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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
tl;dr I added a rear cam and dedicated monitor to my Volt, without drilling through the body of the car or modifying any software (no radio programming or dealer visit required). PICS HERE.

dash.jpg

I didn't get Safety Package 1 when I bought my Volt. I'd never had a rearview camera, so I didn't think it was that important. Then I started driving my Volt and realized the rear visibility is quite poor and I wished I had that backup camera. Parallel parking made me VERY nervous. I've never owned a car where I just could never tell where the front or back was (or the sides... I got a little curb rash on my right front wheel trying to pull up to a curb... never did that in my old car). I envied my friend with a Leaf with the Surround View option, but getting something like that in a Volt could cost up to $2k aftermarket with pro installation (RDV360). I decided to just add a front and rear camera and do it myself (though later abandoned the front cam).

I'm grateful to all who worked on this issue before me (for 2013+, for pre-2013 )and found a way to use the factory screen on 2013+ models. But in the end, I decided I didn't want to go that route. I realized you could fit a nice big screen in the infotainment cave/cubby (I could never figure out anything to put there, so it was effectively wasted space to me). After a lot of measuring and building cardboard mockups of various screen sizes, I decided I wanted around a 7" 16:9 screen set to 4:3 mode. This would fill the entire width of the cubby opening with viewable space, and the cameras are all 4:3 anyway, so 16:9 displays are actually stretching the image, and no one makes 4:3 car monitors above 3" that I could find. First, I got this one because it was cheap and had the 4:3 mode. But upon testing it out, I was really disappointed with the 400x234 screen resolution. Yes, it probably would work ok, and it's a good choice if you're on a budget, but I wanted something to look good too. The cams are all 640x480, and I wanted to use all that resolution. So I found an Alpine screen (TME-S370) that looks like it's being discontinued and found a decent deal on it (well, considering its original price). Set to 4:3, it takes up most of cubby opening's width, with just a little cropped at the edges. I think this looks pretty cool, and my fingers do not hit it while shifting so it's not in the way. Mounting it was tricky... I had to make a custom mount out of plexiglass. This monitor also has a small breakout box where all the connections are made. I decided to stash this on the firewall above the pedals. I made this custom mount and superglued it to the firewall.

For cameras, I tried a few out... this one was ok and this one was recommended here by several people. I went with the latter, mainly because it had noticeably better night performance. Also, in a neat coincidence, it is small enough to mount in the license plate light insert, thus avoiding drilling directly into the car body, which I was very nervous about doing. It's only 3" off center this way, and the light doesn't seem to affect the image, so I think it's a good option. Many car companies do it this way anyway. For the front camera, I tried this but I was never satisfied. I couldn't place it anywhere that would give me the view I wanted (something showing the bumper so I could see how close I was to something). So I reluctantly abandoned the front cam idea. I could probably have done something if I was willing to drill into the faux grill fascia or something, but I think it would look pretty bad. I've gotten better at judging front distances, so while it would be nice to have, I think I can live without a front cam for now.

For power, I tapped F15 in the driver's side fuse panel. This is normally a 20amp fuse that is shared between the rear and center console 12V power ports. I measured the monitor around 2A and the cam at .5A, so this isn't a large load. Running the wiring from rear to front was made much easier by following this video , though I didn't have to do as much disassembly in the front as they did. I didn't remove the stereo or airbags, I just snaked the wiring to the firewall and attached it the breakout box I had glued there. Running the wire was the easiest part, actually.

Right now the camera and monitor are on all the time... it is a tad bright/distracting at night, so I should get a switch on it soon, I'm just not sure of a good place to mount it. I plan on wiring it up with a 3-way switch: center is off, up is on all the time (Tesla does this, I thought it might be useful during driving, kind of like an augment to the rear-view mirror), and when down it will only come on when the car is put into reverse. This last mode will be done using a wire from the reverse light triggering a relay.

Total cost:
Alpine TME-S370 $145 (ebay)
rear cam $30 (Amazon)
switches, wiring $20
Total $195

If you use the cheaper monitor, you can do it for $60-80. I spent waaaaaaay too much time debating these choices and researching various options. Months and months. But in the end, I'm happy with the result. I'm sharing it so someone else who wants something similar can save a lot of time.
 

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Very nice. I am trying to figure out right now what the easiest path would be to add one in my 2014 and this is very interesting.

Some questions, is the mount for the monitor just an L shaped bracket and rests in the cubby?

Did you look into the license plate light camera for the Chevy Malibu which is already pre mounted: http://www.ebay.com/itm/181148344570?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT

Do you have a picture with the shifter in reverse to show the actual view if it obscured at all by the shifter?

Great job!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
pics would be nice...

I added an aftermarket as well. However, I sent my radio off to White Audio and Media Service. They are one of the few who reprogram the radio to enable backup camera.

http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?103313-How-To-Add-backup-Camera-to-MyLink-equiped-Volt-(not-for-pre-MyLink-cars)&p=1493393#post1493393
Pics are linked in the first paragraph (let me know if they don't work, I'm new to imgur).

I read about White Audio and Media Services, but they were very unresponsive when I tried contacting them about reprogramming my radio, so I decided to just do it my own way.


Very nice. I am trying to figure out right now what the easiest path would be to add one in my 2014 and this is very interesting.

Some questions, is the mount for the monitor just an L shaped bracket and rests in the cubby?

Did you look into the license plate light camera for the Chevy Malibu which is already pre mounted: http://www.ebay.com/itm/181148344570?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT

Do you have a picture with the shifter in reverse to show the actual view if it obscured at all by the shifter?

Great job!
Yes, the monitor mount is just a L shaped bracket (carefully bent with a heat gun to match the right angle) and it just rests in there. Somehow I forgot to take good pictures of that and now it's all installed so I don't want to take it apart unless I have to. I planned on bolting it down to the rubber insert in there, but it seems to stay ok without doing that so I might just leave it alone.

I wasn't aware that any other GM model had the same size license plate light inserts... I briefly looked at Cruze cameras like that but they seemed the wrong size, IIRC. It's possible I missed something... the problem is that most sites don't give accurate dimensions for those products so you can't measure and figure it out easily.

I don't think I have a pic with it in reverse but I might be able to add one tonight. The shifter doesn't block the view, though. In park, it certainly does, of course ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
UPDATE: I finally finished this project by adding a rocker switch and a relay (attached to reverse light) to the mix. Now it has two operating modes: always on when the car is on, or only on when car is in reverse. I added some more pics (link in first post at top) and a wiring/system schematic. The switch is easily accessible above the monitor, I can basically rest my palm on the shifter and reach my fingers forward to switch modes without looking. Love having the backup view, but man this project was a pain! I could probably re-do it again in 1/10th the time now, though, now that I know which parts to get and where to run everything.
 

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Well, I decided to play it safe and have my camera professionally installed. I purchased this camera after trying a couple of others. The installer got power for the camera from the BCM rather than the backup light wiring, which he said was easier since he was taking the AV cable up there anyway.

I purchased this 5" monitor that fit just right in the space forward of the shifter. I used velcro to attach it, after removing the stand and using a dremel to cut off the sunshade (don't need that in there). The space in the cubbyhole behind the monitor is still available for sunglasses, etc. The monitor has a second AV input (although I doubt I'll ever use it), and adjustments for brightness, contrast, color saturation, aspect ratio, etc. It also goes into standby mode (black screen) when no AV signal is present.

I'm very pleased with the installation and the clarity of the image. It's very usable. I did test it at night before I had it permanently installed and it was fine, too. Total cost was $18 for the camera, $22 for the monitor, $100 for labor and $25 for supplies and sales tax, so $165 all in.

Here's a video clip.
 
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