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Old 05-03-2013, 10:02 AM   #1
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Camera's and power requirements

I just bought a pair of video camera's to monitor the engine room and the power requirements state: DC 12v/500mA max.
The units came with a 120v power adapter. Can I safely connect these units to my boats 12v power supply? I'm concerned about the 500mA max.

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Old 05-03-2013, 10:33 AM   #2
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Typically the 500mA max means that is the max amp draw the device will use.
I'd put a 1 amp inline fuse in and go for it.
Also-
Your 12 volt system will vary from 12 +/- 14 volts and your camera specs may show a voltage range somewhere but I suspect you're fine.
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Old 05-03-2013, 01:30 PM   #3
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Assuming you have an inverter aboard, it would be much better to plug in the AC adapter your cameras came with and let the adapter provide the managed, clean output the cameras will like. If you must do without the AC adapter, direct-connecting to the highly-variable 12v supply is not without risk (the cameras may well work ok initially but their working lives could be shortened significantly). Instead, find a DC-DC voltage regulator. These take in the wide range (11-14+ volts) of your DC supply and eliminate this variability, outputing a constant 12 (or often, 12.2) volts. Just select one that has a 1A max output (though you might find other devices you could connect to the output side that would also benefit from a 'clean' supply, like your chartplotter or heading sensor...in which case look for a higher A-output regulator). Anode is right...a 1A fuse for the cameras. DC-DC regulators can be bought very inexpensively (as little as $20-$30).
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Old 05-03-2013, 01:51 PM   #4
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Tim, I just completed the install of two ER cameras last weekend and did exactly what you're describing. I had a home security system that had a failed DVR power supply. I trashed the DVR but kept the cameras.

Since they were 12V, I discarded the 110V wall wart and wired them through a 3 A fuse directly to a 12V power buss in my overhead panel. I wired the feeds through a 4-source video selector switch to my HDTV. I used low light cameras which give a surprisingly clear black and white display of the ER without ER lights. When I turn on the ER lights, they display in color.

I agree that the 500MA max on the wall wart is the max output of that power supply, not the max of the cameras. They will pull much less than that, but will only pull what they require. I don't even see mine on my battery monitor.
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Old 05-03-2013, 06:32 PM   #5
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Tim, I also have a pair of cameras set up in my engine room as you describe. I have had no problems so far, but I do like Aquabelle's proposal of adding a DC-DC regulator. I did a quick Google search and only got step-up or step-down regulators. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:09 PM   #6
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Your cameras are probably CMOS or possible CCD chips, both of which will utilize typically 3.3 V and/or 5 V at the circuit board/IC chip. There is probably a power converter (DC/DC) converter chip inside that is converting 12 V to 3.3 V and/or 5 V. These converters usually have a wide input voltage so you will probably be OK running them off normal boat 12 +2.3/-1 Volt power. You might be able to find the input voltage in the owners manual or on the manufacturers web site. If they are cheap cameras and you don't mind taking the risk, just connect one and use it for awhile see what happens. If it doesn't stop working hook up the other one.
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:57 PM   #7
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Ok, thanks guys for all your input. I remember reading somewhere in the owners manual for my previously owned chartplotter and radar (the one Craig bought) that it should be turned off when the engines are started so they are not powered when the voltage is dropped due to engine start.
So maybe aquabelle has a point. Is a DC to DC voltage regulator just a large capacitor?
The cameras I have are Chinese cheap and cost about 40 bucs so I don't think they will last. But I just got a new chartplotter with a video feed so I gotta try it out. The ones from Garmin are $500 or so.

Flywright; you said you used a 4 source video selector switch. My Raymarine display will allow one camera input but if you want more you must buy a separate cable sold only my Raymarine to add additional cameras. I wonder if I can use a source video selector switch and connect it to my Raymarine display and not pay for their expensive cable?
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:15 PM   #8
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Tim, the output from my cameras is via bnc connector. I used bnc to rca adapters to convert to the rca jack needed for the switch and hdtv. If your connectors are similar, I bet it would work for you.

I'll try to get some photos this weekend.
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:35 PM   #9
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The cameras I have are Chinese cheap and cost about 40 bucs so I don't think they will last. But I just got a new chartplotter with a video feed so I gotta try it out. The ones from Garmin are $500 or so.


I ran " cheap " Chinese cameras on 12vdc for years on Volunteer and never had a issue regarding the clean constant power...
Wire them, fuse them, use them.
Good Luck
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:09 AM   #10
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Shoalwaters, This might be what you're lookinf for.
DC Power Onboard with Newmar’s DC Power Conditioners. Newmar’s power array of dc conditioners provide stabilizing voltage during engine crank, voltage stabilizers with Isolated DC-DC converters, electronic noise filters and automatic powe
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Old 05-07-2013, 01:33 PM   #11
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Here's a picture of my TV display from the ER cameras with Cspeudonym's spawn crawling around my ER.

This one is with the ER lights on:


This one is with all ER doors closed and ER lights off. It's so dark in there you can't see your hand in front of your face.



This is the BNC-RCA adapter I used to convert between the 2 connector types.



This is my audio/video control panel on my overhead.

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Old 05-07-2013, 01:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyWright View Post

This is my audio/video control panel on my overhead.
g[/IMG]
Very,very nice! II looks like you actually know what you're doing!
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Old 05-07-2013, 02:37 PM   #13
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Kyle enjoyed your engine room as much as the Sherpa duties. He came home with a pocket full of electrical wires from your ER. Hope they weren't important?

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Old 05-07-2013, 02:41 PM   #14
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Very nice. What is the focal length of the camera.lens?
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:01 PM   #15
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Here is a link to one type of voltage stabilizer per my post #3 above. This one takes a wide range of input voltages (8-40v) and outputs 12v and up to 6A. Others are available with various narrower input ranges and greater and lesser amp draw capacities. There are models available that output 5v and 3v also. Pretty readily available from computer component supply shops I think.

8V-40V to 12V 6A Max 72W DC-DC Step Down Converter Voltage Transformer F Vehicle | eBay
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:02 PM   #16
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Flywright...your post at #11 shows a great-looking audio/video control panel. Can you talk us through what it does? Did you build it or buy it ready-configured?
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:04 PM   #17
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Wireless cameras: anyone using a wireless camera in their engine room, picked up via a router and displayed on a laptop at the helm station? On longer passages I have a laptop at the lower helm and this is when I'd most value an engine room view....and not having to run cables has a lot of appeal !
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:52 PM   #18
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Tim, I don't have the camera specs, but they are just standard issue home security cameras from a system I bought years ago at Costco. Here are some pics...





Aquabelle, The panel was designed by me and manufactured by Front Panel Express. They have some very user-friendly design software that allowed me to lay out the panel as I needed it with materials, fonts, colors of my choosing. The total delivered cost in anodized aluminum was just under $70.

I'll post the panel pic again for easier reference...



The top left Power quadrant serve as on/off switches to the 3 listed items:
1. Video cameras,
2. Yandina Battery Combiner (It's actually a defeat switch that allows me to prevent the battery combining when on shore power and switch ON during engine alternator charging.), and
3. WIFI is power to my Rogue Wave WIFI Extender and a wireless router.

I struggled with including the Yandina switch in this panel b/c it really isn't audio, video or wifi, but included it b/c the switch matched the others and I had panel room. All three switches are normally down when closing up the boat.

The bottom left quadrant is contains the four blue camera selector push buttons. I'm only using 1 and 2 for the engines for now. I plan to add an aft-looking camera in the near future.

A 12V outlet is located in the center position and there is a Tunelink Bluetooth stereo interface unit inserted into the power outlet in the picture. This Tunelink module has a USB charge plug and an aux jack output.

The panel AUX jack connects directly to the stereo input for direct feed of MP3 music players or allows an aux feed via male-to male 3.5mm plug from the Tunelink.

The right section has 2 white speaker selector push buttons which allow me to select salon rear and/or flybridge speakers on the rear channel of the stereo. This combined with the stereo fader control gives us flexibility in selecting or deselecting interior and exterior speakers (with subwoofers) as needed.

All this is powered by the house 12V circuit without any problems so far.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:43 PM   #19
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Very nice.
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:17 PM   #20
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Aquabelle, I have no experience with wireless cameras. I might be high tech, but I'm low budget. I like the idea of wireless, but to be honest, running wires on my boat is not that tough. In my experience, sometimes wireless works and when it does, it's great. But other times, it fails at the worst moments.

I like the bluetooth stereo connection 90% of the time, but sometimes, it just has a mind of its own and I have to start from scratch to reconnect.

When I get frustrated, I plug it into a wire and chill!!
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