How I Added a Reverse Camera to my Factory 7" Screen

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How I Added a Reverse Camera to my Factory 7" Screen

Postby thePPL » Mon May 17, 2010 11:31 pm

First off, I realize that other people have added backup cameras to their factory screens by adding a $250-$300 video converter purchased from various web sites. What I've done is something different (and cheaper). I added the feature without paying a dime - other than the money spent on the actual camera itself. This solution is not going to be for everyone. Some soldering skills and courage are required.

Show reverse camera view on my factory 7" screen on my 2009 Pathfinder. Also allow the option to view the camera while driving forward (just in case I want to double check the hitch connections while pulling my trailer).

My Background and how I figured it out:
I'm a Canadian professional Electrical Engineer doing electronics systems design and programming for about 14 years. I used the wiring diagrams and connector pinouts in the factory service manual to figure out exactly where to make connections to the main AV Control Unit.


The final product.

The Diagnostics Screen shows the AV Control Unit is fooled into thinking there is an actual Camera module connected.

Here is the camera mounted above the license plate (with custom aluminum mounting bracket).

The process involved here is not for everyone. I'm not saying that everyone should attempt this hack, I'm simply pointing out how I did it to the best of my knowledge. I shall not be held responsible if anyone damages their system by attempting what I've done.

To dismantle the center console, first remove cover around drink holder.

Then remove the gear-shift knob.

Then remove the gear-shift cover.

Then remove these 4 screws to pull out the storage compartment.

Above the storage compartment are two hidden Philips head screws. Remove them.

Grab the moulding around the top of the screen and give it a good tug to pull off the main AV Control Unit.

Disconnect all connections from back of main unit and tip it down. Remove these 4 screws.

Take the main AV Control Unit to a workbench.

Here is my simple schematic for the connections:
Note that the 1N4001 diode and connection to the REV_SIG_IN is not required. As I said, I only added that to allow me to show the camera while I am driving.

Remove the back heatsink and cover.

Disconnect ribbon cable to remove top circuit board.

The connector labelled M46 in the service manual needs to have terminal 68 shorted to ground to fool it into thinking there is a factory camera module connected. Terminal 68 translates to pin 16 of the connector on the lower PCB. If I had the proper 16-pin connector kicking around, I would have made this connection outside the PCB. I didn't, so I soldered a very short piece of wire between ground and the required pin on the PCB.
It also shows where I connected the RCA input connector for the video signal. Terminal 65 is the camera+ and terminal 64 is the camera- signal. Refer to page AV-114 in the service manual for these connections.

Soldering Reverse turn-on wire to PCB. Note that you probably don't need to add this wire. The AV Control Unit already knows when the vehicle is in Reverse (CAN bus signal or something). The reason I added it was so that I could switch on the camera while driving forward. When this wire is connected to +12V, the screen will show the camera.

Now that the AV Control Unit wiring is complete, re-assemble it all so that it looks something like this.

Mounting and wiring the Camera:
I had to build a little aluminum wedge to allow the camera to be pointed in the proper direction. Other than that, the mounting steps were pretty basic...
Mark and drill holes.
Use some primer paint to cover the exposed steel.
Use a rubber gasket or tiny o-rings on screw holes to create a seal. Also use a grommet or silicone on the wire.
I'm not going to lie here, running the wiring from the camera was not an easy task. This shows the placement of the wiring in the passenger side of the tailgate.

Here is how I ran the wiring down the rear pillar and into the floor.

Further Info:
I purchased a fairly decent quality camera off eBay for $69.99 + shipping. If you are looking for one, search eBay for "SHARP CCD REVERSE COLOR REAR VIEW BACKUP MINI CAMERA". The seller's name is Kazen. Note that it is not actually a CCD sensor (it's CMOS), but it does perform quite well in low-light situations.
It's also nice because you only need to drill a 3/16" hole in the tailgate to pass the wire through. The power wire is run through the video cable which allows for a lot of different options for powering it.

Airbag problem:
If you do happen to turn the ignition ON while you've got the dash apart and the Passenger Airbag light is unplugged, the Airbag system (SRS) will go into a Debug mode flashing the airbag light on the dash. If this happens to you, follow these steps exactly to set it back to User mode (timing is quite critical):
1. Turn ignition switch from OFF to ON.
2. Within 1 second after air bag warning lamp is on for 7 seconds and turns off, turn off the ignition switch.
3. After ignition switch is turned OFF, wait for more than 3 seconds.
4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 two times (Perform 3 times in total.)
5. Turn ignition switch ON again. (Turn to User mode.)

If you've got any questions related to this install, ask away. Otherwise, if you use any of this info, post to the thread and let me know!

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Postby acomiskey » Tue May 18, 2010 5:59 am

Nicely done!

I attempted to add the 08+ factory dvd player (the one which uses the can bus which you can control from the dash) to my 08, but unfortunately blew it up by accidentally reversing + and -, oops. I do have the older dvd unit working but it doesnt integrate with the front lcd or the buttons on the dash. Seeing as you're so smart, do you think it could be fixed?

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Postby thePPL » Tue May 18, 2010 7:14 am

Anything is fixable. Just depends how much time and effort you want to put into it :wink:.

If you reversed + and -, then likely you destroyed something in the power supply circuitry in the DVD player. The first thing to do would be to take it apart and see if you can find anything that looks burnt up. It might be a lost cause though if you don't really know what to look for.

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Postby scarelli » Tue May 18, 2010 7:43 am


That's frickin' awesome...

So seems like you might have the smarts for this challenge...
Do you have intelligent key? I'm trying to get my doors to unlock when I'm within range of the car, and lock when i leave. so i don't have to push the button on the handle... do you have any idea where to start on this project i want to tackle??

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Postby thePPL » Tue May 18, 2010 8:15 am


No I don't have intelligent key (unfortunately). As far as I understand, this is how those things work: you press the button on the door handle, the vehicle puts out a bunch of power to antennas placed strategically all over the vehicle, the signal gets picked up by the (battery-less) intelligent key, powers it up, the key transmits back a specific security code, the vehicle verifies the code and unlocks.

It may be possible to rig up a little circuit that simulates pressing the button on the door handle every second or so but...

Here is what I would be concerned about with doing something like what you want. The vehicle would be constantly dumping a ton of power out of the antennas to check for nearby intelligent keys. This would put a significant amount of drain on your battery.

The first thing to do would be to verify how much power we are talking about here. You could put a good current meter inline with your battery and watch how much power is drawn when someone presses the button. Then you could calculate how long it is going to take to drain your battery down assuming this button is pressed once per second or so. If it is going to drain the battery within a couple days, I'd say it is going to be more trouble than it's worth.

Also, I don't know exactly how those things work. When you press the button to unlock, do you just press it again and it locks all of the doors? If so, then it would keep toggling your locks if you stood beside it. I don't know how you would get around that problem because that is likely all built into the firmware of the intelligent key controller.

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Postby CRXguy » Tue May 18, 2010 6:44 pm

I wish I could tackle this. :cry:

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Postby kev1n » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:50 pm

4 questions,

do you have a pic of the aluminum bracket ?
how did you mount it to the tail gate finisher ?
Also is it absolutely necessary to have to drill a hole in the tailgate ?
Can you post a pic of how you ran the wire through the tailgate?

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Postby thePPL » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:13 am

No, I currently don't have any other pictures of that aluminum bracket. I'll have to take a better pic and post it.

It isn't actually mounted to the tail gate finisher. It's mounted to the tail gate itself. There are 2 screws holding it on from the inside of the tail gate.

I suppose you could double-sided tape the thing on or something and then maybe somehow run the wire in through the hole where the licence plate light is. You would have to mess with it to see if it would work. I wanted something that is going to last a few years and I'm pretty sure double sided tape would crap out after a bit (especially after hitting it with the pressure washer).

There isn't much to see on how I ran the wire through the tail gate but, again, I'll have to take a better picture. I had to drill 3 holes. 2 small ones to screw on the aluminum bracket and one 3/16" hole to pass the wire through.

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Postby 07-SV-650 » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:46 am

Nice work on the camera! I am not nearly brave enough to tackle a project like that. I would however like to toggle my reverse lights / camera with a dash switch. Any ideas on how to do that? I had a switch for the reverse lights in my old '87 GMC pickup, but I just tapped into the switch on the column, and the Pathy seems to be much more complicated.

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Postby Eclipsegs621 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:59 am

I Have a 2010 pathfinder se with the factory backup camera. Is there a way I can add a switch to turn it on while driving so I can check te trailer and load from time to time?

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