Dash Cam

A dashcam is a fairly easy installation, as it only requires power and mounting on the windshield. For the Tesla owners, Blackvue dashcams seems to be the most popular, with an advanced design that includes wide-angle 1080P HD recording, WiFi, GPS, shock detection, voice and LED indicators and removable micro-SD card memory. They also have free apps for Windows, iOS and Android.  They offer both a front camera DR600GW-HD and a versions with front and rear cameras such as the DR650GW-2CH or DR750LW-2Ch.

Another option is the Topfit Customized Car Dash Cam, which is made for the Tesla Model S after August 2014 (i.e. with Auto-Pilot).  We have not tested this unit, so cannot comment on it’s design or features. Here is a third-party installation video for the Topfit in a Tesla.

Lastly, consider the highly rated Thinkware F770 with rear camera.  It’s a little larger than the blackvue, but provides more controls while in the car and the rear camera is 1080p vs 720p on the Blackvue.

Dash Cam installation should take about 1-2 hours depending on the power connection method and how handy you are.

We’ll show the installation of the Blackvue DR500 front dashcam (below), now superseded with the similar looking DR600.

 

First locate where you want it installed on the windshield. For the Model S, a good placement is behind the mirror out of view of the driver (pre-auto-pilot cars). For newer cars, you may want place it on the passenger side of the mirror. In the Model X, just below the mirror box is a good location. Be sure the lens has an unobstructed view (i.e. not going through the black dots of the windshield).  The adhesive mounting provided with the dashcam is quite strong and after several years of cold and hot sun, has not weakened.

We think it is best to have the dashcam powered on 24/7, as it can record someone hitting the car while parked or other events of interest when you’re not at the car. The power drain is minimal, about 3W (250 mA). If you only use battery power, this will drain about 1 mile of range every 4 days. Blackview makes an accessory Power Magic Pro to prevent the dashcam from running down the battery. It is not needed in the Tesla, but some packages include it.

There are at least five popular ways to connect the dashcam to power:

1) Just plug into the 12V power receptacle under the center armrests. While quick and easy, you still have the cord, and when the car powers off, the camera goes dark.  You might use this method as a test to be sure the dashcam is working before you hard-wire in the dashcam.

2) Most Model S cars have an unused power connection conveniently available behind the microphone panel, although it has been reported that pre-AP cars without the Tech Package do not have this connector. Model X does NOT have always-on power available at the mirror, so look at the next few methods after this.

The Model S grate resides between the front reading lights above the rear-view mirror.  To remove the panel pull downward from the edge facing the back of the car. Two snaps hold it in place.  If you have this black connector, it is unconnected and has three wires. You’ll tap into the black (ground) and the red with blue stripe wire (+12VDC). Some owners have reported not seeing the connector, but we believe it is available on all cars. We’ve confirmed it on different 2013 and 2015 vehicles. It is usually taped on the microphone panel with yellow or blue tape. The two attached gray connectors are for the microphones and do not have power. The unused black connector has power on all the time, even when the car is powered off.  You can feed the power line through the headliner into this area.  See note below about Blackvue power connection.

Microphone panel opened

 

3) Connect the power to the fuse box in the Frunk. You’ll route the wire under the headliner and down the passenger side pillar and around the door and into the frunk area, where it connects to the fuse box. This is almost the identical routing we used for the parking assist display, which the wire travels the same route.  See the section Installing the display and routing the wire to the front of the car for all the details and pictures.  Once the wire is in the frunk, you’ll route it over to the fuse box. See note below about Blackview power connection.

4) As an alternative to 3, you could route the wire through the firewall. This is a lot of work, but if you’re interested, see Part 2: Running Wires Through the Firewall in our Sub-woofer amplifier installation.  This requires a lot of dexterity and time. The rubber grommet we go through may also be filled with the pano roof drain line, so pano roof equipped cars will be even harder. Norman Hirsch installed his dash cam and has additional instructions for making a hole through the firewall as his car has the pano roof. See details here.

5) Connect power to the OBDII port (under the dash, driver side).  This is fused to 5 amps, and power is always on. You can buy a connector with power leads like NOCO Genius GC012 OBDII Connector for about $16. Even easier is using this ODBII to socket cable for about $20 including shipping to USA from Germany. See note below about Blackview power connection.

NOTE: If you’re using the Blackvue dashcam, the 12V power connector has voltage reduction circuitry on older models, so can’t just clip it off and wire the dashcam directly to 12V. You need to keep the large cigarette connector. We used a receptacle with wire leads to solve this such as Female Car Cigarette Lighter Socket, If you got the Power Magic Pro option, it includes a socket (but we don’t recommend installing the Power Magic, it may turn off your dashcam when parked).  You may want to buy the Blackvue hardwire kit, which eliminates the bulky 12v power connector.

For methods 3 and 4, using the wires from the Female Car Cigarette Lighter Socket, connect the ground (usually black) wire to the large bolt on the cross member. I did this with a ring lug.

I took a gray 2 amp fuse and soldered the 12v wire from the socket to one side of the fuse. See the image of where to stick the fuse for continuous power, Fuse Box 2, slot F54. In my case the socket I used had two black wires, but most sockets come with a red wire for 12V. Be sure to use the 12V powered wire that goes to the center of the socket.

Fuse box (shown with black wire but will likely be red in your project)

 

For older cars, slot F54 is unused on earlier cars and has no actual connection on the windshield side of this slot, so the extra width of the wire is not a problem. The soldered side of the fuse must go towards the windshield. I filed a slot in the side of the cover near this fuse so the wire would not be pinched when the cover is closed. As an alternative to soldering a wire to the fuse, you could use a product like Add-A-Circuit Fuse Holder. If you have the Subzero weather package F54 is used for the Wiper De-icer.  It is still a good position to use, but you’ll have to use the Add-A-Circuit fuse holder.

When you connect power to the dashcam, it takes a few seconds to initialize and an audio announcement will indicate when it is powered up and running.  The Blackvue has many settings that you can change using one of the free applications. For example, it has a security indicator in the front. I prefer to keep this off, to avoid unwanted attention.

The Tesla dashcam video thread has a group of videos that may be of interest or add yours to the list!

8 thoughts on “Dash Cam

  1. Waxinator says:

    New OEM Tesla integrated dash cam to be introduced into the EU market. Snap off the toe of the internal mirror stand, connect to internal power contact and snap-on the camera. (Moderator: See Topfit Customized Car Dash Cam)

  2. Waxinator says:

    How sure are you about the 12V-power reduction in the lighter plug ?
    The camera input power marking says 12-24V ! To me that indicates that
    the camera it self can regulate the input power. (?!?)

    • Moderator says:

      This was true on the 500 series (voltage reduction was done inside the plug). I don’t know for 100% on the newer 600/650 models, but I think they may have removed the voltage regulator from within the plug. I’d check with the manufacturer first just to be sure.

  3. Nick says:

    I purchased the Blackvue 650 and planning on feeding power directly from power behind Microphone. I have a late 2015 MS 85 and the power is registering 12volts when car is on or off.
    First, I can’t see to get a regular GPS signal installing the cam as per the instructions provided by Blackvue – do others have same problem?

    Question: How do I exactly connect to power behind microphone grille?
    1. Keep the cigarette light connector and buy an adapter? – or –
    2. Cut off the cigarette lighter connector and plug cable into the connector behind the microphone grille?

    • Moderator says:

      I haven’t had a problem with the GPS, but it may take a few minutes to get a lock when powered up. Mine is an older model so I can’t say for a 650, but I doubt they changed it much. The windshield does have a metallic layer that reduces the signals, so it could be your location. Building and other large obstructions can interfere with GPS. You may think the car is locked, but some tricks with the 3G/LTE can fill in for temporary weak or missing GPS signals.

      On the BlackVue 500 you had to keep the large lighter plug as it has some voltage reduction circuitry inside. I think the 650 is the same. This means you really need to get a female lighter connector and connect its leads to the 12v.

      Cutting off the lighter connector and using the wires to 12v directly may blow up the Dashcam! Not recommended unless BlackVue specifically indicates this is ok.

  4. EricZ says:

    Thanks, the interest was cloud services with video backup, remote viewing, position tracking and two-way audio communication.
    You can be notified instantly on the cell phone app if something happens to your parked car.

  5. EricZ says:

    I got the BlackVue 650, can we use the car’s LTE as a hotspot? What other solutions have you found?

    • Moderator says:

      Sorry that will not work. The BlackVue uses WiFi, not LTE. While I’ve connected my BlackVue to a tablet and laptop via WiFi, I’m about 98% sure you cannot connect with the Tesla via WiFi. Even if you could, the display does not allow video from external sources (such as WiFi or Internet), so there isn’t much point to it other than perhaps changing BlackVue settings.

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