CNC Cam (v1.0.0.6 - 15-12-2016)
 The CNC Camera Alignment Utility - Always On Top!

What Is 'CNC Cam'?
CNC Cam is a Windows utility that enables you to use a webcam device attached to a CNC machine, for accurate two dimensional optical alignment. The utility provides configurable picture zooming, window size, and cross-hair overlays to enable the use of a webcam feed as a means of aligning tools and jigs on your CNC machine. This utility differs from any other available in that it can do all this whilst remaining 'on-top' of your CNC application, yet still allowing keyboard input focus to remain with your CNC application.

The application runs in the systems tray (next to the clock) and is on call whenever required. To activate simply press the Win Key+F12. Toggle image negative using Win Key+F11. Change the zooming level and window size with Win Key+F9 and F10. Change the cross-hair type and colour using Win Key+F7 and F8. Any changes to the CNC Cam display through these shortcuts will not affect or remove the keyboard input focus from your CNC application, allowing you to continue jog alignment with ease. Optimal webcam settings (brightness, contrast, colour balance etc) can be configured within the application using your own webcam's configuration popups, activated by double clicking in the window.

CNC Cam supports picture zooming from between 25% to 1600%, it has multiple cross-hair modes, provides a choice of eight cross-hair colours and colour invert / normal modes (to ensure the best possible contrast between the webcam feed and the cross-hair overlay), and can be configured to run either in normal application mode or with Close to System Tray and Start Minimised enabled.


Which Webcam?
CNC Cam is compatible with most webcams. The utility has been successfully tested with many webcams from standard video chat style webcams, to microscope webcams, to bullet style endoscope webcams. Almost all current webcams are compatible with CNC Cam. The greater the resolution the better, however a standard 640x480 endoscope type webcam is ideal for mounting onto a CNC machine because; they are rugged, they have built in variable LED illumination, they tend to have a long cable, they are water resistant (if not water proof), and will generally only set you back about £12 on eBay. Significantly, a basic webcam of this type when used in conjunction with CNC Cam, can give an alignment accuracy of 0.01mm!


Where Can I Get 'CNC Cam'?
The CNC Cam utility is available here and is currently available for free for the purposes of trialling the application (with a nag screen). Full product registration may be completed through the acquisition of a registration key for a one off fee of 20GBP (33USD). CNC Cam, however used, must be used completely at your own risk, and by downloading and running the CNC Cam utility, you are accepting these terms of use. If you have a version that has expired, then come back here to get the most up to date version available.
Download 'CNC Cam'

Recently browsers have flagged this download with a Malware warning because this is not a commonly downloaded file. This is not an infected file (I have verified it with the original), however if you still feel uncomfortable about using it then please don't.
'CNC Cam' In Action
The following series of screen grabs show CNC Cam being used to align along an right angle and over the centre of a 3mm hole. Images show various levels of zoom using a £15 endoscope webcam (640x480) glued to a CNC machine.

Centreing on a 3mm hole.
     
Aligning to a right angle.
     
F1 - Help/Nag screen showing registration status / Basic endoscope webcam crudely mount onto CNC head.
 

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How can I get a registration key for CNC Cam?
A: Before requesting a key, please fully test the application and make sure that it does what you want it to do, and that it is compatible with your webcam. Then email the registration code that appears in the F1 Help screen, along with your Paypal account email, to Info at C21 Systems dot com. We will then send you a Paypal invoice, and once the amount is paid, will send you a corresponding activation key, to the Paypal email that paid the invoice.

Q: How do I install CNC Cam?
A: CNC Cam is a single EXE and so does not need an installer. Just copy the EXE into a suitable location and create a shortcut (right-click Copy, somewhere else right-click, Paste Shortcut). You can then place the shortcut into the Startup folder or onto the Desktop. You can also add command line options to the 'Target' field of the shortcut e.g. -CloseToTray -Camera=Microscope

Q: When I run CNC Cam nothing happens, why is this?
A: CNC Cam is designed to be run on startup i.e. a shortcut to the CNC Cam utility should be placed in the Startup folder. To activate CNC Cam, click on the orange square in the systems tray (near the clock) or press Win Key+F12.

Q: How do I make CNC Cam close to the System Tray i.e. hide instead of actually closing the application?
A: Just add the command line option -CloseToTray to the Target in the properties of the shortcut to the CNC Cam application. When in this mode you will need to right-click on the Tray icon when you really do want to close the application.

Q: I can't close CNC Cam, what is the problem?
A: The CNC Cam application can be closed by either pressing the 'X' icon in the top right of the window, or by pressing the Alt+F4 key combination. However, when the -CloseToTray command line option is enabled then the application will ignore the Close action and just do a hide / minimise as if the Win Key+F12 key combination had been pressed. When the -CloseToTray option is enabled the application should be closed by right-clicking on the square orange tray icon (bottom right of your Desktop).

Q: How can I find the offset of the camera to the chuck?
A: The quickest way is to drill a hole, zeroise, and then locate cross-hairs over hole and record the offset position.

Q: Is it possible to adjust the position of the cross-hairs?
A: It is possible to adjust the position or the cross-hairs from their default dead centre location using WinKey+Ctrl+F5 (left), WinKey+Ctrl+F6 (right), WinKey+Ctrl+F7 (up), and WinKey+Ctrl+F8 (down). This information is not documented on the help screen.

Q: How should I use CNC Cam to realign a jig?
A: It is recommended that you first align the jig to one of the axis and then clamp securely. Then position the cross-hair over a reference point, Zeroise/SetXY position and subtract the camera to chuck offset you calculated previously.

Q: What is the difference between the trial and full versions of CNC Cam?
A: Functionally they are identical, with the exception that the trial version will display the Help popup to nag you to register.

Q: How do I connect to a webcam device?
A: CNC Cam auto detects and selects the first webcam device it finds. You can connect a webcam at any time and CNC Cam will discover and activate the webcam within a couple of seconds. If your systems has more than one webcam, you can specify which camera to use by adding the -Camera=CameraName command line option to the Target in the properties of the shortcut to the CNC Cam application. The camera name is displayed in the title area of the application window, and you just need enough of it to distinguish between the cameras on your system. I.e. if the CNC Cam application window title shows 'CNCCam - Dino-Lite Digital Microscope' then just add something like -Camera=Dino to the command line in the shortcut.

Q: Other centering camera applications implement BSOD features, is there a comparable feature in CNC Cam?
A: CNC Cam was created because we needed reliable software with specific functionality for our own use, as such there are no current plans to implement any BSOD functionality in CNC Cam.

Q: I would like to suggest an improvement, what should I do?
A: Please feel free to suggest any improvements or provide feedback/comments of your experiences with CNC Cam (by email). If there is something missing that would improve the usability of the utility then we may look at improving it and releasing an update - no promises though. If you suggest an idea, then we will assume that you have given full permission for its use in CNC Cam.

Q: Can you recommend a suitable webcam?
A: We are reluctant to identify a particular webcam for the job, however our experience with a cheap endoscope webcam has been significantly better than expected and is suited perfectly to our requirements. Endoscope webcams are ideal as they are robust, have built in illumination, come with a long lead, and tend to be the easiest to mount securely. Note that many provide an adjustment thumb-wheel to change the brightness of the illumination however, some locate this inline near the camera end (which is useful) and on others it forms part of the USB connection (not so useful). We have also tested CNC Cam with a microscope webcam which offered superior optics, magnification, and produced a larger output image (1280x1024), however this type of webcam is significantly larger, more difficult to mount, less robust, more expensive, and had a very narrow depth of field (Dino Lite 413T) - which overall made it less useful.

Q: Any other recommendations relating to using CNC Cam?
A: CNC Cam meets our needs when used in conjunction with SuperCam XP (CNC software) and a cheap 10mm diameter endoscope camera. Since our joystick broke (which we used to position head before a SetXY command) we have switched to using an XBox 360 gamepad in combination with XPadder (maps gamepad actions to keystrokes / buttons etc). This combination has the advantage of being wireless, cheap, and allows us to map the rear buttons/triggers of the gamepad to the Win Key combinations of CNC Cam. E.g. right trigger shows / hides CNC Cam window, buttons adjust magnification and colour inversion, thumb sticks move the head, 4 way pad jogs the head etc.

Q: Are there MAC or Linux versions of CNC Cam?
A: No and no - nor are there any plans for ports to any other platforms in the future.

Download 'CNC Cam'

Recently browsers have flagged this download with a Malware warning because this is not a commonly downloaded file. This is not an infected file (I have verified it with the original), however if you still feel uncomfortable about using it then please don't.

 www.C21Systems.com/CNCCam - T J Hyde