artsci and WhiteP85 over at TeslaMotorsClub have an ongoing effort to create a switch that would allow a driver to toggle between a front and rear camera on a Model S directly from the touchscreen. The idea is a great one, and the execution looks sound.
Once the full installation instructions were posted, I was a little disappointed several permanent modifications were required. Having made major changes to my last vehicle, I was hoping for a more hands-off approach to the Tesla. That said, even with the parking sensors visibility in the front is very bad, and I feel something has to be done. So, then, what are my options?
Front Camera Bracket - Phase 1
Part of the effort above involves purchasing a Tesla rear camera and cutting off part of the metal retaining bracket that Tesla uses to mount it to the rear of the car. In the instruction guide provided by artsci & WhiteP85, this bracket is non-structural and is trimmed merely to reduce its profile (so you can’t see it sticking out on the front of your vehicle)
The goal of this phase is to eliminate the need to permanently modify the camera.
So if the bracket isn’t required for mounting to the front of the vehicle, why not just remove it completely? Well, even when used in this manner the bracket still serves two purposes:
- It provides additional clearance for the screws. Without the bracket the camera casing does not fully seal, which would allow water to enter the device.
- It provides some stress relief on the cabling. There is a dimple in the cable that, when mated with the bracket, prevents too much stress from pulling on the cable and damaging the connection.
The camera bracket was painstakingly modeled in SketchUp Make with approximately 0.1mm accuracy. Having never designed a compmonent in 3D, there was a learning curve, but the part is relatively straightforward, which helped significantly.
Here you see the camera with its bracket installed (top) and with its bracket removed (bottom). The default installation instructions recommend removing the large “wings” on either side of the metal bracket with a dremel.
This is the replacement modeled in 3D using SketchUp Make. This should be a screw-on replacement for the existing Tesla bracket. No modification to Tesla's bracket will be required. It’s a completely optional part of the installation, but preserves the ability to return the parts back to stock.
artsci was kind enough to have two prototypes printed from the models below. The fit was 95% there, with some slight modifications required to the semicircular screw hole cutouts on the sides of the bracket. After filing down manually, the rest of the design fit perfectly. Screw holes line up and are properly-sized, the bracket fits on the camera, and most importantly the strain relief on the cable is functional.
Further, the printed plastic bracket is able to accept enough force from the screws in order to properly seal the camera case. I tightened the screws down solidly and the plastic bracket remained intact. This means a metal replacement isn’t required and we should be able to print the parts out of plastic.
Here are some pictures of the Phase 1 - Draft 1 bracket after some slight filing down to fit:
The models below have been updated based on the outcome of this first printing. The area around the black cable’s screw holes have been enlarged.
Models provided for non-commercial uses only. Please Contact Me for commercial uses. Please do not upload to Model Exchanges.
Front Camera Bracket - Phase 2
While the above is great progress, my ultimate goal is to provide a completely reversible way to mount the camera to the honeycomb grill on the front of the vehicle. This phase involves adapting the model above to create a mechanism to hold the camera to the grill without the use of tape or glue. The current goal is to provide a friction mount to the grill coupled with a tether that would hold the camera in the case of a mount failure.
Something like this:
The first (top) image shows an extremely rough and not-to-scale idea I had a few minutes ago for the friction fit. Essentially the prongs would push through the honeycomb from the front of the vehicle. Once pushed in far enough, they’ll snap into place, locking the camera onto the grill. The second (bottom) image shows the emergency loop. I figure a small zip tie from this loop onto the honeycomb would prevent a bracket failure from damaging the camera or the vehicle.
A second idea (not pictured) is similar, but instead of a friction fit mount, it essentially consists of a few zip-tie loops hidden on the back of the bracket. These loops could be positioned behind the camera itself and be completely invisible from the front. If you used black zip ties, it’s be unnoticable unless right on top of it. This might provide a little better security as well as being lower-risk and easier to implement.
So there are a few ideas floating around. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know: Contatct Me