Ok so this system isn't on a Sportsmobile YET, but it will be soon
I still figured you guys might like to check it out and see how well it last under extreme use & abuse.
The reason we started looking for something like this was for folks who travel solo and due to mobilty issues can't aways get out to spot or recon a section of trail. Of coures the best thing is to always travel with another rig and to turn around rather than get into a bad 4wd recovery situation..but we don't always do the best thing right?
The system has worked perfectly and is so simple that I often use just like any other part of the truck, radio, gps, cruise control. The only feature I haven't made much use of is the ability to record to the laptop hard drive. I am just not a video guy, but if you are, then I am sure YouTube will welcome your under rig shots.
A quick overview of the system will set the stage for the long term perspective. Total Vision sent up Disabled Explorers with a 4 camera self spotting system that displays on our laptop. There are the front and rear bumper camera along with front and rear axle cameras. The system has a power switch and a rotating dial to choose your view. One thing I like about the rotating dial is that I can reach it easily even while using the Sure Grip hand control. So it is not a problem changing views while overcoming an obstacle.
A simple bit of software on the laptop called MyScreenCam allows you to make the viewing window any size you want and to record the video. The cameras come in color or black & white and even work well in low light. The only change we will make to the Sportsmobile will be to add underbelly rock lights to improve the field of view.
The back bumper camera is well protected by the Warn rear bumper and has held up perfectly. This camera was the least of my worries but with the limited visibility of the FJ Cruiser it was the most often used view.
The front bumper camera was the second most used again due to the seating position vs hood with the FJC. Our first mounting point on top of the Warn solenoid box worked great but when we switched over to the lightweight Aluminess bumper I moved the camera to the top bull bar. This gave a much wider field of view and was well protected by the Hi-Lift mounted over it.
Under the rig is the area of most abuse. Since installing the system I have competed in the 5 day Expo Trophy which includes high speed sand driving, burying your rig to the frame in a sand hill as a Recovery Challenge, A Navigation Challenge through rocky washes and steep cross axle climbs and more. Then there is all the testing we do at Disabled Explorers which often involves sinking the rig into sand and mud or high centering on a big rock.
The axle cameras are mounted next to the Rasta aluminum skid plate support bracket which has done a great job of protecting them. I do have to clean the lens every once in a while if water or mud has been involved but not every time so it isn't a burden.
The only camera to suffer any damage with all this abuse was the rear axle camera which showed a cracked lens cap. Total Vision knows and expects the gear to be used hard and to save you money their cameras are built with a replaceable lens cover. It is super easy to call or email and for a few bucks you can screw on the new lens cover and be back in action.
As someone who likes to go out by myself on weekdays (hey I have the SPOT Satellite Messenger, Ham Radio, water in the fridge and survival gear) the Total Vision system has been a huge help in self spotting over rocks, when cresting hills and backing up on narrow trails. The only change we will make in transferring the system over to the Sportsmobile will be to add a roof rack camera facing forward. That will give me a reason to make use of the simple hard drive record function and give us some fun video to play with. Of course who knows what Total Vision is up to with their next generation of video systems?