This document will cover mounting the Official LightBurn Camera for use with your laser.
For a typical K40 or small laser the camera will need to be mounted on the inside lid of your laser and be able to see the bed when the lid is open. The connector cable will need to run from the camera to a USB port on your computer so LightBurn can connect to the camera.
You will need to put the camera into an enclosure to protect the electronics on the circuit board. There are a few options when mounting the camera to the lid.
- Purchase the Official LightBurn Camera Mount
- 3D print the Official LightBurn Camera Mount (Download STL Files)
- Fabricate your own mount.
We’ll cover the Official LightBurn Camera Mount in this guide since any mount you design and fabricate on your own may differ in operation.
The camera mount has a swivel design with knobs on both sides that can be loosened while adjusting the camera mount and then tightened once you find the correct angle needed to see your laser bed.
Test the Camera Module
You’ll want to test the camera itself on your computer – we test all the cameras before shipping, but to remove any doubt, you should test it before installation.
Note: Before you plug the camera module into your computer, make sure it is on a non-conductive surface. No metal should be touching it.
Plug the white connector end of the USB cable into the camera module. Note the orientation of the cable – it only goes one way. Plug the other end of the USB cable into your computer. After it is plugged in your computer should recognize it as a USB camera. Make sure the image looks good. If all is well you can move on to the next step.
Note: If you are using Windows 7, you may need to install a driver and/ or run Windows Update to get all the latest updates on your computer. See: LightBurn camera on Win7 – Driver
Install the Camera into the Mount
To install the camera module into the camera mount, remove the top faceplate from mount bracket/ body. Flex the tabs out ever so slightly and push up, one end at a time.
Once the faceplate is removed you can place the camera module into the housing. You may want to add some foam tape or a few drops of Silicone RTV to the inside of the housing when you install the camera so it is held securely in place and is not able to shift around.
When your camera module is in place you can then align the rectangular protrusion of the faceplate with with mating groove of the bracket and gently snap down all four clips.
Once you’ve installed the camera module into the camera mount you can plug it into your computer again to ensure it’s working properly before installing into your laser.
If you are purchasing the camera and mount from us you can opt to have them assembled by our staff. See: LightBurn Camera & Mount Assembly
Check your Lid for Positioning
Note: Laser cutter lids all vary in construction. We’ve included some notes about how you may need to address shortcomings in some lids.
Lid opens too far back
The K40 lid opens too far back for the camera to be position properly. You can install a magnetic door stop to keep it from going so far back, or gas struts like you might find on a porch door. The feedback we have received so far is that the magnetic door stop is not effective enough, and that gas struts are a better option.
Lid shifts left to right
The lid pivots on what can be as “simple” as a screw and a pin on a spring. If the lid can be moved left to right, then your camera will not stay aligned. At the least you can add washers/ spacers on the pin side to keep the lid from sliding. Some laser come with washers/ spacers already installed and do not slide left to right. Another option is to install hinges to prevent any sideways movement of the lid.
Installing the Camera Mount onto the Lid
Once you’ve got the camera module installed into the camera mount and you’ve ensured your lid will stay in a secure position when opened, you can mount the camera onto the lid.
Note: You will want to determine the correct positioning before you permanently attach your camera to the lid with the VHB tape. (VHB stands for “Very High Bond” and it is not easily removed.) Consider using a removable tape to hold it in place while you check the view of the camera.
With your camera temporarily in place (using removable tape) you should make sure you can see the entire bed in LightBurn.
Once you’ve found the correct position for the camera where it can see the entire bed, you can permanently attach it to the lid.
The VHB tape will reach 50% bond strength within 20 minutes, so if you didn’t get the positioning quite right and need to change it, don’t wait – peel it off and reposition it right away.
Now that you have your camera mounted to the lid, we’ll need to run the cables and secure them in place along the route to the computer.
If you’re are purchasing the camera from us, we offer a LightBurn Camera Cable Management Kit perfect for securing the USB camera cable.
These cable mounts consist of a base with adhesive on the back, and slots to run a zip tie through. You can place these along the lid and the body of the laser cutter, put the USB cable up against the base, and then insert and tighten a zip tie around the cable.
Important: The connector for the camera is quite small, so to prevent any undue stress on it you should ensure there is sufficient slack so the connector does not become strained. We recommend making a loop with the USB cable at the location of the zip tie mount closest to the camera and then tightening the zip tie around the looped cable to ensure the cable will not pull on the connector end of the cable.
Above is an example of how the USB cable might run from the camera to the hole in the K40 housing. You’ll need to make sure you can open and close the lid without pinching or straining the USB cable.
Note: It’s best not to fully tighten the zip ties until you’ve got them all in place and can see where you might need slack in your cable run.
Calibrate your Camera
Once you have the camera mounted in place and the USB cable secured and running to your computer, you’re ready to test out the camera and then move on to calibration.
Secure the Lens
After you’ve finished the the above steps and have calibrated and focused your camera you should secure the lens to prevent it from rotating. Doing so will help ensure it remains in focus during operation. A small dab of low-temperature hot glue on the side where the threads are should hold the lens in place and prevent it going out of focus, but also make it easy enough to remove if it ever needs adjusting.