Info Dashcam Installs Lessons Learned

thebravo

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Guys - I wanted to take a minute and talk dash camera install lessons learned in hopes that it may help those of you that run dash cameras avoid some issues that I ran into during a collision. Some of you may have seen the thread "the end of the odyssey" where I have been detailing the pretty severe motor vehicle accident we were in during early November. I want to take a closer look at what I learned from that experience in relation to dash camera as it has altered my choices about which dashcameras to run and how to install them.

Lets start with the dashcamera setup I had on the now wrecked odyssey:

Front: TT-CD06 Suction mount 2K resolution
IMG_20190818_095348211 (2).jpg


Rear: TT-CD05 Suction mount (ziptied to overhead seatbelt trim) 1080P resolution
IMG_20190818_094504551_HDR (1).jpg


Overhead Birdseye view: Blackvue DR490 1080P resolution. Adhesive mount to bracket mounted rear of sunroof.
IMG_20200509_221803338.jpg


Interior Cabin View Rear camera from overhead Blackvue DR490. Adhesive mount to windshield.
IMG_20200509_221604377.jpg




The crash occurred about 7PM so it was dark out, there was a light but steady rain falling and the roads were wet. Myself, wife, both kids and the dog were travelling on a three lane each way (45PSL) roadway here in town heading home after spending time at a relatives house. I was driving at the posted speed limit in the left most lane preparing for a turn in about 2 city blocks into our neighborhood, we were approaching a bend in the road. Coming the opposite direction (based on witness reports) there was a 17 year old kid that was recklessly weaving through a pack of traffic at a high rate of speed in a late 90's explorer. Right as he comes out of the curve he loses control, fishtails, then skids sideways going airborne over the small couple foot wide curbed median and slamming into the front left corner of our van. That impact caused our vehicle to rapidly decelerate from 45 MPH and also to spin. As the right rear corner of our vehicle spun into the center lane there was a second vehicle approaching at nearly 50 mph in the center lane. They couldn't see the vehicle jumping the median so they had no warning, the back end of our vehicle was basically shoved in front of them leading to a severe rear impact to our van. Two additional impacts between our vehicle and those vehicles or the curb occurred while we finished spinning about (300 degrees from our initial direction) damaging the left rear of the car. A total of 8 cars were involved in the collision, 4 on our side of the roadway, and 4 on the other side were involved in rear end collisions trying to avoid the kid when he fishtailed in front of them. All impacts to our car occurred in less than 2 seconds and all motion stopped in less than 4. It happened VERY fast.


At the time I had no idea we had been hit from behind as that impact happened basically instantly after the front impact. The only thing I knew at the time was a car jumped the median and hit us. I didn't even get a look around the crash scene after getting extracted from the car (jaws of life to get my door opened) as I was in a neck immobilizing brace immediately put on a stretcher and carted away in an ambulance as were the wife and kids. (for reference we are all mostly healed at this point, wife still has a few ongoing issues that may or may not be fully resolved) The next time I saw my car was days later at the tow yard as I went to collect my belongings from the car and hopefully recover my dashcams so I could see what happened. For reference here is what the van looked like.

IMG_1499 (2).jpg
IMG_20201109_122745650_HDR.jpg


As I combed through the vehicle at the tow yard I was distressed to find that my front dashcamera wasn't there, I did find the top half of the suction mount but it was snapped off at the vertical angle adjustment point:

616bCF5MmOL._SL1000_.jpg

I did ultimately end up locating the front dash camera at the scene of the crash about 4 days post crash. Looking at pictures of the windshield you can see the windshield was peeled away from the frame leaving a good solid 6 inch hole right next to where the front dashcamera had been mounted to the right of the rear view mirror. Based on the damage to the camera it was likely ejected out through this opening during impact. Watching the interior overhead camera view you actually see the top part of the suction mount fall off the windshield and land on the airbag about 30 seconds post crash and you can see the USB cable dangling down near the passenger a pillar but no trace of the camera in the footage.

My overhead and cabin view blackvue adhesive mount cameras were still in place (and continued recording for about 40 minutes post crash).

The rear camera I did find in the car however the mount for it had also failed and had snapped off at the swivel adjustment so it was sitting down on the floor in the cargo area:
TaoTronics-TT-CD05.jpg



It was more than a little frustrating that the front and rear cameras had been dislodged/mounts had snapped as it means any footage after that first impact was likely not going to be useful and certainly with the front camera having been lost from the vehicle it was rather a miracle that I was able to find it at all. It's no use having a dash camera if you can't locate it after the collision or if it gets dislodged and misses important events.

Anyways onto reviewing the footage.

The front dashcamera was not operational so I pulled out the card and put it into the computer. Success. The card still reads (despite having been soaking in a puddle for a couple days)! The bad news the last clip where the collision occurs is incomplete and can't be played. Normally the camera stays powered on running on its internal battery for about 10 seconds after shutting off the car and the camera finishes transferring the video frames from internal memory to the SD card and writes the end of file information. Upon inspection the USB connector was torn from the internal circuit board. So the camera was ejected due to mount failure and when it hit the end of the cable internal damage occurred to the circuit board immediately cutting power which prevented proper shutdown from occurring. I used a recovery software to copy the individual video frames from the incomplete file into a previously recorded clip that was working and was able to recover some footage however the last few frames before impact were not transferred from the cameras internal memory to the SD card when the circuitry was damaged, so I only have footage of the car going airborne across the median, but not the actual impact. Several failures here.

Onto the rear camera.
I was hoping to at least have a good view of the traffic behind and maybe see if the camera was able to hold on through the front impact and see the rear impact occur so we can understand what happened to the back end of us better. The camera still worked, I put the SD card into the computer and... it hadn't been recording for almost three weeks. The SD card had failed weeks back and I didn't know it. These particular cameras when they have an SD card failure will either display a message on the screen or will start to record, stop recording and then try again a few times before giving up and displaying an error. The problem is there is no audible beep or sound it makes when it has an error, it just shows a message on the screen. To make it worse it doesn't show the error message over a blue screen or solid background it shows it over top of whatever the camera is actively seeing like it does when its working correctly. so I would have had to be able to spot a small text error message being displayed overtop of a moving normal image on a tiny screen from the front of my car... not gonna happen. Several failures here too.


Well lets check out the overhead camera as it stayed in place and the indicators were still blinking normally after the crash indicating it was still working!

Finally a positive, the forward facing overhead interior camera worked exactly as it was supposed to, it stayed in place, it had GPS signal showing speed and location, the G sensor detected the crash and locked the clip and after we stopped moving the camera continued to record in parking mode until well after we were removed from the vehicle and the car battery finally dropped below the voltage cutoff as one headlight remained functional after the collision. I did make a setup error however, in trying to turn off the startup voice and sounds I had accidentally turned off the audio recording, While it would have potentially been nice to have, it's also kind of a blessing that I don't have to relive the sounds of my children and wife crying in pain and fear over again...

Now to the rear facing 2nd channel of the blackvue that was mounted to the windshield. It stayed in place, however it's operation wasn't flawless. The camera was working until the moment of impact. During impact the screen blanks out to a blue screen and then the camera recovers a working image just as we are skidding to a stop missing the entirety of the collisions. I was able to gather enough information before the impact to see the car in the middle lane just behind us that caused the rear damage but nothing during the collision to explain the other impacts to the vehicle or show the rear passengers movements during the collision... I can see what likely caused this failure as I was looking at the vehicle and pulling the cables for this camera out of the car. When I ran the cables for this (and most of the other windshield electronics (like Rd's and such)) the way I and most people normally route theses cables leads to a conflict with the side curtain airbags.

The way I commonly see the cables being run for the dashcam and RD's that are mounted near the top of the windshield is to tuck the cable around the top of the A pillar trim then run it along under the edge of the door gasket down under the dash board, kinda like this (although normally tucked in properly of course):

IMG_20210204_142621815.jpg

The problem is the side curtain airbag bursts out between the trim and the black gasket and the ceiling panel and the black gasket. With this wire crossing that gap it's gonna get yanked on if the side curtain airbags deploy. Depending on how well you have it tucked and what slack there is above the headliner or right under the dash that airbag deployment could potentially yank the camera loose or damage it, if nothing else it could interrupt/disconnect signal from a rear channel on a 2 channel dash camera or disconnect the camera from power meaning it might shut down sooner than desired in an accident. There is also the potential if the cable is well secured that it could keep part of the airbag from fully inflating downward leading to an undesired gap between the front and side airbags. The picture below shows the signal cable from the overhead to cabin view camera that got yanked by the side curtain airbag. The cable was routed across the airbag as in the example picture above.

Airbag Cable pull.JPG


Here is the summary of the issues encountered between all the cam's
-Both cameras with a suction mount that has swivel/tilt adjustments experienced mount failure, the joints snapped on impact leading to loss of footage of additional impacts.
-Suction cup mounts can lose suction if the glass under them cracks during impact causing camera to become dislodged.
-Cameras that are dislodged may be damaged leading to unplayable files or missing video frames.
-Cameras that don't provide audible/clear visual warning of SD card missing/failure could lead to no footage during a collision.
-Wire routing for power/rear channel cameras that crosses side curtain airbags may be pulled on, leading to camera dislodging, camera damage, loss of power or video signal for 2 channel cameras, and possible interference with proper airbag inflation.


Taking lessons from this I came away with the following:

-Adhesive mount cameras (that are well adhered) are more likely to stay in place during a severe collision and are not likely to have a mount snap off due to the more simple and low profile mount design. The means chance of camera loss, dislodging and missing events, and camera damage that prevents proper saving of files is minimized.

-Cameras that have an audible alert for missing or non functioning SD card is beneficial. Using a two channel camera rather than separate one channel cameras for front and rear means the SD card error message will be more likely to be seen as the screen is up front and potentially in the drivers view if audible warning isn't available. Some models of camera include emergency built in backup storage that can be used if the SD card fails giving you a built in backup place to capture footage while you get a replacement card.

- Routing wiring around the end of the airbag system under the A pillar is important to prevent cables from getting yanked during airbag deployment and ensure correct airbag inflation.

One thing that did work well is redundancy, having those separate cameras meant that even with a few failures I still got sufficient footage to show what happened and prove my innocence in the event.

So onto the new setup in our 2016 Honda Odyssey EXL:

Front and rear plus interior cameras: Viofo A139 2k front-1080P rear/interior. Adhesive mount with audible SD card warnings wifi and GPS. See here for full review: https://www.rdforum.org/threads/109160/

1616073526516.png
1616073552041.png


Wiring was routed around the end of the airbag systems in the A pillars to prevent any wires getting yanked during impact.

Overhead cabin front and rear: Vantrue N2Pro Adhered to metal bracket rather than the factory suction mount. wiring was routed around the sunroof and then above the ceiling to the front windshield then follows the viofo wiring around the airbags under the A pillar. This view point was very helpful for showing a little area around the outside car and showing the occupants during the crash, helped explain the injuries we had so I wanted to replicate in the new car.
IMG_20210104_205222839.jpg


New: Side view cameras! This is the blackvue that that survived the crash and was previously overhead in the old odyssey. The main camera faces out the left rear window and the 2nd channel faces out the right rear window:

IMG_20210204_102512837_HDR.jpg
IMG_20210204_102454709_HDR.jpg


Update:
Since the wifes CR-V also suffered from the same wiring mistakes and was a suction mount based two channel system I upgraded it. I just installed a second brand new Viofo A139 three channel dashcamera for her car as well. see here for a full review: https://www.rdforum.org/threads/109160/

1616074680353.png


I will used the existing suction mount 2 channel camera as a Left/right camera in her car, not perfect since one side will be suction mounted but I already own it and might as well put it to good use.

Hope this is helpful to those of you that run dash cameras as you chose what to install and how to install it :)

-thebravo
 
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NorEaster18

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Great write up and a fantastic lesson for all here who run dash cams! I know from experience that sometimes during installation, we cut small corners to get the install up and recording properly. This thread is a great example of how being meticulous in dash cam installs can not only be beneficial in providing evidence in a hard wreck, but also potentially saving a life (not impeding with the inflation of an airbag).

Question for you: For your new install, did you just mount the A129 rear camera with adhesive onto the headliner? If so, how has the adhesive held up? I figured it would be best to stick onto the moving hatch of my wagon, but it might be both more stable and aesthetically pleasing to mount to the headliner like you did.
 

STS-134

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Second the audible alert for missing SD card thing. The one thing that drives me crazy about the BlackVues is that you have to remove the power cable to get to the SD card, and it's easy to drive off without the card and without even an alert (since the camera has no power). I have told everyone I've installed a BlackVue for to ALWAYS replace the cable whenever removing the card so that if they forget to replace the card, they'll get an audible alert. I learned this lesson the hard way when my car got totaled and I have no footage of the incident. Guess why?
 

Vortex

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Great write-up! I hear you on the alerts as well if you don't have a card. I'm considering running a second cam where I never pull the card, just to ensure I have footage even in case I forgot to put the card back in the other cam. I had never thought about the longer suction cup mounts snapping off in an accident and the benefits of the doublestick tape mounts. I'm glad you included that part as well.

On another note, I get what you're saying about not having the audio on the Blackvue dashcam that kept working. Sometimes rewatching/relistening to the footage can itself be retraumatizing too, despite the other many benefits of having the footage to review afterwards.
 

thebravo

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Great write up and a fantastic lesson for all here who run dash cams! I know from experience that sometimes during installation, we cut small corners to get the install up and recording properly. This thread is a great example of how being meticulous in dash cam installs can not only be beneficial in providing evidence in a hard wreck, but also potentially saving a life (not impeding with the inflation of an airbag).

Question for you: For your new install, did you just mount the A129 rear camera with adhesive onto the headliner? If so, how has the adhesive held up? I figured it would be best to stick onto the moving hatch of my wagon, but it might be both more stable and aesthetically pleasing to mount to the headliner like you did.
The rear camera is mounted to plastic trim, it doesn't look like it's plastic trim, but it is. It sticks well to that trim despite the texture, but it wouldn't stick well to the headliner fabric I don't think. I could had done it to the moving trim on the rear hatch, but I figured why make it that complicated if not needed!
 

GregTec5

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Great follow up. Thanks for that. I never thought about having side cameras either.
 

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