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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Background:

This thread outlines the steps taken to install a licence plate-mounted back-up camera (hard-wired) along with a dash-mounted 7" TFT LCD monitor. Given that my Element is used to make frequent trips with a utility trailer, the independently-switched camera offers the ability to monitor the trailer contents and the effectiveness of tie-down straps throughout a trip. To avoid unnecessary distractions, the monitor can be turned on or off at will. Of course, this monitor should not distract the driver from using their mirrors as usual; this tool is considered to be a visual aid.

The intent is to share in this experience and hope that it may be of help to others who are considering doing this as a DIY project, with similar set-ups in mind.

The usual disclaimers apply to this walkthrough: the approach chosen worked for me but you will ultimately choose to do what suits you best. I assume no responsibility from any damages or injuries incurred if this walkthrough is used. Users assume all risks inherent with working on their vehicles, including damage to components, electrical shorts and bruised knuckles. It goes with the territory but I am glad to report that none of the above occurred during this installation. Take the time to get to know your camera and its limitations on perspective. In terms of the perceived quality of workmanship and/or preferences expressed, I respect differences in opinion but haters will be ignored! I know you're out there.

With this out of the way, here we go - enjoy! Overall, this was a time-consuming job (I took my time) but a fun one. If you like tearing apart trim pieces and playing around with your car, this should be a walk in the park for you.

***

Camera specs:
Resolution: 420 TV Lines
Country of Manufacture: China
Infrared LEDs: 4 High Power Infrared LEDs
Color: Black
Minimum Illumination: 0 LUX (w/ Infrared LEDs on)
Image Sensor: 1/4" SHARP CCD
TV System: NTSC
Lens: 1.8 mm
Power Supply: DC 12V
View Angle: Wide View 150°
Purchased from eBay seller (yanlabonline)

Monitor specs:

Size: 7" nominal
Type: TFT LCD
Resolution: 420 x 234
System: PAL and NTSC
Consumption: 6 watts
Video: 2 switchable RCA inputs
Purchased from eBay seller (fly-boat66)

Video cable specs:
RCA male to male, 15-feet long
Purchased from eBay seller (8282seller)

Dash-mount specs:
Panavise part# 751171003 (for Honda Element years 03-09)
Purchased from eBay seller (phantomdiscounters)

Recommended tools and equipment:
This job may benefit from tools and equipment including but not limited to: a set of trim/panel removal tools, assorted screwdrivers (e.g. #2 and #3 Phillips, #1 and #2 flat-head, #2 Robertson), assorted pliers, soldering gun and solder appropriate for electronics, wire strippers, various crimping connectors, sander/grinder, assorted files, wire fishing spool, drill press and drill, assorted drill bits, wet-wipes and the list goes on. Usual shop supplies - you get the idea.

Pre-requisites:
- Plan this job when you have ample time and are not in a rush
- Disconnect negative terminal of battery
- Remove driver's side back seat
- Remove panel covering spare tire
- a general vacuuming and clean-up of your car's interior is recommended, as you'll be crawling around this beast and will only find more dirt underneath panels.

Process:
Note: I have about thirty photos prep'd for this thread, but see that there is a limit of six to attach to the original text. This will affect how much detail I can provide initially, but I think I'll be able to add others once this post is published and at the request of others.

1) ENSURE that the pre-requisites above have been met
2) USE your assorted set of panel removal tools to carefully remove the driver's side kick panel as shown below:
e1.jpg
e2.jpg
3) The following image shows the general route taken (colored in green) for both the power and video cable. The red sections are areas where wires were fished through sections of panelling. Notice that the cover associated with the driver's side rear shock mount has been removed as well.
e4-1.jpg
4) REMOVE the bottom hatch cover as shown below. Exercise caution as there are multiple plastic anchors that can easily be broken.
e5-1.jpg
5) REMOVE the trim collar around the head unit. Exercise care as this plastic piece can be easily scored. Temporarily remove the upper right mounting screw to attach the new Panavise dash mount. Verify proper fit as per manufacturer's instructions before proceeding to the next step.
e7.jpg
Step 6 and onwards continued....
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Step 6 and onwards.....

Step 5 continued...

More pics of the dash mount:
e8.jpg
Upon removal of the trim collar, you'll find these clip points:
e9-1.jpg
Note that the mounting screw of interest for the Panavise is the upper-right screw as shown:
e10-1.jpg
6) With your choice of raw stock material (I chose aluminum for its ease of machining and since I had some spare stock nearby), form a baseplate for your monitor:
e11.jpg
The mounting holes were transferred from chosen matches on the Panavise mount.
e13.jpg
 

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Thread continued...

7) Given the amount of day-to-day vibration that the mounting fasteners will be subject to, rivets were chosen as the fastener of choice:
e14.jpg
e15.jpg
e16.jpg

8 ) As per the Panavise instructions, some minor filing is required to re-install your head unit trim collar:
e17.jpg

9) I used a single switch to control power to both the monitor and camera. The mounting location of the switch can be anywhere you like; I chose the spot below the steering wheel. An alternative spot would have been the empty spot next to the traction control button, but upon removal, the cover itself would have been a real pain to drill through and make room for the switch.
e18.jpg e19-1.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thread continued....

10) Back to routing the power and video cables....

Once you're in the spare tire wheel well, you'll notice a spare (taped-over) access port to the lower hatch. Create a hole large enough to pass the wires through, and do the same on the rubber grommet located on the backside of the vehicle as shown:
e20-1.jpg
e21-1.jpg

11) Now for the point of no return for those people who love their Elements as-is with no irreversible changes. The lower hatch has no existing holes to conveniently route your cables. Using a stepped (aka Christmas tree) bit, drill a hole in the sheet metal of the lower hatch in two locations: one directly across from the rubber grommet, and another next to the back licence plate light. Apply a coat of clear or black spray paint to avoid having the bare metal rust in the future. Install grommets if you have some available.
e22.jpg
The following image depicts what (the hole next to the licence plate light) looks like from the inside of the hatch:
e23-1.jpg
 

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Thread continued...

12) Now get your hands and poor fingers warmed up for a decent amount of wire splicing, crimping, soldering and heat shrinking. The image below shows a ground cable and power cable being attached to the camera leads:
e25.jpg

13) I didn't take shots of the wiring of the switch, but once all the wiring has been installed, it's time for some wire protectors and clean-up:
e26-1.jpg

14) Here is what the finished product looks like:
a1.jpg
a2.jpg

15) For those who are curious, I set up a number of objects to cross-reference the range of the camera. The yellow stool and garbage pail denote the wide angles, while the kid's truck and sit-on-top buggy are sampled as objects right up close to the rear of the car (as if a child was playing there).
a3.jpg
a4.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thread continued...

16) (Previously undocumented) The following shot shows how a notch was formed in the subwoofer cover to accommodate a tidy tuck-in of the monitor wire. Once inside the subwoofer enclosure, it was routed in amongst other wiring runs to the driver's side to meet with the fuse box.
a5.jpg

17) This next shot gives you an idea of what the driver looks at. Pretty clean looking in my humble opinion. Despite what some may think, the screen is in comfortable viewing. I like it that it's below the top of the dash, so my view of the road is not restricted by this new gadget.
a6.jpg

18) The shot below depicts where the switch is located.
a7.jpg

19) The following shot shows the cam up close, with its wiring neatly tucked away:
a10.jpg
 

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Thread continued...and done!

20) These last two shots give you an idea as to what you may see with a car parked behind you. The angle of the camera is adjustable, up to 45-degrees downward. I've positioned it in such a way that I can see the ball on my hitch, and the corners of my rear bumper for good perspective.
a11.jpg
a12.jpg

Hope you've enjoyed this write-up! Let me know if you have any questions.

PS. I used an 'add a circuit' harness to supply power to the monitor and camera.
 

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As much as I hate to say it this way, you really need to rip that thing back out of there before somebody gets hurt or killed. You've mounted it right in the path of the passenger front airbag.
 

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Nice work and right up. I have one on my Ford Escape and don't really like it. It's hard to see on bright sunny days. Our wonderful government will require all car manufacturers to have them in 2018. Desinia is correct that it it in the path of the passenger airbag, but still a very nice contribution to the forum.
 

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nice write-up!
and the location is fine as long as you don't hit anything or let anything hit the Element. (this opinion is brought to you by the you-don't-need-a-will-until-you-die legal association.)
does it interfere with the passenger's ability to fiddle with the radio or other controls? if so, i may have to consider it. <grin>
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay, for the record: for anyone thinking of incorporating this walkthrough, DO NOT install it in front of the passenger airbag. Place it somewhere out of the way of any safety equipment and try to keep it out of your normal driving view.

Hopefully others thinking of jumping on this bandwagon will read this reply. Note taken. So much for a pleasant aftertaste on a first how-to thread.

And hey, it's fire prevention month people. Don't forget to check your smoke detectors and have working alarms in all bedrooms.
 

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Hopefully others thinking of jumping on this bandwagon will read this reply. Note taken. So much for a pleasant aftertaste on a first how-to thread.
And hey, it's fire prevention month people. Don't forget to check your smoke detectors and have working alarms in all bedrooms.
Hey! It's still a great write-up and the info on running the wires to the rear is much appreciated. Don't let anyone make you think that it isn't.

I've been meaning to do something like this myself and for the same reason - a trailer full of cargo in back. Have had a similar unit to what you're using sitting on the shelf here for several years but never got around to doing anything with it. I mentioned it because so many people just don't understand how much damage a half pound of anything heading at your face at +100mph can do.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Just an update: with a new double-DIN JVC KW-V30BT head unit installed, I've removed the Panavise mount and monitor that was nearby the passenger air bag. My viewing of the back-up camera is now through the 6.1" screen on the head unit. To retain the ability to turn on the camera at any time to monitor trailer goods and tie-downs, I've kept the manual switch and simply wired the head unit's 'reverse gear signal' into the switch.
 

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In that case, running your power supply is greatly simplified. Tie-into the feed of one of your tail lights; diagrams online will identify the wire corresponding to the reverse bulb.
 

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Great work!

In that case, running your power supply is greatly simplified. Tie-into the feed of one of your tail lights; diagrams online will identify the wire corresponding to the reverse bulb.
Thanks for the info, you did quality work, documented and shared.

Just food for thought. Take a little more time and include the install of the radio and rewiring that was required. What wiring harness did you use? Problems encountered etc. Put in in a nice format and publish.

IF you've got the information but don't have the time etc, and you've got a mine to, you can send me the information and I'll put it together and publish. PDF? maybe.

I offer simply because I don't think you should ask for something without doing something in return.

Again good work. If interested, PM me.
 

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