Can't you just strap a camera to a printer with some duct tape?

A project log for LadyBug BEEFY: 3D printer motorized microscope

Got printer? Connect to the motors with a Pi, plonk in a cheap scope, and do 2D and 3D scans!

ahron-wayneAhron Wayne 07/03/2020 at 02:160 Comments

Someone asked me this, kind of sarcastically, when they learned about the project. And you sure can! 

What printer is this, you ask? It's an easythreed nano --- basically a clone of the M3D micro. It's an adorable little printer, ridiculously super small, and with a very simple, attractive gantry style that moves just the print head, like a delta, but with cartesian coordinates. What's the main advantage of this? 

Well, you don't have to mount your object to anything. Just throw it on the build plate. Once I find a printer like this with a bit more stability (the Z axis is particularly horrible) I don't see any reason I would ever switch back to a typical style with a moving build plate. 

Here's the leaf, keeping in mind this is with one of my old cheap microscopes, one I took the IR filter off (hence the washed-out green), it's just one Z height (744 X/Y), and it's strapped onto a sloppy printer with duct-tape. All included, though, should give you an idea of how easy the basic concept of this is. 

The banding pattern is a combination of the slop (mostly fixed with microsoft ICE), and non-uniform pixel brightness from the cheap scope (intensified by microsoft ICE). Someday I'm going to sit down with the post on stack exchange which addressed this and apply it to all my old data, see if I can squeeze out a bit more quality from the cheap scopes. 

Also, if you've been following along, today marks the official end of the Kickstarter. Didn't make the funding goal, unfortunately. Many reasons for this, but this is Hackaday, not business self reflections, so I'll just say that the project is far from dead and there are a lot of thing I still want to try. This includes improving the user interface and simplifying scan workflow, to doing stereo imaging and 3D model generation using assisted depth from focus. There's a huge amount of low-hanging fruit when it comes to this project and machine vision, and I was recently inspired by the BoofCVproject, so you might see me fumbling around there.