Camper set-up questions

I am currently converting a van into a camper. I think the AutoPi will be an awesome addition to my conversion! Altough I have some questions regarding the best set-up.

Ideally I would put the device inside a cabinet where all the other controls and switches are located (heating, solar, water supply, modem etc). As I’m still building I can extend a OBD cable to reach the cabinet. However I believe this location will not be ideal for GPS signals. Therefore I would like to connect an external GPS device on top of the roof. For 4G it will be less of a problem I believe, as its position is less important for signal. There is an 4G antenna on the roof and a router inside the van. Furthermore I would like to connect 1 (or more) cameras to the AutoPi that can be accessed from the internet to check the inside of the van while I’m gone. The AutoPi dashboard will be accessed via the internet on a tablet.

  • Which AutoPi device will be the best choice for this set-up? I believe the developer kit will give me the most freedom in extending the functionalities.
  • Does the developer kit also powers via the OBD cable? Or does it need a 12v power supply (even with the car running)?
  • When using the developer kit on 12v power supply and the OBD connected, does it also monitor battery power? E.g.; could I leave the AutoPi running on 12 volt when not in the van?
  • Is it possible to connect an external GPS, and will the AutoPI software recognize the external GPS?
  • Will 4G connection be a problem if the device is in a cabinet? When my router is running it can connect to the Wifi network, but this will not always be the case.
  • Does the 4G modem model switch between Wifi when available and 4G?
  • Is it possible to connect a camera and access that via the internet on the AutoPi OS?

I really love the customization that AutoPi offers! I am a Python programmer so really looking forward developing some cool applications with the AutoPi :slight_smile:


Hi @dvdv,

Welcome to the community.

It’s a very interesting project you are planning. We are looking forward to following your project.

  • It depends. The 4G/LTE edition is the only one that comes in a nice casing, so if this is important to you, then I’d recommend this.
  • The developer kit can be powered from the OBD connection, just like all of our other devices.
  • Yes, is always monitors the power supply, also when using the OBD power cable and a power supply. The AutoPi has a build in smart power management, which is setup to power down the device if the voltage goes under 12.5 V. That is why we recommend that you use a power supply that is adjustable and then power it above 12.5 V. These settings can also be changed from the Cloud if you want to make a more permanent solution.
  • Yes, it is. The antenna is a standard u.Fl. connector type antenna.
  • It will mostly depend on the general reception in the area you are in. If you are in a city, then I dont think it will be a problem.
  • This is managed by the AutoPi Core (OS). It will use WiFi first, when available.
  • You can connect a camera through USB or through the RPi camera port. If you want to access this via the internet, then I’d recommend that you use a 3rd software, which allows this.

Hope it was the answers you were looking for.


Thank you for your thorough reply Peter, very useful!

Seems like the only thing I still have to decide is if I should get the Pi Zero version or developer kit. Indeed the nice casing of the 4G/LTE version is a plus, but I feel that the developer kit with the Pi 3 will be more versatile.

I will make a project thread once I start to keep you guys updated. I’ve ordered the antenna (Connecting external GPS module) but it will take at least 2 months to arrive. Anyway I am just starting on my van conversion build so lot’s of stuff to do. I will place the external GPS antenna on the roof, together with a 4G antenna. The OBD-II cabel will be extended to reach the “control room” in the van so I can place the AutoPi there.

Looking forward to the first results!

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You might want to consider a small solar panel to keep your Auto-Pi and video camera(s) powered without draining your van battery, if you are going to leave it running for long periods of time. Sounds like an awesome project, and I look forward to reading of your progress in the future.