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DIY: Discreet Dash Cam setup
Published by javaperson
09-02-2015
DIY: Discreet Dash Cam setup

Motivation: Given the crazy stuff that happens on the road, I've always wanted a dashcam just in case something should happen. (And maybe to record a fun drive on an open isolated road ) However, I can't stand the obvious mounting of dashcams on the windshield - I don't want people to know and I don't want someone breaking into the car for it. Actually, I was inspired by this other approach (Thanks @Pawlin), but I didn't feel like changing the housing and wanted a very discreet setup.

Objective: Setup a discreet dashcam with the primary purpose of passive background recording (i.e. I won't need to grab videos often). Minimize the amount of work needed and parts necessary

Final Setup: The Mobius actioncam is mounted into the existing plastic housing the covers the rain-sensor and rear-view mirror (photo #10)

Results: Due to the location of the actioncam relative to the rainsensor housing, the top of videos will have a band of the black pattern that is on the windshield; however, the obstruction is not too bad. I can still easily see the car in front of me and the surrounding (make sure to get the fisheye type "C" lens)

Parts:
  • Mobius actioncam (with type "C" lense)
  • Micro SD card (for ref, 16GB is about ~2hrs, depending on your settings)
  • Car 12V USB charger
  • >2m USB-to-mini USB cable with right angle connector on mini-USB side (you need the right angle plug to fit into the tight space, photo #9) (2m is what I used; however, it would have come up short if I didn't have the additional right-angle adapter, photo #8).
  • Right angle USB adapter [optional]
  • Zip-ties of various sizes

Tools:
Plastic pry tool
T20 Torx
Tool for cutting/trimming plastic (I used scissors and some pliers, a dremel would've been better)

Time: Probably took about 2~3hrs total, mostly due to figuring out the details. Now, if I had to do it again, it would take much less time.

Procedure:
  1. Setup & configure Mobius Actioncam to your preferred settings. Determine if you will need to mount action cam upside (buttons facing downward), and change Actioncam setting to rotate videos 180deg. I did this since the orientation of my right-angle plug for mini-USB meant that the actioncam needed to face down
  2. Remove plastic housing covering rain-sensor and rearview mirror mount. Take the right piece and remove the plastic slots (photo #1). I removed them and sanded some plastic off to give room for the lense of the actioncam to sit on the lip (where the slots used to be).
  3. To make room for the USB cable and zip lies, remove some of the "fins" of plastic on the inside of the plastic housing (photo #2)
  4. Once mounted, the camera will still be partially on the left side. Remove a 1 or 2 slots from the grill of the left plastic housing (photo #3)
  5. Using zip-ties, secure the USB cable to the mirror mount (photo #4). For now just leave the cable hanging at this end - just make sure there's enough to connect to the camera once it is mounted (photo #9)
  6. Time to route wire at the A-pillar: Remove "Airbag" plastic cover with pry tool, carefully. Use T20 Torx to unscrew the one screw which will allow you to pull-back the plastic cover.
  7. Route the USB cable from the mirror to the right A-pillar, hiding it in the headliner. Once you get to the A-pillar, route the USB cable down the A-pillar. To make sure that the cable does not affect the airbag operation, I made sure to use many zip-lies to secure the USB cable to the existing wiring harness, away from the airbag (photos #5, #6). One note: from the photo, I actually moved the USB cable toward the window side of the harness to make sure that it doesn't get crushed when re-securing the T20 screw.
  8. After routing the USB cable to the base of the A-pillar avoiding the airbag, I tucked the cable behind the plastic (just pull back the black felt "seal", photo #7, and it will be visible). Then, I reseated the felt seal as necessary
  9. With the USB cable at the right footwell, I just plugged it into the hidden 12V plug at the left side at the bottom of the glovebox (photo #8).
  10. Now, I start to re-assemble the plastic housing at the mirror, being careful to seat the actioncam into the small space (photo #9). BTW, in the photo, the zip-tie ends are sticking out to the left of the mirror mount. Before putting the left cover back on, I rotated these zip-tie ends to face the mirror to make more space in the housing, because it can be a snug fit
  11. Done! (Photo #10)

Hopefully, I didn't miss any key steps. In my case, I mounted the actioncam upside down (to accommodate the right-angle USB cable), so I removed more of the plastic grill from the right side of the plastic cover. However, if you were to mount it right side up, then you may need to remove more of the grill from the left piece. I'd suggest staging the camera in the space to determine how much and which of the grill slots to remove.

Cheers!


Open items:
  1. USB cable is hidden in the headliner, but isn't really secured - I'd like to take care of that
  2. USB cable underneath the glove box needs to be secured
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