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POTM June 08
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Installation of a VR3 Wireless Backup Camera System

Yesterday afternoon I installed a Backup Camera System from VR3 with a 3.5-inch LCD monitor. I have arthritis in my upper neck which causes a bit of discomfort when looking back to see what is behind me. If you drive either a Compass or a Patriot, you are aware that our rear view options are limited. So a few weeks ago, my wife bought this system (around $100) to help me see behind my Patriot while backing up. WARNING – This device does not replace using the rearview mirrors, but does assist in seeing what is directly behind, or about to be behind you, before you start backing.

I've tried to document the installation as well as well as possible with pictures to show you what I did to do this simple installation.

A little background is needed before I get started. The VR3 Wireless Backup Camera System (VRBCS335WCA) utilizes a license plate mountable bracket that contains a swivelable (up and down) and 110 degrees side to side view digital color camera. The color LCD Display is 3.5 inches diagonally and can be mounted to an air vent, velcro strips,or into a mountable cradle that swivels. The power for the camera is supplied by the back up lights and the LCD display gets its power from the fuse box, a 12 VDC cigarette lighter plug, or some other 12VDC source.

With the location of the rear hatch release handle on both the Patriot and the Compass, mounting the camera on the top is not an option since the camera body will be in the way of accessing the handle. My solution was to mount the bracket lower, in the same area where you would cut out a section of the lower bumper for the trailer hitch. Since I have no need to have a hitch, this camera was going down there instead.

My first thing was to mask the area so I could mark the location of the holes I needed to drill and make sure I had the camera centered. Once the tape was on, I temporarily mounted the camera, with more tape to hold it in place while I marked the holes.


With the holes marked about half an inch from the bottom edge of the bumper, I then stepped back to make sure this was centered. The actual center is down the left side of the letter R in the PATRIOT bumper indent.


Leave the tape on as it will help prevent any scratches or splintering while drilling the holes.


View of the holes drilled through the tape.


View of the holes with the tape removed.


These are the fasteners I used. The clips were too small to use as they were designed so I just used them as nuts. My primary requirement was that these would secure the bracket firmly to the underside of the bumper. A dab of paint or loctite should prevent these from coming loose and dropping off.


View of the camera bolted up nice and tight. There are slots on one side of the bracket for the wiring to escape without being pinched between the bracket and the vehicle. I ran the wiring out the slot and up behind the bumper, then using a zip tie to secure it so it doesn't drop down in sight of people following behind me. Then I ran the wiring on over to the driver side corner under the bumper.


I had to attach the wiring to the back up lights to provide power to the camera. To get to the back up light wires, I had to remove the tail light assembly. This can be done with a small screwdriver and needle nose pliers to remove the plastic pin from the plastic anchor that holds the assembly in place. Be careful with these as if you break the pin, you'll be making a trip to buy a replacement from your local Jeep dealer or hardware store. There are two of these that must be removed. This is a view of the plastic pin partially removed.


This is a view of the plastic anchor after the pin has been removed. To remove the anchor just use the pliers and gently pull it out. With the pin removed, it should come out easily.


This is what the pin and anchor look like. With the pins out, the tail light assembly will slip off the back easily as well. Remove the lamp sockets by twisting them free from the back of the assembly. Once they are out, set the tail light assembly on a towel so it doesn't get scratched or damaged. I also removed the bulb from their sockets to prevent them from being broken.


I dropped a small length of line down between the body and the bumper to assist in pulling the wiring from the camera up so it can be attached to the backup light wiring. Once the wire has been pulled up, extend it up to the rubber grommet , the add about eight more inches. This is where I cut off the excess wire. The kit comes with some Scotchlock wire connectors which makes making the wiring connections very easy. The instruction sheet warns that before you make any electrical connection, you should disconnect the negative terminal of the battery. With these connectors, there really is no need to. NOTE: There is a jack built into the camera wire that can be used as a direct connect to the monitor. I wrapped this in plastic and secured with tape to water proof it. It's purpose is if you don't want to use this as a wireless system.


The wires for the camera are red a black, encased in a protective black plastic covering, with the red wire being the positive, or power wire and the black being the negative, or ground wire. The backup light socket only has two wires going into it. The power wire is white with a green stripe and the ground wire is black with a blue stripe. I took about three inches of the black protective casing off leaving both the red and black wires exposed.


Using the supplied Scotchlock connectors, I then slipped the white and green wire into the Scotchlock connect first, then followed it by the red wire from the camera. With both of these wires in the thin slots of the metal plate inside the connector, I squeezed the lock closed and covering it with the plastic snap tab. For added security and peace of mind, you can wrap these connectors with electricians tape. I then repeated the same sequence for the ground wire. After the connections were made, I use a wire tie to secure any excess wire. At this point, just reverse the disassembly procedure to put the tail light assembly back together. Put the bulbs back into the sockets, the sockets into the tail light assembly, the assembly back onto the body, the anchors back in their holes, and finally, the pins pushed back into the anchors. Time to test the system!


I used the supplied 12 VDC cigarette lighter plug and plugged to other end into the 12 VDC plug into the left side of the monitor. There are two holes on the left side. The 12 VDC power is the bottom of the two holes. The top hole is for a direct connection to the camera, mentioned above. With the power cord connected to the 12 VDC source, start the Jeep and make sure the monitor has power. The red LED should light if there is power. Place the tranny in reverse and the screen should display what is immediately behind your Jeep. In my case, the wife's Compass was behind me by about 8 to 10 feet. I plan on wiring the monitor in a more permanent position but will do so after several days of finding the best location and power source.


Photo shows how far back the wife's Compass was behind my Patriot when the above photo was taken.


This is a view of the finish installation.


A view of the way it looks from the side.


I did a few tests after the last photo was taken to see what the view range was. I could stand one foot from the back of the Patriot, and one foot past the side and the lens could still see me. So far, very impressed with the system. I also tested in the dark of night last night and was impressed again with the way it picks up the light from the backup lights and illuminates any objects behind the Patriot.

Hope this has been informative and easy to understand. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to PM me and I'll do my best to answer them.
 
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Well done Wade! Excellent article...

Can you post a picture at night? I've read some reviews on this camera and people say it has a poorly night vision and a noisy image. The display in your picture looks OK to me, but I just wanna make sure the camera and image quality are good. If so, next time I go to the States I'll buy it.
What's your opinion?
 

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The only downside I can see to this unit is how bulky the monitor is and how small the screen is. With my eyesight, I'd have more trouble seeing anything in that 3" screen than I would looking over my shoulder.
 

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Wade, you stud you. Great how-to bud!
I can see where the back-up camera should not be a replacement for the mirrors and looking back when you can but it's a GREAT supplement. And if you have physical limitations that hinder a full turn of the head, I would think this should be a need-to-get item.

I would be interested to know if that camera has the same caveat as the side mirrors..."caution, objects in the mirror (or monitor) are closer than they appear.." . Care to give an informed opinion there Wade?

Well done again. Definite knowledge base material there.:smiley_thumbs_up:
 

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Wade, you stud you. Great how-to bud!
I can see where the back-up camera should not be a replacement for the mirrors and looking back when you can but it's a GREAT supplement. And if you have physical limitations that hinder a full turn of the head, I would think this should be a need-to-get item.

I would be interested to know if that camera has the same caveat as the side mirrors..."caution, objects in the mirror (or monitor) are closer than they appear.." . Care to give an informed opinion there Wade?

Well done again. Definite knowledge base material there.:smiley_thumbs_up:
DITTO!
 

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POTM June 08
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys....

Well done Wade! Excellent article...

Can you post a picture at night? I've read some reviews on this camera and people say it has a poorly night vision and a noisy image.
Pepe, to me, the night vision is great.... I've posted a photo below and in it, my Patriot was sitting on the end of my driveway. The backup lights are on and there is a street lamp but its well off to one side just visible on the left. Remember, this thing has an incredible lateral range from side to side. So you can see the the street lamp on the other side of the street that is one house past my driveway! I do agree that the display gets noisy, and I'm sure that has to do with the RFs that we transmit from everywhere now days. I may build a cable to make this a wired system instead of a wireless as it currently is. For the time being, I have not decided on a good mounting location and that's partly due to the noise. There are some locations that the noise is worse than others. But where the screen is great, there's no good source of power. Eventually, I'll find a suitable location, and if it's still noisy, I'll do the wired installation sooner.


The only downside I can see to this unit is how bulky the monitor is and how small the screen is. With my eyesight, I'd have more trouble seeing anything in that 3" screen than I would looking over my shoulder.
With the camera mounted so low on the bumper, I can see items that I normally can't using the rear view mirror, or either side mirror. This includes items clearly out to about 6 to 10 feet. I do want to find a location to mount it that, like you, won't cause me trouble seeing the screen clearly.


I would be interested to know if that camera has the same caveat as the side mirrors..."caution, objects in the mirror (or monitor) are closer than they appear.." . Care to give an informed opinion there Wade?
There is no mention of the distortion caused by the fisheye lens causing items to appear closer. You can see that distortion clearly by the curvature of the curb directly behind the Patriot. I think if the camera was mounted higher, this distortion would be less. But nonetheless, this is how the lens gathers the image to display for such a wide angled view. I think it also helps in using all the available light at night to create an image that is quite usable.

The below image was shot at 2100 (9PM for the landlubbers) with just my backup lights on, and the street lamp one house down, across the street. If you look very closely, there's a few teenagers sitting on their driveway just hanging out next to a truck. They must have wondered what that crazy old guy was doing sitting in his Jeep taking pictures! :D


Hoped this answered your questions, shed more light on the system, or just padded your post count :D ! Just teasing.... If you have more, I'd be happy to answer...
 

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POTM June 08
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Discussion Starter #7
Yes Randy, that is a Sun Burst Orange and Black golf bag in the back of my Patriot! :D
 

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Yes Randy, that is a Sun Burst Orange and Black golf bag in the back of my Patriot! :D
Where in H*ll did you get a SBO golf bag?!?!

It's not bad enough that I'm jealous about where you live (and the corresponding golf season), now you go and flaunt that golf bag?

C R U E L :D

p.s. Got any inside pull for having some Jeep Patriot.com golf ball logoed golf balls made up for sale?? :p
 

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Thanks for the pic Wade. It looks pretty much like the image you get from the OEM Mopar backup camera.
As you, my only concern (before buying it) would be where to put the display...please tell us once you find the right place and if you had to wire the system or not. Thanks!
 

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POTM June 08
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Discussion Starter #11
Discovered something very interesting about the VR3 wireless camera system! There's a home that I pass by in the morning on my way to work. As I get close, the monitor activates and I can see my Patriot drive past on the screen! First time this happened, I just about freaked! Apparently this home has a wireless security camera setup and I can receive their feed.

This has also happened as I pass by a business further up the road, although I don't get to see me drive by. I have also seen it activate near a know wireless speed camera. Now I want to convert it to a "Wired" system so not to get other stray feeds.
 

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Discovered something very interesting about the VR3 wireless camera system! There's a home that I pass by in the morning on my way to work. As I get close, the monitor activates and I can see my Patriot drive past on the screen! First time this happened, I just about freaked! Apparently this home has a wireless security camera setup and I can receive their feed.

This has also happened as I pass by a business further up the road, although I don't get to see me drive by. I have also seen it activate near a know wireless speed camera. Now I want to convert it to a "Wired" system so not to get other stray feeds.
ha ha thats crazy! ya wired is usually better but wireless is usually more convenient/easier
 

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POTM June 08
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Discussion Starter #13
Earlier I posted about my LCD screen picking up a house's wireless camera. Here a raw picture of what I see every morning:



The bluriness is due to the camera not focusing fast enough. The actual screen display is very sharp.
 

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that is wild that you pick up other security cameras...good for a laugh anyway. I've only ever seen people mount those cameras above the rear license plate...as the bolts seem to be spaced just right for that. I figured that because of that, they were all wireless...good post and pics to show the full install :)
 

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Wade, I know this was posted a couple of months ago, but today is the first time I noticed it. Great post!

I don't have a problem with rear vision in the Patriot, but my motorhome is another story. Can't see anything back there. Would your wireless system work in a long vehicle like a motorhome? And could it be used as a full-time rear-view camera? The only reasonably-priced wireless unit I've found has been criticized for poor range, not suitable for anything but short vehicles.
 

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POTM June 08
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Discussion Starter #17
Tango Yankee Johnny.. Nearly three months since the install and I still get a kick out of seeing other's remote camera feeds...
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Wade, I know this was posted a couple of months ago, but today is the first time I noticed it. Great post!

I don't have a problem with rear vision in the Patriot, but my motorhome is another story. Can't see anything back there. Would your wireless system work in a long vehicle like a motorhome? And could it be used as a full-time rear-view camera? The only reasonably-priced wireless unit I've found has been criticized for poor range, not suitable for anything but short vehicles.
Neil, I think the unit can transmit up to 25', but, as I said a few months ago, it also supports a wired connection which should allow longer ranges if needed, and less RF interference. I still want to finish my installation using a wired connection for the same reason.

Concerning the ability to operate full time, yes it can be done, but the company says it will shorten the operational lifespan of the unit... I'm also leaning toward doing that as well, and then turn it on or off via the power button on the monitor...
 

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Why not put an inline switch on the camera power? Granted, you'd have to run two wires (one to the switch, one to the return) all the way inside the vehicle, but you'd be able to flip the switch on anytime you want to see the view behind you. If I'm not mistaken, shutting off the monitor only shuts off power to the monitor, not the camera. So in essence, you're still burning out the camera that way.

Just a suggestion.

I've been looking at those reverse cameras as there's a lot of kids in my neighborhood (oh, and one of my own come May!), so I'm always worried because you can't see right behind you.

I'll definitely share my installation when I buy it. Going on an appalachian road trip with the wife (while we still can do such things) here in October, so it may have to wait.
 

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I just got one of these on clearance, and was wondering... After a year, how is it holding up. I've heard noise out there that the plastic lens get damaged with time. Any new insights after 1 year of service?
 
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