Future Technology

This Ring digicam hack helps me maintain an in depth eye on my most harmful tech

7 min read
The Amazon Ring Stick Up Battery Cam in white.

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

In drugs, the time period “off-label” is used when a physician prescribes a drug for a purpose or in a fashion not particularly supposed by the producer nor appoved by the FDA. When medical doctors prescribe one thing off-label, it is often as a result of they assume the drug will probably be profitable in treating a situation that does not have already got a superb answer with a distinct drug.

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I am not a physician, and I do not even play one on TV. However as a techie with a penchant for engaged on uncommon or special-purpose initiatives, I typically use electronics and software program in off-label methods. That is what I did with Amazon’s Ring Stick Up Cam Battery. That is not what Amazon supposed for this product, but it really works rather well.

Watching over a laser and a spinning wheel of loss of life

The off-label downside I needed to resolve was watching my Glowforge laser cutter and Inventables X-Carve CNC whereas they have been working to ensure nothing unhealthy was occurring. In spite of everything, the Glowforge is a robotic laser — it shoots an precise laser beam — that burns materials to chop or engrave it. The X-Carve is a robotic reducing machine that spins a metal cutter at hundreds of revolutions per minute.

Additionally: Palms-on: Constructing the following technology X-Carve CNC (construct log)

So, yeah. In a single room I’ve a robot-controlled laser beam that may slice by way of most supplies, and in one other, I’ve a robot-controlled spinning wheel of loss of life. My spouse is so very tolerant. I’m so very fortunate.

Usually, the most effective observe when utilizing both of those machines is to stick with them whereas they do their work. That manner, if one thing goes improper, you may see it occurring and shut the robotic down. Sadly, it is wildly disagreeable to be within the room with both of those machines. 

Although I’ve a air flow fan that exhausts the Glowforge fumes proper exterior, the small room the place it is situated turns into full of fumes that persist lengthy after the reducing course of completes. 

And though I’ve mud assortment with the CNC, there’s a whole lot of very positive particulate matter despatched into the workshop air that I might fairly not inhale. Each machines are additionally insanely noisy, particularly with the add-on air flow fan.

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Putting in a digicam is the following neatest thing to being there. By means of a distant digicam, I can watch these gadgets on both my telephone or pc. If there’s a problem, I am only a room away.

Why the Stick Up Cam Battery

I thought of utilizing the mixture of a Raspberry Pi and webcam to watch my 3D printers, however I did not need all the additional wires (and the few hours of complexity configuring the customized monitoring Linux distro). Extra to the purpose, Amazon had beforehand despatched me the Stick Up Cam Battery camera again after they despatched me one in every of their Alexas to assessment, and it was sitting on the assessment shelf, ready to be put to work.

Additionally: Raspberry Pi will get picture and video capabilities with digicam module

If that was all it was, I may not have chosen the Stick Up Cam. However the machine comes with a hefty battery. Amazon claims it will probably watch a home for about six months on a single cost. The battery is simple to come out of the digicam and connect with any micro-USB charger to offer it a fill-up. 

It additionally comes with the Ring app, which permits for reside viewing both in a desktop browser or on a telephone. Whereas I did not want many of the Ring ecosystem options (like movement detection and two-way audio), the essential performance and stable 1080p video high quality have been a win. Plus, setup was a quick five-minute job, which is a large win, particularly in comparison with what it will have taken to attach a webcam to a Raspberry Pi and set up a customized model of Linux.

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However there was one downside: the sphere of view, particularly under the digicam, wasn’t adequate to look at my harmful little robotic pals. I wanted to mod the digicam.

Designing a customized digicam mount

I did a fast take a look at with a chunk of cardboard and located that whereas growing the angle of the digicam did assist, that slight angle did not assist almost sufficient.


Testing the digicam at a slight angle.

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

To get the digicam to see totally contained in the Glowforge and to see the mattress of the CNC, I wanted the digicam tilted at 45 levels. Sadly, that a lot tilt resulted within the digicam toppling over. So I wanted to make one thing to maintain it at 45 levels.

Additionally: Learn how to get into 3D printing with out breaking (too many) issues

Since I used to be already working with a CNC and a laser cutter, I made a decision to spherical out the desktop fabrication trio with a 3D-printed digicam mount. I modeled it up in Fusion 360 utilizing parametric values (which let you simply change dimensions) and have the design recalculate and lofting (which creates a mesh between two objects, and is how I received the angled swoop to work).


Minimize-away view of mannequin design, with area for digicam and counterweight.

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

The design has three essential options. On the left is a tube, into which you slide the digicam. On the proper is an oblong space the place you may slide in a 1-2-3 block as a counterweight. If you happen to’re not aware of 1-2-3 blocks, they’re cheap instruments that measure one inch on one facet, two inches on one other facet, and three inches on the third facet. They’re heavy precision metal and have a whole lot of makes use of within the store and lab. I received two from Amazon for $18.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

This is what the ultimate mount seems to be like after it got here off the 3D printer. 


This is the mount itself. I added some rubber toes to it so it will not scratch the glass floor of the Glowforge.

David Gewirtz/ZDNET

The third function of the design is a hook that lets me hold it up when it is not in use. It suits very properly on my pegboard.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Proud as I’m that I remembered to place a dangling gap in it, there’d be no level if it did not do the job. Let’s examine the way it does. 

Utilizing the Stick Up Cam Battery to watch my gear

This answer works rather well. As you may see, it sits properly on the nook of my Glowforge. As a result of the digicam is each wi-fi and battery-powered, there aren’t any wires to intervene with utilizing the laser. The one factor I’ve to do is keep in mind to maneuver the digicam so it would not intervene with the lid opening.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

It does an incredible job monitoring the minimize. Though you may’t see the precise laser beam doing the reducing, here is a screencap of the Stick Up Cam’s video feed that was taken whereas the laser was burning the plastic materials. To make sure, if there’s ever a hearth within the chamber, I am going to have the ability to see that — and act on it instantly.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

I can see what’s occurring with out having to breathe within the noxious odor — and that is with a customized air flow fan venting to the surface. I am unable to think about how tough that is for laser customers who haven’t got exterior air flow.

Additionally: 5 very helpful instruments and devices for higher 3D printing

The battery energy is sort of good. After doing a 15-minute minimize, the battery degree within the digicam was nonetheless at 98%. This implies I can most likely do 20-50 initiatives on the laser cutter on one battery cost (though, in observe, I am going to most likely cost it up as soon as it drops under 50%).


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

As a result of this rig is transportable, I can put it on something I need to monitor. This is the unit sitting on my CNC.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

So there you go. The Stick Up Cam Battery makes for an incredible monitoring digicam, particularly when paired with an affordable weight and the 3D printed holder. If you wish to make one your self, you should buy the camera and 1-2-3 blocks immediately from Amazon. I’ve posted the .STL file for my 3D design on Thingiverse, so you may download that at no cost. 3D printers aren’t very costly, so even when you do not have one, you would possibly contemplate getting one for initiatives like this. This is ZDNET’s record of cheap 3D printers you would possibly need to contemplate.

You possibly can observe my day-to-day venture updates on social media. You’ll want to observe me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Fb at, on Instagram at, and on YouTube at

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