DIY Backup Camera and 55w Fog Light/Auxiliary Backup Light and Inverter Install

Parts and Supplies

  1. 7” Stand Alone LCD Monitor – Source – Ebay (electronic haven) - $127 shipped
  2. 120 Degree Weatherproof Camera – Source – Ebay - $40 shipped
  3. Misc. Audio Video and electronic cables, connectors, switches,  etc. – Source – Electronix and Ebay - $50 (this will vary by your application)
  4. 200w inverter – Source – ebay - $20 shipped
  5. DVD player 110V – Source – (Coby brand) - $25 shipped
  6. 55W foglights – Source – Walmart - $20
  7. Automotive Relays – Source – Radio Shack or Auto Parts Store - $20

This is a brief guide detailing how I installed an array of components in my 2003 Z71 Suburban to create a DIY backup camera system, auxillary lighting for backup, and an in-dash power inverter. The overall cost is under $300 for a full 7" lcd that can be used for other applications, with TV tuner, and all the trimmings. The reason I wanted to be able to turn off my backup lights is that I will be running another camera off the back of my camper, and don't want to run the backup lights while that camera is on. NOTE - this is just a guide, you can hurt yourself with even a 12v system, and blow up your electrical system. Be careful, and use good sense.

Basic Procedure

1. Pull out the console cubby insert (grab the middle and pull hard), pull out the cub holder insert, and remove the console insert (4 screws in bottom and 7 around it.) I also removed the console door to make that insert easier to work with when cutting holes and mounting my buttons. Remove the positive battery cable from the vehicle to kill the power.

2. Remove floor trim next to the door, this will make the wiring channels visible. Remove the rear trim piece. Run 4-5 14-16ga wires (depending on your application) and a VIDEO cable from the cup holder cubby area to the rear of the vehicle. I think my lines ended up around 25 feet each. I used a one of the mounting holes to run my wires from the inside of the cab to the underbody. My LCD came with it's own full harness with AV and fused power. I cut a small hole in the back of the cubby that will allow me to completely hide the install should I ever sell the rig.

3. Mount your camera and backup lights as it fits your application. I used my license plate for the camera as I didn't want any holes in my rig. You can only do that if you don't violate DOT laws by doing so. I mounted my backup lights just to the sides of the hitch, to the actual hitch, which required some drilling.

4. Decide the mounting locations for your buttons and drill/cut holes as appropriate (please note my problems with this part below.) I put mine inside the console as I wanted to hide them from view. A lot of possibilities here...

5. Wire everything up. I drilled and made my own ground position in the back, you might be able to find a better source. Pay close attention to the waterproofing of the rear wiring. I used shrink tubing and even heavy-duty plastic for the rear relay to keep it all dry. See wiring diagram below for the way I wired it.

6. Test the system, see if it worked.

Problems Encountered

1. Wiring - Don't kid yourself, this is a pain in the butt unless you have strong experience with relay systems and other electronic components. I consider myself of average intelligence, and it took me a lot of staring and scratching of my head to get it worked out. The resulting wiring diagram (below) is how it finally worked out, but there is likely a better way to accomplish the same thing, perhaps with fewer relays.

2. Voltage Drops - this was a 2-fold problem, initially I was losing too much power because I pulled off of the back up lamp itself instead of the 7-pin like I had planned. This also resulted in blown backup lamp fuse. I also experienced a ton of drop (3v) by running the new backup lights all the way from the 12v source and relay from the dash. I corrected by adding a 4th relay that grabbed power directly from the 12v hot off the 7-pin connector.

3. Inability to turn off backup lights separately due to back feeding - this was solved by using a diode on the problem line.

4. Wrong button mounting position. I didn't pay close enough attention to how the console came out, so when I cut in my button assemblies into the front of the console insert, there wasn't enough room to put the console insert back in while the buttons were in. I ended up drilling out a large space in the console support plastic to make room for them to poke through. If I had to do it over again, I would have put the buttons in the BACK of the console insert, there appears to be a lot more room there.

If you have questions, feel free to email me.


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