Welcome to Manins' truck camper project

USB Charging Point

The cab courtesy light unit in the centre of the overhead parcel shelf has a recess behind the cover that is very suitable for a USB charging point. Powered from the courtesy light wiring, it would only be powered with ignition on or lights on. This is good for a dashcam which is only operated during vehicle activity.


Silicon Chip magazine for July 2015 (pp36–44) featured an article "Install USB charging points in your car" and has a kit available. Unlike a USB charging plug for an accessory socket, the kit has a very low quiescent current of ~1mA, about 10 times lower than the plugs, and can be installed in the courtesy light unit.


While in Tasmania we bought from a ShipLoads variety shop a $20.00 Car Dashcam. The 8GB SD card for the dashcam cost more than the unit itself! It operates well enough.

A hole for a double 180° USB socket (from an eBay supplier) was made in the cover for the courtesy light and the socket glued in place with urethane adhesive. While there, I replaced the 15W 42mm festoon bulb with a 16-LED light, and the 5W T10 bulb with an LED equivalent. This reduced the power consumption and heat dissipation in the luminair.


One of these double USB sockets is glued into a hole in the light cover. The centre two pins were shorted together.


Soldering up the USB charger kit was a bit of a challenge, since it was my first experience with surface-mount components. It went together quite easily. I covered the whole circuit board with a length of heat-shrink tubing, joined up power wires to relevant parts of the light board and lodged the charger behind a notch above the USB socket. It fits very well.


The back of the courtesy light fitting in the overhead parcel shelf, showing connections to the light power tracks.


Finished. The USB charger powers the dashcam on the windscreen. Two rear view screens are there too.

Update Nov16: When plugged into the charger, the USB connector has been found to be vulnerable to knocks as we move into and out of the cabin from the camper. So much so that one cable became faulty. There is enough room in the light fitting to include a single USB socket pointing to the front of the vehicle. The photo shows its installation. Now a full-time user of the USB charger is out of the way.

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