Tuesday, June 6, 2023
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How I modded an Amazon Ring camera to monitor hazardous tech in my workshop

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

In drugs, the time period “off-label” is used when a physician prescribes a drug for a cause or in a fashion not particularly meant by the producer nor appoved by the FDA. When docs prescribe one thing off-label, it is often as a result of they assume the drug might be profitable in treating a situation that does not have already got a great answer with a distinct drug.

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I am not a physician, and I do not even play one on TV. However as a techie with a penchant for engaged on uncommon or special-purpose tasks, I usually use electronics and software program in off-label methods. That is what I did with Amazon’s Ring Stick Up Cam Battery. That is not what Amazon meant for this product, but it really works very well.

Watching over a laser and a spinning wheel of dying

The off-label downside I wished to unravel was watching my Glowforge laser cutter and Inventables X-Carve CNC whereas they have been working to ensure nothing unhealthy was occurring. In spite of everything, the Glowforge is a robotic laser — it shoots an precise laser beam — that burns materials to chop or engrave it. The X-Carve is a robotic slicing machine that spins a metal cutter at hundreds of revolutions per minute.

Additionally: Fingers-on: Constructing the following technology X-Carve CNC (construct log)

So, yeah. In a single room I’ve a robot-controlled laser beam that may slice by most supplies, and in one other, I’ve a robot-controlled spinning wheel of dying. My spouse is so very tolerant. I’m so very fortunate.

Usually, the perfect apply when utilizing both of those machines is to stick with them whereas they do their work. That manner, if one thing goes incorrect, you’ll be able to see it occurring and shut the robotic down. Sadly, it is wildly disagreeable to be within the room with both of those machines. 

Regardless that I’ve a air flow fan that exhausts the Glowforge fumes proper outdoors, the small room the place it is positioned turns into crammed with fumes that persist lengthy after the slicing course of completes. 

And although I’ve mud assortment with the CNC, there’s a whole lot of very high quality particulate matter despatched into the workshop air that I might somewhat not inhale. Each machines are additionally insanely noisy, particularly with the add-on air flow fan.

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Putting in a digital camera is the following smartest thing to being there. Via a distant digital camera, I can watch these gadgets on both my telephone or laptop. If there’s a problem, I am only a room away.

Why the Stick Up Cam Battery

I thought of utilizing the mixture of a Raspberry Pi and webcam to watch my 3D printers, however I did not need all the additional wires (and the few hours of complexity configuring the customized monitoring Linux distro). Extra to the purpose, Amazon had beforehand despatched me the Stick Up Cam Battery digital camera again after they despatched me considered one of their Alexas to assessment, and it was sitting on the assessment shelf, ready to be put to work.

Additionally: Raspberry Pi will get photograph and video capabilities with digital camera module

If that was all it was, I won’t have chosen the Stick Up Cam. However the machine comes with a hefty battery. Amazon claims it could watch a home for about six months on a single cost. The battery is straightforward to come out of the digital camera and hook up with any micro-USB charger to offer it a fill-up. 

It additionally comes with the Ring app, which permits for stay viewing both in a desktop browser or on a telephone. Whereas I did not want many of the Ring ecosystem options (like movement detection and two-way audio), the essential performance and strong 1080p video high quality have been a win. Plus, setup was a quick five-minute job, which is a large win, particularly in comparison with what it might have taken to attach a webcam to a Raspberry Pi and set up a customized model of Linux.

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However there was one downside: the sphere of view, particularly under the digital camera, wasn’t ok to observe my harmful little robotic buddies. I wanted to mod the digital camera.

Designing a customized digital camera mount

I did a fast check with a bit of cardboard and located that whereas growing the angle of the digital camera did assist, that slight angle did not assist almost sufficient.


Testing the digital camera at a slight angle.

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

To get the digital camera to see totally contained in the Glowforge and to see the mattress of the CNC, I wanted the digital camera tilted at 45 levels. Sadly, that a lot tilt resulted within the digital camera toppling over. So I wanted to make one thing to maintain it at 45 levels.

Additionally: Methods to get into 3D printing with out breaking (too many) issues

Since I used to be already working with a CNC and a laser cutter, I made a decision to spherical out the desktop fabrication trio with a 3D-printed digital camera mount. I modeled it up in Fusion 360 utilizing parametric values (which let you simply change dimensions) and have the design recalculate and lofting (which creates a mesh between two objects, and is how I received the angled swoop to work).


Minimize-away view of mannequin design, with house for digital camera and counterweight.

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

The design has three essential options. On the left is a tube, into which you slide the digital camera. On the correct is an oblong space the place you’ll be able to slide in a 1-2-3 block as a counterweight. For those who’re not conversant in 1-2-3 blocks, they’re cheap instruments that measure one inch on one aspect, two inches on one other aspect, and three inches on the third aspect. They’re heavy precision metal and have a whole lot of makes use of within the store and lab. I received two from Amazon for $18.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Here is what the ultimate mount seems like after it got here off the 3D printer. 


Here is the mount itself. I added some rubber toes to it so it will not scratch the glass floor of the Glowforge.

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

The third characteristic of the design is a hook that lets me grasp it up when it is not in use. It matches very properly on my pegboard.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Proud as I’m that I remembered to place a dangling gap in it, there’d be no level if it did not do the job. Let’s have a look at the way it does. 

Utilizing the Stick Up Cam Battery to watch my gear

This answer works very well. As you’ll be able to see, it sits properly on the nook of my Glowforge. As a result of the digital camera is each wi-fi and battery-powered, there are not any wires to intervene with utilizing the laser. The one factor I’ve to do is keep in mind to maneuver the digital camera so it does not intervene with the lid opening.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

It does a terrific job monitoring the reduce. Though you’ll be able to’t see the precise laser beam doing the slicing, this is a screencap of the Stick Up Cam’s video feed that was taken whereas the laser was burning the plastic materials. To make sure, if there’s ever a fireplace within the chamber, I am going to be capable to see that — and act on it instantly.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

I can see what’s occurring with out having to breathe within the noxious odor — and that is with a customized air flow fan venting to the surface. I am unable to think about how tough that is for laser customers who haven’t got outdoors air flow.

Additionally: 5 very helpful instruments and devices for higher 3D printing

The battery energy is sort of good. After doing a 15-minute reduce, the battery stage within the digital camera was nonetheless at 98%. This implies I can most likely do 20-50 tasks on the laser cutter on one battery cost (though, in apply, I am going to most likely cost it up as soon as it drops under 50%).


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

As a result of this rig is moveable, I can put it on something I need to monitor. Here is the unit sitting on my CNC.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

So there you go. The Stick Up Cam Battery makes for a terrific monitoring digital camera, particularly when paired with an affordable weight and the 3D printed holder. If you wish to make one your self, you should purchase the digital camera and 1-2-3 blocks instantly from Amazon. I’ve posted the .STL file for my 3D design on Thingiverse, so you’ll be able to obtain that without spending a dime. 3D printers aren’t very costly, so even when you do not have one, you may contemplate getting one for tasks like this. Here is ZDNET’s listing of cheap 3D printers you may need to contemplate.

You’ll be able to comply with my day-to-day venture updates on social media. Remember to comply with me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Fb at Fb.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.




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