2004 Tacoma DoubleCab Backup Camera Install
I finally got around to installing a backup camera on my Taco. I have a cap on my bed with a tinted window on the back, so I’m looking through 3 panes of glass and variable amounts of dirt when backing up. My visibility ranges from ‘ok’ on a sunny day to downright dangerous. I have small kids and we have several more in my neighborhood, so getting a backup camera is a must for me. I didn’t want to break the bank, so I limited myself to $100.
Here is the camera kit I bought:
It has decent reviews, night capability, wired system, and only $70. My first installation provided some lessons learned for others, so I thought I’d share them with you. I decided to mount the camera high on the basket on top of the cab. My thinking was that I’d get a top down view and be able to get closer to objects. I also wired it to only use the backup light as the sole means of turning it on. Here is the initial install:
Although not entirely a bad install, I really wasn’t satisfied. As it turns out… the top view is not the ideal mounting for the camera. It actually limits you much more than I would have guessed. You end up seeing a lot less and too late, as I have learned. Also, I wanted to be able to turn it on while when I wanted, not only in reverse. Finally, I actually ran out of video cable and needed a 4 foot extension to reach the monitor. Although it still work, less cabling and less connections is better.
So I ended up modifying the setup to put the camera on the license plate and add a push button to apply power whenever I wanted. This my current setup and it is how I’d recommend to others who are interested.
Here is the parts list:
Backup camera and monitor kit - $73.94
Switch – Radio Shack 275-1566 - $3.19
Diode – Radio Shack 276-1102 - $1.19
Flex tubing – Home Depot - $2.48
Woohoo… about $80… perfect. $20 under budget goes to beer when I’m done. I’m drinking one now so I hopefully I’ll get through this writeup.
The rest I had on hand.
1.5” Aluminum strip for mounting bracket (bought at Home Depot some time ago), 3/8” drill bit for switch hole, Solder and soldering iron, Wire Connectors, Wire, Electrical tape, Tie wraps
Tools – 14mm socket for seatbelt bolt, 10mm socket for driver’s “oh shit” handle, Phillips screw driver, wire crimpers, wire cutters, vise, hammer, other things I might have forgot.
I made the bracket by cutting a strip on aluminum I bought from a while ago… very easy to work with. I put it in a vice and bent with a hammer. The bracket sticks out 1.5”, the bend near the map lights is about 0.5”, and the bend on the back of the monitor is about 0.75”. These don’t have to be exact, but I highly recommend using 1.5” wide bracket, as it fits perfectly between the map lights and doesn’t interfere with their operation. After the fact, I cut a 3/8” hole in the center of the extension to mount the switch on the bottom.
Just so you know, be careful taking on and off the map light enclosure. There are plastic tabs that click into the metal frame underneath. These wear out after repeated on and off cycles. I had to mount some “stay screws” above the map switches… you can see one in the picture. The wires run between the headliner and the metal frame. I did drill down the metal frame and outer plastic to make a grove for the wires to pass.
For the camera, I drilled grooves in the back of the licenses plate mount for the wire. It comes from underneath and routes up through the grooves, into the natural cutout in the bumper. I drilled holes in the back and tie wrapped the wire to the bumper. One thing to be careful about is to make sure your video is not upside down. Both on the camera and monitor, looking from the front as mounted, the cable goes into the device on the bottom left corner.
Now for the electrical part… in a prior life, I used to dabble with electronics. Here is the overall schematic:
The camera has a video connector and power connector. The power connector gets routed to the tail light where it taps into the green wire to the middle light (backup light) and the white w/ black wire (ground). This is one of the power sources. I installed a diode here to allow current to flow only from the backup lights to the red in the schematic. So, if I powered it with the map light with the push button, it wouldn’t turn the backup light on. The silver band on the diode is the cathode and should go away from the backup light and towards the camera. Then I put some heat shrink on it and electrical tape for good measure.
The wires run down and all the connections are made adjacent to the spare tire. Note that the power wire runs to both the camera power connector and to the red wire on the video cable. This will send the same signal up to the monitor. All the external wires go into flex tubing and run along the frame to under an entry hole under the rear passenger seat.
Then I took the left center door pillar panels off. This will require popping off the seat belt cap on the adjustable height mechanism by removing the 14mm bolt. I taped the wires to the truck so they wouldn’t get caught on anything.
Then the really fun part, the headliner. If you haven’t messed with this before, it is a pain in the arse. Just know then there is all sorts of crap up there… insulation, plastic filler, etc. I found the best thing to do is to remove the drivers visor and handle, and route the cable to a hole behind the visor that will bring it through a tunnel to the map lights.
The next pic you can see the video cable coming through with the power tap I used for the red button. This then goes from the other terminal of the button to connected to the red cable. The ground wire is connected to the gray wires inside the metal frame of the map light enclosure.
So the big questions is… does it work? Hells yeah it does. Pretty good too. Anytime you are in reverse, the camera and video turn on in about 1/2 second. The monitor looks good, not HD by any means, but you can clearly see things behind you with adequate detail. Works at night as well with infrared and only black and white. With accessory power or truck running, by holding up the red button, this also turns on the system. So you can look behind you while you are moving forward.
A couple of things I’ve noticed, just so you know:
- Without the key in the ignition, if you press the red button, it will cause the dome light to flash and the system won’t work. I don’t see this as an issue because I’m not driving and don't intend to use it like this.
- You can press the red button and reverse at the same time and it won’t hurt anything… again, I don’t see me doing this but it is nice to know.
- Pressing the red button at night causes red infrared leds outside of camera to come on and brighten the display. This didn’t seem to happen with the backup light. This may be a difference in voltage because of a loss across the diode. Not sure, but no big deal. I can see fine with or without LEDs on.
That’s about it. It was a few hours of work and a little bit of electrical know how and customization, but it was a fun project and definitely happy with the results.