Testing out the Backup Camera(s) (Part I, The Parts)

So, with all the cold weather and lack of being able to work on the bus, I pulled out the backup cameras and screen, to test them out.  I had had these for a while, but they were still in the boxes, and I wasn’t sure how and where I’d be installing things.  I ordered all these from Amazon last winter and just never got around to them.

 

So, here are the parts, all expanded out of their boxes:

NEEWER Waterproof CMOS/CCD Reverse Backup Car Rear View Camera
NEEWER Waterproof CMOS/CCD Reverse Backup Car Rear View Camera

NEEWER Waterproof CMOS/CCD Reverse Backup Car Rear View Camera (Electronics)


List Price: $6.99 USD
New From: $6.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Here is a relatively cheap back-up camera that had decent reviews, and I thought I’d give it a try, or keep it as a spare if the other camera ended up not working or burning out too soon.  It attaches by way of a hollow, threaded post through which the wiring goes.  It has a small plug/socket set to connect the camera to the DC power/return and the 25′ long RCA cable (which will be a little short for the bus).

The attachment for the cheaper camera.
The attachment for the cheaper camera.

There had been some complaints about it not being really waterproof, but it looks good to me, given that the lens and body are all nicely molded together, and the back (with the post) is screwed into it with four small screws, meaning that the only place for water to get in is at the back, which you should be sealing up anyhow.

The molded body of the cheaper camera.
The molded body of the cheaper camera.

They included a little pieces of what seems to be a 1/16″~2mm foam tape (which somehow escaped my picture) to put on it, but I’ll use a thin bead of butyl rubber when I go to attach it.


Night Vision Parking Car Rear View Wide Angle LED Reversing CMOS Camera

Night Vision Parking Car Rear View Wide Angle LED Reversing CMOS Camera

BW 3.6mm Wide Angle Car Rear View Reversing Backup Camera with Night Vision (Electronics)


List Price: $10.59 USD
New From: $8.00 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

This was the ‘fancy’ back-up camera that I opted for.  It’s ‘fancy’ because it has the IR LEDS that kick on when it gets dark enough.  I had figured that this would be the main back-up camera for the bus.

IR augmented camera. 7 IR LEDs and one photocell sensor.
IR augmented camera. 7 IR LEDs and one photocell sensor.

It attaches to the vehicle by the side-flanges, and the wires come off the back.  It has separate plugs for a rather standard ‘+ in’ 12 VDC plug (the red one in the picture) and a female RCA jack for the video.  The camera came with 25′ of RCA cable, but I have a run of 50′ that I’ll use instead.

Like the cheaper camera, the body and lens are all together in one nicely molded piece, with a ‘hatch’ that’s screwed down on the top.  Again, I’m figuring on using some butyl rubber sealant around the seam there to try and keep out water, which I expect to be a bigger deal with this camera, since the opening is up and there’s a bigger hatch.


One of the major complaints in the Amazon reviews about both of these cameras is that the image is backward, and you can’t change it, or that it’s been built wrong.  However, these are really back-up cameras, designed to be installed in a particular way so to give an image that’s going to give the driver a familiar view of a rear-view mirror. And they do that just fine, so I think a lot of the issues in those comments is that people didn’t understand what they were buying.


Lilliput Eby701-np/c/t

Lilliput Eby701-np/c/t

The Lilliput screen is a 7″ touchscreen with a VGA input as well as two RCA inputs and a reverse-sensor that automatically changes the input to a camera’s input when the transmission is shifted into reverse. It had some good reviews as being a reliable and visible screen for vehicle use, able to interface with a vehicle-based computer (which I’m planning on installing).  It runs on 12 VDC, but also came with an AC adapter (which made testing a whole lot easier).

Lilliput screen connections.
Lilliput screen connections.

It also turned out to have TWO RCA inputs (Video 2 is the one activated by the reverse sensor), so I’m likely to install both back-up cameras and have them each on separate channels (more on this in Part II). The cables that came were actually in two parts, perhaps in case one didn’t have an on-board computer.  The first connects to the screen and includes the power jack (black), RCA jacks (yellow), reverse sensor (green wire), an audio input (white), and the screw-on secured connector for the other wire which connects to the VGA jack and a USB connector for the touchscreen.

Armed with these bits (and a 12 VDC power source from a USB IDE hard drive connector), I got into actually testing the system.

(Continued in Part II …)

 

 

 

 

 

Lilliput Eby701-np/c/t (Electronics)


List Price: $154.95 USD
New From: $125.00 USD In Stock
Used from: $99.00 USD In Stock

 

 

On The Road – Road Rage

Recently, we’ve had more road-rage on our area roads, the latest being this one, caught on camera on the NY I-290.  This might seem tame, a pick-up all but forcing a sedan off the road, then the driver getting out to throw rocks at the leaving sedan, but for our area that’s pretty bad.

See, a whole lot of the highway system in and around Buffalo was designed in the 1950’s as part of the New York State Thruway System, and at that time, Buffalo had nearly 900,000 people in it’s metropolitan area, and was expected to continue to grow.  These roadways were designed to be forward-thinking, looking toward that expansion, but with the decline of manufacturing and the change in shipping that the Welland Canal (in Ontario) made allowing ocean-going ships to bypass Buffalo’s harbor and continue from Lake Ontario straight on to Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes, the population growth was no-where near expected (and for the city itself, a decline), meaning that our roadways are (generally speaking) overbuilt for the traffic they get.  Our ‘rush hour’ might delay you all of 5 minutes – maybe 30 if there’s a bad accident.

As a school bus driver, you really have to be good about keeping yourself calm.  School buses can clog up traffic, being the only vehicles that can stop ALL traffic (that’s right, ambulances, fire trucks, and police emergency vehicles have to stop for a school bus’ red flashing lights), and on narrow, tight streets being wider than cars, their very presence can make a road impassible for other vehicles.  We got a lot of ‘three lane’ roads (two-lanes of traffic, one of parked cars) that became ‘one-lane’ roads with the parked cars and snowbanks over this winter.

And over this past year of driving I have had numerous people bitching at me/my bus when I needed to make a turn onto a street they were on, and I had to wait for them before I could go, or when there was a ‘one-lane’ street where my bus was already moving in the one lane and they had to pull over into the parked cars on their side and wait for my bus to pass, or where I blocked up the road to wait for my 30 seconds at the stop where there was no student out and waiting for the bus.  And some of these people have cut around me really unsafely, slammed on their brakes in front of my bus, or not moved when a light turned green ahead of me, all while watching for my reactions, (I’m guessing) because they wanted to make sure that they were annoying me as much as I apparently annoyed them.

But, as a professional driver, you have to let that stuff go.  You have to recognize that sometimes the safest thing to do is let these idiots have space, and get out their aggression without reacting to their provocations.  And sometimes it isn’t easy.

Here are some sites that give advice on how to avoid road rage in yourself and your driving, and also avoiding being the victim of road rage:

And a lot of what they have to say boils down to a couple of important things:

  • Drive Safe: Don’t engage in dangerous driving yourself.  Leave space between you and other drivers, don’t speed or go overly slowly if you don’t need to.
  • Help other drivers out: If someone really wants to get around you and go speeding in a place you’re not, let them.  Try and pull over, or give them an opportunity to pass (though you might want to keep an eye on them ahead of you in case they’re really unsafe).
  • Don’t Engage:  Avoid direct eye contact, if you’re going to give them a gesture, make it a placating or ‘I’m sorry’ gesture rather than one that escalates things and makes them more angry.
  • Keep Your Own Calm:  Whatever troubles these other drivers have, don’t let them affect you personally.  If you are driving safely, and being reasonably aware of and kind to other drivers and someone gets upset with that, that’s their problem, not yours.

And while a lot of this sounds simple, it often isn’t.  School bus drivers want to keep to their schedules, especially if they have to do runs for multiple schools. My morning run includes two schools, and some at my terminal have three schools.  A 20 minute delay on my first school means that I’ll be 10-15 minutes late for all the pick-ups for my second school, for example.  And one of the things a school bus driver has to come to terms with is that if you’re safely driving your bus, you won’t make up time.  That said, some drivers fall prey to trying to get back on schedule and thus drop some of the safety.

For most drivers, this is akin to your being on time for getting to work, or to pick up your kids, or make that date.  Speeding on highways CAN make your trip faster over hundreds of miles.  Speeding on city streets generally doesn’t pay off, as stop signs and stop lights break down what you might gain, and, of course, your stopping time/distance grows as your speed does.

I think that driving a school bus and being forced to be so safety conscious and aware of how much space my vehicle is taking up on the road and where it is has made me not only a better driver, but a much calmer one.  I watch other people struggle and jockey for position on the road and let them at it.

The bottom line, if being safe makes me late, then I’ll be late.  If I’m going to be throwing rocks at a vehicle, it’ll be for a good reason like this:  Daring rescue saves driver of burning truck.


Update 03/22/15: They’ve caught the driver of the pick-up in the video above, and are charging him with first degree reckless endangerment, a class D felony.  It’s no joke!

 

Changing designs (for the master bed) (Part II)

So I set about designing benches whose backs would be able to be lifted away from the bench, turned and rotated so that they would each become half of the bed across the gap between the two benches.  Each of the benches will be 24″ wide (from the wall) and 58-59″ long (I’ll figure this out more exactly when I empty out the back of the bus and get to the actual building), with a height of 20″.

The overall design of the platform sections.
The overall design of the platform sections.

This would leave a space of roughly 58″ by 42″ that would need to be filled in to make a flat bed surface between the benches. A single platform that big would be very hard to hide away, so I set up the design to make this into two parts (one for the back of each bench seat), each roughly 29″ by 43 1/2″.  The extra 1 1/2″ for this length is for an overlap with the bench of 3/4″ on either side.

The paneled bench front with notches to fit the platforms.
The paneled bench front with notches to fit the platforms.

In order to make these really stable, I designed each of the sections to have three 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ supports that would rest in notches in the benches. The tops of the benches and the platforms is going to be 3/4″ oak faced plywood (and the panels in the bench will be 1/4″ plywood).

The bench in profile, showing the `pocket` for the platform.
The bench in profile, showing the `pocket` for the platform.

Given that the windows start at 29″ from the floor and the bench seat would be at 20″, making these 29″ wide platforms into the back of the bench posed a small problem, since we wanted to keep as much of our window view as possible.  Toward this end, I decided to cover not more than 6″ of the window with the bench seat (which would be about the same height as the back of the sideways seat in the cabin area), which necessitated deep pockets in the back of the bench.

The top-view of the bench.
The top-view of the bench.

This would still allow for the area in front of the pocket to be used for storage.  In order to access this, I worked out a hinged panel in the seat top that could still be opened when the bed platforms were in place. In arranging this in the design, it occurred to me that the ‘pocket’ where the platform would rest while it was a bench would be a big empty area when it was made into a bed, so the design needed another hinged panel that would fold down and close when the platform was in place to be a bed.

The side and fronts of the bench would be the same oak paneling that I’ve put up for the wall between the bathroom and galley area. knowing that, I came out with a whole materials list and cutting diagrams.  I’ll post the building of this when I get there, but this seems the best way to compromise our wants and our needs.

The materials list for the benches.
The materials list for the benches.

 

The cutting diagrams for the plywood.
The cutting diagrams for the plywood.