Dashboard Camera Install

Dashboard Camera Install

Got my Blackvue DR400G-HD camera installed today at TM Dania. I would have done it myself (did it on my Range Rover) but the trim is actually much tighter on the S than the RR and so thought I'd better get some help from someone who knows how to remove the trim pieces properly. Glad I did (though it cost me an hour labor)

They ran the cable through the headliner, down the A pillar, under the carpet in the passenger footwell, along the side of the center console area, then up and out next to the lighter socket. For simplicity we decided to stick with the lighter socket and not do a permanent install to the fuse box - it was too much work to route the cable through the firewall.

Works great!! The only downside is the lighter socket is not powered when the car turns off. Might look to tap into a non-switched 12V source - if I can find one.

For those that don't know the Blackvue, it is a full HD, 30fps, 120 deg FOV camera with GPS and three-axis accelerometer recording. It auto wraps recordings on a microSD card (last in, first out), but will automatically lock down (make read only) recordings if it senses high G (settable), on the assumption you've had an accident.

I've got the Original 400G; there's now a Mark II version and a 500 version with wi-fi streaming to mobile devices. The 400G forum can be found here. Originally from Korea it can be a bit cryptic to do firmware upgrades, but it is a great package for the price ($250)

Chuck Lusin | 20 December, 2013

Update on my wife's DR550GW, it is now saying that the SD card is bad. Cool, an easy fix.

portia | 20 December, 2013

thanks @chuck and nick.

Mark22 | 21 December, 2013

Hey Chuck,
Voltage at connector was a bit over 12.5, at the plug to the Blackvue it is 12.5.
It's very odd as it looks like there is power at each step.
The SC has been great and I am going back in to give them another look.

I have an early VIN which has the 12V power available in the headliner grill.
However, even though it registers as power, if we can get it from another source we will do that.

If the fuse in our home made adapter were bad, we wouldn't get any power reading, would we?
Or if the ground and power wires were backwards, would we still read power?

Sorry, I am just clueless when it comes to this stuff:)

Glad to hear your issue seams a simple resolution!

Doogerman | 1 January, 2014

Received a Black Vue DR550GW-2CH (front and rear cameras) as a Christmas gift. Not very handy myself so attempting the install myself not really an option. My local service center is not able to do the install. Any idea how much it will cost to get an aftermarket shop to do the install?

portia | 1 January, 2014

Hey, I am not very handy with this stuff either, but I managed to do it myself with the instructions from Chuck (his photos helped a lot). I ended up buying the Metra Radar detector kit from Amazon for about $12+shipping

and got some 5x20mm (2A) fuses at a local electronics store.
@Mark22, yes and yes to your questions, I blew the fuse that came with the Metra kit, probably should have powered off the car while doing all that stuff, but I just replaced the fuse and it worked.
I used the cig lighter adapter before connecting it to the 12V in the mic grill. You can route the power pretty easily around the front window edge, and the rubber around the door, without having to disassemble anything like the first photos of this thread. Then just route it around the floor. The only downside is it is not powered when parked.

oh, and I glued the front camera upside down! but it's possible to flip the video in the software viewer so I didn't bother to fix that. :)

joer293 | 1 January, 2014

I personally use the Lucas HD black box with an 16gb eyefi card, so that it just rolls over the regular driving data and uploads the event data folder to a cheap large USB drive attached to my apple AirPort Extreme. I'm thinking of adding the rear camera, but has anyone spliced in the backup camera instead?

danej | 2 January, 2014

I'm also curious if anyone has spliced into the backup camera. But recording when parked is important to me, and it's likely powered down when in park.

portia | 2 January, 2014

Here is a few photos showing how to route the wire from the front camera to the floor cig lighter
so it is really easy to do if you just have a front camera and want to plug into the cig lighter.

for the back camera, the only hard part was pulling up the rubber seal and inserting the wire under it
as shown in Chuck's photos.

wiring along windowwiring along door

Haeze | 28 January, 2014

Anyone who has done the Blackvue install: I actually like the features it has while the car is off... does it even have a way to detect the car is off when you attach it to the 12v in the headliner ? I would think that since it isn't a switched 12v, the camera would never know when the car has powered off. Is the 3rd wire in that harness in the headliner a 12v trigger that could be used to tell the camera the car is off ?

JPPTM | 28 January, 2014

For lots of info on how to install the dual camera Blackvue 550, see:

When you stop the car, it waits a few minutes, senses that there is no motion, and then switches into Parking mode, which cuts the frame rate down to save room on the micro SD card. This does not rely on/need a switched 12V supply. The major advantage about hooking up the camera in a Model S is that you really do not need to worry about running down the 12V battery like in an ICE car. In an ICE car you need either to use a switched 12V supply or a special device that will monitor your 12V supply and cut off power to the Blackvue if your battery gets below a set threshold.

My only problem with the camera is that the internal GPS is very intermittent, likely due to the coated windshield in the S.

Haeze | 29 January, 2014

Awesome, that answers my followup question then, as well. The Blackvue is offered with an optional battery for use in cars with a switched 12v source. I can forgo that now that I know it will go into park mode without forcing me to wire it to the switched 12v in the cig lighter.

Thanks JPPTM !

Chuck Lusin | 29 January, 2014

@Portia, Nice pics.

For your front camera, can you just push the button to rotate the camera, and put it in the opposite direction so the image is right side up?

Congrats on the install!

jlindema | 13 February, 2014

This is a fantastic thread. Thanks!

Does anyone know if a similar always-on 12v power source is available around the rear liftgate/window?

Similar to nickjhowe and Alex K's postings (feb. 25, 2013, mar. 8, 2013 respectively)... but to power a 2nd, rear window-mounted camera?

My Model S delivery is due March 26th, so I'm asking this question before being able to do my own research ;) Sorry if the answer is obvious or has already been asked. I'd rather not run wires throughout the cabin, if I can hook-in somewhere close to where the camera is mounted.

JPPTM | 13 February, 2014

jlindema--why have a 2nd independent rear camera? You can get the Blackvue 550 and only need 1 power source for the front unit. You are going to have to do dismantling of the trim on the rear hatch and rear C-pillar anyway to find 12V, and that was the hard part of the install for me. Running the cable along the roof line at the door gaskets and under the B and A-pillar trim was easy.

bevguy | 13 February, 2014

Thanks to all who unselfishly took the time to post videos and descriptions of dashcam install.

I chose a cheaper dashcam the mini 0801 It is very compact.

Since my Tesla doesn't arrive for a month I haven't installed it yet.

Tesla should add an additional power outlet, one that is powered all the time.

And I think there would be a market for a factory installed recording combination dash cam and vandalism/crash recorder when the car is parked. I'm trying to figure out one for occasional use only with the dual lens F80 camera and a small 12 hour sealed gel type battery for the side/ back of the car.

jlindema | 14 February, 2014

Yeah I read about the 550 and realize I could use it to cover both forward and rear recording. I just wanted to avoid running a cable through the cabin. I also need an install that won't void any Tesla warranties (at least not within the first 3 years) ;)
With nickjhowe & Alex K's (front) power solution, I can easily remove the power cable+connection before my yearly inspection. I doubt a rear-camera power connection will be as easy -but we'll see.
Thanks for your tips about the trim and C-pillar. I'll share anything I discover.

JPPTM | 14 February, 2014

jlindema--please have a look at:

for photos and info on the install.

tezzla.SoCal | 14 February, 2014

I added a tap-a-fuse for my power, this has zero effect on car. I'll try to take a picture this weekend.

Brian H | 15 February, 2014

Elon and JB have made it clear that the warranty would be affected only for any subsystem directly modified or impacted, IIF it was determined after a failure that the modification was to blame. Notwithstanding the warranty language.

portia | 9 March, 2014

actually I can just rotate the video in software when viewing, so there is no need to rotate the camera. If I did, it won't be centered due to where I stuck the mount.

diegoPasadena | 10 March, 2014

I got the mini 0801 as well. I initially installed it taking the aways-on power by the mirror depicted in Chuck's post. After a couple of days, I changed and ran a cable to the cigarette lighter outlet. The reason is that the mini 0801 is *almost* perfect in its implementation of motion detection, but it's not completely perfect:
In motion detection mode (which is what you want to use, if the camera is always under power), it turns itself on as soon as it detects motion - that works fine - , but when you start driving, it turns itself off, if you stop at a light for more then about ten seconds, of even if you drive on a freeway, and nothing big changes in front of you, it will turn itself off until there is a major visual event. That makes it unusable for its main purpose, really, because you could easily miss the very event you try to capture.
So now, it just turns on when I get into the car, and it turns itself off when I leave it. If you use small gauge cable, you'll never even see it after you've installed it. Now - after about a month - I have forgotten that I even have the device, which what I was hoping for.
The mini 0801 is so small that so far nobody has noticed it. It seems like a good choice.

Keep strong for that month. It will be a sweet, painful wait, but it will be so richly rewarded!

bradtesla | 12 March, 2014

Has anyone tried a roadhawk HD?

KarlB | 20 March, 2014
Dr. Bob Reinke | 21 March, 2014

Where are you getting your Blackvue cameras installed? We have a model 500 Blackvue. I have been told by Chicago Service that they cannot instal equipment not made by Tesla, and that it could void the car warrenty. I put in a trailer hitch on my P85 Signature for a small light weight bike trailer. Tesla service in Chicago refused to do it for any price. When I asked about the wiring color-code for the running lights and brake lights, they told me that, that was proprietary information and that they coud not disclose. Asking when they could wire the trailer light jack for me, they answered that they couldn't install equipment that was not of their making--certainly not a $3.99 wiring harnes jack.
When I ordered my Model S I was assured by The sales office in California that shop service manual would be available within a few months of my Model S delivery. He thought, in his experience, that the price would be less than $200. In more than 50 years, I have not bought a car without the service manuals. If the manufacturer can not fix or refuse to fix and I can't fix, then I can take the car to an independant who with the manuals can. When I keep asking for that manual now I am told that it is proprietory information and I cannot have it. Is that what they are going to tell the Chinese service centers when they ask for the shop manual. China makes a practice of duplicating whatever they can get and making it cheaper in prison slave-shops.
We believed in Tesla and were so confident in Elon that we got in on the ground floor. Did we make a huge mistake in our confidence in human nature by supporting those who wanted to do something to protect our planet?

Brian H | 22 March, 2014

The absence of shop manuals is intended to slow down Chinese cloning a few days?

portia | 23 March, 2014

I never read/heard anyone say shop manuals would be available (on the forum). Surprised that you would hear that. As for the Blackvue camera install, you can do it yourself, I did without taking apart the panels like NickjHowe, and I am not even a mechanic or electrician. I guess it helped that I have the spare power plug in the early cars, but you can always use the cigarette adapter. I have been in service center since my camera install and nobody said warranty was void. Many people have it installed, I just find it hard to believe if that would be a problem with warranty.

as for Chinese prison slave-shops, I don't think they need to use prisoners for cheaper labor, they don't have slaves either, maybe you meant sweat shops. I actually find it really offensive that in CA more state money is spent on prisons and prisoners than in higher education.

baby8onemoretime | 2 April, 2014

s.will have just released 2 cams a single and a dual camera. I have bought a single cam version 1080p. Mine loops records eg once card fills it restarts. It also has a bump sensor eg I get crashed into when it's paked it will record.

It was $78 but dare say it will be the same in the USA.

No speed overlays as I didn't want that feature. I will go tail gate some cas soon and see how good it is..

Brian H | 3 April, 2014


Show the vids of your tailgating adventures!

Red Sage ca us | 5 April, 2014

Here are some sights I would have loved to capture on a dashcam:

  • Entering an Arizona sunrise.
  • Heading toward El Paso at sunset.
  • Cruising up the entirety of Pacific Coast Highway.
  • Swooping past deer and waterfalls on Klamath River Highway.
  • Making a banzai run up Interstate 5 to Vancouver.
  • Discovering the joys of Las Flores Canyon Road, Piuma Road, and Stunt Road.
  • Visiting Star Trek Planet, AKA Vasquez Rocks Park.
  • Surviving a wintry Interstate 40 through Tennessee.

The dreams we all dream of -- the open road.

Chuck Lusin | 22 April, 2014

Update on our BlackVue DR550GW-2CH cameras. My wife's one was looking like a bad memory card, but I replaced it, and the camera hangs up every few days. I'm going to replace it with a newer one, and move the old camera to my truck, being switched will better for that one, since it hangs after a few hours. Also on my camera, I got the clock correct, which it gets via the GPS, but it never locks in for the speed to be displayed in the recording.

LEvans | 22 April, 2014

For later model Model S cars is it possible to wire a BlackVue 550 to be always on for parking lot situations? If you want the front and back covered with separate units (I know they have a 2 ch unit), what is the best way to get always on power to the back dash cam as well?

Too bad they didn't think to install extra 12V "power outlets" for dash cams, radar detectors and other accessories people use commonly...

JPPTM | 22 April, 2014

Chuck--due to the coated windshield on the S, the GPS lock is hit-and-miss on the DR550. Also even with a new microSD card, be sure it is not larger than 32gB and be sure to reformat it frequently (I do this every 2 weeks or so to clean up dead files). This often clears up glitches and hang-ups.

WEB_SRFR--The DR550 only needs 12V to the front windshield unit. The rear camera uses a small coax cable for both ower and signal. Also, go to TMC and search for the threads on installation without the 12V under the headliner (some have used 12V at the glove box).

Chuck Lusin | 22 April, 2014

Thanks JPPTM,

Yes, I swapped out the SD card already. She has the 16G card from mine. It just locks up now, it is 5 months old now, and I cut the power cord, to go to the 12V in the microphone area. The GPS on my wife's car works just fine, but does not on mine, and both are in very close to the same space.

aviationfw | 22 April, 2014

Just a word of warning. I have the 2 unit backvue and have discovered that the rear camera can interfere with the FOB in my case this resulted in the door handles not presenting and having difficulty locking the car with the FOB.The T service center looked at the situation and discovered when the bluevue rear camera with disconnected the door handles worked just fine. But with the rearview camera connected the FOBs range went from 10s of feet to less than a couple of feet. Apparently the receivers for the fobs are mounted in the rear trunk lift gate on the sides close to the top of the window frame. My wiring runs right pass these receivers (black boxes) I was able to reduce the interference by rerouting the wires away from the glass and away from these FOB receivers. I seem to be the only person that has noticed this out of all the owners, so maybe I was just unlucky with my cable placement.

NO2PTRL | 22 April, 2014

Can I get one for my rims, so I can see how close I am to the curb, duh. That seems of more use to me. Repairing those rims cost $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

JPPTM | 23 April, 2014

aviation--FWIW, early models of the dual cam Blackvue came with a poorly shielded coax cable. It gave the EU folks fits as it interfered with DAB in a big way. Blackvue has since re-engineered a better shielded cable. I was not about to install a new cable after the time and effort to install the original one. However I took the route suggested by some folks on the Dash Cam Forums sites and bought some ferrite cores (essentially RF chokes). I placed one over the cable in the right A-pillar and one along the cable running along the rear hatch window. I used slightly oversized cores and made a full loop of cable onto the cores. Not sure it matters, but I personally do not have any issues with the fob range.

LEvans | 23 April, 2014

@aviationfw: This is why I think the Tesla service centers should accept doing these basic installs for the cost of labor. I'd definitely have front and read cameras when I get a Model S and one way or the other I will have this done. Would be much better if the Service Center would handle these installs as they know the car best, such as where they have antennas or sensitive wiring.

LEvans | 23 April, 2014

@JPPTM: With the 2 channel units, isn't the resolution for the rear camera lower? This is why I'd prefer 2 independent fully-capabile 1080P cameras installed separately. If you need to read a license plate from the rear camera I'd like it to have the same capabilities and resolution as the front camera.

It seems the rear camera has only half the resolution of the front camera and also covers a lower vertical and horizontal angle field of view. I'd prefer the same 1080P for the rear camera as well so would prefer a second full unit for the rear.

LEvans | 23 April, 2014

BTW you can see the lower specs of the rear camera here:

The rear camera might be adequate I know but why not have the same quality in the rear as well...

Chuck Lusin | 23 April, 2014

One advantage of the dual camera unit is that you only have to connect once to the WIFI connection and if you pull the chip out to watch on the PC the rear camera is a PIP in one of the corners, so you can watch both front and rear simultaneously.

If you went with the two separate ones, you would have to run (or find) 12V power to the back camera.

One advantage is with the two cameras, if one hangs up, you don’t lose both feeds.

SF_Ben | 23 April, 2014

Does anyone have experience using the Blackvue with Apple products? (ie mac desktop and iphone/ipad). I was just reading Blackvue's website and it mentions it's software for the PC and Android phones and no mention of Apple. Yet there is an app in the Apple App store (without many reviews.) Just wondering if fellow Apple users are happy with the compatibility on both their desktops and mobile devices...

Brian H | 24 April, 2014

Apparently TM does not want to step onto the slippery slope of taking on responsibility and liability for others' products. Not even playing favourites.

JPPTM | 24 April, 2014

SF_Ben...Blackvue fully compatible with Mac/Apple-viewer application for MacOS and iPhone/iOS app. I use a MacBook pro @ home. problem with field of view on the rear camera. Not worried about reading the license plate if someone actually gets close enough and then rear ends me...:)

LEvans | 24 April, 2014

Brian: This has absolutely nothing to do with liability. If they just left an open 12V port around the rear view mirror that's all you'd need. Another open 12V port in the nosecone area would also be useful for a radar detector or laser diffuser.

All I'm saying is it is nonsensical for Tesla to think Dashcams and radar detectors do not exist. They do and people will have them installed. It would make the customer's life easier to provide some open 12V points. As long as they are properly fused I don't know what the big deal is. They should offer this so that you don't have to have some third party run wires in the dark.

I think I would still prefer 2 independent BlackVue 550 systems -- in the front and back. I don't think I have heard of anyone who has managed to get independent power to a BlackVue unit in the back. Are there any exposed 12V points in the back of the car that are easy to reach?

jjchan.OH.US | 27 June, 2014

I'm thinking seriously buying a Blackvue dash cam, but have read that it heats up badly even in the winter without the summer sun. For all you Blackvue owners, is that your experience?

tezzla.SoCal | 27 June, 2014

They do get very hot, but it doesn't seem to affect performance.

tezzla.SoCal | 27 June, 2014

Something else about BlackVues, the ones I have are around 2-3 years old so the newer ones might not have this problem.

I have to take them apart (it takes a small screwdriver & a queue tip) and clean the lens around every 6 months. It only takes 5 minutes, but it is definitely a pain in the butt.

tezzla.SoCal | 27 June, 2014

queue tip? I think that should be Q-tip.

nickjhowe | 27 June, 2014

I've had two Blackvues - a 400 and now a 550 twin. Both of them have worked flawlessly. I've never bothered seeing if they were hot - and I'm in Florida. | 27 June, 2014

No problems with my Blackview 500 - it does get warm.

If you need instructions on how to connect to an always 12v source and route it into the cabin through the firewall, see my instructions for adding a sub-woofer amp. Should save you a lot of detective work. You'll only need a 2 amp fuse, not the 30 amp one used for the amp project.

Skip down to step 12 for connecting into the fuse box:

One of these days I'll write up a full install just for dashcams.