As many of you who follow Motoringfile closely already know, I happen to have an OEM backup camera installed in my MINI (see: MINI Rear Camera Review). The rear-view camera produces such a nice image on the navigation display that it started me thinking about if it would be possible to use the backup camera as a video input for other video sources. It would be really cool to be able to play DVD movies (and possibly even play PS2 games) on the built-in navigation screen in my MINI. Well, after exploring the wiring diagram for the backup camera installation kit, it appears that there are indeed a couple of video inputs that can easily be tapped into (see: MINI Rear Camera Retrofit Kit Installation Instructions).
The backup camera installation kit is comprised of the rear-view camera, a small control module, a video switchbox, and the wiring harnesses used to hook it all up. The installation kit is broken up into two components; The rear-view camera parts kit ( P/N: 66 21 0 392 370 – comprised of the rear-view camera, control module, and wiring harness for the camera) and the additional switchbox parts kit (P/N: 66 21 0 303 085 – comprised of the video switchbox and the wiring harness used for hooking the switchbox up to the navigation computer). As luck would have it, it turns out that the video switchbox has two sets of video inputs that can indeed be used to create an external video input feed for your MINI.
One set of the video inputs on the switchbox is used for the rear-view camera and the other set is used for a front-view camera. The really cool part is that if you don’t have/want the rear-view camera, you can purchase just the video switchbox kit for around $200 and use it to hookup a switched video input feed in your MINI. The only down-fall to doing it this way is that, for technical reasons, you’ll be forced to use the front-view camera’s video input feed and it automatically switches off the video signal once the car is moving faster than 10 KPH (this is a typical safety feature that BMW uses to prevent you from watching the video while driving your car). If however, you happen to have the complete rear-view camera kit, then you can hook into the rear-view camera’s video feed and get video-in-motion. Since the rear-view camera is designed to work while the car is in motion, it doesn’t automatically force the video feed to turn off at above 10 KPH.
Of course the details on hooking up the video input are a bit beyond the scope of this article. However, if you’re interested, I’d be more than happy to share my findings with you and tell you exactly what to do in order to hook is all up. Either send me an e-mail, or better yet, post a comment here and I’ll do my best to try and explain it all for you. Suffice it to say that it’s quite easy to hook up if you have basic wiring skills.
As you can see from the following photos, the result is quite spectacular. I was able to setup the video input in my MINI and hook up one of the new thin-line PS2 game consoles to it. The new thin PS2 is absolutely amazing! It’s super small size allows you to hide the entire unit within the MINI’s glove box. With the simple flick of a switch (also hidden within the glove box) I can now watch DVD movies and play PS2 games right from my MINI’s built-in navigation display:
In order to provide sound for your video input, you’ll also need to have an audio input as well. This is easily done by simply installing one of the $40 OEM MINI AUX cables (P/N: 82 11 0 153 367) and then hooking up your audio source to it (e.g. the audio output from the PS2 console in my case). Once installed, your factory MINI radio will have a new “AUX” mode (accessed via the “MODE” button on the radio) and this is the mode that will be used to play the audio for your video input. In the following photo, you can see the OEM AUX input jack that I installed in the upper right-hand corner of the glove box (you can also see the small switch in the left-hand corner that switches the navigation computer display over to showing the video input signal):
Lastly, if you’re going to use a PS2 console, as I did, then you’ll also need a power inverter in order to convert the DC voltage in your MINI over to the AC voltage that’s required by the game console. These units are available for around $40-$60 in most electronic shops (such as Radio Shack, eBay, etc.). Just make sure that you get one that supplies enough continuous wattage to run whatever you’re going to be plugging into it (I believe that the PS2 console requires a minimum of 79 watts). I ended up getting a DC Power Supply Accessory Kit from Radio Shack (P/N: 22-540) for $6.99 and tying it into the 12 volt switched accessory jack located in the boot of my MINI. I then plugged a power inverter into the adapter kit’s 12 volt power supply socket and using it to power the PS2 game console: