Installing a Rear View Reversing Camera – Mercedes Vito W639
I was looking for quite some time for the perfect solution to provide excellent rearward vision on my long wheelbase Vito W639 without drilling and damage to the bodywork and a few weeks ago I finally found it ! I came by this 12V high resolution mini, waterproof camera that used a top quality Sony vision chip that provides a pin sharp colour picture on any monitor for under £20. Here is the link:
LINK – VITO REAR VIEW CAMERA
As you can see it is designed to replace one of the number plate illumination lamps under the rear plate trim, it fits the into the hole left by the original lamp once its removed and needs very little modification to fit.
The video signal output from the camera gives is NTSC but causes little problem to auto video monitors as most are auto-switching PAL or NTSC system formats so this was not a concern. It is already image reversed so there is no need to worry about the image appearing backwards on the viewing monitor and if used in place of rear view mirror the image appears just as it would in a standard mirror. There is a nice added bonus that the video signal has a distance grid superimposed on the rearward image, this means you have two visible guide lines either side of the picture (zoned green, amber and red in colour) to assist you in knowing how far you are away from an object. The viewing angle is 170 degrees, this gives a very wide angle view indeed almost fanning the complete rear of the vehicle. The bumper and area around it can be easily be seen and to be honest the ‘fish-eye’ vision effect is quite minimal.
This camera was installed in theVito ‘twin, barn door model’ where although the camera is slightly offset to one side of the vehicle it’s hardly noticeable, I would imagine when used in the single tailgate model its centered vision would be slightly improved as it would lie closer to the centre line of the vehicle.
Night time colour vision is very good, especially when reversing lamps illuminate the area behind, daytime vision is super clear and little noise is apparent in either darkness or poor lighting situations – Remember this is not HD TV – its a visual reversing aid!
Here is the rear view in complete darkness, illuminated as it would be with only the van reversing lights. This image is shown without the displayed reversing guide bars.
Here is a photograph of the monitor installation where the rear view mirror would be located in a rear windowed vehicle. The fact that the mirror mount was there and already fixed to the glass unused, made a perfect mounting option in my case. The monitor I used was a used ‘Back-View’ 5 inch automotive monitor adapted to fix to a standard rear view mirror ball arm. Wiring runs beneath the headlining and just pops out infront of the interior light, straight to the monitor. 12V power was obtained from behind the glove-box from its interior lamp supply. This was great as it was only live when the ignition was on and provided both positive and negative connection with little fuss. The camera supply was taken from the reverse light cluster wiring at the rear. I tapped off the main loom using an inline fuse holder with a 2A fuse for protection if anything ever went wrong with the camera. Video cable was run the full length of the van in the box section body void that runs the full length of the vehicle front to back, the video wire enters above the rear light body section and runs along through the top of the roof line past the sliding door upper frame, rail runner and appears just above the passenger door where it then exited behind the plastic trim, into the headlining and out to the monitor. I used a steel fish wire pushed from the front door end to the rear, attached the cable and then withdrew the fish wire pulling the thin video cable unseen, neat and tidy along the concealed section. The only tricky part was threading the video and power cables through the rubber cable condiut that is attached to the rear door. It is possible but just takes a little time to fiddle the wires through, once done it makes a really professional job of the installation as everything is hidden with no trailing wires.
The only consideration in mounting the camera is that attention has to be made to replace the illumination for the number plate. The camera has in its design a clear plasic window to allow light from a bulb mounted in a holder inserted into the camera body to shine down onto the number plate giving adequate light. However the bulb holder is not included with the camera kit and the original type that was removed to fit the device will not fit. What you need is the rubber type of push in lamp holder, the type used on motorcycle side lights. like this one:
LINK – REQUIRED BULB HOLDER & LAMP
You could I am sure get a similar holder for the bulb from a scrap yard or breakers for virtually nothing, once you know what to look for ! The bulb that fits this type of holder is a standard 12V 501 / T10 5W sidelight bulb. Once the correct parts are obtained, cut off the original mercedes lamp holder from your Vito leaving long enough wire tails to rewire it should you ever need to refit it. – (Keep it in a safe place !) The only other related job that was done was to mask and spray the rear of the video monitor matt black (originally silver) to reduce its visibility both in reflection terms and to casual viewers. In fact the fact that the monitor is where the rear view mirror would usually be placed makes use of the natural masking and tint of the screen in this area to oscure it from sight. If you have a Vito that has rear glass or own a Traveliner, then I would suggest looking at the video monitors that combine a traditional rear view mirror and an LCD video display. You can find many examples of these on the on-line auction sites with a simple search.
I will include some more pictures once its light enough to take them.
A very useful modification and quite easy to do with limited funds.
Here is some further interesting info sent to me by Garry who fitted a reversing camera to his 2012 model with lift-up rear door:
You inspired me to install one on my 2012 Valente. Being a bit of an amateur, I could have used a few more details so I thought I’d send them in case anyone else needs them.
Mine is a lift-up tailgate and the monitor I used is a rear-view mirror replacement from Elinz.
To get the number plate light assembly off you need to remove the tailgate lining which has 2 screws in the grips at the bottom and a cover strip around the inside handle. After removing these, you need to pop off all the bayonet clips holding the lining. The light assembly is secured by 4 bolts and 2 clips.
The camera/light fitted into the slot that held the left light without any need for alteration. I found a rubber globe holder ( http://www.supercheapauto.com.au/online-store/products/Sca-Universal-Globe-Holder-Suits-T10Mm-Wedge-Globes.aspx?pid=325157#Cross ) which has the advantage of using the original T-10mm wedge globe. It was easy to modify this holder to fit the hole in the camera/light fitting.
I couldn’t get the camera/power wire through the rubber grommet into the door but did manage to get it through the rubber conduit from the door to the body with a lot of effort. Like you I attached the power wires to the reverse light cluster (Blue/White + and Brown -) and fed the camera cable along the inside of the roof.
On my van there are 2 lights and vents along this path and I was able to remove the vent covers (2 star screws on each) which made it easy to feed the cable along in 3 stages. I used a length of stiff heavy duty power cable (as used in house wiring) and a plastic strip from tongue & groove timber flooring slabs. At this point I wish I had also fed the monitor power wires through here too because the mirror monitor needs to be switched off when not in use (so you can use the mirror without a big blue rectangle in the middle).
The monitor/mirror clipped onto the rearview mirror and there was plenty of room in the roof above to hide all the cables. Initially I also attached the monitor power to the glovebox light (without hiding the wires) to test the system. I discovered that the monitor came on with the ignition and the camera came on when in reverse. Hiding the wires looked too difficult to me and that was another reason to run the monitor power wires back to the reverse light. I will only be using the monitor for reversing anyway.
Garry & Jan Hart”