Keeping an eye on things

Our chartplotters each support two video inputs. I am the kind of guy that thinks if it can, it should. If there are two jacks there, something should be plugged in to them. So I added a camera on the mast, and another in the engine room.

The camera on the mast looks backward at the stern deck and the area around the stern of the boat. We use this camera often. Whenever one of us is outside on the stern deck while we are underway, the other is watching from the helm.

The camera is especially handy when we are maneuvering around marinas and near docks.


The engine room camera sounds like a good deal, but we just don’t use it much. To view the image, it requires a few button pushes on the chartplotter to switch from the chart or radar over to the camera image and a few more to switch back again. That takes us away from the chart or radar we are looking at. Switching back and forth turns out to be a bit disorienting. Not a big deal. In practice, though, we just don’t do it. That eliminates any potential value the camera offers.

I found two interesting items on amazon. I think they are just what the doctor ordered. They will greatly expand the functionality of the cameras.

21D77CW0F2LFirst, a nifty little video splitter/amplifier from Pyle that takes a single video input and sends it to four outputs. It’s designed for use in cars. $18. I’ll need one for each camera. Requires 12 volt power.

Pyle PLV2 1 Into 4 Mobile Video Signal Distribution Amplifier

31YgR-zKFNL._SL110_The second nifty gizmo is a 9 inch color LCD from Pyle. This gizmo is designed for the back of a car headrest. It comes with a stand that can be mounted just about anywhere. Just over $100 and supports two video inputs. Runs on 12 volts.

Pyle PLHR96 9-Inch TFT LCD Headrest Monitor

The configuration will look mostly like this … The existing Garmin 4212 isn’t shown. I decided to keep it in addition to the 7212 instead of replacing it with the 7212. Two is better than one.


Wired up like this, we can watch either video feed on the dedicated monitor. Either video feed is also available on either chartplotter. As a fringe benefit, we can extend the video to the flybridge chartplotter. I don’t know how valuable this will be, but why not. A future project when I don’t have much else to do …


Here’s a photo of the splitters installed under the lower helm station. I thought I took a bunch of photos during the installation process, but I sure can’t find them. This is a shot from early in the process. I am still looking for the others …


The cables you can’t see are from They connect from the video amplifier to the chart plotters. One each from each amplifier. Great quality, super price.

And this is what the new video monitoring looks like at the helm.


It’s a bit odd … the 4212 on the left will not display the video full screen like the 7212 on the right. As it was explained to me by a Garmin guy, it’s because of the video board they used in the 4212. Nothing can be done about it.

I still need to install the dedicated Pyle monitor. That’s another future project …

5 thoughts on “Keeping an eye on things

    • Since the camera faces backward, the port side of the boat would have been on the right side of the monitor with a regular image. With the reverse image, the port side of the boat is on the left side of the monitor. That seemed to make more sense to my little brain.

  1. Thanks for the tip, I was thinking of a camera to see the rear of the boat when maneu­ver­ing, I was looking for car cameras, your setup is better !!

    • Thanks! The discovery of the inexpensive 12 volt Pyle video amplifier was what really made this easy and practical. The engine room camera is something from ebay. Do a search for “12 volt marine video camera” there and you will see what it looks like. I chose one with infrared since the lights are off in the engine room most of the time. The mast camera is a reverse image Garmin camera (also infrared). Although I got a good price for it, they are still crazy expensive considering the less than stellar image quality.

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