I'm certainly not the first to get the idea of pointing a camera at the head of a 3D printer -- and I will not be the last. Unfortunately, our generally rather impressive MakerGear M2 does not have an obvious place to position a camera. I tried moving an old USB webcam and a Fire-i400 firewire camera around the printer and, honestly, some viewpoints worked pretty well. Unfortunately, the viewpoints that worked well had the camera awkwardly far away from the printer rather than mounted on the printer. The little insight in this Instructable is that with a particular smaller-than-average USB webcam, you can easily print a part to inobtrusively mount the camera so that a close-up view of the head is provided.
Total cost is about $6 with a build time under 40 minutes... assuming you already have the M2. ;-)
Step 1: Things You'll Need
The other parts:
- One of the USB webcams like the one shown. They come in a variety of colors and are sold mostly from China via eBay for about $6 to $8. The advertising generally claims that they are something like "8.0 Mega USB Web Cam" -- but basically they deliver either a 320x240 or 640x480 video stream that can be scaled in software to be bigger and correspondingly blurrier. The image quality is lousy on the 320x240 version, but the higher resolution one is actually pretty good, and in either case the form factor and lens view angle are excellent for this use.
- A little piece of 2-sided (carpet) tape or a hot glue gun.