Air Knife Keeps GoPro Lens Clean In Messy Environments

Before the GoPro, shooting video of messy, fast-paced, or dangerous things was very different. There were commercial sports camera rigs and various industrial solutions, but the GoPro, with its waterproof housings and diminutive size, was the revolutionary, stick-it-anywhere camera. Despite this, the team at [tarkka] were having issues with the lens getting covered in coolant while shooting videos of their CNC machining projects. To solve this, they created an air knife to clean the lens.

The air knife consists of a wide, flat nozzle that is designed to blow fluid off of the lens. It’s a tidy 3D printed design, which wraps around the GoPro housing. Felt pads are used to give a snug fit, so the device simply slides into place and stays there. The device is fed from a hand-operated nozzle at present, though the team notes that this could be changed to a more permanent connection.

In testing, the device has performed well, even when under a constant barrage of coolant spray. This should make shooting CNC videos much easier for the team, who were formerly required to manually wipe the camera down several times during a shoot. The build was actually inspired by an earlier build by [Edge Precision], which used machined aluminum parts to create a similar tool.

The GoPro remains a popular camera wherever a small and rugged device is required. Consider mounting one to a toy car for a weekend’s worth of fun. Video after the break.

21 thoughts on “Air Knife Keeps GoPro Lens Clean In Messy Environments

  1. I’ve seen some cnc machines which use a little version of a clear view screen, which is a circle of glass with a motor in the middle to spin it at a few thousand RPM. You see them on old fishing boats and such.

    Don’t know if it would be more cost-effective to build; the air knife is pretty dang simple. But you can make a huge area remain crystal clear. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve a hole cut in the CNC’s enclosure, as long as there’s a seal around the rim to keep water and swarf and stuff from getting around behind it.

    They also had a bunch of them on the bridge of the ship in Cowboy Bebop, so that’s always cool. I’d love to have one on my truck. That might be a bit silly.

  2. In looking into this at one point for an application, I found the following calculator link that allows you to calculate CFM etc., even for small air knives. As it turns out the air consumption for a small (camera-window sized) unit with a very small gap (thousandths of an inch – use shim stock to space it properly) is quite manageable; less than 1 cfm at less than 40 PSI

    1. Just to clarify, that calculator is based on a regenerative blower based air knife system. Compressed air knives generally run an air gap at .002″ thick. The plenum chamber inside the knife coupled with port size, operating pressure, and gap will all create your air demand. I’m not disagreeing with your comment, just wanted to help with some clarification.
      An air knife of that length is going to be minimal air requirements. Keep in mind, gravity pulls at everything so top down is easiest and Rain-X or CleanX Invisible Shield will go a long way to help.

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