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Why use a Spindle Camera?

CNC Spindle Cameras Part II

  • They provide non-intrusive positioning and measurement at incredible accuracy.
  • They allow you to measure and then fix physical errors such as rails not parallel, axes not at right angles, nonlinear leadscrews, … in software.
The USB Spindle Camera on a Taig Mill

What is a camera for?

Absolute Positioning

  • Compared to mill probing with a probe or mill bit this is incredibly faster. Center the camera on the corner and click zero — or position the probe near the left edge and probe (wait) then position it near the bottom edge and probe (wait). No contest.
  • Compared to CNC probing with a laser it is much more precise. A laser probe is accurate and repeatable to maybe 0.1 inches. The spindle camera on my mill is accurate and repeatable to .0004 inches (optimistically).
  • Only physical stops are comparable and they are usually impractical.

Measurement

Sample image of 2 inches of a ruler and a brush hair

How to Do it

  • A Streaming Camera — here the Wi-Fi TinyCam in my last article is great. Any other image web source can also work.
sealed WiFi TinyCam — streams a USB spindle camera
  • Software — the SpindleView application lets you use a camera with the CNC for measurement and positioning. It runs in a browser and supports any operating system since it’s written in Javascript.
The Spindle-View App (cropped)
SpindleView App (dark)

A USB Camera

A camera mounted on the side of the mill spindle
A camera mounted on a CNC Router
The Camera Case Model

Background on Physical Mistakes

How to Fix Physical Mistakes

  1. Measure the error very accurately.
  2. Enter correction tables into the CNC controller or alter the Gcode results to allow the CNC to correctly mill/route.
A nice 5MP camera in a 3d printed box.
Results of calibrating the CNC (X axis data shown here is 19" of the 3' total)
After calibration this sort of thing always works

Onward

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Mark Zachmann

Entrepreneur, software architect, electrical engineer. Ex-academic.