Installing the AmeriCam backup camera

The View From Behind

Published in the July 2012 Issue July 2012 Build Brady L. Kay

I tow a lot so I just couldn't resist adding a backup camera to my Super Duty; at least, that's how I was able to justify it to the wife. Temporary camera systems work just fine, but I was looking for something a little more permanent when I came across AmeriCam online and decided to try out its AmeriCam K1.

AmeriCam retails at around $300 in dealerships including fitting, but I'm not one to shy away from a do-it-yourself project so on a Saturday afternoon I decided to tackle the job myself. Most backup cameras are only available in high-end OE head units, so this extra low price gives any truck owner the opportunity to join the shift towards backup safety technology. The single cable system comes in three plug-and-play sections so it really is simple to install. If I hadn't been so creative I could have shaved a little time off the end, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Screen Placement

The camera is designed to automatically activate when you put the truck in reverse, yet I wasn't crazy about the idea of mounting the monitor on my dash. After all, the majority of the time it's not going to be on, so I really wanted to figure out a way to hide it, while still keeping it fully accessible.

That's when I got the idea to mount it inside the console on the ceiling. I figured if I could pull this off it would actually make it easier to see because it would be closer than if it was mounted on my dash. Plus being that close to the ceiling it would be easier to view during the daytime as well.

So I stuck with the plan and got started on the install. The center console is easy to remove and I just fed the wires from the compartment I wanted to have it in, to the front by my windshield where my gauges are mounted. Once I had all the wires fed through to the front, I went ahead and put my ceiling console back in. The 3.5-inch LCD screen comes with a stand to mount it on your dash, but this can easily be removed by taking the back off of the unit and then unscrewing a small bolt inside. I then just used Velcro to secure the back of the screen to the truck's compartment cover.

It looked good, but I was a long way from actually seeing something on the monitor. I continued the wires over to the side panel that easily removes. I basically just followed the wires from the Prosport boost and EGT gauges that were installed a few months ago. The first section of cable ended right above my dash so it was the perfect place to connect to the second middle cable and then head out through the engine.

Heading Back

There is a little cutout below my dash that goes into the engine compartment and again I just followed the EGT wire from here.

I had already checked to make sure I had enough cable to run the full length of the truck, so my biggest concern as I made my way back to the tail lights was to make sure I secured everything well. I lost count at around 35 zip ties, but I didn't take any chances. I have wires and cables running from the front to the back along the truck's frame so I took advantage of the bigger cables that were already well secured and zip tied the camera wire to it.

The second cable took me all the way past my rear wheel so I was ready to attach the third one, which is the last cable wire that includes the actual camera at the end. This is also where the two wires for the power begin, so from this point back, I needed to secure both the main cable and the wires.

Getting Power

I removed my rear tail light and had the wires come from underneath by the frame to reach the light. Since I only want the camera to turn on when the truck is shifted into reverse, I spliced into the wires heading into the rear reverse light.

This light only comes on when the truck is in reverse so I knew it would just power my camera when needed.

The kit actually comes with connections that make splicing into these wires really simple. With these connections there are no wires to cut, tape needed or any steps to make it waterproof when you're done. Just snap the plastic lid over and you're good.

Hole Shot

I wanted to make sure I had plenty of cable left so I used more zip ties to make it all the way back to the bumper. But then I realized that the last cable needs to go through the hole first before connecting, so I had a little back tracking to do. It was a rookie mistake, but not that big of deal.

The kit also comes with a 22 mm drill bit; I'm sure if you're just cutting into a regular bumper or thin metal it would easily do the job. My problem is I picked the thickest piece of metal on the entire truck to attempt to drill my hole for the camera.

I wore the bit down before I even got a good start so I decided to just buy a more heavy-duty bit to finish the job. Even that bit got a good workout because again, I really picked a thick spot on my bumper for my hole. But because I wanted this camera to be right above my tow hitch so I can see when I'm hooking up, I was determined to create the hole exactly where I wanted it.

I finally had my hole and I fed the line through it and reconnected it back by the rear wheel. The camera piece locks into place, so you want to make sure you're extremely happy with the placement before pushing it all the way in. I checked, double-checked and then checked again before pushing it in all the way.

Happy Ending

I love that the camera is mounted flush with my bumper and unless you're looking for it, you might not even realize it's there. The screen now turns on when the truck is in reverse and I'm really amazed by how much I couldn't see before by just using my mirrors. When I'm about to back up, I just open the compartment lid to view the screen; it's that simple. The rest of the time the LCD monitor is hidden and you wouldn't even know it was there.

I like that it provides a wide-angle rear view in color, giving an unobstructed view day or night. I couldn't be happier with the system or the ease of installation. It's hidden nicely when I don't need it, yet easily accessible when I do.

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