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Hopkins VueSMART RV and Trailer Backup Camera Review

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Review of the Hopkins VueSMART RV and Trailer Backup Camera


Hey everybody. It's Rob here, at etrailer.com, and today we're going to be taking a look at the Hopkins smart view backup camera for trailers and campers. Now, a big reason why you might want to even have a backup camera for your trailer is that you can easily back it up. Because let's face it, when you're by yourself, it can be a bit of a hassle. I can see my trailer in the mirror, but I can definitely not see what's really behind it right now. So I'm trying to park my trailer here.

It's not that tight of a spot, but I do got a boat on one side and another trailer on the other side, plus I got the woods behind me. So it's a little difficult to navigate. Again, especially if you don't have an extra set of hands with you. Cause if I did, I could watch them in my mirror and they could guide me back.But now, I'm forced to get out, double check that everything is okay behind me, then I have to get back in and estimate how far I can go. And eventually, I'm going to have to keep getting in and out of my truck because I don't want to damage my trailer or my truck.

So I got to see what's back there.And a lot of new trucks even have a built-in backup camera on them, but you'll notice whenever you're pulling a trailer, it really doesn't do you any good. Put it in reverse, and we end up staring at our trailer. We can't even see around it. Can't see what's behind it. So the backup camera on your truck really doesn't do any good when you have a trailer hooked up.

But having a backup camera on the back of your trailer makes it a lot easier to drive. It'll give us the confidence so we can safely get down the road. We don't have to keep peeking at our mirrors, trying to see what's going on back here. We can see what's going on while we're driving. Definitely makes it a lot easier backing up, because we don't have to keep getting in and out of our truck.

And since our camera has lights on it too, it definitely makes it better at night. And we'll see how well our backup camera works.So we can see exactly what's going on in our backup camera. We can see how close we're getting to the edge of the curb as well. And again, this makes it a lot easier, being able to look in that screen rather than having to stop, hop out of your truck. Really keep looking at that screen, going out, testing how much room we have. Not to mention the monitor that's in our truck. When we're backing up, it's not going to give us a good idea of anything that's going on, except with between the bumper and the front of our camper.Now, the way our camera's going to mount, is it is going to amount to this bracket. We can see it's actually behind the light. And that bracket is really nice, cause our camera's going to be able to mount to virtually any trailer. Whether you have lights like we have here, we can use the included bracket, or if you want to mount your camera in a different spot, you can actually cut the bracket so that we just have the lower section here.Now the camera itself is going to be two and a half inches tall. It's a total of three inches wide and it's two and three eighths inches deep. Now those numbers may seem a little bit off, but our camera doesn't have too big of a footprint. As you can see it fits right underneath our marker light. Now the bracket is going to be a little bit larger because it includes the light as well as the camera. So our bracket is going to be four inches tall by 4 and an eighth inches wide and one and three quarter inches deep.Now you'll also notice that we have a large antenna on the side of our camera. Now that's definitely going to help out send that signal to our device so we can see what's going on. But what I really like about the camera is that it's not a Bluetooth device. So we don't have to worry about any connection issues that typically you get, because trailers have a lot of metal in them, and we're having to go all the way to the front. Our cameras actually use a wifi signal and there's a built-in wifi transmitter, so even if we don't have internet connection, if you have a wifi enabled device, you can see exactly what the camera sees.And the camera has an extremely wide angle view on it. It's actually 152 degrees, which we're going to be able to see a lot that's behind us, but also to the side, which definitely helps out on the highway whenever you're changing lanes or even just pulling up and parking your camper. If I come to the side, we can get a reference of where the edge of the camper is here, but we're actually going to be able to see all the way, well past that edge, over to the side.So here I am at the back of the trailer, and you can see I got it hooked up to my smartphone, but you can use just about any device that has wifi connectability to it. So you can get an idea of the quality of the picture. And as I step to the side, you're going to see exactly how far that wide angle view is because I'm well past the edge of the trailer. Well out to the side and behind it, and you can still see me.Another thing that I really like about having a separate monitor. We all have our phones with us anyway, maybe we have a tablet. It's one less thing we have to worry about inside our truck, but it also makes it really nice because I have my phone here and I can make any adjustments to the angle of the camera. And I don't have to get down from the ladder, run to the cab, watch the monitor and keep going back and forth. I can make my adjustments in real time and see exactly what's going on and get that angle that I want to see behind my trailer.Now inaudible 00:05:10 main screen. So long as our camera has power and we connect our device, we're going to automatically see a live depiction of what the camera's picking up. Now we have the options for a few different things that we can do just from this menu. If we go to the very bottom of the screen, there's going to be a symbol that looks like a road, and it's got some lines on it. When you click on that, you can see it's going to give us a guidance line so we can see how close we are using the red, yellow, and green. Now they're not going to be an exact measurement because we are able to adjust the camera, but this at least gives you some idea of how close you are when you are backing up. And this is really easy to turn on and off whether you like it or not. We just easily push that button, turns them off. You want them back on, you can just click it again.Now at the same time we are going to get a live stream of what's going on, but maybe we want to take a picture. Maybe something happened and we can click on the camera button. It's going to ask you if you want to allow the app to do it. Hit yes. And it's going to take a picture right there. Now at the same time, we have a little camera symbol. We can click on that and it's going to start recording all of the live feed that's going on. So we have a record of everything that happens, whether that be somebody rear ends us and we need to take a picture or a live stream, anything for evidence, or if we just want to track what's going on. It's really nice to have those options. And again, just push the button and it'll save everything on your phone for you. And we can go back and review it at a later time.Now, if you're wondering where the pictures and videos go, they're going to go straight to your phone and go in the camera roll. Here's the picture. And here's the video that we just took.There's one more button that we have that's on the main menu here, and it's going to be a little circle. If we scroll through, we can see that it goes dark, then it's going to look like a sun, and then it'll go blank. Now let's inaudible 00:07:08 the brightness settings. We can go from normal brightness to night driving, where it'll be black, and then really bright, like it's a sunny day and we can switch through. But as you can see is not really changing a whole lot on the screen. And that's mainly because it's right in the middle of the day, it's pretty sunny. So even if I do turn the lights on for night driving, we're not actually going to be able to see a difference, but at night it does make a big difference on what you can actually see. It makes it much easier to see because most of us don't have reverse lights on our trailer.So I went ahead and backed up the trailer in the original spot we had it, and it is much easier with the camera. But I will let you know, and you probably saw, there's a little bit of a lag there. The camera will see what's going on. I wouldn't really say it freezes, but there's a little bit of a lag and then it will catch up.Well, that's one thing I do want to mention because that happens a lot with wireless cameras. Wireless cameras typically has a little bit of a connection issue. Typically it's the picture quality that suffers, but with ours we see that it's actually a really good picture, but it's only coming in at 20 frames per second. So it is a little bit slower than most of us are used to when we're watching a video.Now, if you're looking for a backup camera, whether it is for your camper, an RV or any other kind of trailer, another name and camera that you might hear a lot is Furrion observation cameras. Now a lot of campers are already coming pre-wired for a Furrion camera and they make really nice cameras. But what I think the Hopkins has a benefit for this one is the fact that it is wireless and it works off of the smart device. Most Furrion cameras use a separate monitor, which means inaudible 00:08:51 have to find somewhere on the dash, in the side of our truck or the motor home to find, to put that monitor. But most of us already have our phones. So if we have a phone holder on our dash, we can just use our phone as the monitor. And we don't have so much clutter.I recommend having some kind of phone holder, because a lot of states do have laws that say we can't have our phones, or it has to be a hands-free device. So whether that's going to be a cup holder, phone holder, or a vent phone holder, it's nice to have that monitor and being able to see without having to look down or grab your phone. And you can find a wide variety of phone holders and different styles here at etrailer.com.Where I really think the Hopkins vueSmart shines is how easy it is to install. Now, I got ours installed in about 20 minutes, but if you have some time and some space, it really isn't that complicated. There's only two wires that we need to hook up and we're not going to have to drill any additional holes or anything like that to get it installed. In fact, let's go and go through the installation process together, so you can have the competency to do it at home.To begin your installation, you want to find out where you're going to be mounting your backup camera. Now they provide you with a bracket that you can mount either to one of your marker lights up top, and that's exactly what we're going to do. We're going to put ours right in the center here.,So we're going to remove the lens off the light and then remove the actual mount. In our case, we have two bolts holding it in place. They're both quarter inch. So I'm going to grab a quarter inch socket and remove both of those.And then we're going to want to pull the light out. You may have to get a razor knife or a putty knife, something to break that sealant loose so we can pull it out and get access to the wires behind it. Once you have your light loose. In our application, we can actually remove the bulb. So I'm going to go ahead and flip it over, pull the bulb out. We're going to grab our new bracket. And at this point you want to slide the wiring through the center there. And you're going to notice that the holes line up with the holes that are already there. So we'll just line it up. We'll take our old bracket here as well. I'm going to go ahead and push the wiring through, secure it down.Now we want to line up all these pieces together and we're going to take the new included screws that are in our kit, and we're just going to secure that bracket down. But before we actually secure it down, I do like to get the wiring done, but this will show you how it's going to go in. We're going to get new stainless steel screws, then we'll go through the light itself, through the bracket. And then the entire assembly is going to get attached to the motor home or the camper like this.inaudible 00:11:46 a little easier to hold, I'm going to take my camera and you can notice that, one, the writing should be on the top side. So that way you know your camera's not upside down. And we're going to have these two little tabs on each end, cause they're going to slide into the holes on that lower section of the bracket. Slide it into place till it locks in. You can see it's going to hold the camera nice and still. You don't have to worry about holding the camera and trying to make our connections.inaudible 00:12:17 the back here, we're only going to have two wires. One's power, that'll be a red wire, and one's ground, that will be the black wire. And we just want to tie into the existing lights and the wires that we have. We're going to use the included butt connectors to do that. I just want to start with one wire, cut it in half. We'll strip back both ends of it. You want to be careful not to drop that wire so it doesn't go back into the body. Strip back the other end, the taillight wire. I'm going to take one of my wires. I'm going to combine one of them with the wire that we stripped. I just twist them together. That is a pretty small wire, so we shouldn't have to worry about the butt connector not fitting. We'll take both of those, we're going to slide them into the end of the butt connector. And you can use either one, whichever one's easier for you to access. I'm going to crimp them together. Make sure it's a solid connection. Give it a quick tug.Now, we're going to take the other end of our wire that goes to the light and connect it back into the end of the butt connector. So essentially all we're doing is having all three of the wires connect together rather than just coming out and going to the light. Now, we're going to do that same thing with our black wire. We'll cut the other wire for our taillight. And again, have that combined with one of them and then connect the other together with the butt connector.And once you get your wires connected again, we're just going to take the new screws, go through the light assembly, then through the bracket and we want to snug them down. Now, these are both plastics, so we just want to snug them off. We don't want to crank on to where we're going to potentially crack either the bracket or the light.inaudible 00:14:32 put the light cover back on, make sure everything fits. Then we can grab the antenna for the camera. You can just take your antenna. We're going to thread it on the right side of the camera. Typically it's easier if you get started with the antenna pointing out so you can actually turn it. I just want to snug it up so it's nice and tight, and it's not going to come loose or come off. But then once we do have it snugged up, we can rotate it. So that way we can have the antenna pointing more towards the front so we can get a better signal.So at this point, we've got our camera installed and want to go ahead and turn on the taillights so that we can power up the camera. And you're going to notice that the ring around the camera will illuminate, and you just want to make sure that you are getting power from that illumination, and that center light is also still working.So then you want to find your smart device, whether it's a phone, a tablet, whatever it is, so long as it has a wifi connection. We want to download the Hopkins towing solution app. Now again, it is going to be on Android, Apple, pretty much anything that has a wifi connection. Go ahead and download it, open up the app. Now, it is going to ask for a few pieces of information. Some of them are going to be a little bit personal, like your name, your phone number and your email. And those are going to be for warranty purposes so you can register the camera, but you can still use the camera if you don't want to put that information in.So just hit okay. And for now, we're just going to go ahead and skip all that, and come back to the beginning and we hit enter. It's going to let us know that we need to turn on our wifi and connect to the Hopkins towing solutions. So once we find the Hopkins towing solution in our wifi, we'll go ahead and open it up. And now your instructions, they are going to give you the password. So we'll go ahead and put it in, and then wait for everything to go through. Now we can go back, go into the towing app. And certain devices are going to ask you. Since there's no internet, it doesn't really realize that you want to stay connected to that wifi signal, but we do. So we want to make sure you click on keep wifi connection, especially if you get a message that says internet may not be available. So we'll keep wifi connection, connected without internet. Okay.You can open up the app, hit okay. And now we can already see that we do get a pretty good picture of what's behind our trailer. Now we've got the option of moving the angle to get that perfect viewing angle. And there's a lot of different things that we can do back here, but you can see that's pretty clear picture already. We can actually get a better view if we turn our phone to the side, get a really nice wide angle view of exactly what's going on behind our trailer.But now that we know everything's working and we've got the correct signal, we're ready to hit the road. With all that being said, I'm Rob, here at etrailer.com. That'll finish up your look at the Hopkins smart view wireless backup camera..


Questions and Comments about this Video


Dean C.
Too bad they don't offer additional/replacement mounting brackets to allow for breakage and/or to allow being used on additional trailers.
Etrailer Expert
Reply from Les D.

@DeanC after not finding one anywhere I finally called Hopkins and my contact there confirmed that they do not SELL a replacement bracket. However they may be able to help you out with a WARRANTY replacement depending on how long you have owned your camera.

Reply from Dean C.

@LesD - I actually have a broken mounting bracket arm. (They’re plastic and not very forgiving) I remove the camera during winter months when the coach is covered. The camera was/is therefore being held on with a “zip-tie” onto the existing cracked arm within the bracket itself. I contacted “Hopkins.” They stated the same thing however they will not send a replacement mounting bracket without further demonstrating the old one is broken. I sent photos but they want me to further break off the arm which then makes the camera useless. I even offered to PAY for a new bracket(s) but my offer was declined. My experience dictates this is poor customer support related to a poor product design and a waste of money for this camera product.

Cl
Camera won’t stay connected to my iPhone any suggestions?
Etrailer Expert
Reply from Victoria B.

I reached out to Hopkins to see if they had any technical advice for you and they suggested that the antenna may need to be raised up so that it is above the roof of the trailer. They said that the range can be reduced if the antenna is below the roof line, so this could be causing your connectivity issue.

Wayne D.
Is there any kind of WiFi extender available to improve the signal from the camera to my iPhone when I am in the tow vehicle. I find that the video is choppy and often either drops off completely or freezes. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, and my thanks in advance. I have a Hopkins Towing Solutions VueSmart wireless camera. Sincerely,
Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

There currently is no extender for this camera system.

Reply from Barbara G.

We also are having connectivity issues--and was told about the antenna being too short. So if there is no extender for the antenna are we S.O.L?? Very frustrating to say the least!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Victoria B.

@BarbaraG While there isn't an extender/Wi-Fi booster, it does not mean you are immediately out of luck. When connectivity is an issue, Hopkins suggests relocating the camera so that the antenna extends past the top of the trailer. They have found this to be helpful in maintaining a connection.

Heidi
I like to boondock a lot. What if I'm nowhere near any wifi? How will the camera send a signal to my cell?
Etrailer Expert
Reply from Kef G.

The camera sends out the WiFi signal through its own transmitter. Your phone will simply connect to it the same way it would connect to a home WiFi or a store's. As long as the phone is close enough to the camera (within 50 ft), it will be able to connect to it.

Tim S.
I just installed the vueSMART on my car trailer, wired it into the rear lights. It works fine with powere from the tow vehicle when the tow vehicle is not running. As soon as I start the tow vehicle the vueSMART turns off and the led lights flash on/off every few seconds. Any idea why this is happening? I measured the voltage coming out of the tow vehicle. 12.6v with engine off, 14.7v with engine running.
Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

What light circuit did you connect the VueSMART to?

Reply from Tim S.

@JonG Rear running lights

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

@TimS Just so I'm clear about what's going on - your VueSMART works great when the headlights are on for your tow vehicle but the vehicle itself isn't running. As soon as you turn the vehicle on (and your headlights are still on obviously) the camera starts turning off and on?

Jason W.
So I just purchased this back up camera. Upon installation I notice my running lights only have 1 wire. How do I go about installing this camera without the ground wire? I believe the ground comes from the screw that tightens down on the bracket. Not sure though. Any ideas or advice?
Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

Anytime you don't see a designated wire for the ground connection it means that the light grounds through the mounting hardware like you're guessing is happening. Because of this you can either use a ring terminal to ground the camera or you can run a wire out to create it's own ground.

Info for this part was:

Employee Chris R
Video Edited:
Chris R
Employee Robert C
Installed by:
Robert C
Employee Michael B
Installed by:
Michael B
Employee David F
Test Fit:
David F
Employee John S
Video by:
John S

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