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This Ring camera hack helps me keep a close eye on my most dangerous tech

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

In drugs, the time period “off-label” is used when a health care provider prescribes a drug for a motive or in a fashion not particularly meant by the producer nor appoved by the FDA. When docs prescribe one thing off-label, it is normally as a result of they suppose the drug will probably be profitable in treating a situation that does not have already got a very good answer with a distinct drug.

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I am not a health care provider, 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 typically 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 rather well.

Watching over a laser and a spinning wheel of demise

The off-label downside I needed to resolve was watching my Glowforge laser cutter and Inventables X-Carve CNC whereas they have been working to ensure nothing unhealthy was taking place. In any case, 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 reducing machine that spins a metal cutter at 1000’s of revolutions per minute.

Additionally: Palms-on: Constructing the following era X-Carve CNC (construct log)

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

Usually, the very best follow when utilizing both of those machines is to stick with them whereas they do their work. That means, if one thing goes mistaken, you’ll be able to see it taking place 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 exterior, the small room the place it is positioned turns into crammed with fumes that persist lengthy after the reducing course of completes. 

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

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Putting in a digicam is the following neatest thing to being there. Via a distant digicam, I can watch these units on both my cellphone or laptop. If there’s a problem, I am only a room away.

Why the Stick Up Cam Battery

I thought of utilizing the mix of a Raspberry Pi and webcam to observe 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 digicam again once they despatched me considered one of their Alexas to evaluate, and it was sitting on the evaluate shelf, ready to be put to work.

Additionally: Raspberry Pi will get picture and video capabilities with digicam module

If that was all it was, I may not have chosen the Stick Up Cam. However the machine comes with a hefty battery. Amazon claims it could possibly watch a home for about six months on a single cost. The battery is straightforward to come out of the digicam and connect with any micro-USB charger to present it a fill-up. 

It additionally comes with the Ring app, which permits for dwell viewing both in a desktop browser or on a cellphone. Whereas I did not want a lot of the Ring ecosystem options (like movement detection and two-way audio), the essential performance and stable 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 will 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 beneath the digicam, wasn’t adequate to look at my harmful little robotic pals. I wanted to mod the digicam.

Designing a customized digicam mount

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


Testing the digicam at a slight angle.

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

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

Additionally: How you can 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 digicam 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).


Lower-away view of mannequin design, with area for digicam and counterweight.

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

The design has three primary options. On the left is a tube, into which you slide the digicam. On the suitable is an oblong space the place you’ll be able to slide in a 1-2-3 block as a counterweight. In case you’re not conversant in 1-2-3 blocks, they’re cheap instruments that measure one inch on one facet, two inches on one other facet, and three inches on the third facet. They’re heavy precision metal and have quite a 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 isn’t 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 observe my gear

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


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

It does an incredible job monitoring the reduce. Though you’ll be able to’t see the precise laser beam doing the reducing, 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 have the ability to see that — and act on it instantly.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

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

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

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


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

As a result of this rig is transportable, 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 an incredible monitoring digicam, particularly when paired with a reasonable weight and the 3D printed holder. If you wish to make one your self, you should purchase the digicam and 1-2-3 blocks straight 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 take into account getting one for tasks like this. Here is ZDNET’s checklist of cheap 3D printers you may need to take into account.

You possibly can observe my day-to-day venture updates on social media. Make sure you observe me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Fb at, on Instagram at, and on YouTube at




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