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Notes on retrofitting Audi Parking System Advanced rear-view camera Audi A6 (4F/C6) (also relevant for A4/A5/Q7/A8)

1.6.2008 (updated 14.3.2010) - Note: This article covers my notes on a potential retrofit project that I have not performed myself, only researched online and from some other sources, so I can not say if my notes are fully accurate or not. However, I think this may be a good starting point for someone interested in this type of project. I have mainly researched A6, but much of this is likely relevant with Q7/A8 MMI 2G High too (as well as A4/A5 with MMI 2G DVD navigation). MMI 3G, which has been shipping on Audis since late 2008/mid-2009 depending on model, has somewhat different connections, a few notes on that in the end.

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UPDATE 14.3.2010:

Instructions for building a rear-view camera calibration board and running the calibration here:

AudiForum.us: Rear view camera in MMI 3G (page 3)
http://audiforum.us/mmi/13156-rear-view-camera-mmi-3g-3.html

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UPDATE 16.10.2008:

For information on retrofitting actual parking sensors, other parts of the Audi Parking system, see:

Notes on retrofitting parking sensors/Audi Parking System in Audi A4/A5/A6 etc. (by LoCal)
http://a6retrofit.tripod.com/articles/audiparkingsystem.html

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As background I must stress that my car came with the optional Audi Parking System Plus (both rear and front sensors as well as optical graph display on MMI) and being model-year 2007, had the rear-view camera software upgrade already built-in. I also have MMI High, which is of course required. These make it easier to consider this upgrade, because pretty much everything else but the camera is already in the car. (Kufatec.de does sell a full upgrade kit for cars without Audi Parking System Plus, with the eight sensors and all, but these notes do not cover that eventuality - which would definitely be a lot more work than just installing the rear-view camera. Kufatec can even upgrade your car from the monochrome MMI basic to full colour MMI High, but that is even more work and costlier.)

Being a pretty complete base for installing the rear-view camera upgrade, one thing that my car does not have, though, is the TV module. Surprisingly (or not), this plays an important role in the Audi Parking System Advanced installation and would add a work intensive extra step and cost to a retrofit. Let me explain:

The Audi MMI system is based on a MOST fiber-optic ring (thick optical cabling) that travels from component to component (main/front unit behind glove compartment to telephone under driver's seat to amplifier and radio and navigation in the trunk etc.) inside the car. In addition, a traditional diagnostics signal line (green wire) goes from component to the next as well as power and ground of course from the fuse boxes and ground lugs. This is a pretty sophisticated setup, because it can transmit data and audio digitally over the MOST link allowing separation of components throughout the car and good expandability instead of having to build almost everything inside one box as is the case with the monolith sat-nav radios of previous generations or rely on analogue signals for things like audio that may degrade quality.

One thing this MMI generation cannot do, however, is transmit video over the MOST optical cable. There isn't enough bandwidth, I guess. So video is handled traditionally: the TV module in the trunk (if installed) sends it picture via a composite video cable (yeah, just composite) to the main unit behind the glove compartment in the front. Here's the catch: Only with TV module (or rear-view camera or both), does the main unit have a composite video input connector as well as the composite video cabling circumnavigating the car. So, unless the TV module was ordered from factory (or retrofitted successfully), the rear-view camera too is without a composite video connection to latch into. In fact, when both TV module and rear-view camera are ordered from factory, they are installed serially: one single composite video line travels via TV module and rear-view camera module (which are located in opposing sides of the trunk) and ends up at the main unit in the front of the car.

So, without a TV module, my car was bound to have shipped without this composite video connection (so called FBAS input, coloured green) - which I later confirmed myself to be the case. First thing a rear-view camera retrofit requires, then, is the changing of the main/front MMI module behind the glove-compartment and routing of a cable from the front to the right side of the trunk in the back where the rear-view camera module would come (see my Bluetooth retrofit on this site for information on how to route cables from the front to the back under the flooring). Luckily Kufatec is able to provide a used main unit with composite for a reasonable price, but you will still need your dealer to remove possible Component Protection that may occur when the used main unit is installed in a new car (this is a built-in protection against theft of components) - this protection can not be removed with just VAG COM, it can only be done by a dealer with online connection to Audi (and then only if the component has not been reported stolen).

If you need instructions on how to remove the glove compartment, see my report on the Bluetooth retrofit elsewhere on this site (go to the index to find the link). See also my notes on TV module retrofit on this site for more information and links on fitting a composite video enabled MMI main/front module.

Once this thing is out of the way, most of the rest happens in the trunk area of the car (not all, though), and is more directly related to the actual installation of the rear-view camera. Here is my understanding of the process (for which Kufatec is also able to provide an installation kit with instructions, see Kufatec.de for Komplett-Set APS Advance - Rückfahrkamera Audi A6 4F):

The rear-view camera consists basically of two components and cables connecting them to each other and the main MMI unit in the front (and also the TV module if that is in the car). The first component is the actual camera attached to the trunk opening button/rear license plate lighting fixture and the second is the rear-view camera control box and attached plastic holder.

The rear-view camera control box goes to behind the covers of the right side of the trunk (when looking forward), below the fuse box that is there - you can see this general area when you remove the right side hatch in the trunk that is there to access the fuse box and the tools stored there. However, to really work in this area you need to remove the right side wall coverings of the trunk, see my report on Bluetooth retrofit elsewhere on this site for notes on how to remove the left side trunk coverings, the right side should be similar.

From there, the power (red cable) and ground (brown cable) are routed to the above fuse box and ground lug (see my reports on Bluetooth and DVD navigation retrofits on this site for more on power connections in general). There are also black/yellow and black/white cables that connect to the CAN bus, as well as a separate Cangateway 4L0 box that needs to go somewhere. I believe the CAN cables connect to the existing parking aid control box CAN cabling or something like that, but Kufatec does provide more instructions with the kit. The Cangateway 4L0 box, on the other hand, goes to behind the glove compartment where it replaces the existing Cangateway box with a version that supports the rear-view camera - you need to record existing Cangateway settings with VAG COM before replacing the module and restore them afterwards manually. (Apparently if your car has adaptive cruise control affects this process somehow, but one would have to ask Kufatec for more information.) See also the link at the end of these notes for more on this subject (on an A8).

Finally, two or three video cables go to different directions: one cable (green connection) goes to the front of the car to the main/front/display MMI component, this is the FBAS component video cable, and one cable (grey connection) goes up the trunk door to the camera. If the TV module is fitted, the third cable (brown connection) goes under the trunk to the left side component rack and the TV module there. Some people who already have the TV module in the car have opted to retrofit the rear-view camera module on the left side instead of its true place on the right, because then they can just use the existing component video cable there by removing it from the TV module and connecting it to the rear-view camera module - and then completing the connections by connecting the rear-view module and TV module component video connections with a short cable.

In the trunk door the entire fixture containing the license plate lights and trunk opening handle is replaced by a new one that contains the camera. Then the cabling is routed up the trunk door (and down the rear window pillar on Avant models) to the rear-view camera control box on the right side of the trunk - and that is pretty much it.

Several kinds of codings are required for the car to recognize the rear-view camera; Kufatec apparently lists these in their instructions. There is also the possibility of Component Protection kicking in, so a visit to an official maintenance shop might be required to clear out those after installation. Also, in addition to the camera image, the rear-view camera provides graphical guidelines for parking. They work without calibration, but for true accuracy some sort of laser-guided calibration is required, or so I've been told. This can probably be performed by your Audi dealer.

A really good posting on this for Audi A8 here, a similar process in many ways as in A6 (but not entirely the same of course):

Reverse Parking Camera Retrofit for an Audi A8
http://navplus.us/forums/showthread.php?t=5224&page=6

Also, some information on the calibration and coding process here:

http://wiki.ross-tech.com/index.php/Audi_A6_%284F%29_Back-Up_Camera

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UPDATE 25.1.2009 / 27.1.2009:

Slightly related to his issue...

In the U.S. the rear-view camera is also available without front parking sensors. This has caused interesting issues when updating U.S. MMI software to European versions, e.g. on the A5/S5 rear-view camera stops working after 3 seconds when using an U.S. car with European MMI software. The question covered here and my notes below:

Audi S5 Rear Camera PROBLEM after update MMI !!! HELP !!!
http://audiforum.us/mmi/9225-audi-s5-rear-camera-problem-after-update-mmi-help.html

This is an interesting question, probably rooted in the fact that the reverse camera option is different in the U.S. compared to Europe.

In (all of, I believe) Europe the reverse camera is part of a Audi Parking System Advanced package, that includes rear and front sensors, the camera and associated operator button in the dashboard to activate the system. The U.S. version in A5 only includes the rear sensors and camera and activates on reverse only (the Euro version also activates on reverse in addition to the dashboard button). There is no rear-sensors only with camera option in Europe.

It wouldn't surprise me if the software treated these systems differently or even if there are hardware level differences between them (the U.S. system being more like the APS basic in Europe with just rear sensors and no button). This might result in the camera being activated, but disengages soon because the car lacks the dashboard button and front sensors (maybe it just disengages because it seems like an error situation) that should be there.

Hopefully this is just a matter of figuring out what coding changes are needed and not a fundamental incompatibility with the software.

This can be cured with the following settings changes, then European software should work fine (see elsewhere on this site, e.g. A5 VAG COM article, for more on how to access the hidden menu):

Hidden Menu >> DIAG SETTINGS >> APK 0x01, 0x0B, 0x0C
Uncheck: APS (front)
Uncheck: APS (rear)
Check: APS

If that doesn't help, revert back to U.S. software.

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UPDATE 16.7.2009:

3G rear parking camera
http://audiforum.us/mmi/12049-3g-rear-parking-camera.html#post73833

On the MMI 3G, according to "craigyb", the rear-view camera connects to the blue 12 pin connector on the MMI 3G head-unit, to pins 11 (FBAS +) and 5 (FBAS -). TV FBAS connects to a green FBAS connector on the head-unit.

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UPDATE 12.12./13.12.2009:

For the Finnish reading audience, hpu's rear-view camera retrofit report here:

Peruutuskameran jälkiasentaminen Audi A6 (4F/C6) (osin myös A4/A5/Q7/A8) (by hpu)

Original link:

UltimateVW.com: Kaikkea Audi A6:sta (4F) (sivu 107)
http://www.ultimatevw.com/keskustelu/index.php?cmd=aihe&id=3715&sivu=107

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