After getting frustrated at not knowing when prints were done (and getting tired of running up and down the stairs!) I decided to add a camera to the printer. The obvious choice was to use another Raspberry Pi Zero W for it along with the camera kit. NOTE, you do need a smaller cable than the standard one, so double check before ordering!
I found this model on Thingiverse that seemed perfect for what I wanted to do. It attaches to the print bed and moves with it, so it can also be used to make some stellar time lapse videos. However, one of the pieces did require a nut to be inserted mid-print so that it is completely enclosed inside the part. I couldn’t figure out how to edit the code just right, so I wound up watching the print and just hitting pause at the requisite time. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked perfectly.
Once the camera was mounted, I set up the Pi Zero with RPI Cam Web Interface. The install was pretty straightforward and didn’t take long to get rolling. And once it was set up, I could pull up a web page with a live view of the printer from any phone, computer or tablet on my network.
While I don’t think it’s required, I will say having the camera online has been a HUGE help. I can see when prints are done, I can check in to make sure everything is going well, and when a print goes awry, I can get it canceled much faster than before (wasting less plastic).
Overall, it’s an easy project and doesn’t cost much at all. All in, I’d say it was about $40 and well worth it! Enjoy the video review!