Home » This May Be One Of The Best DIY Backup Camera Installations I’ve Ever Seen

This May Be One Of The Best DIY Backup Camera Installations I’ve Ever Seen

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I think I’ve made it very clear that I’m a firm believer in the value and importance of details. Depending on your mood, either G-d or the devil are in the details, and I think this is especially important in the automotive world. Sometimes, I’ll do something on my car — a repair or modification — that is so minuscule and detail-oriented that I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who can possibly notice it. I mean, it sure would be nice if someone were to notice that, say, I got both the tiny town-lights working on my Pao, but who is really going to do that? Well, I decided that when I see a clever little something done on a car, I’m going to call it out, in hopes that whoever did it will find out that yes, their little detail something is appreciated. To start this off, we have a great one: Someone managed to make the tidiest and cleverest installation of an aftermarket rear-view camera that I’ve ever seen, and it involves taillights.

David actually spotted this and snapped the picture, which I greedily wrestled from him, digitally, so I can write this thing you’re reading right at this moment. Let’s take a look at what is going on here on this sixth-gen Nissan Sentra:

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Sentracam Close1

So, what it looks like is that the passenger side reverse lamp has been removed and replaced with an aftermarket backup camera. This is an extremely clever solution for a number of reasons: first, it takes advantage of the little-known fact that only one reverse lamp is required on US-market cars. Carmakers generally include two, mostly motivated by a love of symmetry, but occasionally we’ve seen perfectly legal US-market cars happily sporting a lone, cyclopean reverse lamp.

Usually, these sorts of aftermarket back up cameras get mounted on clunky license plate frames or hung off a replacement license plate lamp lens, like this one:

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What I think our intrepid Sentra captain has done here is to take a camera, much like that one, off whatever clunky mounting system it had, and instead crammed it into the reverse lamp housing of the taillight. Not only is this very clean and tidy, it’s very clever because the reverse lamp already has 12V going to it that are only activated when reverse gear is engaged. There’s no clumsy splicing of the camera into the reverse lights from the middle of the rear of the car and through the inside of the trunk! This way it’s all nice and contained!

Now, doing this couldn’t have been trivial; the Sentra taillights of this era were Altezza-like, and had separate red lenses under an outer clear polycarbonate lens. The reverse lamp had its own inset lens that was fluted, and I think was a separate piece from the rest of the clear, un-fluted outer lens.

Sentrataillight

The back-up light is in its own little chamber, so I think removing the fluted lens wouldn’t compromise the integrity of the rest of the lens, and, based on how the modified Sentra taillight there doesn’t seem to be suffering from any sort of condensation buildup or anything, I’d say it worked. So, my guess is the fluted lens was removed, the 12V lines were tapped from the bulb socket, and the camera was fitted into the C-shaped chamber, possibly with JB Weld or something like that.

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It’s just a really nice solution to fitting an aftermarket back-up camera, and I want whomever did this to know that they are seen, and at least one person out there in the world appreciates the care and ingenuity taken to add this little improvement to their car.

Great job.

Now, alternatively, we could just be looking at an empty bulb socket and a lost reverse lamp lens. That’s possible, too. It would mean this whole post is just wild, ridiculous, and incorrect speculation. And arguably, pointless. Which, frankly, is always a danger I face. But I really, really hope this is someone’s reverse camera solution. If it isn’t, then, please, some Sentra owner out there should try it!

 

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Turbotictac
Turbotictac
17 days ago

I replaced my trunk lock cylinder with my backup camera. Works decent since it is centered although it sits a bit too high up.

Alex Patrevito
Alex Patrevito
17 days ago

This seems like a nice install! If you replace the other remaining reverse lamp with a much brighter LED you can closely match or exceed the illumination from the OEM setup. The camera is off center, but I think some of the aftermarket head units to get CarPlay/AA in an older car allow some calibration and adjustment of the backup camera guide lines on the screen. They probably are not going to be able to back into spaces with the same speed and precision on the camera alone, but it can at least eliminate that rear blind spot to avoid backing over small objects or into large objects.

MEK
MEK
17 days ago

Sorry, but I’m not onboard with this one. I’m a firm believer in throwing as much light as possible (legally) down the road (or back the road in this case I guess?). I know only one backup lamp is required, but when you’re trying to back out of an unfamiliar driveway on a rainy night, more light is always better. Also, someone approaching the car from the passenger side has less of a chance of seeing the backup lights and knowing the car is reversing. Removing part of a car’s lighting purely for aesthetics isn’t a great solution IMHO.

Also the offset to the side would be inconvenient for backing up safely, which is the whole point of this thing. There is a reason manufacturers generally put these basically centered.

Rafael
Rafael
17 days ago

“David actually spotted this and snapped the picture, which I greedily wrestled from him, digitally, so I can write this thing you’re reading right at this moment.”
And
“I’m a co-founder of the Autopian, the site you’re on RIGHT NOW!”
I say that data mining on the Autopian has gone out of control, how the hell Jason not only knows the articles I read, but also which phrases I’m reading at any given moment?
GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
18 days ago

What does it look like on the screen though? My concern is that it is off-centre and so the image is distorted and inaccurate.

A. Barth
A. Barth
18 days ago

it’s very clever because the reverse lamp already has 12V going to it that are only activated when reverse gear is engaged.

*chef’s kiss*

Seriously, that is an elegant solution.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
18 days ago

I’m like 99% sure I saw this on the way to work the other day.

Chronometric
Chronometric
18 days ago

In order to monitor bump drafts, my Miata race car has a rear camera installed in the former trunk keyhole.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZPnaY3jVFWRUamC46

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
18 days ago

“Look how they massacred my (taillight) boy.”

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
18 days ago

I know the feeling here. It’s nearly as clever, but I was really proud of myself when I figured out a SunPro II Tachometer was almost an exact fit in the empty gauge pod in my 1968 Olds. I was able to gently drill a couple of holes in an extra gauge pod surround’s plastic to create set-screws for it and aside from the Sun logo, the tach looks like it could almost pass for factory. I just didn’t want to be one of those muscle car guys who mounted one in on the steering column.

Well, that and I hadn’t done the manual transmission conversion yet, so if I mounted it on the column, it would fly all over the place when I moved the shifter.

Alec Weinstein
Alec Weinstein
15 days ago
Reply to  Sid Bridge

My cheapass Autogage fit perfectly in my Monza’s hole but it broke 🙁

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
18 days ago

Wouldn’t a reverse camera be a projector?

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
18 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Get out. –>

JumboG
JumboG
18 days ago

Except it’s off center. Makes it harder to line up your trailer hitch.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
18 days ago
Reply to  JumboG

We only pull trailers with Altima’s around here. At a minimum of 90 mph.

Rob Newton
Rob Newton
18 days ago

The previous owner of my 2007 Exige did this same mod!
https://flic.kr/p/e9SDNY for close-up
https://flic.kr/p/e9SDDj it’s in the second from the right tail light

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
18 days ago
Reply to  Rob Newton

Noice!

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
18 days ago

Backup camera, or rear view for a dash cam?

Beasy Mist
Beasy Mist
18 days ago

Hopefully both. I wish my car’s backup camera could just be a dashcam but no, that would make too much sense.

VanGuy
VanGuy
17 days ago
Reply to  Beasy Mist

I bought separate front and rear dashcams for my Prius v, and I did briefly wonder about the possibility of using the rear camera in the car for that purpose, but even before researching how such a thing could be done, that has disadvantages in both resolution (I wanted 1440p 60fps which I sincerely doubt the stock camera can do), but also the angle wouldn’t be as useful. It’s too low and the fisheye effect is more pronounced.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
18 days ago

How did a retrofitted camera get better integrated than the Miata’s?

A. Barth
A. Barth
18 days ago

More motivation?

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
18 days ago

A 2010ish Nissan Sentra?!

This thing has to have a manual, because I’m pretty sure every CVT from these Sentras exploded 5-10 years ago. I haven’t seen one of these in a long-ass time.

If this is indeed a backup camera, this is the most effort anyone has put into a Sentra of this vintage in a long, long time.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
18 days ago

Yeah I’m really hoping it’s a plug and play replacement tail light because wow that’s a lot of effort if it’s done well. Alternatively, if done poorly and now it leaks and is causing all sorts of problems, that is far more on brand for an older Nissan

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