Dashcam for our cars

In short, we need a good dashcam for our cars. Currently “mini 080x” is a good option, and it’s several years old.

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Viofo makes great dash cams for reasonable prices. Had an A119 V2 for many years before I recently upgraded to a dual channel A129 Plus Duo Ultra 4K. The company was founded by two brothers in China who are both engineers. The A119 V3 is a great budget option at $120 that uses a Sony STARVIS sensor that has great night time performance. You won’t get a better dash cam unless you step up to a BlackVue or Thinkware cam that costs over $300.

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70mai released just their newest 4K dashcam that I also bought.
70mai A800 is the camera. It supports back camera too.
Here is a sample of my recording:

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Just about any camera can do daytime video. The tough part is to do night time with bright headlights coming towards you.

But I guess it all comes down to the sensor that is available and the chip doing the compression, which brings us to the price tag :slight_smile:

A sensor that can do HDR for those bright lights. h265 for sure, right? Do we need 4:4:4 subsampling? And one thing I would not worry about is the bitrate. Let it go high! I don’t need to save 5 hours of video on my SD cards. 15 minutes is more than enough to capture a crash or a meteor flying by :smiley: You can off load the card at home after all.

The rear camera is tearing me. Sometimes it would be great, but so would cameras in my side mirrors as well :smiley: Personally I have difficulties planning how i wire it up. But sure, why not. At least support for it.

This is an interesting topic. I want a dashcam, but then I realized nothing on the market has these features:

  • Support for 4 cameras for all around view (I would prefer if it has an RCA port, so you can hook that up to existing cameras in your car
  • Automatically connects to wifi when available, and uploads the files to Google Drive / One Drive / etc.
  • Additionally, it would be great if it has an LTE connection for sending warning to your mobile phone when parking, and to upload the recording immediately upon an impact or break, in case the thief decided to take the dashcam along with them, or breaking the dashcam

And of course it needs to come with features one could expect from a modern dashcam

  • ADAS warning
  • 1080p+ recording
  • Parking monitoring
  • Smartphone connection
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The BlackVue DR750-2CH or DR900X-2CH meets most of those requirements except the 4x view. The Thinkware U1000 can also use a LTE hotspot. All of these options you will be paying over $500.

That’s the thing, its kinda dumb if a modern car has several cameras next to each other simply because they aren’t modular enough. Id rather choose my own camera, and then attach/split it to the modules that I want.

I think there is a room in the market for this.

Also $500 is a bit too much for that, no? A $100 Android phone, or even a Raspberry Pi would have that functionality, and more.

I am sure that you could hack together a solution with a Pi. The problem will be the environmental conditions. The cameras will need to handle high vibration as well as extreme temperature changes and UV. They need to handle very low, freezing temps to scorching ones. Then you have to make sure that it is robust enough to keep writing to the SD card during a car crash without corrupting the data (with four channels writing to it at the same time). This is not so easy to handle which you may know if you bought a cheap dash cam that failed in high temps. A dash cam is pretty worthless if it fails when you need it the most.

The camera itself is not an issue IMO, most cars already come with a camera, and even if they dont, automotive-grade RCA camera (most cars’ parking camera are RCA, btw) are easy to come by.

For the dashcam module (the “Raspberry Pi”), if an RCA cable is used between the camera and the dashcam module, you could put the dashcam module anywhere, preferably away from direct sunlight. Of course it will still be hot, but nowhere near as hot as a regular dashcam.

That leaves us with the SD card, there are actually high endurance SD cards out there, and they aren’t that expensive. Heck, a full-blown SSD (with wear leveling and all) + USB-SATA adapter could be bought for less than $50

So here is a quick BOM I put together for a Pi solution. Prices are based off what I could find after a quick Google search.

  • RCA Camera (~480p) - $12 x 4 = $48
  • Raspberry Pi 4 2 GB - $30
  • LTE HAT w/ Modem - $70
  • RCA to USB (4CH) - $10
  • Mini-UPS - $40
  • 4-Way DC PSU - $20
  • USB-C PSU - $8
  • DC-AC Inverter - $30

Total - $256 + tax

Now this does not include the need to write the software on the Pi to read from the cameras and write to the SD card while also uploading to a server. It does not include the SD card or SIM card, but you typically do not get those with the dash cam anyways. You will also have to route all the video cables to outside the car since that is where they need to be since you cannot get a good side view from inside the car. Last the RCA cameras will be limited to NTSC resolution which is close to 480p and nowhere close to 1080p like you want. It can absolutely be done, but it will be much more difficult then buying a solution off a shelf.

For most cars, wouldn’t need to buy those cameras, as most would have at least one backup camera already, if not all 4 cameras.

Mini-UPS - $40
4-Way DC PSU - $20
USB-C PSU - $8
DC-AC Inverter - $30

Why do we need an inverter here?

I don’t think power is that much of an issue. Any power bank / power pack (e.g off-the-shelf, custom-built) would do the job easily. Ideally we would wire it directly to the car’s battery with a low voltage protection module to save cost, although it wouldn’t be as easy to install.

For a fully working hardware, excluding the camera, we would add Raspberry Pi + LTE hat + RCA adapter + power pack, the total would come out as ~$60 without LTE or ~$130 with LTE.

There is even more potential to save cost if we design the board ourselves instead of having separate off-the-shelf components mashed together.

You will also have to route all the video cables to outside the car since that is where they need to be since you cannot get a good side view from inside the car.

Yup totally expected that. Actually all four cameras would be on the outside of the car. The front camera perhaps could be placed on the front badge. There are aftermarket units for most brands, if yours didn’t have one already.

Last the RCA cameras will be limited to NTSC resolution which is close to 480p and nowhere close to 1080p like you want.

Good point, I guess we could assess if 1080p is really needed here. 1080p still holds a decent amount of marketing value though.

It can absolutely be done, but it will be much more difficult then buying a solution off a shelf.

I do agree with this, which is why I havent done it myself. Partly the software work also, which is time consuming. That being said, I would love to see Eve disrupt this market with a dashcam module that’s half the price while bringing new features that I mentioned.

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