Auto-Vox Solar4B Wireless Backup Camera
I was recently contacted by a Auto-Vox and was provided their Solar4B Wireless Backup Camera ($169) for review. At the time of the review there was a $50 off coupon available at the Amazon link above.
Auto-Vox did not apply any conditions to the review nor did they pay for the review. Conversely, what you will read here is what I actually think of the camera.
First of all, they couldn’t have selected a better person to review this. I have a 17′ Rockwood A122 pop up camper and have always wanted some form of backup camera mounted on the rear of it.
You’d think every single camper in the world would have wiring and connectors preinstalled. But you would be wrong for thinking that. An Auto-vox backup camera is perfect for my situation.
What You Will See In This Review
Actually, I should have said, “what you won’t see in this review”. I’m not a fan of unboxing videos or a list of specifications. You can glean all that information from the pictures and manuals that the manufacturer provides. Me repeating it doesn’t provide user needed content.
What I will do is use the device and tell you what works. Then I will try to exploit the device and use it for things it may not have been intended to do. Then I will try to torture the device and make it fail. In the case of a wireless device I’ll see if it can be easily jammed and fail.
Lastly, I’ll examine claims that the manufacturer makes and see if they pan out. For example in the stock photo at the top of this blog the claim is that the camera will work wirelessly for a range of 50′. So, that is exactly the first thing I did when I took it out of the box. I actually measured out 60′ and turned on the camera and monitor. The claim of a 50′ range is confirmed and exceeded.
Whenever I am provided an item for review I like to do a deep dive on the device. One of the first things I usually do is to look up the FCC ID number and review any information from those reports. In this case there is extensive testing data available that I was able to review. There is also a link to an electronic manual for the SOLAR4B.
Overview of Autovox Solar4 Wireless Backup Camera
Essentially there are two main components.
- Camera Module
The camera module can be solar powered with an optional panel, however, it can also be charged via the included micro-USB cable. The camera should be fully charged before setting up. The monitor is powered by a 12volt cigarette lighter type connector found in every car or truck. There is a 4 pin connector which allows the monitor to be connected to the 12 volt power cable.
Also almost all portable power supplies such as Jackery contain a 12volt power port of this type.
The kit also contains mounting mechanisms and 2 antennas. There is also an included antenna base that is several feet long.
I learned my lesson on camper mounting when the retailer cut a big hole in my roof and installed a WiFi extender. It was ancient, huge, and doesn’t work very well but I’m forever stuck with it because of the hole they made.
The mount on the Auto-Vox Wireless Backup Camera is way less obtrusive. But it does involve drilling 4 small holes.
The Solar4B has a very strong magnetic mount but I wouldn’t be able to bet you lunch that hitting the railroad tracks going 55 wouldn’t bounce it off. All mounting instructions in the manual involve using the included mounting system.
This is my OPINION. The camera sticks amazingly strong to my truck exterior but does not stick as well to the bumper of my camper. The camper bumper is probably a lower carbon steel and has a thick flat black coating on it. I wouldn’t trust just the magnetic mount on the open road without the provided permanent camera mounting fixture.
I suppose I could find a way to place a lanyard around the camera so if it did disengage it would not be lost.
My Mounting Strategy
My pop up is pretty low and I can actually see over it when I’m driving. Unfortunately, I can’t see AROUND it. I will mount my backup camera on top of the cab of my pickup while driving so I can pop the camera on before I change lanes. I’m confident it won’t bounce off the roof of my Tacoma. The magnetic mount sticks like crazy.
The mount doesn’t quite rotate down to 90 degrees or less so I ended up mounting it above the rear window. Should it take a nasty bump it will just fall in the bed of the truck.
My traveling camera angle looks like this. Great view on both sides and over the top. And if you notice I have toggled off the backup lines while I’m using it for lane changes and such.
There are only a couple of situations where I have to back up. One is when I return home from camping and another is backing into campground parking spot. When I check in to the campground, or pull in my driveway, I’ll simply pop it off of the roof and pop it on my back bumper.
The view from that looks like this:
As you can see I aligned my camera and then set my recycle bin to be an obstruction. I backed up my camper until the red seemed to be just before impact. I stopped and my camper was just a few inches from the recycle bin. Once set up the back up lines are exceptionally accurate.
They may have missed a major feature labelling it as a Wireless Backup Camera. I’ve been camping lots of times where I’d sure like to take a peek outside before opening the door. Sadly, there are thieves in some campgrounds. Also loose pets. Or maybe I don’t want to go outside if the neighbors are sitting on the picnic table. Situate the camera on your truck, or hide it under the camper to provide you the field of view that you desire and simply turn the camera on when you want to take a look.
The backup grid can easily be turned off using the controls on the monitor if you choose to use it for this type of application.
With a long test run that I measured at around 14 hours this camera doubles as a security cam.
Solar? Or Battery?
This camera system is called the Solar4B, however, there is no included solar panel. It’s probably safer to say it is “Solar Ready”.
There is an optional solar panel you can add though. It is available here. The on-line manual from the FCC ID search depicts it. The included paper manual with the kit does not though and states the following:
“This product doesn’t contain a solar panel. If you need one, please purchase it separately from Auto-Vox store.
The included battery is 6600 mAh which is a pretty large battery. Considering you don’t use a backup camera for constant viewing a fully charged camera should last a really long time. Continuous monitoring claims are for 15 hours of viewing in the daytime and half that at night. IR lights consume additional power is why that is the case.
Two Cameras Are Better Than One
The system supports 2 cameras which is a GREAT feature. In my case it would be optimum to put one on the roof of my truck and one on the rear bumper of the camper (permanently mounted). You can toggle between the cameras or even split screen them. This is pretty clearly the best feature.
Because it is Bluetooth and operates on a frequency range of 2406.5 to 2473.0 MHz I did my darnedest to make it choke. Other notable items in that frequency range include Wi-Fi and Microwave ovens. I did every dirty, yet reasonable, real world condition I could to create interference.
I even stood next to the camera and the monitor with an 8 watt Ham Radio and transmitted on lower band ranges. Nothing created interference that affected the camera system in any discernible manner. Pairing other bluetooth devices while the camera was on didn’t affect the video stream either. Running the microwave in the camper didn’t affect it either.
Real World Operations
I can’t really video the cam system while backing up, but I hooked up to my camper in my driveway and moved it several times. I have a nice straight shot into my driveway however, I’m darned particular about how the camper is aligned on the concrete pad outside the garage. It really was a breeze to keep the camper straight on the pad.
Let me put it this way. If I park the camper crooked outside the house it messes with my wife’s Feng Shui and I get to hear about it. Parking it straight is mandatory.
This is something I have always wanted and needed. My camper just isn’t set up with wiring to add a camera easily. Having a wireless back up cam is HUGE and makes my life easier.
My only beef I guess is that it doesn’t rotate to 90 degree, otherwise I could snap it to the top of my truck roof.
I may be using this in a manner in which it wasn’t exactly designed but that may be the real hidden beauty of this product. You CAN use it in a manner in which it wasn’t designed.
I don’t need a back up cam when I’m rolling down the highway, but I do need one when I get to the campground or back home. I just remove the cam from the truck rear wall and then snap it on the rear bumper of the camper. Then once I’m at the campground I can point the cam to my generator or solar panels and can keep an eye on them to make sure they are still there.
While the cam is designed to be on for a couple of minutes during a backup evolution it has a great run time albeit with reduced run times when on the IR camera. Still this thing is pretty great in my opinion.
I gain a better driving view, a better backup experience with my camper, and I use it as a security cam when it isn’t actively being used for what it was designed for.
The fact that you can add another camera makes this a no-brainer for anyone with a trailer or camper that currently doesn’t have a camera.