Introduction: ESP32-CAM Case System and 3D Printer Cam
I was looking into replacing the camera on my 3-D Printer with something small, simple and functional....and Cheap.
A few Google searches led me to the ESP32-Cam Module. You can find them for less then $10, like way less and they perform really well, function on your Wifi, it even has a cool interface.
I won't go into programming the module. There are at least 4 Instructables and a huge array of experts online that will guide you through the simple process.
Here is the one I used:
Shout out to Random Nerds. Good stuff on their site.
You will need this:
This gives you the FTDI and a boat load of jumper wires - you need 5 to program it.
If you don't have a USB Mini cable, you will need one of these:
You will need:
Access to a 3-D Printer
(2) M3 x 16 Button head screws
(2) M3 Nyloc nuts
(1) 2 pin Dupont Connector
(2) Dupont Female Pins
Heat Shrink Tube
24AWG Wire (I got mine from a Good Will / Thrift Store wall charger)
(1) Solder Connect USB A end
Depending on your mounting choice:
(1) 40mm Suction cup
(2) 2mm x 10mm magnets
Or wall screws or use the Desk Stand.
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Step 1: Program the ESP32-Cam
Us this tutorial to get your module all set up. It literally takes 5 minutes once you have your Arduino IDE set up.
This is a great tutorial!
Step 2: Print Your Parts!
I have my own printer, but you can hire it out if you don't have one or rent space at a Makers Space.
Files are found on Thingiverse: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4146347
You will need:
(1) Case Front (A or B, depending on your ESP board, A is more common on Amazon)
(1) Case Rear
(1) Case Mount (90 is required for the Ender 3 Adaptation)
and either (or both)
(1) Universal Mount
(1) Case Stand
(1) Ender3 mount
(1) Universal Mount
(1) 90 Mount
Knuckle (Provides lateral movement if the base is fixed)
Honestly, if you have a printer, I would just print everything, it can be done is less than 8 hours and for $1 in filament. If you don't, decide which version you want and work out a plan to pick the parts you need. There are too many variants to list the combinations.
Step 3: Putting It Together
Here are the parts. The Photo is labeled.
Step 4: Rear Case and Mount Assembly
Place a M3 Nyloc nut into the retainer inside the rear case. Hold this in place with your finger. Flip the case and screw the mount to the rear case with the M3 x 16 Button Head.
Step 5: Insert the ESP32-Cam Module
This is a cool set-up, if I do say so myself. Using the pins on the back of the board, you press fit the broad into the holes in the bosses inside the rear case. Easy.
Step 6: Pick Your Mounting Style
If you want the suction cup version, the suction cup will wedge into the provided slot. If you get it started, it is just a matter of rolling it home into the bottom of the slot.
If you want magnets, simply get them started and press fit them into their homes.
Either of these options, once chosen and assembled and the case stand will attach to the rear case assembly by sliding the blade of the stand or universal mount into the twin blades of the case mount. Use the same M3 hardware to fasten the two. Make it snug, but not tight so you can rotate the camera in the stand. If you want lateral adjustment, use the "Knuckle" in the printed parts. You will need to add an additional M3x16 and Nyloc Nut.
Knuckle = Using the part called "Mount"
No Knuckle = Use "90 Mount"
Step 7: Mounting This to a 3D Printer
Finally, the reason I did this whole Instructable.
The extenders are needed to move the focal distance to observe the entire build plate and I especially needed them because I have an entire hot end mod I created that makes the original designed bracket not work. I also added zip tie slots in all the parts to chase the power cable.
Step 8: Making the Power Cord (Case End)
Need to power this module with 5V or 3.7V, I chose 5v, because I could use a Phone Charger WalWart and a USB cable. Or, like will be in my other version, powered off the 5V Buck Converter in my 3D Printer enclosure:
Other name brand cameras use this set up as well, so it seems legit.
I cannot stress how great heat Shrink Tubing and a Good Heat Gun are if you are attempting to do stuff like this. I spent most of my life with either black tape or heat shrink tubing and a fire source.
You get this cord together, it is a matter of pin connecting the power to the case. REMEMBER, + is the top pin.
Pin Connectors are an art form, in my opinion. It takes practice and patience to use these and make them work. There are a plethora of "How to's" on attaching these to wires. A quick Google will land you a page that suits your style. I am not good enough to instruct anyone on the proper method in adding these! I use at least 2 clips per 1 that works.
Step 9: Making the Power Cord - USB End
Soldering is one of those mindless activities that will Zen me out.
No project is complete without the sweet scent of flux rising in the air.
Pretty straight forward. plus to the plus, minus to the minus. See pictures of where to put what. If you get it backwards, just remember to flip the connector on the case when you plus it in.
Meter it out and mark your positive pin. No Sense in testing the polarity protection on the board.
Snap the connector together, crimp it and heat shrink a large tube on the USB connector and then use a smaller heat shrink to seal the cable to the large tube.
Step 10: Finishing It All Up and Testing It
Before you super glue on the case front, test it all out. Make sure it connects to your wifi, make sure it does it's thing on the interface.
Once your happy with that, dab each corner with a small amount of superglue and attache the case front to the assembly.
There you have it. A Web Cam, Wifi Ready.
There are better, off the shelf solutions to this problem, but there is no fun in that. Plus, I learned about the ESP development boards. I learned how to program them with Arduino IDE. I learned how to use the FTDI. This project has sparked at least 3 other project ideas that can't be bought off the shelf. And, I built it myself, which is a reward in itself!!