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2016 Forester XT
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447 Posts
Discussion Starter #1


I love my 2016 XT, but I believe the car has more of a blind spot in the back corners than my 2010 had.
There is a camera back there, but by default it only works when you're backing up.

Some new cars, like the Tesla Model X have the option to run the rear camera all the time on the screen. Sure my car doesn't have a high-definition camera and a 17" screen (or go zero to sixty in 3.8 seconds), but damnit I can have the always-on camera feature.

All it takes is some knowledge, a switch, and a few wires. This project is easy if you know some basic wiring.

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First off the knowledge. Through techinfo.subaru.com I got the wiring for the rear camera and headunit. The above pinouts are not complete, I just filled in info as I found it in the manual. Your car wiring may vary! I double checked everything using a voltmeter before doing any modifications.
I even think I found an error in the manual, as it said that Pin 4 was the +12V reverse on XT's and 6 on Non-XT's. The truth is that Pin 4 is for the Fog lights, and Pin 6 is the +12V reverse.

The head unit is programmed in such a way that anytime a +12V reverse signal is detected, it switches to the camera image. I found it will even display the rear camera over the StarLink Boot screen.

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By back tracing the signals in the tech manual, I determined that there are two places I can do this modification: Behind the headunit, or behind the dash.
I already know that removing the headunit is a major pain, I have done it twice and don't want to do it again if I can.

Connectors i5 and i230 look to be located near the fusebox in the image, so I am targeting them.

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Here is the schematic, spliced together from bits of the tech manual. I will cut the +12V reverse signal just after it exists connector i230, then splice in a switch. The switch will toggle to +12V Accessory, tricking the head-unit into thinking the car is in reverse. I selected the same +12V ACC which is already going to the head unit, just to be safe.

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I removed the trim which covers the fuse panel. And what do you know! Connectors i5 and i230 are right there. Easy access. :grin2:
I confirmed their identity by looking at the pin colors and comparing them to the table I built. I then double checked the pins I am going to access using a multimeter.

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Before removing the connectors, I disconnected the negative terminal on the car battery.

I removed i5, and then removed pin 17 (Yellow with Red). I soldered a second wire to the metal pin, and then re-inserted it into the housing. This is my +12V ACC signal.

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I removed i230, and then removed Pin 6 (Brown with Yellow). I cut this wire a few inches down to split it. I soldered a new wire onto each end to go to my switch. I applied heat-shrink to each connection and reassembled the connector.

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Next I removed the panel which has the dimmer switch.

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I used a stepper bit to drill a hole for my switch.

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I installed the switch and then tested and re-assembled everything.

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The end result is I now have a toggle switch which activates the rear-camera image any time I need it.
When the switch is "OFF", the camera operates like normal: turning on while in reverse and off in all other gears.
When I toggle the switch to "ON": The camera image shows up immediately and stays up as long as I want.

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See my journal for how to record the video from the rear camera.

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See this post on disabling the "Backup warning" text:
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/6745121-post38.html

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(BTW, the Model X I get to ride in occasionally is very fast, very futuristic, and very out of my price range)
 

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MY19 (AUS) Outback 3.6R CVT
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393 Posts
Very nice write-up. This mod will go onto my to-do list.

On our MY13 SJ XT, when reverse is selected I get the reversing camera coming up on the SatNav screen with the distance markers displayed. I assume the 2016 XT also shows the distance markers on the screen, but they aren’t shown on your video footage in your first post. Is this because of the way your recorder records the input, or are they triggered by another input that you haven’t enabled?
 

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Premium Member
2015 Forester XT Touring
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1,421 Posts
Very nice work. Thanks for the wealth of info. I would like this feature from time to time. I'll have to take a peek at some wiring myself, as the 2015 models display the camera on the MFD display, not a giant, wonderfully clear screen like the 2016s.
 

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2016 Forester XT
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447 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
@XT-sub,

The distance markers are rendered by the headunit, over the video. There is even a process to calibrate the markets on the headunit.
My DVR recorder gets the raw NTSC camera feed before it reaches the headunit.

I don't know if there is anyway to disable the markers or the obstruction warning text.

I drove to work with the screen on most of the time.
The camera is so wide angle, that any car not near you is a tiny spec, so you can't use it to judge overtaking traffic. Even a tailgater looks far away on the image.

However, it does work great for the corner blind spot, basically if you can see a car at all in the image, they are too close for you to change lanes.
 

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2016 XT Premium
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145 Posts
Woah.....this is excellent! I have a 2016 XT too. I'll try this out in a couple months when finish my Audio Upgrades.

Any Safety Concerns with this? In other words, my HU is the only thing that thinks I am in Reverse, right? Nothing else.
 

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2016 Forester XT
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447 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Any Safety Concerns with this? In other words, my HU is the only thing that thinks I am in Reverse, right? Nothing else.
I checked the whole tech manual, and didn't find anything else wired into pin 6 of i230. The Rear-View mirror does get +12V reverse at some point, which I think is a leftover from when they had the rear-camera video image in the mirror display.

I double checked, and my reverse lights do not turn on when the switch is active. Confirmed by the fact that my reverse parking sensors don't turn on either.
From the schematic you can see that the tail lights are wired in before i230, so cutting it after that point is fine.

I was worried that the "Parking Brake" signal or "Vehicle Speed" signal that go to the headunit would somehow override the video, but they don't seem to have any effect. (BTW, you can probably hack those two wires to enable full headunit function even while driving, granted I don't recommend it)
 

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MY19 (AUS) Outback 3.6R CVT
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393 Posts
The distance markers are rendered by the headunit, over the video. There is even a process to calibrate the markets on the headunit.
My DVR recorder gets the raw NTSC camera feed before it reaches the headunit.

I don't know if there is anyway to disable the markers or the obstruction warning text. ...
Thanks, I was hoping you were going to say that, I didn’t want to disable the distance markers. I want them displayed for parking in marked parallel to kerb parking spaces so I can judge the marked line at the back of the vehicle when going forward as well as in reverse, which your mod will do. :smile:
It would be nice to disable the obstruction warning text but that is something I can live with.

Point noted about overtaking traffic & tailgaters.
 

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Casper reincarnated
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2,272 Posts
You can do that on the 2013 Honda CRV just by using the radio buttons on the steering wheel, no need to re-wire anything.
It's great for when towing a trailer and you want to check your load.
 

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2016 Forester XT
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447 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Just chiming in here, after having this working for a month I can't believe it isn't a standard feature these days.
At first the image seems distracting, but eventually your eye just ignores it like it does with any rear view mirror.

I now use the camera as my last second sanity check to see if the lane is really clear. I still use my mirrors and look over my shoulder as normal.
It is also very good at dusk when my tinted windows make visibility difficult, the camera image stays clear.

One odd thing however is that the steering wheel buttons for the radio don't work if the camera image is present. You can still change volume with the knob on the radio, otherwise you have to turn off the camera image to change stations or answer the phone. This isn't a huge issue for me, as typically I use my phone for all audio and I can still use it to control the audio and voice.
 

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Premium Member
2015 XC diesel CVT
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4,098 Posts
When I get round to doing this, I'll probably use two diodes and a momentary switch. Diodes to isolate (OR gate) the two circuits, and a MOM switch is enough to bring the HU into camera mode for 7secs (I've the delay turned on) for the ocaasional time I need it.
 

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2014 Forester XT CVT
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355 Posts
Can someone please clarify this for me;

I have a 14 XT with an aftermarket HU (Pioneer AVH-X5600 BT).

1. I have modded my vehicle so that video appears in both 4.3 mfd screen and 7" HU screen
2. I have connected the HU "camera sense" to I believe same cable brown/yellow and it automatically switches to camera display when 'R' is selected.

So far so good, but I want to do the mod described here, what I do not understand, when does the camera come on?
If i just switch to camera input manually on my HU there is no video coming from the camera ( I assume it is off? ).

ZapWizard you are my new idol, been waiting for this for years :)
 

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2014 Forester XT CVT
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355 Posts
On my 2016 the camera is powered all the time. It is always sending out video, the headunit just doesn't display it until it receives the "reverse" signal.
This works well for me, as I also installed a rear-camera DVR, and so it records even if the image isn't displayed.
I looked in one of your guides, the camera seems to run on +6V from "connector i53" which is near the door on the passenger side.

Thats the location where i got the reverse signal on my 14XT.

I wonder what triggers +6V to the camera on the 14,15XT.

I appreciate your tutorials btw!
 

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2016 Forester XT
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447 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Just posting a follow up on this, six months later. I encourage people to try his mod, it really only takes a few wires and a switch.
I now drive with the rear camera on all the time. I only turn it off when I need to change something on the radio.

During daylight hours, the camera is not my second rear-view mirror. It is now part of my automatic check before changing lanes. You get used to the image in your vision, just as with any of the cars other mirrors. I actually get annoyed if I forgot to reactivate it and look down at a image of the radio before changing lanes.

With heavily tinted windows, at night the camera can see out the back better than I can in the rear view mirror. In the rear view mirror I can only see car headlights, at dusk this is dangerous as you get idiots who drive without their lights until the streetlights come on. The camera just saved me from hitting someone last night during a lane change who was driving a black truck without his headlights on. Due to the glare from all the other cars behind him, I couldn't see him through the tint or the auto dimmed rear view mirrors. I looked down and noticed him in the camera image though, right at the corner of my car.
 

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2016 Foz CVT
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891 Posts
Someone mentioned earlier in this thread that the auto-dimming mirror gets an "un-dim" signal while in reverse. (I've never noticed if that's true) Does this mod activate that?
 
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