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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

OK... This post serves two purposes. First, It gives a little research for persons that are looking to install a backup camera and what features to look for. And SECOND, I am seeking the forum's help in ID'g what electrical wiring color configuration goes to the tail "backup lights and what one is the "ground". I have bought an after market GPS navigation system and I need to tap into the back up tail light power wire so I can parallel off to power the backup camera and do the same for the ground. I bought the 2006 325i service manual from Bentley Publishing to help me in my installation.

As you might guess, I love my 325i Bimmer...but I hate not being able to clearly see the end of my car ...thus I don't know how much distance I have behind the car or what might be in the way of my backup.

I am now fully retired. And as such, moved from the Maryland burbs to Boston and I have to say, I have PARALLELED PARKED more in the past month than I did in 25 years in Maryland. Further, parking spaces here on these narrow roads is at a premium making parallel parking all that more difficult. I have already backed up into a #[email protected]$#@ small pole that I didn't see in a public underground parking because I couldn't see it. So... I decided to research backup cameras, get one, and install it.

What kind of backup cameras are there and what do you need to do to use them, and what are the features to look for?

I have worked the "net" for the better part of 2 weeks and here are some key features you need to consider. I am labeling these questions with an "Rxxx" so as not to confuse them with numbering later.

R1. Do you want a wireless backup camera or not?
R2. Do you want/need an integrated GPS navigation system or just buy a backup camera that is compatible with the already installed GPS navigation system in the car?
R3. Do you want a BMW compatible one?
R4. What are you willing to spend?
R5. Will you need special tools and help to install it or are you pretty savvy when it comes to all things mechanical and electrical?
R6. Do you want a "stealty" backup camera?
R7. What are the typical video and navigation system specifications I need to pay attention to?

OK... all good questions. Here is what I learned.
As you might suspect, not all backup cameras are equal and have the same performance characteristics. The internet threads I have read on backup cameras all say that you should have:

120 degrees of horizontal visibility (minimum)
90 degrees of adjustable vertical visibility (minimum)
Camera is waterproof
Camera is dustproof

Here is a link to some of the better systems…

BMW After market systems:


My Bimmer did not come with a Nav System. So I have been using either my "smart" phone or Garmin for finding my way around. That said, COST was a huge consideration in this retrofit, not just for the GPS Backup Camera Nav System, but the Cost of installation.. BMW after market full GPS Nav System and Backup Camera buys and installation are rather pricey. The camera and GPS nav system are about $350 or more just to buy, plus you typically need BMW to install it since those systems tie into the main car motherboard and interlocks and as we all know…that will cost you.

Accordingly, I chose the MAGELLAN 1700 GPS Navigation System and backup camera. It cost me about $175 and has FREE lifetime map updates. It has these (F) features:

F1. Wireless camera mounts on license plate.
F2. Transmitter stays in the trunk…so there is NO disassembly of car parts, panels, upholstery to route wires to front of car.
F3. Substantial 45 foot transmitter range. Great for most cars, vans, and small trailers.
F4. Camera is user-adjustable downward to 45 degrees Great for mounting in trucks and SUVs.
F5. Wide angle view lens with 120° horizontal and 100° vertical viewing area. See people and objects coming into view behind your vehicle
F6. Automatically switches from navigation mode to backup mode. When you put your car in reverse, your navigator will automatically switch to rear view mode, allowing you to see what is behind your vehicle
F7. Camera is dustproof and waterproof. Rated IP67, highly protected in wet conditions and against dust.
F8. Transmitter is weather proof. Rated IPX4, the transmitter is water resistant. May be used with video systems with compatible 3.5mm A/V input.
F9. Infared backup camera for night ops.
F10. Superimposed "backup distance" on video screen.
F11. Mirror output from camera. Whatever the driver sees on the right side of the screen is what is on the right side of their car.
F12. You can easily remove it and transport this system to another
vehicle. OR… take just the Magellan GPS unit and power cord and use as needed for another vehicle when needed.

C1. Camera is not stealty…i.e. it attaches on same screw pattern as American license plates screws.

The BMW one…replaces 1 for 1 the license plate light.

C2. You need to drill a ¼ to 3/8" hole in the BMW to feed the camera video cable through and into the trunk.
C3. You will need to put anti-chaffing protection on the video cable wiring and seal the hole for water ingress.

OK…personally, I am not worried about the stealthiness. Yes, these camera systems are new and thus they are an "attractive nuisance" inviting the would-B theft to steal it.

Drilling a hole in the car is a little bit bigger problem. I intend to drill it right behind the License plate. And to seal the hole and provide anti-chaffing…I recommend either getting a "chemistry lab beaker bottle stopper with 2 holes in the stopper" that will fit the hole you drill and the holes in the stopper are big enough to take the video cable feed. OR…as I have done, go to HOME DEPOT and buy a Rubber stopper of that size. Then drill 2 holes in the stopper. One large enough to take the video cable feed and the other to fit a machine screw all the way through. Also, buy 2 washers and a nut to fit over the machine screw.

Next…. Cut the stopper in half …length wise so you "bi-sect" the two holes. That is… cut the stopper so, you have 2 half holes (2-half circles cutouts) on each half of the stopper. You need to do that so you can fit the stopper in the DRILLED hole and still fit the video cable in the hole. Next, fit the other half of the stopper in the hole and feed the video cable in the same hole as the first half. Effectively , you have now put the stopper back together with the video feed in one hole and a vacant hole next to it. NEXT, take each washer and cut a small "sector" out of it so it looks like it is missing a chunk. You need to do this…so you can fit the washer around the video feed and around the machine screw.

arrange the missing chunk should be adjacent to the machine screw…NOT NEXT TO THE VIDEO WIRE..otherwise it might chaff it. NEXT…feed the machine screw in the hole, attach the nut.

NOW, leaving enough slack in the video cable to attach the camera to the license plate,…and tighten it. As the machine screw tightens on the rubber stopper, it will compress and seat tightly in the hole and around the video cable.

Now attach the license plate and camera.

OK…here is where I need HELP from all you SUPER SMART BIMMER DIY electricians. I can not seem to find the wiring color configuration chart that IDs the back up tail light power and ground wires. I need to tie into them to get power for the camera and transmitter and ground it.

ANY HELP on this would be most appreciated. :dunno:


· Registered
24 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
FEEDBACK on powering and ground wires for the MAGELLAN GPS NAVIGATION and WIRELESS BACKUP CAMERA, here is what i researched.

I bought a Hardcover Service Manual from for the car, BENTLEY Version. I found this manual super.
I have to say, that initially, i hated the electrical schematics in the manual. I expected to see a complete one-line diagram and then a break-out of the back up lighting circuits. So when i didnt see that, i got quit confused. So... i began reading the MANUAL. And... after reading the ELECTRICAL Introduction, the electrical schematics made perfect sense. Bentley shows only the wires associated with the powering of the item you want to work on. That said. here is the bottom line that you need to know to tap into the power for the backup camera.

To power the backup camera, i simply tapped into the wires leading into the Left Rear backup lights (note there are two back up lights,...and each one has its own power wire). You can tap into either one. One light is BLACK w/YELLOW stripe and the other is GRAY w/YELLOW Stripe. Both of these provide +12v. The Ground is a BROWN wire.
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