I Can See Clearly Now – With My 360 OmniVue Vision Camera System

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I travel on my bus alone most of the time and it has its advantages. I can listen to any radio station I want, or listen to the CB and hear truckers solve all of the world’s problems. Or, I can drive listening to nothing as I do when I first start out on a trip so I can hear the sounds of the bus and the road while the bus engine is coming up to temperature.

I can travel with some windows open, as long as the outside temperature is reasonable. I can drive with the cabin thermostat set to any temperature I desire, as it can be controlled from the cockpit. I also just installed a Sirius XM radio and I listen to NPR most of the time while driving, but that is another story.

The main disadvantage of driving alone comes into play when making sharp turns and backing into tight spaces, such as on campgrounds. It is difficult to see everything from the cockpit, especially what is behind you when backing up.

Yes, I have rearview mirrors, but they also have blind spots, and sometimes it is hard to see objects outside the bus. There are frequently stone or timber borders in campsites, plus an assortment of other targets such as trees, firepits, water, and electrical posts that you have to watch out for as well as picnic tables that tend to float around a campsite.

You also have to be cognizant of children that tend to be all over campgrounds in the summer, especially KOAs and other campgrounds that cater to families. Many people that travel in RVs also seem to have more pets than the average person and usually, they are leashed but sometimes they tend to be wandering around the campground as well. There is a lot to watch out for in a campground and also on the streets when driving a 40’ bus.

Also, when driving down narrow streets in the city you have to watch out for buildings, cars, trucks, RVs, trash cans, dumpsters, pedestrians, etc. that seem to pop up out of nowhere. I have been down some streets in cities and in camp-grounds where there are only a few inches on each side of the bus to squeeze through. You have to pay close attention to your surroundings at all times.

Some campgrounds are old with smaller sites that were designed when much smaller rigs were prevalent. Some RVs or tow vehicles stick out into the road in some parks, making it hard to squeeze by. They also may have trees or low-hanging branches very close to the campsite or the road, especially in state and national parks.

I tend to take the red roads (on a map) whenever I have the time rather than driving the interstates. I like to see small towns, meet the people along the way and enjoy the scenery. I like stopping to visit the small mom-and-pop grocery stores in the small towns rather than the larger stores owned by big companies. A big bus on a small road presents its own set of challenges.

You just can’t enjoy these as well at the high speeds required of freeway driving which tend to bypass the smaller towns that many of us drove through years ago before Dwight D. Eisenhower decided to build a controlled-access highway system for our military defense that avoided many small towns and large cities.

Country roads can be challenging. Just a few weeks ago, I took a wrong turn while near the Blue Ridge Parkway and ended up driving five miles along the side of a mountain on a narrow road, not built for a bus, which was a bit of a challenge.

You can view the high-quality video of the drive here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHMK-dLonQUU&t=10s

Another time I took a detour on Route 66 in Arizona and ended up squeezing through a small tunnel with inches to spare on both sides and the top. It would be nice to have to brand new roof air conditioners but I guess it wasn’t my time. LOL.

Tight Underpass on Route 66.

I like to be able to see what is going on outside my rig when moving and also while parked. So, five years ago, I installed a 360 OmniVue Vision Camera System in my 40’ 1967 Eagle bus.

This system has four cameras, one mounted on each side of the bus and one on the front, and one on the back. They are small cameras but are very high quality and have a 180-degree view of each side of the bus. This allows me to see down the sides of my bus right up to the edge of the bus and also the tires, so I can see exactly how close I am to objects without having to leave the comfort of the driver’s seat.

The mirrors are nice, but the cameras show so much more. So much more so that many new buses coming off the line now have elaborate camera systems rather than rearview mirrors. I guess I was just ahead of my time.

The rear-facing camera allows me to see my rear bumper as well as my toad behind the bus and anyone following behind me. It also has color-coded superimposed lines in the system to let me know how many feet I am from any object behind me. I can back up into a camp spot, up to an object such as a tree or picnic table, and know-how close I am getting.

The side cameras are very helpful as they show me how close I am getting to a curb, tree, or car when making sharp corners or when backing into a campsite with objects on each side of me. With the bird’s-eye view image, I can see exactly where I am at all times.

More than once, this has saved my bacon when I could not see something in the rearview mirrors because they were aimed too high or too low to be able to see everything beside me. Now when backing into camp spots or parking spaces, I seldom use the rearview mirrors as the 360 cameras show me so much more. The bird’s-eye view is the ultimate view as you can see in the video below.

This system is also helpful when settled inside your bus and you hear a noise outside that you don’t recognize. Without even opening your doors, windows, or even curtains, you can look at your display screen on the dashboard and see if anyone or anything is around your bus. 

This can also be tied into your TV if you wish so you can view everything going on outside on a bigger screen. Sometimes you may not want to open your curtains, as you may not want anyone to know you are inside, or even more so, that you are the only one inside your bus.

With the 360 OmniVue Vision Camera System, it is not necessary to open the curtains when parked as you can see everything all around your bus within several feet of every side from the cameras which are placed near the roofline of the bus. The cameras are also mounted high enough so that they cannot be tampered with. It also shows objects around you at nighttime, if there is any light at all outside. They cannot tell if it is just you, or if you have an army inside.

The system also has an optional DVR (Digital Video Recorder) which will record everything that happens outside your bus. You could install a camera on the inside of the bus too if you wish. In the event that someone breaks into your bus while you are away, you will be able to see everything they did.

This could come in handy if you leave your bus frequently and come home to find something missing that you left on the campground or if you found a new dent in your bus that was not there before, or if your new TV has disappeared.

With the DVR, you can simply play the video back to see where and when the missing item walked off so you could track it down, or see the person that backed into your coach that you just had painted. The recording is especially useful if you need to involve the police or your insurance company.

insurance company. The rear camera is also useful to keep an eye on your toad while driving. I frequently glance at my display screen to ensure my toad is still there and tracking evenly. If I had a flat tire, I may not know without a camera, as I cannot see my toad in my rearview mirrors, but I am sure I would notice something strangely different in the camera as it would probably not look normal like if one side was much lower than the other if I had a flat tire, or it was bobbing up and down while going down the road, or if it was cocked off to one side indicating that my tow bar was coming disconnected.

Installing the cameras is relatively simple, but can take an entire day or weekend if your bus is already converted. This is a hard-wired system. Wireless systems are not as reliable and if/when the batteries get weak, you could lose one or more of your camera signals. Wireless systems also sometimes have a lag, so you may not be seeing everything in real-time. Therefore, I chose to go with a high-quality wired system to provide the best image.

The cameras are mounted on each side of the coach just below the roofline, except for the front camera, which in my case, is mounted below the windshield due to the shape of my custom-built front cap. This can vary depending on the design of your bus.

You will need to run the wiring to the cameras. through the cabinets, maybe even behind the refrigerator, up the rear wall, behind your bed, or behind whatever else is in the way, and also snake the cables up through the bus bays to the driver’s cockpit where the computer and the display monitor is mounted.

 

Running the cable inside the pantry cabinets.
Running the cable inside the bedroom cabinets.

Running the cables is very simple in a new con-version but is a bit more challenging for an already converted coach like mine. It is not that difficult for the average handyman, as most Bus Nuts are, as there are usually cabinets behind where each camera is installed that you can access. Wiring is not that difficult with a few common tools and the cable can be hidden out of sight so nobody will even know it is there.

Once the cameras are installed, the display screen is installed in the cockpit where you can view it easily while driving. Mine is mounted just above the dashboard to the right. It could be mounted overhead, but that may be awkward to look at while in motion. The default screen size is 7” but I opted for the larger 9” screen in my bus to give me a little better view with my old eyes. After that, the computer is wired up to the cameras and the screen.

The computer must be programmed to your bus’s characteristics. It ties in all four cameras so you can also have a bird’s-eye view of everything around your bus on the left-side screen. This is great for backing into those tight spots as you see everything on both sides, the front and rear of the bus all on one screen. It allows you to clearly see what is happening at the front and rear corners of your bus, the key points when backing into a spot. 

Bird’s-Eye View of my bus and the front of my toad.

There is also a main screen on the display, be-sides the bird’s-eye view screen that changes depending on what you are doing. That screen image changes from Front, Rear, Left, and Right sides automatically or can be changed manual-ly with a separately mounted pushbutton cycle switch located separately on the dash.

The entire screen.

The left screen is the birds-eye view that never changes. The right screen changes either manually or automatically. The left and right cameras are tied into your turn signals, so you get automatic left and right views of your bus so you can see if someone is passing or if an object is in the way! This is great for safer lane changes especially if you are towing something.

When you shift into reverse, the rear camera automatically appears on the screen so you can see what is directly behind you. All the while, the bird’s-eye view is on the screen next to it so you can keep an eye on both screens at the same time. The default view is the front camera, but this can be changed to any view you like during programming. I wished I had mine changed to my rear-view camera as I immediately change it to that before driving so I can keep an eye on my toad while driving.

Also, my camera is wired into my ignition switch, so it comes on automatically when I start the bus, but it could be wired to a separate toggle switch on your dash so you can turn it on and off independently of the ignition switch. This would allow you to more easily monitor what is going on around your bus when parked.

If you have the internet on your bus, you can also tie this system into your network, such that you can see what is going on on all sides of your coach on a computer or cell phone while you are hundreds of miles away.

You could also tie in a smart doorbell such that if anyone rings your doorbell when you are away, you could immediately look at your phone to see not only who is at your door, but who else may be around your bus, on all sides, to see if someone is lurking in the background.

Then if necessary either tell them to come back later, or to “Step away from the Bus before I release the attack dogs” or some message like that, if you do not recognize them. You can manage your bus safely either from inside the bus or from thousands of miles away. If you see an intruder, you can call the police department to have them check it out.

This same high-quality system is now used on many school buses, garbage trucks, and other fleet trucks, as well as many more applications where owners want to know what is going on with their vehicles. This system can be set up such that if an “incident” occurs, such as sudden braking, a supervisor can be notified and he can immediately see what the driver sees, all around the vehicle, including the driver himself. 

If the supervisor cannot immediately determine what happened, they can playback the video to see exactly what may have happened, on all sides of the rig.

This has saved some companies thousands of dollars in insurance claims when the two parties are telling law enforcement two different stories.

Cameras do not lie and the video can become a permanent record. This remote viewing may be overkill for a bus conversion, but if you decide to rent your bus out, this may be worth considering. If you hire people to drive your business vehicles, this system should be a requirement to protect them and you as well.

Even if you do not run a big company, this is the ultimate system to have on your bus. It allows you to see what is going on all around you when you are diving and when parked, even if you are not near the bus.

It may save you thousands of dollars in repair costs as it may prevent you from getting too close to someone. It could even save you in legal fees if you have to argue in court that someone dam-aged your bus, or even you if you were away from your bus when someone backed into your bus or broke in and stole your TV. As noted before, it also gives you peace of mind that you can see what is going on outside of your bus when parked without anyone knowing you are even on the bus.

This is especially useful if you travel alone as I do. It not only assists you when moving but also when parked for the utmost security as you can see what is going on outside your rig while you are comfortable inside. And as noted before, all of this can be recorded if you wish with the optional DVR.

I have done a lot of improvements and upgrades to my bus since I bought it, and out of everything I have done, the 360 OmniVue Vision Camera System is the best accessory I ever installed. It has given me peace of mind for the past five years and I expect it to do the same for several years to come. Also, since I installed the system, I have not run into anything or anyone. LOL.

To see a video of the product in use click HERE.

For more product information, or to get a quote on having the system installed professionally, visit https://driversafetytech.com/ or call (657) 339-1727 to talk with the company that distributes and installs these in North America.

Gary Hatt

Since July 2012, Gary Hatt has been the Publisher of Bus Conversion Magazine. Gary does most of his own work on his bus with the help of mechanic friends. He has owned tents, truck campers, travel trailers, and stick-n-staple motor-homes until he bought his first bus in 1997 which was a 1972 MCI MC-7 Combo. When he had a chance to buy a 1983 MCI MC-9 Log Cabin bus with larger windows he jumped at the chance. On Thanksgiving of 2014, Gary bought a 1967 Model 08 Eagle and has since been living and traveling full time in that.

You may reach Gary Hatt at

Gary@BusConversionMagazine.com

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