We set up our Taz 6 and it's OctoPrint Server with a bed-mounted camera and light system. That way we can monitor my prints from the other side of the warehouse using OctoPrint, and more importantly, we can record some primo looking time-lapses of our 3D prints.


Hey there, Aidan here from Core Electronics and I'm super excited to take you guys through this project that I've been working on recently. The idea behind this project was to be able to record some really nice time lapses using our 3d printer which is the Taz 6, the way that we decided to do that was to use the octopi distribution for Raspberry Pi, connect up a small Raspberry Pi camera, mount that one to the bed and then we included some LED lighting for our TAZ just so we could give those pictures a bit more vibrancy.
So what we're going to do today is go through the process of getting this all together and working. So the first thing that we obviously needed was a way to get our bed mounted camera here, when we first did this project about a year ago we actually had the PI camera mounted up here but what that resulted in was time lapses where the printer stayed stationary and the bed would move back and forward it really didn't work as we intended and the time lapses didn't have the best quality, so what we decided was get a bed mounted camera that way the bed will stay stationary as it moves back and forward and you'll get a nice time lapse of your print being built up.
So the first thing I did was jumped on to Thingiverse (or Google first) and I Googled Taz 6 bed camera mount, so take a look at what we found there.
All righty, so we jumped onto Google and we typed in Taz 6 camera bed mount and the first option that I saw come up was this one by Tom leach, and I jumped over and had a look at this one. I gave the summary of it of a read (which is always handy to do) and then had a look at some of the comments and I decided, yep this is exactly what I wanted. So essentially it was going to be giving me something like this like you can see over here and the idea was like I said before to get those time lapses to be stationary, so we went ahead and downloaded those files, opened them up and Cura and had a look at them.
Now there's actually two versions of this corner piece, one of them is a bit taller and it has a ribbon cable at the back of it which you can see here, so you can actually feed the ribbon cable down this ribbon cable holder and it keeps it from bunching up at the front of your printer. The basic idea is that it clips to the front of the bed, and the bolt that goes through the touch sensor, the levelling sensor sorry, on the front left-hand corner goes through the bottom of that mount and you can just clip it on there and it'll stay there.
The PI camera itself actually feeds in here and this is the back piece which clips on, I used some blue tack on the sure it's stable. So I went ahead and printed this one just using a standard PolyLite PLA profile using the Lulzbot Green filament as you can see, and I turned on supports purely because of this small part here, so I just wanted to make sure that that was going to be well supported I could remove those afterwards but it will also prevent it from sort of stringing down and becoming problematic later on.
Once we had the camera mount printed we went ahead and worked in a Pi camera board version 2, which I'll include the link for in the description below, and also grabbed a flex cable from Adafruit that was about 2 meters long that way I could get it to route under the bed down the side of the printer and out to my Raspberry Pi now like I said before the Raspberry Pi is running OctoPrint, and if you want any information on getting that set up for the first time there's a tutorial down below. The basic idea was to just get me set up so that our camera connect up was plugged into the CSI connector which you can see here and if you can see over there on the board here we've got the blue side base down toward the front of the RPI where the ethernet connector is and the pins obviously touching on the other side so that's what you need to do and connect it the same way on your PI at the front there, and luckily for us OctoPrint is now enabled by default PI cameras so once you plug that in and start your PI up for the first time you'll be able to see a live stream of what's going on on your print bed quite easily.
So what we'll do is jump over and take a look at what that looks like, bearing in mind that we've made a few changes to make out a little bit more crystal clear and if you want to check those instructions out. so you can make you to develop go on how to look at the project right up to this entire video because it really goes through in detail how to get those results.
Alrighty so jump back over onto the computer here and you can see that I've logged into OctoPrint which is the printer server that runs on OctoPi. What I can do is go to my control interface, now that my Pi camera is connected and have a look at what I can see. So right there I can that the camera is streaming and that it got a pretty good view angle there, now when you first type your PI camera board in you probably won't see as much of the bed you'll probably only see a small viewport in the center of the bed and I'll just go through why that is so this is just an image here that demonstrates what happens when you're capturing at different resolutions. So this is the native resolution here, it's 640 by 480 and that's all you would see that image and you can see that I've got mine stripped out as far as it goes up to three to three thousand two hundred and eighty by two thousand four hundred and sixty-four pixels so that's the max if you go like I said before if you want to change those resolutions there's a write-up there on this project and it goes through how you can SSH into your Pi and just change those settings really quickly and simply.
Now that's just a string that we can see in OctoPi, we can also control our printer and see the real-time feedback there and like you can see the printer is reacting and the bed is staying still in the centre of the screen, that's exactly what we want. What we actually wanted this to do was to get to a point where we can time lapse our printer, so we go over to this time-lapse tab and you've got a few options here so I'll just go through the basic options and the idea of what a time-lapse is.
So with the time-lapse you take a bunch of pictures at a set interval through time or at a different point in time of one thing happening so it could be a sunset in our case it's a 3d print, and when you render all those images together you see a really quick version of what may have taken hours to complete which is great for 3d printing. So I've got mine set up pretty nicely, I'm pretty happy with the results of these settings so you can by default they will be off, what you can do is change it to a timed one or to on a Z change, now essentially the Z change is every time your print moves from one layer to another way your tool head moves in the Z direction your PI camera will take a snapshot and save it to a location and after the print completes, it will render it all together so we've got our set to on Z change our frame rate is 15 frames per second and that will slow down or speed up how quickly a time-lapse appears to you as the viewer your post roll is the final part of your time-lapse when the print moves to the front, so the print bed moves to the front as the print completes and it will actually take a few seconds worth of shots, like at that point so you can just see your print sitting there at the end nice and proudly. And this sitting here is the main one that's important if you're going to use a z change time lapse mode and that is that you can set the Z hop that comes from your retraction settings within Cura your slicer software and by setting that you won't be taking any snapshots when you print that when your tool that's just that hopping over your print in the same way it'll only actually do it past that point so line set to point one of a millimeter so it's only ever going to take a snapshot of my print if the tool had order print there's more than 0.1 millimeters upwards in the z direction so we'll take a look at where you can find that setting for your particular filament type.
So you just head into the full settings on Cura and the Z hop when retracting is 0.1 so that's where I got that value from. Once I've done all those you can make that the default if you like and down the bottom here you'll see finished time lapses so that is where once the time lapses are rendered that's where they're going to be saved to. Now we'll just get into the settings menu for a second just because there's a few different options in there as well so I actually have this little URL which I can attach to the end of my host URL for my Pi and if I do that I'll be able to view just the webcam stream can also press test and that will take a snapshot currently of what is on the bed, so that's a way for me to test what's happening there. Now we can also do the aspect ratio, I can change that by 2 16 by 9 or 4 to 3 sorry and because of my current ratio which is this one up in the aspect ratio is actually that square one further than that where the box will be equal to we're looking 1920 by 1080 16 by 9 aspect ratio, I've also flipped my webcam vertically because otherwise it would be mirrored the wrong way and would be upside down down the bottom we can see the snapshot URL there and we can also see that there's a pass to the FF MPEG binary. Now you don't need to change the settings very often that's just the way that it renders the video towards the end of it you can also disable the OctoPi print watermark which appears in the bottom left of time-lapse as if you don't know how to disable.
Now one thing that I will recommend is to go into the Advanced Options and change the bitrate of your timelapse up to 10,000 K bits and also change your threads from one to four, which will force you to be using all of the resources on the Pi to give you the best possible time-lapse you can have. So that's pretty much the idea behind the time lapses, so we'll take a look at the original time-lapse that we did on our printer and then we'll take a look at what we got it too.
So the original time-lapse looked like this one here so you can see it's a little bit dark and tore then we had this one here so it brightened it up a bit and it also just looks a bit smoother into more In Focus, just hypnotizing to watch. So yeah that's the fruits of our labour.
Now one thing we did observe after having our PI camera setup doing time lapses probably was that there was a lot of shadowing coming down from the tool head so they wanted to make a way that we could light up that print area as much as possible, but we could also light it up over night prints and longer prints that would take quite a while so that way we didn't see such a bright change maybe in the Sun going over the window or the light thing turned up in the room so we decided what the hell let's just go ahead and whack some LEDs on the printer and figure out how to control them in a way that seemed reasonable.
So grabbed some really basic LEDs from eBay I think which we'll put a link or down in the description below and they just white a white LED strip they're also waterproof and they've got some 3m adhesive on the back and they also came with a little ac/dc adapter that would plug in and power them so we grab those that's what we needed and we also needed a way to interface these to the RPi and switch them on and off few different ideas and we ended up coming down to the spot fun beefcake relay control kit, so we've whacked that together we changed one resistor on the control kit which was this one here and this resistor changes the forward bias of transistor there so this was actually made for a 5 volt device whereas the RPi Logic is only 3.3 volts so we needed to just change that a small amount.
So I'll show you how this is all connected up, I've actually got a picture over here on the PC so this is just our power source which is the AC to DC adapter, the LED represents the LED strip and the relay board it is there with the PI over here little zoom in a little so you can see that I've just got that in a series with the power supply and the positive voltage of the power supply and we're just switching that from normally close normally open we've also got these points here so we've got a 5 volt one a ground line and a control line so I've connected the 5 volts to be 5 volts on the PI also connected to the ground to the ground on the pot and right there I've connected to the control to GPIO pin 4 which you can find through just looking at a GPIO pin out, there is plenty around.
Once you've got all those pieces of information head over to your Octoo print and download a plugin called the enclosure plugin for octopi, so to do that you can go straight there or you can actually go to the plug-in manager you can get more and you can search for it here. so you can just type in enclosure plug-in now this is just one way that you can do it im sure there is a ton of ways as is the case with RPI usually, so go in there look it up there, enclosure so this is actually a plugin that can use all sorts of sensors to control an enclosure but we're just focusing on the LEDs for now. So go ahead and add that one to your Octoprint install and once you've got it you can head into the plugins menu here and jump on to the enclosure plug-in there so making sure everything is disabled have a look at Raspberry Pi outputs, now remember we've got it connected to a GPIO pin 4 and that's the one that we there's going to control our LED strip on and off.
So I labeled that one LEDs I put in the i/o number which is that on there, I've selected it to auto start up so the GPIO will always turn on when the print starts so if I start a print once it loads up and starts all those lights are going to turn on and I've also put it to auto shut down after two minutes once the prints finished and the output type is just regular and I've actually disabled the active low logic meaning that when it turns on it will actually be on. So I'll save that one there I haven't changed anything and you can see up here that I've got enclosure plugin imp if you want to know how I got that there take a look at the guide essentially it would be in this drop down menu if you didn't have if you haven't changed the order of those tabs and now we can take a look at the final product of this little section which is the LEDs turning on and turning off which is really good.
So that works really well for our prints and you can take a look at just the changing in the brightness of that that there yeah so it's it's worked quite well now one thing we did notice was that we weren't really removing the shadows from the tool head you can see the faint shadow that which is a lot less than that first time lapse video we watched, but we didn't we weren't completely happy with where was going so what we decided to do was mount just one segment from our LED strip onto the front two corners of our printer so you can see that I've actually got a complete copy a flipped copy of this guy over on this side of the printer and it's actually good an LED strip just mounted to there and an LED through here and those cables are speed under the bed and into our LED strip control which connects to our power supply. So that was really a really easy way to do it and I'll also link the STL for that file because I just edited essentially I edited this original camera bed now just so one be on the other side of the print bed and still keep those same dimensions but too I also trimmed off this part that holds the two camera so it just makes it look a bit cleanup so with all those lights together we actually noticed that the acrylic enclosure that we use through our case was just a bit reflective in the back there so we went ahead and got a piece of black cardboard and filled in the back corner so we can get heaps of light bouncing back out of that corner and then we couldn't help ourselves so we made a small sticker bond on the back there so you can see that on the screen there you can see all those stickers and yet I think it really suits up the project so again we'll take a look at that final time lapse now just because I'm kind of proud of it. So this is it here and that calculates are going for it so yeah that's how you set up your printer to time-lapse using auto print thanks for watching guys I'm going to link everything that I've talked about down below in the description if you like the video please give us a like and you share it if you thought it was that good, Have a great day!



Please continue if you would like to leave feedback for any of these topics:

  • Website features/issues
  • Content errors/improvements
  • Missing products/categories
  • Product assignments to categories
  • Search results relevance

For all other inquiries (orders status, stock levels, etc), please contact our support team for quick assistance.

Note: click continue and a draft email will be opened to edit. If you don't have an email client on your device, then send a message via the chat icon on the bottom left of our website.