Mounting a GoPro camera on a CNC machine

Sometimes it’s nice to make a video, even a timelapse one, of a project coming to fruition on a CNC machine. Maybe just as a keepsake, or to share, or even to make some educational Maker instructions. So being able to add a GoPro camera, or other camera that uses GoPro mounts, is something you may want. I did anyway, so the project shown above is a simple 3D printed mount that clips onto a 20mm-extrusion on the front frame of my CNC, which can be positioned right in-line with the work-bed centre.

It’s a very simple 3D printing project that doesn’t even need any support material, so shouldn’t be a challenge if you have access to a 3D printer. The files you can download from Thingiverse by clicking here, which include the OpenSCAD file in case you need to customise or adjust it. Once made you use it to fix on a sticky mount base like in the photo, for your camera arm to fit onto. And below is a photo of my GoPro session mounted on my CNC so you can get a better idea of how it works.

A GoPro camera mounted to a CNC frame

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Adding a spindle motor switch

I tend to prefer to minimise safety risks when I’m using my CNC, and that includes making sure I don’t injure myself touching fast-rotating cutting bits. Obviously it’s unlikely that the motor will start up when I’m removing or attaching a bit, although it’s a little more possible when the G-Code file includes pauses for tool changing. But, to be completely sure nothing can go wrong, I made the 3D printed switch box below to allow me to isolate the spindle motor from its electrical supply. It prints as two parts which need to be glued together to fit the top of a 20mm extrusion, like in the photo above. The hole in the front is made to house a standard 18x11mm rocker switch. Click here to go to Thingiverse to get the STL files for your 3D printer.

3D model of the spindle switch box

Once the two parts of the box are stuck together, with the switch inserted, the positive wire from the spindle motor controller to the motor itself, which should be red, needs to be cut. The position where you do that needs to be planned so that the wires can be run to the box and the full movement of the motor along the CNC’s x-axis isn’t compromised. Personally I found the best place is near the controller board as on my CNC the red wire ran straight past the box position. You can use standard spade connectors crimped onto the ends of the wire, after stripping some insulation from the end. Below is a photo of the back of my switch box so you can see what I mean.

The back of the switch box showing wiring

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Clip for 20mm extruded section frame

20mm square extruded aluminium section is commonly used for cheap CNC routers, especially for kit versions. So I designed this very simple 3D printed part that clips over three edges of the section. I did that for two reasons, the first being that I wanted to use one with two of my frame-end feet 3D prints (click here to read more) to make a stable tri-point support to reduce vibrations when routing. Secondly though, it’s just a useful thing to have to glue to anything I want to fix onto the frame while still being able to remove it later (e.g. bit holders or cable tie down pads). If you’d like to 3D print your own, just click here to get the STL files on Thingiverse.

A 3D model of the frame clip

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Support foot for 20mm extruded section

Many cheap CNC routers are based on 20mm square extruded aluminium frames, with slots and a hole running along them to attach fixtures. Often the four pieces of the frame at the bottom lie directly on the underlying surface, with no supports at the corners. That can be a problem as routing can cause a fair bit of vibration that can be transmitted straight into your work surface. If left unchecked, that can lead to annoying noise as the work surface and adjoined walls and floors vibrate with it. So, I designed this simple foot that can be slotted into the end of a 20mm extrusion that lifts it off the surface below, and which you can also use to add a small rubber or felt pad, further reducing noise and vibration. To get the STL files for 3D printing just click here.

A 3D model image of the foot

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