Wednesday 1 May 2024

Playing with ESP32 Camera and Designed a Case in FreeCAD.


Lately I've been playing a little with ESP32 camera's. In case you don't know they are super affordable little wireless modules with a camera and SD card attachment that can be programmed via the Arduino IDE. There are heaps of guides out there to get going with them and they have a range of interesting uses. It's pretty trivial to set them up so that the configurable camera feed is available on your network, or I've also tinkered successfully using them in station mode so you connect directly to them as a wireless device with no network needed. 

Use cases are many, I like to slap them down in front of machines or running experiments that can be left unattended but you might want to periodically take a look at. You could use them as a little simple CCTV camera or for wildlife monitoring. Indeed there are lots of examples out there which add PIR motion sensors etc so that you can increase their versatility. 

Often these days they are sold with a little sub PCB module that acts as a serial programmer with a CH34X IC on board and these then allow you to power the ESP32 camera via a USB micro socket. The ESP32 camera and programming board are really affordable so I've found them cheap enough that you can leave the programmer board attached for ease of use. As such I wanted a simple case. 

After  a bit of calliper work I designed a couple of variants of a snug fitting case for this device in FreeCAD. I'm pleased that, once 3D printed, the PCB's slot in with no rattle and no play at all. The lid side of the case is designed to receive some M2 3.5mm diameter and length thermal inserts which can be pressed in with a soldering iron. Then I've used 20mm M2 bolts to close the case. Both versions of the case have a large USB access slot and there are versions with or without space to have an SD card inserted. 

 Of course the FreeCAD files are also up on the printables listing so you can redesign it to your needs. 

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