Building a small DVR for Automotive Application

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by ke5nnt, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. ke5nnt

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Mar 1, 2009
    I would like to build a compact DVR that runs off of automotive DC power. I do a lot of volunteer work where it would be beneficial to have a camera in the vehicle recording to a DVR, and I have looked at "off the shelf" products of this type, but they are either too expensive or not quite what I'm looking for.

    I have read a bit about DVR systems, though it's hard to find any articles or other literature on compact models that would be used for a single-channel video feed with no audio. It seems I'll need a video capture card, some type of storage medium (either a hard disk or preferrably a removable card or flash drive) and something to process/compress the data.

    The biggest things I'm having difficulty with are:
    1. How do you interface these pieces to become a functioning device that captures the video and stores it on the medium?
    2. Do I need some type of PC processor to do this?

    I guess that's the first 2 questions I have at the moment. I can go from there. Appreciate any feedback from folks who might have experience with this. By the way, I'm only looking to do something like a single camera that runs off of 5-12V, plugs into the DVR and records video on the drive. When the drive fills up, I'd like it to just start recording over the oldest files for contiuous recording. Thanks.
  2. SgtWookie


    Jul 17, 2007
    Have you considered a laptop with a built-in video camera?

    Got an Acer laptop a few years back for the wife that came with a built-in camera, wireless networking and DVD burner, about $500. Only thing I don't like about it is the OS; Vista. But, Windows 7 is out now, and there's always Linux, Ubuntu and other OS'es.
  3. Dx3


    Jun 19, 2010
    My wife didn't come with a built in camera! Where do you get those?:D

    Sorry. Couldn't resist.
  4. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
    I think they are making them in China. ;)

    As for a dvr, You can get cameras now a days that will fit about anywhere. You could put a laptop in the trunk and either use wired or wireless connections to the camera.

    Even a $30 webcam will do the trick. That will allow for not only a DVR but also editing, email, internet, and other uses you can have for the laptop, and it wouldn't only be stuck in the car.

    The easiest way to go about it would be to put a pure-sinewave inverter in the trunk with the regular laptop charger.

    Everything else would be just like doing it at home.
  5. bertus


    Apr 5, 2008
  6. BMorse

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 26, 2009
  7. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    Beat me to it, I've seen them for under $100. Since it uses a SD card no video digitization is needed.