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Birdseye view of my car

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I saw these cameras while car shopping. They're 4 cameras, two in the wing mirrors, one front, one back. Each camera is a wide angle view, and together they cover all around the car. The 4 cameras go into a box fitted inside the car, which merges the images together to give a top down view surrounding the car. That feed goes into the car's DVD player or reversing camera.

I love this feature, it's like the car is made of glass and you can see right through it. I just read about a 3 year old, that was run over by a pickup truck, bump, a few seconds and the child is lost. The driver was moving slowly, they simply didn't see the kid. I wanted to do something positive, a small contribution to make the world a tiny bit better. Could I buy this feature as an after-market box for my new car?

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I searched the web, and found the answer is yes, yes yes. I can even get a 3D version that will display a 3D model of a car with the images wrapped around that! The camera uses the display in your car that's used for reversing, it connects to the indicators and reversing lamp, and it switches on and stays on for, 15, 30 seconds, up to you, switching between front, back and side camera views in one half of the display, with the surround view on the other half of the display.

I asked around the car camera places, and they pointed me to Hongkee on the Phuket bypass road.

How much? 12500 baht for the 2D system, fitting takes about 3 hours they said. All sounds reasonable, so I drop the car in, and we head off to Tescos for some shopping while the car is fitted. But things didn't quite go to plan.

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It's clear Hongkee didn't have experience fitting these cameras, routing the wires, drilling the holes in the wing mirrors, fitting the box, this all became a long long long day. By 8pm that evening, they sent the courtesy car to collect us, but our car was in pieces still. So we called it a day and head home.

Day 2 afternoon, we're go to see the finished car. But when hubby tries it, there's a problem, the camera should switch on when the indicators are on, and stay on for a defined interval, they don't. Only reverse switches on the camera, and it switches off immediately. Did they connect the signal line correctly?

When in reverse, another problem appears. The display is from Toyota, and it draws the reversing guide lines. So now there are two sets of reversing lines: The Toyota ones and the new birdseye camera lines.

Another learning experience for everyone. I don't like this Toyota console, its awful, complex, lots of barely working features, and an annoying bright blue screen that has to be cancelled each time or it dazzles you at night.... I decide to buy a JVC unit to replace it. That'll fix the hated Toyota one, but at a price. Now this camera will cost me 25,500 baht including the new head unit.

After another day of working into the night, they conclude the camera unit is broken, and order two new ones. The cameras work, but you have to turn them on using the JVC display each time. Selecting the indicators or reverse does not turn on the box. No matter, they won't bill me till its properly working in a week or so's time.

It's not callibrated, they don't know how. It needs a special mat not provided in the box. I improvise using a beach mat marked with tape. The manual doesn't really explain things. I play with the remote to figure it out. For details on how I did it, please read this post: How to Calibrate the Smarteye 360GD BirdView Car Camera.

Hongkee are on the bypass road, along Phuket, on the left side as you head to Tescos. There's also another shop Chai, that sell and install these cameras. These cameras a quite new, and there's a learning process that the garages need to go through, but Hongkee solved the problems and got a professionally installed working unit in the end. So persevere.

Imagine how you'd feel if you ran over a kid by accident. So go fit the camera.

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