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Mobile phone dashcam

Anyone who knows me, knows I don't much care for the high life and keeping up with the Jones's, that's why I drive a 1998 Ford Fiesta.
However I still like the latest gadgets, it's just I don't want to spend any money acquiring them. So i like to make them.

So here's what I did to make a dashcam that records in HD and starts and stops automatically with the ignition.

As I had run into a brick wall with #projectphonereborn, I had the idea to use the Sony Xperia Arc as a dashcam instead.

There are loads of dashcam software in Google Play, and I tested many of them, so that saves me the job of creating it, the one I eventually chose was Dailyroads Voyager as it seemed to be the most stable on my old phone, and it was free.

Previously during its old projectphone days, the phone had been rooted and stripped of all its bloatware unnecessary apps, so all I had to do was create some sort of bracket, and somehow wire it into the car.

Testing times

While I was testing which software to use, I had made a cardboard stand.

I had already decided to mount it at the top of the windscreen by the rear view mirror, so first I cut out a profile of the roof and window

Then as a first draft, the plan was to bend a plastic ruler on the side of a soldering iron to match the cardboard profile, despite being sure I had an old 12 inch ruler somewhere, I could only find a 6 inch.
Never mind, that'll do...

Yes, it was flimsy, and it did snap, but it was only a mock up to check it fitted, which it did.

So, now it's off to the local builders merchant to get a strip of steel, and some strong double sided foam tape.
Once I had cut and bent the metal strip into shape, i drilled a hole into the end, so I can undo the screw holding the sun visor up, slip the metal strip behind the roof lining, and screw the sun visor back up, holding it in firm. I had also put some double sided foam tape on the metal strip to help hold it in place and stop vibration.
I then stuck the phone up with the same foam tape.

You may have noticed the micro USB cable that's plugged into the phone looks a bit untidy, this is due to it being quite bulky, and over an inch in length with the cable 's strain relief, which meant in practice the phone would have been mounted quite a bit lower in the windscreen. So with the aid of a sharp craft knife, I removed as much of the rubber coating as I could, right down to the plastic innards, then covered it with electrical tape.
Some heat shrink tubing would have been better, but I didn't have any at the time.

Next comes the power, the 500mA USB power pack shown in this photo worked on the bench, but failed to put out enough power while in practice, meaning the phone's battery slowly lost charge in operation, so I swapped it out for a 1000mA supply, which charged the phone just fine, but emitted a boat-load of RF interference, completely wiping out the radio signal. So a new 2400mA dual USB supply from Asda for £5 was bought...

Not quite this one, but close enough.

This one perfectly charged the phone, doesn't wipe out the radio, and has a spare socket for the satnav project (which is coming soon)
The USB power supply was carefully split open and wires soldered onto the 12v input, which was wired into the ignition via a 10A fuse.
It's possible in the dashcam software settings to automate the startup and shutdown and disable the phone's lock screen, so it now wakes up and starts recording when the ignition is switched on, and then stops recording and shuts down when it's switched off again.

BTW, the phone doesn't have or need a SIM card and is in flight mode, and records onto a 64GB memory card, this will hold on average 14 days worth of my normal driving including the GPS location and speed, and the cars registration and my name can be added to the on screen data.

If I need to save the footage, I can connect to Wi-Fi from outside my house, and use ES File Explorer on the phone to transfer the avi files to my NAS.

Still to do: Cut a small slot into the roof lining to pass the metal bracket through, so the roof lining doesn't bulge, then tidy up the micro USB power cable with some heat shrink tubing, finally create an Android app that makes it easier to upload video files to my NAS...

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