Seeing Backwards Better

My latest “spare time” project has been installing a rearview camera on my trusty Ford Ranger, a.k.a., the Landshark.  When we were in Puerto Rico, our rental car had one, and we quickly came to wonder how we had gotten along without one all these years. The truck, especially with the cap over the back, has limited visibility when backing up, and I’m just grateful I’ve never backed over anyone, at least that I know of. On our return from PR, I did some research, and bought a kit with a camera for the back bumper, and a replacement rearview mirror that has an LCD screen hidden behind the mirror surface—a clever solution to the lack of any good place to put a screen on the dashboard.

The installation was, um, considerably more finicky than I had expected. And I’m used to doing things like patching new electronics into the fuse box, having already done that with a new stereo and subwoofer, a year or two ago. The lack of any instructions with the kit should have been a sign. But Crutchfield has a pretty good tech support department, and I muddled along, buying ancillary parts and tools along the way. I enlisted daughter Lexi to help with the splicing and soldering and wiring, and she got to crawl around under the truck, spitting out rust while stringing cable along the frame from the back of the truck to the cab. Hey, I’ve been there and done that stuff, and I didn’t need the experience! But that wasn’t the hardest part. No, the hardest part was aiming the little camera that came with no provision for adjusting the aim!

In the end, I got a camera that works, sort of, though not nearly as well as the factory-installed models. The little distance guidelines that you see in the view are weirdly and erratically inaccurate, for one thing. I called the manufacturer, and to their credit they are sending me a couple of alternate types of camera at no cost, so I can see if I can get better results from one of them. Stay tuned.

Here’s Lexi, helping me check the view in the camera. This is what you get when you hold a camera up to a rearview mirror, to take a picture of an LCD screen showing the image from a camera at the back of the truck, with the subject’s face about an inch from the camera lens. Don’t back up!

(Don’t worry; the engine wasn’t running.)

Lexi in rearview camera

And here’s the idiot whose bright idea this was:

Jeff in rearview camera

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