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Old 07-15-2013, 12:53 PM   #1
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2001 Surf Side camera replacement problem

Has anyone run into this problem and found a solution? I'm in the process of replacing the camera with an identical color camera that uses the OEM cable. After getting the cover off it looked like an easy replacement - unbolt the existing unit and unplug the cable at the connector that apparently is on the inside of the rear body cap.

That's when I 'found' the problem. I can't pull enough slack up thru the grommet hole to get to (or feel nor see) the connector. If it has about the same length as the cable on the new camera, I'm about 6 -10" short. I don't want to pull any harder for fear of parting the cable or connector inside the cap and I can't see up there from underneath due to a horizontal bulkhead partway up that goes between the house shell and the cap.

So at this point my options seem to be to:

(1) Drill a large hole in the cap underneath the camera cover and hope I'll be able to access the connector thru it

(2) splice the old and new cables together


(3) open up the new camera and connect the old cable to it internally

Can any of you offer a better solution?

Thanks in advance
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Old 07-15-2013, 01:57 PM   #2
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Did the camera come with any cable? If you cut the existing cable, will it drop down enough to splice in more cable, then fish it back up to the hole. Can you see the cable at the bottom inside of the cap?



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Old 07-15-2013, 02:28 PM   #3
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Should have been more clear .. I can pull about 10" of slack thru the hole for the grommet and that's all. So splicing the cable or hardwiring the existing cable into the camera is possible, albeit meaning working from the top of a ladder.

The new camera has a 20-24" pigtail and I assume the OEM camera has the same if the manual that came with it is correct.

It's hard to imagine that National modified in any way the cables so my best guess at the moment is that the cable is caught somehow inside the cap. So drilling a large access hole underneath the camera cover looks like the best option at the moment.

I appreciate the comeback.
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Old 07-15-2013, 02:33 PM   #4
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I have seen acces panels from the inside of RV's, behind cupboards and closets. Double check there first. Maybe check with the service desk at your local dealer. My guys have always been helpful in answering questions for me.

Good luck
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Old 07-20-2013, 03:44 PM   #5
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Projects like this sometimes seem to take on a life of their own and can get interesting.

There is no access to the backside of the camera that I can see - the rear wall is blank.

When I shake the cord hard where it exits the grommet hole, I can hear what sounds like the connector hitting the body cap to the left of hole and about 6" away. And that's as far as it will go. I can't see it nor feel it.

I've ordered an inspection camera with a 3' lighted probe in hopes of figuring out what's going on inside there. Hopefully I'll be able to find a way with it to get to and free the connector so I can plug in the new camera.

Tim at RVcams says that even though the cable connectors are the same, the wires in the cable are differently coded. I gather the wires may also not be the same in the plugs front to rear. So splicing is more complicated than I'd hoped.

I'd rather not have to cut a hole in the cap inside the camera cover if I can avoid it. Or at least until I know what I'm going to find. The hole itself and its reinstallation is not the problem - its working at the top of a ladder.

The reason for the new camera was that the existing black and white Voyager was so dim I couldn't see anything clearly. After I installed the new color monitor I got the same dim picture. BUT after taking the cover off the rear cap to get at the camera I noticed someone apparently had installed Plexiglas over the cover opening. I took a close look at it because it didn't appear to be OEM and it was quite clear. So, wonder of wonders, when I moved the RV today the picture in the new digital monitor is now very clear, albeit in black and white. So either banging the connector around improved a poor connection or there is some reason not to use a cover in front of the camera.

I'm still committed to getting the new color camera installed.

Has anyone else had a problem with a window in front of the cameral lens?
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Old 08-10-2013, 02:07 PM   #6
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A final progress report

The inspection camera I bought is a handy device and one I can see future uses for. However it was of limited in this case. The major problem was aiming it thru the grommet hole at right angles with any degree of control. I found it impossible to find, much less follow the camera cable. The camera head is about 3/8" in diameter and has 4 tiny LED's that simply can't illuminate a large dark space such as the area between my house and the rear cap which added to the problem.

So I bent a hoop out of baling wire that went around the RV cable and was taped to the inspection cable just behind its camera end. This forced the camera cable head to follow the RV cable. That worked just fine and I slid it along until the RV cable connector came into view. Problem is there is no sign of an obstruction just on the other side of the connector nor as far as can be seen beyond.

After reviewing my options I decided splicing a new connector into the RV cable that can be pulled out of behind the grommet is the best remaining option. As luck would have it I found what may be the only remaining RV extension cable identical to mine online and will use its camera end connector for the splice. Using it will solve wire color slicing problems.

Since my B/W camera is working again for now I'm going to postpone the switch to the color camera until this fall.

Who knew a simple camera swap could be so involved? I'll always wonder what the cable is hung up on.

As regards the window in the cover over the camera, Tim at RVcams says they're a no-no with cameras with IR nighttime lighting. The intense IR beams reflect off the window causing flares in the monitor image.
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Old 08-10-2013, 04:49 PM   #7
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Probably too late now, but my thought was rattling the cable and listening for knocking on the inside of the coach. Especially in the rear closet, an access hole there doesn't need to be weatherproof and would be much less noticeable.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:52 PM   #8
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My 99 Tradewinds had a cover inside the cabinets over the head of the bed, that let me access the cable from inside the coach. Look on the center line as far aft as you can for a plastic bit with four screws holding it to the ceiling. I don't know your bedroom configuration so it may or may not be over the head of the bed. If your bed is on a slide than the cover will be on the overhead above the back wall.

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Old 08-11-2013, 04:00 PM   #9
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Thanks for your suggestions. I really would rather splice the cable than make an access hole in the rear wall. For one thing I don't know where the camera cable is hung up - all I know is that the connector is about 10" to the left side of the grommet hole when it comes up short. And splicing sounds like it would be faster.

Our east-west bed is in the slide out. I've looked inside the corner cabinets on the left side including the TV cavity and there are no removable panels.

And there is nothing on the rear wall except a picture mirror. It appears to extend about 10" off center to the left and I suppose there could be access behind it. I'll have to see if I can figure how to remove it.

Making a factory wall opening for access doesn't seem to make economic sense since it would have been much cheaper (and faster) just to leave enough of the extra cable behind the rear cap to allow the connector to be pulled thru the grommet hole for a camera replacement. From what I've seen, the area inside the cap shows no signs of dampness and the connector itself is water resistant. Sure wish I could see a picture of the inside of the cap and the back of the house.
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