Due to reduced school budgets and downsizing of shop programs, many high schools and community colleges have a surplus of equipment but a shortage of skilled instructors to teach students machining skills. This is at a time when there is a projected 34% growth in jobs in the CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) Manufacturing industry. The goal of this proposal is to provide a means to teach skills fundamental to CNC machining in schools lacking resources and to better prepare students entering manufacturing jobs or manufacturing programs at community colleges.
A Digital Readout (DRO) is a simple computer added to a manual machine that greatly enhances the operator’s ability to do advanced work. At its simplest, it allows the operator to easily switch between metric and imperial systems of measurement and do precise work on older manual machines. Some DROs allow the operator to accomplish many tasks using similar techniques to those used on a CNC and hence allow an instructor to teach CNC related skills on a manual machine.
This proposal would document a process by which any school can build a DRO with greater capabilities than a commercial DRO using opensource resources. The opensource DRO uses an Android tablet as a user interface allowing the inclusion of freely available manufacturing resources and tools as well as images and videos. These resources can be utilized right at the machine making the DRO an invaluable teaching resource.
The opensource Android DRO is complete and fully functional, although in the future it could be enhanced to make it an even more powerful teaching tool. The build plans and functional details are documented at the site below. Admittedly, the website is a bit disorganized. Part of this project would be to organize and condense the information on the site.
With an opensource DRO installed, teachers can create projects that include much more detail and instructional material than traditionally possible. Videos and images demonstrating proper process and setup can reduce the workload on instructors who are working with students on different schedules and at different learning rates. Instructors can use the built in camera on the Android tablet to shoot pictures and video which can be linked with the project for students to reference in the shop or at home.
Projects can be uploaded and shared with other schools that have an opensource DRO allowing schools with more skills and resources to share projects with schools lacking in the same. This can serve as an outreach tool to high school CTE programs and help increase enrollment in community college manufacturing programs.