A simple, non-hardwired dash cam install (B40/A118) - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 03-10-2015, 11:05 PM Thread Starter
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B40/A118 Dashcam Install (centre console & hardwired)

I picked up an inexpensive, but well regarded no-name wedge-style dash cam today. It goes by many names such as B40, A118, Skyview G6. I initially went with a non-hardwired install, using the hidden 12V socket in the centre console, but it currently is plugged into a dedicated socket beside the fuse box. Here are a few pictures showing both styles of installation.

The A118's mouting bracket is stuck right to the windshield with 3M adhesive. The wedge shape allows for a very unobtrusive install behind the mirror with the lens looking just below the sunscreen.

The USB power cable is tucked under the headliner and routed to the driver's side A-pillar. The loose fitting, gappy Subaru headliner works in our favor this time.



Removing the A-pillar cover is easy. Hold on to the middle of the cover and gently pull towards the centre of the car. It should come off with very little force. After it's loose, an upwards tug will release it from the dash/speaker grill area. A plastic strap that I assume is there to prevent the cover from smacking you in the face if the airbag goes off must be detached before the cover can be completely removed. When re-installing, orient the cover close to the final resting place before reattaching the strap. There's not enough slack to maneuver it around if it's attached with the steering wheel in the way.

Be careful around that pink thing. The good news is there's plenty of room to route the wires down the A-pillar without getting in the way.



I ran the USB power cable down the pillar, using several zip ties to keep everything taut. The cable was dropped down into the void beside the speaker grill. With a bit of luck, it's a clean drop down to under the dash.



At this point, it's a straight shot to the fuse box for a hardwired hookup (see below), or you can cross over under the dash towards the centre console, tucking the cable under the plastic trim. The wire pops out beside the driver's seat and enters the arm-rest bin through the convenient cutout in the front. A bit of gaffers tape keeps the cable out of the way.



Edit: I noticed that when moving the seat back, the seatbelt wiring caught the USB cable and tugged it out from under the trim. More gaffer tape to the rescue:



It would be pretty straightforward to go into the bin from the bottom via a small hole cut out of the bin floor for a completely clean install, but I chose not to hack anything up with a trade-off of a bit of visible wiring.

Plugged into the accessory port:



End result. The camera flash makes it easy to see but with normal outdoor lighting, it doesn't stand out. Just how I want it.



Subaru's exposed wires are uglier than mine.

Reverse angle!



I'll probably eventually hook up the camera to the fuse box, but in the meantime, this is a reasonably clean, super easy install.

Edit: I've since added a new accessory socket near the fuse box, so the wire is no longer routed to the centre console. On my car, fuse slot 23 is unoccupied and accessory-switched, so it's ideal to receive the fuse tap for the new circuit. The ground wire goes to the fuse box mounting bolt on the left side.

Here are pictures of the current (and likely final) install:




There's lots of space in the cavity surrounding the fuse box, so it's easy to tuck away the large 5V USB adaptor + 12 V socket out of the way. The wiring from the headliner down the A-pillar stays the same.

Now all I have to do is find some meteorites!


Last edited by neall_v; 03-31-2017 at 10:04 PM. Reason: Added pictures of fuse box setup.
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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-13-2015, 08:28 PM
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Thanks for the excellent write up. I'm doing the exact same thing, and this was helpful. Loved "...be careful of the pink thing."

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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-14-2015, 07:21 AM
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looks good. how's the picture quality?


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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-14-2015, 07:38 AM
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Thanks for the write-up! I've considered getting a dash cam and this seems like a pretty good option. There are so many to choose from and I have no idea how to even start researching them.


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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-14-2015, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Schmee View Post
Thanks for the write-up! I've considered getting a dash cam and this seems like a pretty good option. There are so many to choose from and I have no idea how to even start researching them.
www.dashcamtalk.com is the best resource on the web for dash cams.

The one the OP has is really good for the money, but if you don't mind spending the extra money the Street Guardian SG9665GC is really nice. It has the same form factor, but significantly upgraded internals, a super capacitor instead of a battery, and GPS support.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-14-2015, 08:06 AM Thread Starter
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Here's a good review of the unit I have:

Techmoan - Techmoan - The A118 / B40 Wedge Dashcam*Review

Video quality in good lighting is very good. At night, it's decent, but there are definitely better options out there if you want to spend a bit more.

The blown-out sky issue mentioned in the review sometimes happens for me as well. With my initial install, I was capturing too much sky in the scene. I've since lowered it so the horizon is above the 50% vertical point, and it performs much better.

The wide angle lens is great, but there is a lot of glare with the Forester's highly raked windshield. There are strong reflections of the A-pillars and the front of the dash in most images. You can see in my last photo above the display of the head unit reflecting off the glass.

Of course, a more narrow field of view wouldn't capture these areas at all.

dashcamtalk.com is a good place to research cameras. Currently, the B40 is rated "best discrete with screen" in the budget category.

One thing about dash cams which is somewhat unusual is the inexpensive no-name China-sourced units (assuming you choose carefully) perform really well compared to the more expensive name-brand units (eg. Garmin). But you want to get genuine Chinese no-name, not the knock-offs that look identical, but have sketchy parts inside. It's tricky as everything is "white label". Spend a bit more (like $10-$20) to get from a reputable source and it should be fine.

Street Guardian, mentioned in a post above is a good vendor that also participates in the dashcamtalk forum. I purchased from this company simply because they are local to me.

Last edited by neall_v; 05-14-2015 at 08:15 AM.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-14-2015, 08:13 AM
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Ah, thank you both very much. That should be plenty to keep me busy for a while.

"...genuine Chinese no-name..." I had a laugh at that. I want the real knock-offs, not a knock-offs of a knock-off! Got it.


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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-14-2015, 01:08 PM
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Panorama X2 dual-channel dashcam option (via Pier28.com)

BlackBoxMyCar has an excellent reputation. I came this close to purchasing a BlackVue 650 (stealth) or 750 (non-stealth) based largely on their recommendations via lengthy, in-depth reviews on their YouTube channel.

Fortunately or unfortunately there are enough cams in the wild to match every opinion. Dashcamtalk.com was my go-to for questions & dashcam reviews.

I wanted a dual channel (front & rear windshield) hard-wired hi-def (1080p front & rear) solution, and I wanted a dedicated Sony CMOS processor / SD card for each channel. While the BlackVue 650 wifi-enabled "stealth" cams were tempting, their comparatively low bit-rates of 6 in the front, 3-4 in the rear (vs bit rates of 15+), along with some unfavorable comments regarding the difficulty of obtaining warranty service from the manufacturer were concerning to me.

BlackVue's lower bit rates = lower image quality, but that also means they can fit more info onto one smaller SD card... but each channel shares the same processor, too, so there was that. Also the wifi seemed like a novelty feature, and hardly user-friendly from a daily-use perspective. Wifi range was roughly 30-40 feet from the car... so despite what their ads might imply, you'd not be checking your cams remotely.

In the end, what I sought was a quality, recently-updated product with great day & night 1080p dual-channel videos with "local" (in-country) support from a tech-savvy vendor.

Enter Pier28.com.

I bought a
Panorama X2 Panorama X2
and 2 of these
GoldFlash MCL-type Class 10 64GB microSD cards GoldFlash MCL-type Class 10 64GB microSD cards
, one for each channel.

The cams are $10 cheaper via Pier28.com ($299) vs Amazon ($309), but (a) Pier28 shipping is not free, and (b) I get 2-day shipping via Amazon Prime.

This is a hardwire-only cam, no cigarette-lighter thingee, so I ordered
2 of these circuit taps 2 of these circuit taps
: One for the Pos/Always On circuit (tapped into the door lock fuse), and another for any random accessory fuse that receives power only when the ignition is on. There are also plenty of screws near the fuse box to use for the Ground wire.

This cam also captures unattended "parking" events, and has a built-in battery-minder with several low-voltage presets to shut it off if the car battery gets too low -- but that still seems risky to me, so it remains to be seen whether the Park feature will ever be enabled.

The Panorama X2 is still new enough that the firmware is still somewhat immature, but (a) Panorama actually releases regular firmware updates and (b) Jon at Pier28 offers incredible support via iPhone, email, dashcamtalk.com, Pier28.com, or Amazon.com. He's a busy guy.

And we all know good customer service when we get it.

The X2 was designed for the Asian / Korean market as opposed to North America. Apparently, big cams, bright colors, and flashing LEDs serve to dissuade ne'r-do-wells as opposed to attracting them. But I hate bling, so I used
black liquid tape black liquid tape
on the orange graphics on the case to make it not quite so noticeable from the front. I also disabled the garish cam-based LEDs so as not to attract too much attention while driving or parked.

Threading the 19' cable to connect the front & rear cameras will be a project, and I'm thinking of contracting that out to local audio installer for a clean install.

The tiny rear cam has to attach to glass, and since the rear hatch swings up, I might need some professional help there.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-15-2015, 08:00 AM Thread Starter
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Looks like a nice setup.

If I were to add a rear camera (who knows, I might), I'd probably go with a second B40 plugged into the rear 12V port. It would save the effort of having to do a long run back to the front of the car.
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-15-2015, 09:14 PM
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I just picked up a Mini 0805 Dashcam with GPS, so far I like it... Now I'm just waiting to get my new XT to install it... I was testing it out on my rental


Here's an example


2015 XT Touring
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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-16-2015, 07:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neall_v View Post
Looks like a nice setup.

If I were to add a rear camera (who knows, I might), I'd probably go with a second B40 plugged into the rear 12V port. It would save the effort of having to do a long run back to the front of the car.
That would work too!

The long cable run wasn't nearly so bad as I imagined... Down the drivers side A pillar, along and under the front and rear door sills, under the rear seat bench (just loosen and lift using the front catches, no need to remove the seat entirely), and then a clear run to the rear windshield along the side with the cable mostly hidden. Took me 45 minutes after work.

The rear cam is mounted to the top middle interior, and the rear wiper blade cleans that portion of the windshield. The 3M sticky plate does not interfere with the defrost wires. The cable has just enough slack so as not interfere with opening the rear hatch, yet it does not dangle... I cannot see any cable in the rear view mirror, and the tiny rear camera is barely noticeable from inside or out. I'm sure a pro would still shake their head, but for a DIY effort I was pretty happy.

I considered and rejected running the cable along the headliner because I do not know how to remove a headliner to do it right, and I figured the car might sound like a bass drum with a loose cable thwacking around inside it while driving.
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-16-2015, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Kevinmai712 View Post
I just picked up a Mini 0805 Dashcam with GPS, so far I like it... Now I'm just waiting to get my new XT to install it... I was testing it out on my rental


Here's an example
The Mini is a terrific stealth option and the 0806 model offers greater than 1080p resolution. Some QA issues with the initial batch of the 0806s, but things like that are par for the course. Good choice.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-18-2015, 10:31 PM
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One thing I've wondered is whether we could hook into the dimming mirror power cable to run a dashcam? The installation instructions show the installer just pulling the cable out from above the courtesy light, and it's presumably got accessory power on there, thought not necessarily enough to run a dashcam.
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2015, 07:22 AM
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One thing I've wondered is whether we could hook into the dimming mirror power cable to run a dashcam? The installation instructions show the installer just pulling the cable out from above the courtesy light, and it's presumably got accessory power on there, thought not necessarily enough to run a dashcam.
That's accessory power and not constant?

Either way, you'd need to add a voltage regulator to step down from 12V to 5V so you don't fry the dashcam.
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 05-19-2015, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by TwinTurboJosh View Post
That's accessory power and not constant?
Good question. I assume they wouldn't want it running down the battery all the time.

Quote:
Either way, you'd need to add a voltage regulator to step down from 12V to 5V so you don't fry the dashcam.
Ah, I hadn't realised the power conversion was in the cable, not the camera.
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