Thursday, September 18, 2008

Backup Camera Install

For a while now i've had a cable from Ed (G8V8 on that would allow video input into the radio-head in the G8. This is a perfect way to get a backup camera on screen in the car. Ed had bought a nice camera on EBay that wasn't too bulky looking, but when I went looking for it I ended up with basically the same one but slightly different connectors: this one.

Instead of coming with a 32 foot 'all-in-one' cable mine came with just the cam that had seperate connectors for Video, Power & a Left/Right Flip option so you can see the image either like you're looking in your rearview mirror or as if you're turning your head around. After Having tried both settings I 'think' i have decided on having it like the rearview mirror - just seems more natural that way.

I noticed there were several plastic plugs/fasteners in the trunk already so I just took out the middle one and enlarged the hole just enough so I could squeeze the connectors through one by one. Ofcourse I also put a grommet on there so the sharp edges wouldn't be cutting into the wires. Here's a picture before the grommet went on:

Then the fun started of routing the cables. I had bought a 12 foot Cable with RCA connectors from radioshack (Male-Male) and then a 6 foot extension (Male-Female) This proved to be just about the right length all together. I dropped the extension through the trunk lid so it came out where the other wires run bottom right, but since I didn't feel like cutting off the connectors I didn't snake it through the rubber hose that's there. I just wrapped it around it and into the trunk.

For the Front I had to take the side panels off the radio and decided to even take off the glove compartment for easier access. once I had all the panels off I simply dropped in the plug & cable that ed had provided, and hooked up my 12 foot cable. I then ran it all along the mid section and took a shortcut underneath the front passenger seat and then ran it under the trim by the doors, underneath part of the backseat, up the side where there is an access area so you can get into the trunk. Not the best looking way (can see the cable under the chair) but I can always tweak it later. Just wanted it IN ASAP! ;)

For power I soldered some wires to the provided plug and then ran them through the trunklid as well to the trunk and tapped into some wires that seemed to have 12 V on them ( a black & brown one in the connecter that goes to the taillights etc) Turns out this is tied to the normal light operation so I guess I Just need to at least have my DRL's on for power. I may try to find a permanent 12V line, but this is fine for now. Fun to look at cars behind you when you're in a drive-thru haha

ONLY real issue I have is the no video while moving crap.. mine cuts out at a whopping 2!!!! yes TWO miles per hour... what the hell?!?! Guess i'll be backing up WAAAY slow ...

Here's the result

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Adventures in Tinting - Part II

After my failed attempt with the film and seeing how rippin 6's had his professionally done to be TOTALLY BLACK i decided I needed something a little more drastic and get that same result.
Seems like the most common method was to get VHT Niteshades so i ordered 2 cans of it from a local place and 2 cans of Upol #1 clear-coat which from what I had read was a lot better than most any other and dried pretty quickly too.

Goodbye normal clear taillights!

To start with I made sure I had all the supplies I needed:

  • 10mm Socket & wrench
  • 1 'big' can of VHT Niteshades ( just used a bit of the 2nd one)
  • 1 can of Upol #1 (hey at least I got spares :) )
  • 1000 grit sandpaper
  • 1500 grit sandpaper

Obviously the first step is to get the taillights out. This process is actually very straightforward.
Simply remove the plastic section that covers the trunk lock by unscrewing the 4 hooks that are used to hold the trunk-net in place and then it lifts right up.

After that it's simply a matter of popping out the push pins that hold the trunk liner up so you can get to the lights. It may help to take out the trunk bottom liner since that tends to get in the way.

Once you see the lights there is a large white connector that disconnects by pressing the center tab.

After they lights are disconnected it's a simple matter of using the 10 mm socket to undo the 3 nuts that hold the light in place.

Ok now we get to the real work: First I used 1000 grid wet sandpaper to scuff up the surface of the light. Talk about a cringe worthy moment.. There's no going back now!

I then taped them up with some old wrapping paper to protect the rest of the housing from the paint.

Now came the part where I screwed up:

a) I did it outside (well i was 'kicked out' ;) ) and it was a little windy
b) I was trying to rush it.
c) At this point in my life I should've learned that I do NOT have any painting skills what-so-ever, even if it's spray paint ;)


So on go the first coat(s) of Niteshades. I did two real light misting to avoid runs. Really it's not that noticable if anything it almost seems like stock again minus the scratches.

Just keep adding layers when the previous ones dry (5-10 minutes) spraying from about a foot away. Niteshades is runny stuff and you don't want to spray from too close !

If you get runs wait for it to dry and then sand it down. I was rushing and sometimes the paint wasn't 100% dry.. OUCH.. big mess!

On the left you can see one with probably a good 5-6 layers on it while i had to resand the one on the right because of major drips.

Both are looking pretty dark/about the same now. REALLY if you can try to spray both exactly the same in the same pass. I was an idiot and didn't - so now one light is slightly darker than my other (you can only tell with my lights on).

After it was all dark enough (finished 1 can of niteshades) I sanded again but with 1000 and then 1500 grid. Notice the spots where I screwed up with my runs. Was too rushed to try to fix it anymore (once again. Don't be in a rush when doing this)

Then the clear coat went on - same process : 2 thin mist coats and then just piling on the layers every 5-10 minutes. Once I got about 5-6 thick layers on it was good enough and i let it dry and then sanded it with 1500 sandpaper again. Notice all the runs from not taking my time!! (yeah it looks like CRAP right now)

After putting them back into the car the process of cleaning up the mess started.
First a layer of 3m Rubbing compound, Then scratch-X and finally a couple of coats of wax.
I HIGHLY recommend a buffer for this. I did it by hand and it took forever , and the entire time I was thinking I had just gone and ruined my taillights because they wouldn't buff out.
(wouldn't you think the same seeing these? btw my car is panther black metallic - the flash just makes it look gray in certain shots)

After taking a break though (rest of the day because I was so depressed thinking for sure I had ruined my lights! haha) I really got into and buffed them out to a nice shine using a LOT of rubbing compound & scratch-X. Took a while but the result is 'acceptable'. Here's the final result (Yeah I know - i need to take some better pictures that don't look so dark or make the car look gray! )

Tail lights on:

Blinkers on:

Brakes On:

With the lights off they basically look BLACK except when the sun is right on them, then you can see some red from the actual light shining through. With the lights on, during the daytime if it's really sunny sometimes it's a bit hard to see the blinkers (because I really overdid it with the niteshades - could've stopped 2 layers sooner and still have it be the same darkness At night though (should take some pics) the lights are quite bright enough and everything shows up just fine.

I MAY one day get them professionally done instead but for now i'm quite happy with how they turned out even though i had some moments where I thought for sure they were ruined.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Adventures in Tinting - Part I

So a while ago I actually decided to tint my tails. Not being able to find a place that did that kind of work I decided i'd go the 'easy' route and ordered some Dark-Smoke 'film' from
I had been talking to 'rippin 6's' (owner of 'the black pearl' - a blacked out G8 -find him on ) and he bought his film just a little before mine and he told me that it just didn't look right. As soon as I started applying the film I could see what he was talking about. It was just too light and made the lights look almost a weird brownish color... I ripped that stuff straight off....

Ok So attempt I - Failure. As i had an entire roll of the stuff I decided to have some fun and see what it would look like on my headlights. Didn't care if it looked 'perfect' , i just wanted to see the effect - here's on headlight first for a comparison and then on both:

I REALLY liked the look of it . Next I wanted to see what they looked like with the lights on:
First pic is normal, second is with highbeams:

While it looked ok in daylight, when i pulled the car out at night to do a quick little test it was just WAY too dark. Even with the highbeams on it was BARELY even up to the same level of light as they were normally with the only the headlights on. It seemed to 'reflect' off the backside of the film which just didn't let enough light through. So while I love the tinted headlights look unless you have 4x brighter HIDs in there, it's just not gonna cut it.. makes me wonder about those cars that have totally blacked out headlights.. love they look but they must not be able to see anything at night! (unless being 'painted' doesn't have that effect... hmmmmm)