offline) navigation.
Some dash cams have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 4G connectivity.
For Bluetooth and voice commands and recording, a built-in microphone is also included.
4G triple-cam (also called triple-lens and three-way-cams) which sets on rear view mirror are becoming more popular (2 front cameras – one 170° to mainly record road, one 360° for sides and doors – and a rear camera).
4G is utilized to send messages, calls, pictures, and videos in parking surveillance mode. Generally a second 360° camera is employed to record the car’s sides (front doors and windows) and inside.
Also, 4G is used for sending message when car battery is low.
Dash cam units mostly operate via the vehicle electrical system, converting the 13.8V to a 5V USB connector. Dash cams can be plugged in via the cigarette lighter socket, or might be hardwired directly into the electrical system, freeing up the power outlet for other uses.
Installing a Dash Cam
Follow these instructions to install a dash cam in your vehicle, by tapping in to your vehicle’s power supply. This is called hard-wiring, but it’s not hard to do!
WARNING: This type of installation needs to be performed by a qualified individual or business only. Working with your vehicle’s power system can be dangerous to both you as well as to your vehicle if you do not know what you are doing! If you have any doubts, just consult a professional.
Step 1 – Decide on your dash cam’s positioning
Sitting in your driver’s seat in your vehicle, you would want to try different positions for your dash cam. It’s a good idea to put the dash cam within arm’s reach of your seat, but definitely do not mount the dash cam in a place that obstructs your view of the road ahead. In this example, the customer has chosen to put their dash cam immediately under the rear view mirror.
Step 2 – Find your vehicle’s Fuse Box
Since we are running a power cable from the dash cam towards the fuse box, we have to know where the fuse box is. Most vehicles have a fuse box underneath the dashboard on the driver’s or on the passenger’s side. In this case, the fuse box can be easily accessible below the steering column (behind a removable panel). Consult your owners’ manual to find the location of the fuse box in your vehicle.
Step 3 – Begin routing the power cable
Starting at the dash cam and lay out the power cable roughly where it will run once hidden behind the vehicle’s interior panels. This will give you an idea of where to route the cable and how much slack to leave on the way down to the fuse box.
We begin through tucking the power cable into the headliner.
In most of the cases, simply tugging on the rubber trim along the A-pillar reveals a gap in which the power cable may be run from the headliner down to the fuse box.
In rare cases, it might be necessary to remove the A-pillar cover which will allow complete access to this area of the vehicle for the routing of the power cable. Many A-pillar covers can easily be popped off; consult your vehicle’s technical manual or consult a professional if you are not sure how to remove interior panels.
For illustrative reasons, we have removed the A-pillar cover during this installation. Again, in most cases, the A-pillar does not have to be removed.
Tuck the power cable alongside of the existing wires in the A-pillar.
Route the power cable around the side and behind the rest of the interior panels down to the fuse box.
Step 4 – Find a fuse that is “hot in start”
In general, vehicle fuses might have power at all times (always hot), or only when the vehicle is running (hot in start). To have the dash cam come on automatically whenever the vehicle is running, and turn off automatically when the driver turns off the vehicle, we will connect our add-a-circuit kit to a “hot in start” fuse. In order to find which fuses are hot in start, we utilize a simple circuit tester that illuminates when power is present.
You have to use the circuit tester to ensure there is no power at the fuse when the ignition key is off, and power is present only when the ignition key is turned to the run position.
Step 5 – Install the installation kit add-a-circuit power cable
Ensure the key has been removed from the ignition. Using a fuse puller or a pair of pliers, just gently remove the fuse you identified in step 4.
Install the fuse that you just removed into the installation kit add-a-fuse circuit. The first image below shows the add-a-circuit as you receive it from Store. The second image is with your car’s original fuse inserted into the add-a-circuit.
Plug the add-a-circuit in the empty spot where your “hot in start” fuse was originally.
Step 6 – Locate a ground point
The other end of the installation wiring kit must be grounded to your vehicle. Most cars have at least one obvious ground point near the fuse box, as shown in the image below. The lower kick panel has been removed to access this ground point. Remove the bolt and add the ground lug from installation kit (not shown).
Step 7 – Button up your install
Use a zip tie for bundling the excess power wire together. After this, safely secure the wiring to a solid mounting point underneath the dashboard or behind the kick panel using more zip ties.
Step 8 – Test your installation
Install your key in the ignition and turn it to the run position. If everything was installed correctly, you will see your dash cam turn on and begin recording! At this point you might go ahead and reinstall all interior panels that were removed to facilitate running the power cable.