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The (Navigation) Dilemma! INSTALLED!

Update on Lessons Learned abt Rear Cameras and Costs

So all the bits and pcs have arrived and now a matter of putting it all together.

With the OEM route for the Nav unit discussion made, time for rear camera decision. And oh boy, what a lot of choices :eek:

What I have learned so far about the camera along with the bottom line on costs.

The F150 Rear Camera Ford emblem will not work on an Explorer. While maybe obvious to a number of folks, it looked close in size to warrant checking out. If it did fit I was willing to spring for the extra cash to have a nice clean OEM type of install. But alas, it is too big.

There really is not a convent spot to mount the rear camera on the 2010 due in large part to the tailgate release handle being in the middle. This left a license plate type. While I was considering the Barcam 221 it is large and will cover my yearly registration sticker. It is also expensive for a “CMD” type sensor. CMD? There are 2 types of sensors: CCD and CMOS of which CCD is the preferred way to go. So CMD was new to me but in what I read seems to simply be a ‘better’ CMOS but still not as good for low light and clarity as a CCD. So I opted for a less expensive License Plate Holder style that while still a CMD sensor had some of the same features as the Barcam including the marker lines but at half the cost.

About camera power and lighting. A lot of cameras have lights to assist in seeing in dark / low light conditions. This I assume is primarily due to the CMOS / CMD type of sensor that is not as good in low light as a CCD, so add lighting. There are 2 type of lights offered: Infrared and Visible (white) light. And some reviews of IR style said not IR but White. Since I was going with the CANOpener that has the ’Camera on Demand’ feature, I was concerned about lighting. For example I did not want a ‘bright light’ coming from my arse end when traveling down the interstate if I toggled on the camera. And regarding powering the device: all the instructions and forums have you power the camera to the Reverse Lights. Makes total sense if you are only using the camera when in reverse. But with the CANOpener you can toggle on the camera, reverse gear or not, idea being as you are backing up to a hitch a trailer, can have the camera view even while pulling slightly forward. Convenient. So that left me with exploring a power source that would ‘toggle’ when the camera is called upon. Some follow up discussions with the folks that make the CANOpener provided there was not a ‘here is 12V power only when the camera is called for.’ They also provided OEMs power their cameras whenever the ignition is on -> so always on while driving around, regardless of reverse. Hmmm… some folks I have read about go to the trouble of having a separate switch to power on their camera to use when not in reverse with the idea being “it saves the camera” as in if always powered on "it will not last long." So that left me with (1) powering the camera as always on with the ignition (2) no lighting and (3) using a less expensive camera in case the ‘ignition on’ power really does significantly shorten its life.

About running power to the camera. Since I needed to tap into a ignition switched power source, it seems like this would be much easier up front under the dash. While switched power is available in the 7 Pin trailer wiring harness, I would have to run wires not only forward (for video) but also who knows where to get to the 7 Pin harness. Since I was running a cable forward anyway, would be nice to run the power wire with it as well. Turns out they make RCA video cables with an embedded ‘trigger’ or power wire! So in addition to the RCA Male to RCA Male cable there is an additional red power wire embedded in its length that has a pigtail on either end. Way cool. This red trigger wire is normally used to run power from the rear reverse lights to the front to power up the video display or provide a trigger to the device that you are in reverse. But since I am going OEM there already is a trigger, so to speak, to turn on the video display when I am in reverse. So I will use this cable in reverse :p: of what is normally done and have switched +12V from the front to the rear. Thus I have to contend with running only one cable.

My initial budget was $1,000 because this was about the cost of a good Aftermarket (and built in) Unit with Rear Camera. And my estimate for going OEM was $1,175. I was willing to for this slightly higher amount to have real knobs, etc. as explained above in this post.

The bottom line so far. The rest will be my BS&T, but for me this is fun part.

$379.95<>Used OEM HDD Type Nav Unit<>eBay seller: ebei2429
$24.49<>1 Year Warranty<>eBay seller: assurant_protection_plans
$117.19<>Programing the Nav unit to VIN<>
$359.95<>Brick Unit<>OEM Auto Parts Co
$249.99<>CANOpener<>4D Tech
$34.98<>Video Plug<>4D Tech
$29.99<>Rear View Camera: Pyle PLCM19<>eBay seller: Dealsbuy2015
$8.69<>20Ft Video Cable with trigger wire<>eBay seller: ryanhemat
$16.00<>OEM Owner's Manual for Navigation<>eBay seller: mikethecargod

Total of $1,221.23 and included any discount, shipping and taxes if any. Most items were void of tax and were free shipping.

What else I learned. The folks at these ‘retailers’ are great! I had more than one live or email conversional with most of them. They were helpful, courteous and offered assistance and advice and answered all my annoying questions :D

More to follow when installed.....

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did you install it ?

Sorry for delay in posting...
Due to 'life happening' it remains uninstalled..
I got as far as putting in the rear camera and routing the wire up to the dash but then noticed some 'sawdust' where I should not have been on my deck...
So last number of months of free time has been rebuilding the structure of my deck, which is really the roof of my root cellar, but almost done.
I expect that I will get to installing it this fall

Finally got to installing this during the X-mas break. So almost a year in the making…

Overall I am very pleased with the results and glad I went to the OEM vs aftermarket route. The integration of the Sync coupled with having a knob for the ‘radio off / volume’ made it all worthwhile. And as an added bonus the Jukebox!

Pic 1 Overview.jpg

Here are some of the challenges I encountered. Note I consider myself fairly handy and above average when it comes to working on cars and this job is not for the faint of heart, but easily achievable by anyone with patience and determination.

No. 1 biggest challenge for my application was where to mount the Brick unit. This is the large amplifier type box that per some of the instructional videos get tucked under the steering column and attached to a cross brace that is just under the plastic cowling. My Explorer has a movable (up / down) steering wheel and regardless of the location in this general area, the steering column / adjusting hardware would hit the Brick when the column was adjusted down fully. I contemplated just never putting the column all the way down but quickly dismissed that. Perhaps under the center counsel? Nope, simply too big. Tucked up under the dash? No room. Where the heck did they mount these things from the factory? Tried finding a posted picture of a factory installed unit but no joy. I did find my XM Sirius receiver under the passage side outboard kick panel (recall this Explorer had the upgraded CD / XM Radio).
Pic 2 OEM XM Radio.jpg

Pic 3 Factory Installed Sat Receiver.jpg

It’s about same size as Nav Brick but lots of plugs into it. Hmmm, wonder if the Nav unit – also with XM Sirius capability - needs this box or does the Nav unit have its own receiver? Deduced the Nav unit has its own built in XM radio due to a Sirius ID Number sticker on it; just like the XM Sirius receiver box does under the kick panel. So assumption is that the Nav unit is self-contained for the XM Radio and perhaps this box not needed for anything. Did a temporary install of the Nav Unit with the (already installed from factory) XM Sirius receiver unit unplugged and confirmed it > this factory XM Box not needed whatsoever. Fortunately the factory Sirius receiver was mounted to a plate that was in turn mounted to the car. So out it all comes and with some minor mods to the bracket, got the Nav Brick mounted to this plate and back in place. All nice and neat and stock looking. And I am now confident this is where the Nav Brick Unit does get installed from the factory.

Pic 4 Plate.JPG

Pic 5 Brick Amp Mounted to Plate.jpg

Pic 6 Brick Amp Mounted Up.jpg

Second biggest challenge was figuring out how to stuff all the plugs into the space behind the Nav Unit. The way these kits work is that you plug into the existing wiring harnesses and then have another set of plugs to plug into your Nav Unit. Yes there is a cavity built into the space behind the Nav unit for them but not for the 3 my case. Three sets because of the CanOpener. Here was the issue: the plugs and harness that is part of the car (that would normally plug directly into the Nav unit) > they plug into the Brick harness that in turn has a set of plugs to go into the Nav unit but with the CanOpener this Brick harness in turn plugs into the CanOpener harness which also has a set of plugs to go into the Nav unit. Think of it this way: the Brick Unit harness is like a “T” with a plugs at either end of the top of the T. And I needed to connect yet another T harness into that (Nav Unit + ‘T’ CanOpener + ‘T’ Brick + Car Harness). I tried to show this in one of the pics. So a lot and in fact too much to stuff into the small cavity behind the Nav unit. And there is only so much lead on these harnesses meaning the distance between the final plugs (into the Nav unit) and the plug that need to go into the car harness are short (i.e. the top of the T is short).

Pic 7 Small Cavity.JPG

Pic 8 Plugs in Plugs.JPG

Pic 8B Plugs in Plugs.jpg

Lots of head scratching and investigation of where I can stuff 10 lbs of plugs and wire into a 5 lb bag. Conclusion was to spread it out. So I had to strip down the factory car harness to ‘peal apart’ the various plugs and to get the most length out of them and the freedom to re-route to wherever. Need to be careful dong this as some of the wires are not wires but foil for shielding but still carry the negative pole, so is being use as a wire. These can easily rip.
Pic 9 Stripping Down.JPG

Pic 10 Wire Foil.JPG

Pic 11 Rewrapped.jpg

I was able to re-route the car harness plugs to outside that cavity and over into the driver side foot well high up and just outside of all the heating ducts. From there I could plug in the Brick harness and then the CanOpener harness and had just enough slack to have the final plugs barley reach out to where I could still plug them in with the Nav unit just up to its hole. I tried to take good pics but location made it difficult. And even though the Brick unit was way over to the outboard of the passenger side foot well, the harness length was just sufficient enough to reach across the center counsel. So an added bonus did not have to figure out how to coil up and stuff away the extra cable. Without the CanOpener I think it would have all stuffed into the cavity – maybe - but I did not test it.
Pic 12 where to stuff.JPG

Pic 13A nes Harness Routing.jpg

Pic 14 Harness Routing.JPG

Pic 15 Plugs Away.JPG

For the CanOpener, it is fairly small, and was easily installed in the area of that that cross brace below the steering column where the Brick is suggest going. Oops, I now recall that the mounting to the cross brace also interfered with the adjustable steering column. So it was finally mounted on the plastic cross piece. It’s tough to see it, picture is not that great.

Pic 16 CanOpner.JPG

Pic 17 CanOpener.JPG


Challenge No. 3 was the backup camera. I used the License plate type without Infrared LEDs. The issues with this were 2 fold. (1) power and (2) the routing of the video cable. All of these aftermarket backup cameras have a short power wire that is supposed to hook up to the backup lights. Makes sense and works for most applications. However the CanOpener has a feature to allow the backup camera to ‘stay on’ even if you are not in reverse. Like backing up to hook up a trailer, you need to sometimes go forward and then back again. This ‘always on’ feature keeps the rear view on regardless. A cool feature and a principle reason I got it. But requires power to the camera even if not in reverse. Did some talking to folks and investigated on the web and the implication was that for factory installed reverse cameras the power is always on. Hmmm, won’t that burn out the camera? Apparently not from what I read about these types of cameras. So that meant no LEDs or lights to enhance the camera at night since would always be on and I did worry about those burring out. Ok, that choice made. During my search for a video extension cable (while the camera kit comes with one, some postings suggested needed longer for the SUVs), I ran across a type that has a built in power wire, called a “Detection Wire” in the eBay listings. In addition to the Video cable, there is a 3rd wire inside the casing. Cool. And they come in 20 foot lengths! So this way I had an easier opportunity to find ‘key on’ type power under the dash then trying to figure out how to tap into the 7 Pin Trailer connector. To route the wire I did have to drill a hole in the sheet metal but chose a spot behind the license plate for concealment. Did all the necessary paint to not rust and put in a nice rubber gourmet and sealed off with silicon caulking. I was able to run the wire thru the factory flexible boot connector between the tail gate and body (where the power for rear wiper, defrost, etc. are) so no extra holes. Fished the wire thru the headliner and down the A pillar then up under the dash.

The reverse camera picture is nice and clear in the day and while grainy at night the vehicle’s reverse / tail lights provide plenty of lumens.

Unfortunately the pictures I took last summer of the install of the camera did not transfer over to my new phone, but here are a few pics of it.
Pic 18 Camera.JPG

Pic 19 Rubber Boot.JPG

Pic 20 Rear View.JPG

Pic 21 In drive with camera on.JPG


Other items:

1. Map Update. From what I can tell you have to go back to the source, there simply is not an aftermarket update for these “Jukebox style” Nav Units. A little history here. The map data comes from a company called NavTeq which is now Here. You can read about their history at this link

And if you go to NavTeq, Ford or any site for getting a map update for this style of Nav unit, you will end up at Here. I talked to them and they provide map data for a number of OEMs as well as Garmin, etc. But it is the OEMs that determine how it is all packaged up and sold. In Ford’s case, this update is both a Map and a Grace Notes update. $140. No discounts, not ever. Only bennie was a ‘free shipping’ deal. What you get for your $140 is a total of 3 discs inside 2 DVD cases. One case (2 discs) for Map updates and other case (1 DVD) for Grace Notes. These DVDs are supposedly ‘coded’ to your particular Nav Unit (the Application Number) and thus no good to others, which is why you do not see them for sale. My Nav unit was at Version 2.0X and after the update is 9.0X.
Pic 22 Map Update.jpg

2. CanOpener. This ‘hacking’ device is well worth it. Its features include being able to enter in addresses while still driving, of course to be done by the passenger. We have already used this several times in the last couple of months; nice feature. When activated it interrupts the motion signals so the Nav Unit thinks it is motionless and thus can enter in an address. It will automatically time out after a couple of minutes or you can toggle it back off. And since you have been driving, it takes 30 seconds or so for the Nav to catch up to your current location. The device also turns your steering wheel phone button into a single push for all functions. This is much easier then the push and hold for some items as it comes from the factory. And it has the aforementioned ‘keep on’ reverse camera. There are some other features as well; you can check them out at link

Pic 22B CanOpener Address Input.jpg

3. For those not familiar this Nav Unit is a “Jukebox style” which means it has a hard disc that stores CDs you record onto it. Up to 2,500 tracks, so a lot. Grace Notes is the software that will display the album cover artwork, has genre, artist info, etc. all so you can use the Jukebox in cool ways, like request a particular artist to play. And by voice commands. Some may find this feature outdated in that they use their smartphones for storing all their music and simply playback via Bluetooth. Nothing wrong with that and I too use the built in Bluetooth to play podcasts, but I do not have all my music stored on my iPhone. While I gave it try I found iTunes to be completely frustrating. And then there is the issue of needing to transfer from device to device as you upgrade your phone. No thanks. And it seems this Jukebox style became a ‘bridge’ between 6 CD changers and what is now all the vogue -> only Bluetooth to leverage your smart phone. Saves the car companies money. Smart ;-) But I digress.

I love this Jukebox concept. While it is a little bit of a pain to record the CDs it can be done on the fly and over time (insert CD, hit record and listen to whatever, Radio, the CD, nothing, and it will still record at a speed about 10x playback). Driving down the road and feel the need for a little Deep Purple? Hit the steering wheel voice button and say “Jukebox, play artist Deep Purple” and it will play all of your DP songs, or if a particular title is your fancy say “Jukebox, play title Highway Star” and get on breaking the speed of sound…

Pic 23 Jukebox.JPG

Pic 24 Jukebox.JPG

Pic 25 Jukebox.JPG

For me this Jukebox feature is a real added bonus for going the OEM route. There is no aftermarket equivalent that I saw that does this, again deferring to using the driver’s smartphone. And I even challenged my Apple junkie wife if the latest iPhone does this cool, voice activated feature and nope, it does not. Take that Apple!

So for my situation, where we do tow (wife tows the boat with this Explorer and I tow the travel trailer with an Expedition) having the OEM Nav system that she is used to and is similar in look and feel to the Expedition is worth it. And since this is also my daily commute car, having the fully integrated Sync, the volume / off knob and the Jukebox really makes a difference. Add in the CanOpener and the whole set up is just perfect for me.

If you made it this far, thank for reading and if you are considering doing this job I say go for it, you will not be disappointed!

What do you find the difference is between the 2x map and 9x? My truck still has the original 1x and for the cost Ford is charging up here for an update not sure if it's worth it.

We had some freeway mods in the city that were done a few years ago that I drive daily and the 9.0x had those, whereas previous version did not (this was my checkpoint so to speak). I tired to see a different on the POIs but could not figure out a way to do this readily.

Agree cost is a buster. If there is an intersection or address you what me to plug in and take a pic of, happy to. That way u can see if the hoped for update is in the 9.0x.

Can you go to lakeridge road and hwy 7 in Ontario, see if there is a hwy running east west and north south. 407/412?

Hwy 7 did not come up as the name, so I hunted around on Google Maps for this area and found the area where 407 and 412 intersect and from that found an address of a location next to it. So if I did this correct, does not look to me that 407 & 412 are in the 9.0x. Take a look at the pics and let me know if there is a different address to plug in. First pic is the address and then the next two are the area at 2.5 mi scale and 5.0 mile scale...

Thanks, that is what I figured would be the case. It's a new hwy extension that opened mid 2016. So other then recent residential streets built in the past few years won't be much difference then between the 2. I'll wait and see if future updates have more features or wait until the hwy extension is complete, this was just phase 1.


Been living with this OEM retrofit for last 4 years now. Recall I wanted to go with OEM to have the full functionality of SYNC and the steering wheel buttons, dimming lights, etc. plus actual physical knobs and buttons (vs. soft slides and buttons) so went to the effort to do an OEM retrofit along with an aftermarket ‘CanOpener’.

Regrets? Not one!

The seamless integration with SYNC and the steering wheel buttons along with the ability to have the large screen Nav let alone the large capacity of the Jukebox has all been worth it. Add to that the CanOpener functionality of being able to input a Nav destination while in motion (passenger wife does this!) or keep on the rear camera while trying to hitch have been an added bonus!

And as the mileage starts to add up, thinking about getting a ‘commute vehicle’ for my last few years of working to save this great Gen 4 Explorer for towing the boat for as long as I can keep it going….