"Our baby monitor went missing. Guess where I found it? Watching my husband's 3D Printer!"
Yes, yes, guilty as charged. I 'borrowed' our baby monitor camera from the kiddo's cot to oversee my latest prints. But in my defense, I did it so that I could be with the baby! Better for me to be physically watching the baby than the 3D printer, no?
As you can see, my first camera mount was pretty much jerry-rigged. The baby monitor camera was tied with a rubber-band to a selfie-stick mount, which was screwed onto a gorilla pod stand. This had some drawbacks: Firstly, the joints were not very secure and the camera kept shifting or swivelling on its own. Secondly, the cheap fako gorilla pod rip-off was a pain to set up and remove whenever I had to shift the camera from the cot to the 3D printer and back.
So it was time to devise a more convenient quick-change camera mount for the system!
I'll try to detail here my thought process and design process, from technical functional prototyping, to inspiration and design, including how to design parts for 3D printing.
Also, I'll enter this into the 3D printing competition, so please vote for me if you like this project!
Step 1: Prototype: Functional Mount for the 3D Printer
Before designing the final mount for the baby cot (crib), I decided to make a functional mount for the camera to attach to my 3D Printer, as a sort of prototype step.
Design principles: Define your needs, your constraints, and then design!
- To quickly mount and dismount the baby camera onto the 3D printer.
- Must be mounted at approximately 4-5 inches above the printer to get the desired 45 degree downward angle to watch the print bed and printer head.
- baby camera has limited pan and tilt adjustability, but cannot point downwards.
- baby camera has 2 keyholes for mounting it to a wall with 2 screws.
- material properties of my 3D Printer, which is optimised for PLA.
Given these needs and constraints, I realised that the camera had to be mounted with the base in an upright position, as if on a wall.
At first, I was thinking of designing a super complex custom holder that would cup the base of the camera like a glove. But then I realised that all I really needed was 2 screws in a flat 'wall' for the camera to hook onto. Much simpler!
Using steel screws in a plastic PLA part was much stronger than trying to print it all in PLA, including 2 plastic 'knobs'. The plastic knobs would be the first part to break off!
Step 2: Modelling and Printing the T-Prototype
I optimised the design to reduce the size of the stand to save material. In the end it was just a simple 'T' shape stand with 2 sockets for me to screw 2 short screws into. These were spaced exactly 70mm apart to match the camera's keyhole spacing.
The T-stand was printed separately from the socket connection, to optimise print direction. The T-stand was printed flat, while the socket connection which slides into the aluminium profile channels of my 3D printer was printed on its side.
Print details: PLA, 0.2mm layer height. 25% infill.
Step 3: Next - Designing the Baby Cot Mount
My first thought was just to replicate the same functional T-stand from my 3D printer and find a way to mount it onto the corner of the baby's cot (crib).
I first took measurements of the crib's top rails using vernier calipers, and reproduced these 2 rails in Sketchup. (Note that one rail is larger than the other!) I then modelled a clip or sleeve which could fit over these 2 rails, before trimming down these 'sleeves' to fit the desired angle. (See images for details).
Step 4: Tree Design: Inspiration and Modelling
I thought: I can do better than that!
I wanted to make the stand nicer-looking as it would be in our nursery. How could we dress up the stand so that it looks nice, even when empty?
I googled for images of tree-graphics, and found one I liked. I then imported the image into sketchup and traced over the tree, making my own embellishments as I saw fit. This also had to fit the 2 sockets to receive the 2 screws.
The back of the tree was reinforced with ribs.
The tree was then merged (Union boolean operation) with the cot-clip-section to form a single printable element.
Gotta think about print orientation: Printing the tree face-down flat on the print bed gives the best surface quality as I use a glass pane on my print bed. This means the front face of the tree comes out glass smooth and shiny without any post-processing work at all! Next, the 45 degree orientation of the clips means that these parts can print without supports as there are no unsupported overhangs or cantilevers.
Step 5: Done! Start Police Surveillance of Your Baby.
The tree was printed out on my home printer. It took up almost the whole print bed!
Print details: PLA, layer height 0.2mm.
I'm quite happy with the end result. The stand clips straight onto the crib's top rails, thanks to careful measurements of the wood members. I had to clean up burrs in the 3D printed part with sandpaper, but no major print defects.
The strong white graphic element fits my minimalist design aesthetic, further enhanced by the choice of white PLA. The tree shape also allows us to hang small things off it, such as baby's bib or a pacifier.
And of course, functionally it's much faster to pop the baby cam off the crib and onto the 3D printer, and vice versa.
Hope you enjoyed my description of this project from concept to final refined product. Please vote for me in the 3D Printing competition! Thanks everyone.
Step 6: BEYOND MY COMFORT ZONE
I'm also entering this into the "Beyond Your Comfort Zone" contest, so I might as well use this space to muse on how becoming a new parent has pushed me into brand new territory.
As a man - the change is huge - but amazing. Sure now we stay in most nights and juggle multiple night feeds (I do my fair share of bottle feeding), but to watch the kiddo grow and learn and discover the universe around him is so rewarding. Even from a couple of weeks old the instinct to observe, mimic and learn is built into every baby. Just last night at 100 days old he sat on my lap and started 'playing' the piano with both hands with great concentration. This process has reconfirmed my long-held convictions that kids should be raised to explore and play and harness their innate creative instincts - not to be told that there is only one right answer to a test paper. But I suppose I'm preaching to the choir on this website. :) As a maker and designer, the obvious change is in my design sensibility. From austere monochrome minimalism with hard edges, I'm now pushed to think child-friendly, child-safe, visual-stimuli, etc. Yet I do want to strike a balance between child-friendliness and sophisticated design. Whatever I make has to be something aesthetically pleasing enough that I want it in my house! (See this other baby instructable I did recently:https://www.instructables.com/id/Cheap-Easy-Baby-Gy...
This is a long journey I'm just starting on - and I'm sure there'll be many more instructables to come. Hopefully the kiddo will share my enthusiasm for invention and design as we create an entire childhood as a family! (If you like this, please vote for the new daddy!)