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      01-22-2018, 05:20 PM   #1
Zermatt
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Simple Goal: Install an OEM Front Bumper Camera

Many of us with F3x and F8x wish we had a front parking camera.
Thus far, the most common solution is to install a front camera connected through an iDrive interface system such as the BimmerTech MultiMedia Kit or the Cruz Interface System (MRVBM-77).

These multimedia kits are a bit overkill especially for those of us that already have back up cameras and arent looking to add a variety of additional video inputs/outputs.

These kits are needed to connect a composite camera video to stream into the iDrive. The BMW OEM cameras use a 4-pin LVDS data line (4 conductors plus the cable shield). Two carrying CAN bus signals and two carrying Video signals. (while less common, other cameras such as few BMW FLIR thermal cameras also have two additional wires for ground and +12V). The 4-pin LVDS data lines used with the cameras are the same as the USB wires. BMWs with the 360 view camera system use an ethernet data line.

Im not aware of any OEM camera integration kit available. However I have an idea that Id like to try and curious if others have any input.

My idea is essentially to build a video distribution switch using isolated relays to effectively switch on-demand between the rear camera feed with an OEM front camera using two DPDT relays.

Essentially using two relays to simultaneously switch the rear camera (4 conductor) feed with the feed of a bmw front bumper camera (also 4 conductors).

Perhaps consideration should be taken if different oem cameras have different resolutions. If so, an identical rear camera could be used for the front and a switch installed to trigger the two relays to flip between the rear and front camera feeds.

Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this!
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Last edited by Zermatt; 01-23-2018 at 12:38 PM. Reason: added LVDS info
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      01-22-2018, 06:00 PM   #2
espressoo
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How would you activate the rear camera now if not in reverse? Is there a signal you can use to trick iDrive to display video? Standard on a MY18 now is a backup camera and it's surprisingly clear. If you can purchase the trunk mounted camera only and install it in the lower grill and display video while moving forward that would be awesome!

Anyone know the part number and cost of the backup camera?
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      01-23-2018, 12:35 PM   #3
Zermatt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by espressoo View Post
How would you activate the rear camera now if not in reverse? Is there a signal you can use to trick iDrive to display video? Standard on a MY18 now is a backup camera and it's surprisingly clear. If you can purchase the trunk mounted camera only and install it in the lower grill and display video while moving forward that would be awesome!

Anyone know the part number and cost of the backup camera?
There are various cameras depending on the year and vehicle specs. New cost is approx $450 but on eBay Ive seen them sell for $150-200 used. I know some aftermarket parking cameras have built in parking-aid lines but I assume BMW's dynamic parking-aid lines are computer generated and superimposed on the screen by the TRSVC box.

The camera will still be automatically activated when vehicle goes into Reverse. If coded with Esys, you can manually activate itwith the button at any speed so there isnt a need to trick the iDrive to display the rear camera video.

In layman's terms, the goal would be to add an identical rear camera to mount in the front bumper. The 2 relays would effectively be an electrical alternative to manually unpluging the rear camera LVDS data wire and re-plugging the front camera data wire into the TRSVC (vision control unit for the cameras located near the steering column).

Ultimately my biggest question is if there is some CAN-bus communication that links the iDrive to each specific camera akin to identifying it by some sort of serial number. I believe this is what could derail this potential front camera solution.

Here is the TIS BMW functional description and wiring schematics on the F3x/F8x Top Rear Side View Camera (TRSVC) System.

The last paragraph in the above link states: "Note! New update procedure! Automatic calibration is now available as a new update procedure to the reversing camera and the exterior mirror camera. Following replacement each camera must be reinitialized ("learning" function). The service function provides an automatic calibration. Manual calibration using the special tool is no longer required. On vehicles with an all-round vision camera manufactured prior to 03/2011 automatic calibration can also be activated in a programming session."

This leads me to believe that if I were to unplug the rear camera and immediately reconnect an identical rear camera installed on the front bumper, that a calibration "may" be required. However, I suspect this calibration is solely to adjust the dynamic parking aid lines as a new camera would likely be installed at an ever so slightly different angle. Therefore I don't believe a calibration would actually required because the existing calibration would still match the actual rear camera still being used.

At any rate, hoping someone with CANbus experience or knowledge of the camera/video can chime in on this thread.

Alternatively, I suppose one of us could test it by purchasing a rear camera and testing it manually. If it screws up the calibration, take it to the dealership while its under warranty and have them re-calibrate it.
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Last edited by Zermatt; 01-23-2018 at 12:53 PM.
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      02-05-2018, 02:38 AM   #4
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Update:
I purchased a used Rear View camera on eBay. (P/N 66539240351) for $90 to test my theory out.

After removing the trunk lid liner, I turned on the car and put it in reverse so that the rear camera view showed on the iDrive screen. I unplugged the cable from the rear view camera and then plugged in the eBay camera.

During this process, the iDrive gave me an camera malfunction error when the camera was unplugged. Re-plugging the eBay camera did not remove clear the displayed error message. However, upon pressing the parking camera button, the camera view re-appeared (showing my hand the inside of the trunk). See screen captures below. The parking aid lines remained unchanged regardless of camera swap.

I conclude that one could wire an OEM rear camera for use as a front bumper camera but doing so would involve a two button press process to switch between an OEM front camera and the rear camera. (one to switch the cameras via a relay and the other to re-select the camera view and thereby clearing the error message). Perhaps (though doubtful) if the relay is fast enough, the error would not occur.

While using this setup would be cheaper than purchasing a MultiMedia interface kit I am undecided which way I'll go as this method would overlay the rear parking aid lines on the front camera view and does not allow a simple one button switch between cameras without an error message.
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      02-05-2018, 09:42 AM   #5
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Does the rear backup camera receive power all the time once the ignition is on? Can you splice into the video wire only and toggle between rear and front?
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      02-05-2018, 11:50 AM   #6
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Very interesting idea and thought process. Regarding the internal communication, you'd need to tap into the appropriate K-CAN bus wiring with a CANbus device to capture traffic and then the fun begins to analyze the protocol.
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      01-31-2019, 07:19 PM   #7
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Hope this isn't a stupid question but is it possible to relocate one of the front bumper camera's to the front grill? I noticed that you can buy an extension cable on E-bay and got to thinking if there would be any issue? To my knowledge those camera's are only used for when you want to peek out in traffic on blind road/spots or am I wrong? It would be nice to have a functional front camera without having to add anything except a simple 3ft cable that only costs $25.
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      02-01-2019, 08:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougT View Post
Hope this isn't a stupid question but is it possible to relocate one of the front bumper camera's to the front grill? I noticed that you can buy an extension cable on E-bay and got to thinking if there would be any issue? To my knowledge those camera's are only used for when you want to peek out in traffic on blind road/spots or am I wrong? It would be nice to have a functional front camera without having to add anything except a simple 3ft cable that only costs $25.
Just try it and then you tell us...
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      02-19-2019, 02:42 PM   #9
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