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Thread: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents

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    Default Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    With the traffic density and crazy drivers around now, I decided to get a small, cheap dash cam for accident evidence purposes (not good for documenting trail adventures). Itís an ďApemanĒ C500. and was $45 with a coupon at Amazon. It works amazing well for the price, certainly good enough for what I need.

    The cameras record at 1080p front and 720p rear, compressed. Nighttime performance is about what youíd expect. The front camera has a lot better dynamic range than the rear, but still good enough to see whoís at fault.

    It can use a maximum 32GB micro SD card which is about two hours of recording, in up to five minute files. With loop recording selected (default) the files are replaced, oldest first.

    I went to order another for my wifeís car but they are not in stock and the price went up. So I ordered a Crosstour CR600 which looks to be the same unit with a slightly different case.

    These cheapies donít switch between driving mode and parked mode very well so I donít use the parked mode. It seems the more expensive units, like $200, work better.

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    Default Re: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    So, when the car's off / parked it still records full time, looping?

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    Default Re: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    You can set it up that way, but it would wear out the SD card in months because the entire memory would be written every couple of hours.

    In ďparking modeĒ, the unit is on standby until either something moves in range of the front camera, or the g-sensor (accelerometer) is tripped by a collision or someone rocking the car. Then recording starts for the time period selected, 1 - 5 minutes. Either option requires continuous power, not just the key switched power port.

    The problem with the cheap ones seems to be that they canít distinguish between being parked with engine off and the engine running. So the parking mode stays on during driving and conflicts with simply running the camera while driving, leading to the recording being intermittent. So you have to enable and disable parking mode all the time. Not really useful unless you park for a long period, such as overnight, in a high risk area.

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    Default Re: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    How difficult (single slide switch - run / park or multi-button press menu system) is it to change between park and running?

    My mind toys with cameras but reality hasn't found me bothering. I could see designing my own - multi-camera locations, raspberry Pi perhaps. "in my mind..."

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    Default Re: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    I got a cobra system and I canít get it to stay on.
    It might work, it might not, you never know.
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    In a never ending search for the proper mix of dirt & rock !

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    Default Re: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    Jim previously posted:
    "How difficult (single slide switch - run / park or multi-button press menu system) is it to change between park and running?

    My mind toys with cameras but reality hasn't found me bothering. I could see designing my own - multi-camera locations, raspberry Pi perhaps. "in my mind...""

    Unfortunately it's in a menu, not a one button press, which would be far better. (A button costs more ... and I got what I paid for! )

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    Jim (February 2nd, 2020)

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    Default Re: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    I drive a lot for work. Let me know how you like it.
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    Default Re: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    I have a cheap one that I purchased from home depot before Christmas a couple years ago. The best thing I did was to upgrade the SD card immediately. To a higher quality card. It works rather well for a $45 video camera. Would definitely work if it was in my daily driver.

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    TJS86TOY (February 6th, 2020)

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    Default Re: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    Update:

    I installed the Crosstour CR600 in my wife's car. It's the same unit as the Apeman C500, but in a slightly different case. One thing I liked is that the adhesive pad was a dark grey which makes it less visible from the outside, compared to the lighter grey of the Apeman pad.

    It's hard to tell, but the camera chips might be slightly better, maybe just more recent versions. The Crosstour has a few more menu options but they don't really matter that much. The Apeman came with a micro SD card, albeit a cheap one which will probably be worn out in less than a year. The Crosstour did not come with one, so I got a Samsung Evo Pro especially made for write intensive activities like a dash cam.

    Some installation hints:

    1. Be very careful about routing cables near airbags - the cable must not obstruct the bag deployment. The first time I routed the rear camera cable, I accidentally got it directly in front of the side airbag in the "A" pillar. I had to redo the installation and put the cable behind the airbag so there was no chance of obstruction. Disconnect the battery and wait a few minutes before doing anything near the airbags.

    2. Don't create a windshield obstruction to the driver's view, or a blind spot to the camera. The cameras are very wide angle, so power up the camera and move it around to find a good place for both criteria. That ended up to be behind the rear view mirror at the top of the windshield for me. Make sure the mirror can still move as needed. (I've never heard of anyone getting a ticket for something well placed on the windshield around here, but some states are very strict and you might get a ticket for it if pulled over.)

    3. If you have a late model car with factory cameras for "smart" features, make sure the dash cam won't interfere with their operation. My wife's Subaru manual showed a keep out area over much of the windshield which seemed excessive. So I did some driving tests with a little box representing the camera taped to the windshield in various places. That showed there was no problem short of blocking the factory camera view or creating a reflection into it on the windshield. Your vehicle could be different, so either follow the manual or test the situation thoroughly.

    4. I suggest turning off audio recording (and make sure it's off by verifying the icon status on the screen). First it's just creepy - do you want everything you or your passengers say to be recorded? I don't. Second, state laws vary about recording people. In some states you would need to get permission from your passengers (not Colorado).

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    TJS86TOY (February 6th, 2020)

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    Default Re: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    I looked up the Crosstour CR600 and see the second / satellite / rear camera. The single cable that plugs into the front camera also connects to power and to the rear camera, yes? How'd you route the cable for the rear camera?

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    Default Re: Got a Cheap Dash Cam for Accidents



    Yes, just a single cable for power and video for the rear camera. Plus, a power cord with 12V plug for the main unit. Two cables total.

    Itís easy to route the cable along the door seams by stuffing inside the weatherstrip next to the headliner. The camera comes with a little plastic tool to help press the cable into tight places without pulling off a trim cover.

    However, I did need to partially pull out the ďAĒ pillar trim cover in order to run the cable behind the airbag. Also, I needed to pull off a couple of trim covers on and near the tailgate in order to fish the wire from through the tailgate cable boot so that it was completely hidden. Nothing hard, just took a little time and fishing a piece of stiff wire and some string for a foot or two. ( If you donít want to do that for some reason, you could just use some adhesive cable clips to hold the cable to the hatch panels with enough slack to allow the gate to open.)

    The only unsightly part is a small length of power cable going to the 12V outlet in the center console. Later Iíll probably ditch that arrangement and do a hidden hardwire to a suitable switched fuse point.

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