CNC mill alignment camera (version 1.0)

Since switching from milling PCBs to etching them, one of the most awkward steps is getting accurate alignment for drilling and cutting out the boards. Mounting a camera on the spindle isn’t an original idea, but after sporting some tiny endoscope cameras on eBay (10mm dia, 40mm long) I thought I’d give it a go. A good excuse to use the new lathe too.


The design is pretty simple. I drilled out some  aluminium bar stock to 12mm, with one end slightly narrower and tapped to M12. Then I turned down a M12 bolt to for in the 3mm collet I use with my end mills. A slot at the top is for the USB cable and two sets of three nylon screws allow for accurate alignment.


As you can see, a Mach3 video plug in makes it very easy to set the origin on a PCB or other work. Unfortunately it’s a bit long so there’s only just enough room to use with flat stock. I considered mounting it to the side of the spindle (with a known offset) but that didn’t seem right. A more compact version 2.0 is already planned using just the guts of the camera.

2 thoughts on “CNC mill alignment camera (version 1.0)

  1. CNC mill alignment camera. I sure would like to see version 2.0. I am especially interested in how you can take the guts out. I am thinking you want to make it shorter but retain some of the magnification. I was unable to solve this problem with the Supereyes B005 camera. I went back to my $10 edge finder.

    • I bought the part for version 2.0 – basically the internals of the same camera I used for v1.0 bought on aliexpress. Unfortunately I got distracted by other things and haven’t done anything with it yet. The lens and sensor are separate from the small PCB so that gave me some hope of createing something shorter. Unfortunately the connector is a very small pitch header and attaches to both sides of the PCB, so not the easiest to extend with a cable.

      I’m currently tempted to move to a bigger mill – perhaps a CNC6040 router from eBay – so v2.0 might never happen.

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