Category Archives: batteries

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: Price Not Listed
New From: 0 Out of 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: $119.00 USD
New From: $119.00 USD In Stock
Used from: $99.00 USD In Stock

 

 

Cold Weather Care and Feeding of Batteries

A recent discussion and some questions on the subject of batteries gave me the idea to sum up what I have on the subject in hopes that it will help other folks’ batteries to last longer.  For the RVer who wants to stay quiet, a good, reliable battery bank is the way to keep so many of those systems that make camping life so comfortable going, and most of us can’t afford and don’t want to buy those expensive new batteries often.

There are a number of strategies when choosing batteries for your RV/Camper.  Some people choose one single large battery, like this ‘universal replacement’: 

12v 200ah Solar Power Battery – Deep Cycle (Electronics)


List Price: $359.99 USD
New From: $350.49 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

This one has a rating of 200 Amp-hours (It would last for 200 hours under a constant 1 amp draw, or 1 hour at a 200 amp draw) at 12 volts DC, which is the usual power system for your regular vehicle and most RVs.

Some folks like to use golf cart batteries, as they can be obtained used, and even as 6 volt batteries, can be hooked up in series to make a 12 volt output and are often fairly cheap, like these (new):

Sealed AGM Gel Golf Cart Battery 12 Volt 35 Amp Hour – 4 Pack (Misc.)


List Price: Price Not Listed
New From: 0 Out of Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

These, hooked up as two sets of series connections by a parallel connection would yield 140 Amp-hours at 12 Volts DC.

Now, the ones above are AGM (Absorbant Glass Mat) batteries. This technology became popular in the early 1980s as a sealed lead acid battery where the acid is absorbed by a very fine fiberglass mat, making the battery spill-proof, and means that it can be mounted in any direction. These batteries have very low internal resistance, are capable of delivering high currents on demand and offer a relatively long service life, even when deep-cycled.

AGM batteries are maintenance free, provide good electrical reliability, and are lighter than the flooded lead acid type (which I’ll mention in a moment). They stand up well to low temperatures and have a low self-discharge, but the major advantages are a charge that is up to five times faster than the flooded version, and the ability to deep cycle without ruining the battery. AGM batteries offers a depth-of-discharge (DoD) of 80 percent, while flooded batteries are specified at 50 percent DoD to attain the same cycle life.  The downsides are that they tend to be heavier/bigger per Amp-hour and higher costs than flooded batteries.

A flooded battery might be a cost- and weight-effective choice, looking something like this one: 

Trojan T-1275 12V 150Ah Flooded Lead Acid Golf Cart Battery FAST USA SHIP


New From: $279.00 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

This battery would give 150 Amp-hours at 12 Volts DC, but with a smaller, lighter battery.  The downside of this battery is that you have to make sure the battery is topped up with distilled water, as it will off-gas explosive hydrogen gas and other corrosive gases (so it has to be placed in a vented compartment). You can get around some of the work of topping your battery(ies) up with an automatic system like this one

RV Trailer Camper Electrical Battery Watering System Single MP-2010


List Price: $43.69 USD
New From: $43.69 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

which makes it a simple job with a a hand pump to fill once you install the hose to each of the cells of the battery(ies).

Another problem with flooded batteries is that a full discharge (50%) causes strain on the battery, and each discharge/charge cycle permanently robs the battery of a small amount of capacity (Unnoticable at first, but each subsequent discharge takes more capacity from the battery). Most of the flooded types will have a life of about 200-300 cycles, while the Lifeline batteries that we got are rated for 1000 cycles.

When it comes to cold weather, AGM batteries have another couple of advantages over flooded batteries in that they are much more likely to survive a freeze intact, and loose less of their charge over the same length of time.  This last is probably the most important of the two, as the trick to keeping a battery healthy over cold weather is keeping it charged.

As the weather gets colder, the effective Amp-hours in a battery drops, while at the same time, its voltage capacity rises.  This means that your charger has to be able to cope with this.  There are a number of ‘Smart Chargers’ out there, like these: 

NOCO Genius G3500 6V/12V 3.5A UltraSafe Smart Battery Charger (Automotive)


List Price: $74.95 USD
New From: $59.95 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

BLACK+DECKER BM3B 6V and 12V Automatic Battery Charger / Maintainer (Automotive)


List Price: $25.99 USD
New From: $19.97 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

NOCO Genius GENM2 8 Amp 2-Bank Waterproof Smart On-Board Battery Charger (Automotive)


List Price: $99.95 USD
New From: $99.95 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

or as units built into converters like this

PowerMax PM3-55 110 V to 12 V DC Power Supply Converter Charger for Rv Pm3-55, 55Amp (Wireless Phone Accessory)


List Price: $109.00 USD
New From: $104.34 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

The thing about these ‘smart’ chargers is that they will automatically detect the charge that your battery has and adjust their output to give your battery what it needs, from ‘bulk charging’ (up to almost 90% charge) through the ‘absorption charge’ (to charge the last 10-15% of the battery) to ‘float charging’ (which keeps the battery full at a constant lower voltage) and even the maintenance cycle of ‘equalizing’ charging (which highly charges the battery to prolong the battery life by removing sulfur from the plates).  A regular charger like you might have in the garage for your  car generally has settings for either a ‘starting charge’ (lots of amps you use to try and get the car started with a dead battery), a ‘bulk charge’ (To bring the battery to a full or near full charge), and a ‘float charge’ (to keep the battery full), though it doesn’t pay any attention to the battery that it’s connected to and continues to do what the switch is selected to, which can easily over-charge a battery and leave you with sulfur corroded plates.

Some people winterize their system by removing the batteries from their RV/campers, and keeping them warm. This is a perfectly acceptable way to winterize, but for batteries with larger Amp-hour capacities (and especially those that are heavier AGM batteries or built into specialized compartments) this can be a lot of work. You still have to remember to keep the batteries charged, or you might lose a cycle of life through discharge as they sit.  Also, if you have the flooded batteries, taking them out is a great time to top them up, and pay more attention to keeping them charged, as they’ll discharge faster than the AGMs.

Also, if you’ve heard that you can’t store your batteries on concrete over winter, as long as your batteries are in a plastic case, you can disregard it.  This adage comes from the time when batteries were produced in wooden cases, and the wet wood sitting on the porous concrete meant that the concrete would slowly leach away the water from your battery.  The only concern with modern batteries is if you can get your fingers underneath to lift them back into their places so you can get going again in the warmer times of the year.