I have a 3D printer: Creality Ender 3 (review) at home. A lot of 3d printing jobs are left overnight or done when I’m not in the same, as the printer, room so having a way to monitor your print is a must. Ever since I heard about Octopi image for Raspberry Pi, I was tempted to swap our regular controller with a camera-enabled Raspberry PI to monitor the prints overnight in low light. Around about the same time people from E-con systems got in touch with me about their optical sensor – Camera See3CAM_CU30.
Octopi and Camera See3CAM_CU30
I have used this camera to create a custom notification for my Ender3. The notifications come to my Android device with print details and a picture was taken by the See3CAM_CU30 every Z change. You can read about the project here, as I will only focus on the camera performance in this post.
It’s not my first camera module, plus I have some other USB cameras I can play with! That should make a pretty good testing setup. But before I get to the test, let’s look at the hardware specs.
|Resolution||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|3.4MP (2304 x 1536)||24 fps & 12 fps||48 fps||5 fps & 2.5 fps||48 fps|
|3MP (2304 x 1296)||30 fps & 15 fps||60 fps||6 fps & 3 fps||60 fps|
|3MP (2048 x 1536)||42 fps & 21 fps||50 fps||5 fps & 2.5 fps||50 fps|
|1280P (1920 x 1280)||50 fps & 25 fps||50 fps||6 fps & 3 fps||50 fps|
|FHD (1920 x 1080)||60,30 & 15 fps||60 fps||8 fps & 3 fps||60 fps|
|960P (1280 x 960)||58 fps & 30 fps||58 fps||14 fps & 7 fps||58 fps|
|HD (1280 x 720)||60 fps & 30 fps||60 fps||16 fps & 8 fps||60 fps|
|XGA+ (1152 x 768)||60 fps & 30 fps||60 fps||19 fps & 9.5 fps||60 fps|
|VGA (640 x 480)||60 fps & 30 fps||60 fps||30 fps & 15 fps||60 fps|
The on-paper specs may not look like much especially compared to the consumer webcams like Logi C920 but hooking this thing up to a nice screen shows that See3CAM_CU30 is a well-made camera module with interesting features.
First of all, the e-con added a custom wide-angle lens to the sensor. I have to say the lens is very impressive. If you follow my Instagram, you would see how close and personal I got with my own eye! The camera can be placed very close to the object if you are interested in details.
The See3CAM_CU30 camera is Using USB-C connector, but it’s capable of outputting good image quality over USB 2.0 which is important to our Octopi setup. Apart from a 10 GPIO controller which can be hooked up to a Raspberry Pi, you will also find two 4-pin connectors for LEDs. I used these to crude mount white LEDs to check them out in the dark. You should use resistors, as the current will kill the LEDs quickly.
Turns out that the image and FPS actually beat my Logi C920 (I was not expecting that just looking at the specs) and stream provides a very nice, smooth image even in the low light. Other webcams I have tried were significantly cheaper, but at the same time, the level of the details I could see was also subpar.
Octopi comes with some great options for camera monitoring. I will be super eager to try to make a rig that can move and pan the camera around. In addition to that, Octopi comes with time-lapse and stream options so you have everything you need to monitor the print and create a nice (and short) videos of the print.
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I have to say, if you want to just check if the print is still on the table, any webcam would do. The See3CAM_CU30 gives you a chance to monitor the prints carefully, with enough details to see if the individual layers are printed out correctly. If this is the level of control you are looking for, go ahead and treat yourself to one of the modules like this.