Printer camera suggestions

I like to be able to take a look at what the printer’s up to remotely. So to that end, I set up a Raspberry Pi with a camera to watch the printer. Having done so, I have some suggestions for those who might want to do so as well.

I went with the Pi Camera NoIr. I did this because I didn’t want a visible light shining constantly on it, but even an IR capable camera doesn’t work in the dark, so I also bought an inexpensive IR illuminator from Amazon. This combination actually works much better than natural light, as it turns out that the orange cover of the Form 3 is transparent to infrared. The lighting illuminates the inside of the printer much better than visible light and gives you a much better view, albeit in false color (everything looks like a sort of lavender/purple color).

Finding a good camera angle is not easy. The best camera angle is slightly above the center of the printer from the front, but that means that the camera is in the way any time you need to interact with the printer. My compromise is off to the side and further up. I bought a wall-mount swivel camera mount from Amazon and printed a small adapter that adapts a tripod mount to the Pi camera (which is held down by 2-56 x 3/16" screws). You can also print a special wrench to allow you to adjust the camera’s focus, as from the factory they focus a bit too far away. That stuff is all available from Thingiverse.

There’s any number of different apps you can load onto the Pi to work the camera. I went for a very simple Python script that just sets up an HTTP server with an MJPEG video stream. Since the Pi is inside the firewall, you have to actually be home (or be VPNed in) to see the picture, but that’s fine with me - I don’t need anything more sophisticated.

This whole set up allows me to spot check the printer and abort gross failures early. I also can see when the wash finishes and even see the faint blue glow from the cure reflected off the back wall.


Really good information here especially with the cover becoming clear in the IR light. I’ve thought about doing something similar myself for my Form 2 possibly when my printing load picks up again.

Can you post some pictures of the setup in visible light?

Here’s the camera mounted in place. The cable is an extra long one to reach the Raspberry Pi sitting on an adjacent shelf. I got the long cable from Adafruit, but you can also get them from DigiKey, Mouser or any other electronic parts supplier. It’s just a standard 15 pin 1mm top-bottom FFC.

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Thanks, now I understand what you made.

We have 3 Form 2s and 1 Form 3 so we are fans…However our Raise 3D Pro Plus comes with a camera already installed and the software to be able to view your printing job remotely.

I think Form should have added this feature to the Form 3. It can’t add much to the price of the machine and is a great feature to have. I use it often on or Raise 3D,

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I don’t inherently disagree. They could have raised the price by $100 and it would have been lost in the noise for most buyers.

That said, I wonder how many other improvements they could have made, where each would have added $100 to the price. You do that more than a couple times and you’re talking about Real Money™. I can see (because I’ve done it) where you have to draw the line on features somewhere and just build the product.

I maybe unsure but isnt this was octopi / octoprint were made for…

take a dive;

all one does is time the relapse from layer to layer than program it in… therefore leading to no dips and returning a print video with no lapse during the dip…

Paging @adafruit

I haven’t used Octoprint (mostly because I have never had an FDM printer), but my understanding is that it deeply integrates with the printer, which is how it can monitor what the printer’s doing and take a picture at each layer. So far as I know, there’s no way OctoPrint could integrate in a meaningful way with a Form. All of the non-camera related functionality of Octoprint is provided by a combination of the printer itself and the Dashboard.

I have used octoprint A LOT. I am using it right now as I’m writing this. It does not only allows you to take time lapses pictures, but you can broadcast video.

Also, It does not need to be integrated with the printer, it works by sending commands in Gcode, so it works with any CNC controller that accepts Gcode, Most FMD printers do. And also CNC robots.

And this would be the problem controlling Forms 2 and 3 using Octoprint: as far as I know none of them have an open interface for accepting Gcode. So, without this capability, Octoprint could be only used as a (low resolution) IP Webcam.

I would like to know if I’m wrong and it is possible to control it by an API or any other command/programmatic-based interface available to end users.