We're living in a world of science fiction. It was only a couple decades ago that stuff like mobile phones, video communications, and on-board camera systems were the stuff of fantasy. Now everybody has a mobile phone in their pocket that can do a Skype or Facetime video call anytime or anywhere. And that fancy secret agent video screen for your auto? Not only is it here, it's pretty darn affordable and better than anything the Sean Connery-to-Timothy Dalton Bonds got to play with.
Yep, if you're searching for a great little gift for the Jeeper in your life…or even for yourself, you need to check out the RubiCam System from Red Peak Parts & Accessories. The company has compiled several different systems ranging from the Basic RubiCam System for $349.99 (1 camera, monitor, mount, wiring, and remote control) to the Ultimate RubiCam System for $649.99, which ups the camera count from one to four. Cameras are your choice of bullet-style (n/c with system or $79.99 individually) with built-in mount or HD-style ($12 extra if purchasing the system or $99.99 individually) with built-in mount and sunvisor. Either 15- or 30-foot extension cords are optional extras.
We got our hands on an Ultimate RubiCam System and spec'd out two standard bullet-style and two HD-style cameras and mounted them on Jp's '07 Wrangler Rubicon for testing. Unfortunately, as Murphy's Law is want to do, our Wrangler spit the clutch throwout bearing between mounting our cameras and finish-wiring of the monitor, so we only got to play with it in our driveway—for now.
The parts are high-quality. The cameras are dirt- and waterproof and the mounting hardware is sturdy. All of the electrical connectors for the cameras are O-ringed and feature screw-on fittings. The color monitor is adjustable in almost every way, from brightness to contrast to image display. You can have all four cameras displaying or split between any cameras in the system. You can also prioritize one camera over the others, making one view larger than the others. It's pretty user-friendly, and once you play with it a while, it's easy to toggle into the mode you're looking for. Like the HD cameras, the monitor comes with a sturdy built-in sunvisor to reduce glare. Furthermore, all of Red Peak's cameras offer infrared night vision capability, so even with headlights, your night vision can be increased by a huge degree for backing or slow-speed trail work.
Follow along as we mount and play with the Ultimate RubiCam System…even if it is just in our driveway.
Step By Step
Shown is the Ultimate RubiCam System with two optional HD-style cameras. We also obtained four 15-foot extension cords. The cameras are pre-wired, so all you have to do is connect and thread on the connectors. Follow the directions to wire in the monitor. Dig the bulkhead grommets already installed on the camera wiring.
The HD-style cameras even come with Allen wrenches to adjust the mounting foot and sunvisors. The bullet-style cameras feature an integrated sheetmetal mount. It’s malleable to bend into place, but sturdy enough to maintain its position and resist vibration from the camera’s weight.
Placement of the monitor isn’t as straightforward as you’d think. At 71⁄2 inches wide by 51⁄2 inches tall (6 inches with the mount) it blocks a good deal of windshield if mounted on top of the dash in a JK. We think a TJ would have a similarly hard time finding a spot, but a YJ should accept it without trouble if you bolted it lower on the dash.
You can quickly select a full-screen view of any one camera. Furthermore, you can reverse the images by toggling through the menu button on the monitor. This image is reversed, with our workbench actually on the right of the Willys in the garage. It’s a handy feature to reorient the image if you’ve flipped cameras upside-down or run them backwards.
We removed our third brake light assembly to drill the housing to mount one of our HD-style cameras up high for a clear field of view over the spare tire. We used 8-32 machine screws to mount the camera. An even better position would have been through the center of the spare tire, which would give a better view of obstacles near the rear of the Jeep when backing up.
In our JK Wrangler, it seemed to us the best place would be from either the roof or (ideally) suspended from an aftermarket rollcage with central spreader bars. The brackets can easily be removed and flipped on the monitor to facilitate mounting from above.
We snapped this shot one morning just before sunup to show the UV lights for night-vision. With the system on, they emit a faint red glow. The photography trying to capture the night-vision function didn’t really pan out, but trust us when we tell you it really works.
From clockwise top, left are the forward bumper-mounted HD camera, the rear-mounted HD camera, and the passenger-side fenderwell-mounted bullet camera (with a view of our tools and creeper). If you unplug a camera, the screen will remain black in four-camera mode, as shown here.
We stuck a bullet-style camera inside the passenger-side wheelwell deep enough to be out of the way of the tire when turning, even with the suspension compressed. We put another bullet inside the cabin pointing to the rear seat (if you’re a parent you know why) and our other HD camera on the front bumper pointing forward. The front bumper mount is great for seeing what’s on the other side of blind climbs when all you’d otherwise be looking at is your hood.
You can’t always be reaching and stretching at inopportune moments on the trail to gain a full-frame view of one camera or set up a monitor split for the cameras you want to see. That’s where the RubiCam’s included remote comes in handy. Once you get used to where the buttons are, you can adjust your view more safely without taking your eyes off the road or trail.