Cover for Outdoor Camera
I want to mount a camera on the back of my truck for things like backing up and aligning the trailer hitch. I may add a range finder to provide an alarm when I get too close or it may be mounted separately: I am not sure about that yet. Key idea here is the camera will be articulated so it can swing side to side and up and down to increase the coverage. Oh, and I have a cap on the truck bed so it would be mounted on the rear surface of that cap, which is vertical and basically flat: that makes it easier.
Anyway, I need a cover that is optically clear and that will allow the camera to "see" at least 90 degrees left to right and a similar amount up/down. The cover would completely cover the camera and the motor mechanism used to move it, thus protecting it from the elements and also curious hands. I envision a simple bracket bent at a right angle to provide the back and top of the mount so I need an idea for the cover to enclose the other four sides. I could cut four pieces of clear plastic intended for windows and glue them together, but there would be lines where they meet. Perhaps this is OK, I'm not sure. A one piece design would be better, but how? Could a clear sheet of plastic be formed by heat over a curved form and keep it's clear optical properties? Is there a source for transparent domes that could be cut down to fit? Or what? I need ideas.
If the cover could be transparent to ultrasonic sound waves that would also allow the rangefinder to work through it and I could mount it with the camera. Otherwise I may need multiple rangefinders but they would still need covers too.
I am in the early stages of this project so there is time. But I need an idea. Overall dimensions for the cover would be something like 6" wide, 2-3" high, and about 4" long (rough guesstimates). Vertical space is limited by the distance between the rear window hinge and the top of the cap. Width and length are more flexible.
Make it fit.
If you want a backup camera, look at what's available as stock on mini-vans and soccer-mom mobiles.
I just recieved an acrylic dome from these guys for an ROV im working on. Its optically clear to the level that i need for my project, and should work for you. There is a little distortion right next to the flange, where the plastic has done the most stretching during forming, but the rest is nice and clear.
When i recieved it, there was masking over the whole thing, "pipe" foam wrapped around the flange, 17 layers of bubble wrap, and they had cut the box so when it was closed, it formed 2 layers of cardboard around the whole thing. I think they had also used a whole roll of packing tape because it took a while to get it all unpacked.
WOW! They look perfect. Custom sizes too!
Thanks a lot for that link.
Originally Posted by Dragons_fire
Make it fit.
I've looked at them. All are variations on two or three themes. Mirror cam, fixed mount with wide angle camera, or license plate cam. All of these have limited fields of view. I want something better to enable me to see both ends of the rear bumper as well as horizontally off into the distance. Also a view of the trailer hitch that is good enough to maneuver the truck under a trailer hitch without running back there ten times. A lens that has a wide angle field of view trades away resolution for the trailer hitch. So the camera must move. None of the ones I have seen do that.
Originally Posted by Rosco-P
Besides, where is the fun in just buying it? I build stuff.
Make it fit.
Paul, I have a cheap licence plate mounted cam which is suprisingly good. When the trailer hitch casts a shadow over the camera I know it is time to stop backing up! When the licence plate of the vehicle behind completely fills the frame I know I am as far back as I can safely go in the parking space.
The camera was so cheap that if I wanted a wider view I would have just bought two of them (though I do not know if two would operate ("wirelessly") in such close proximity. So maybe multiple camera with a selector switch.
However, I do share your enthusiasm for building things.... It would not be too difficult to wire a stepper motor to move according to a multiway switch (but you would need a multi core cable), a bowden cable might be possible? Of course remote controlled cameras can be bought off the shelf too.
The only issue I see with making something yourself (especially if I made it ) would be what sort of contraption I would end up mounted on the back of my vehicle!
Sorry, I didnt really address your question but I have noticed that fancy lighting shops occasionally have light fittings that incorporate transparent domes etc.
Last edited by The Artful Bodger; 02-02-2012 at 01:39 PM.