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A few good Geeks
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Thread: A few good Geeks

  1. #1

    A few good Geeks

    I'm involved in a project that is something that I've felt very strongly about for a long time.
    I work in what amounts to a dying profession; the area of close-tolerance machining. I'm sure that many of you are aware of the use of computers in my industry, particularly by major manufacturers. Well, to the big guns, computers are a real blessing; a properly setup CNC machining center can produce extremely precise parts that are almost identical for extremely long production runs, with next to no human interference. This reduces the requirement for an operator's ability to actually be involved in the machining process; in other words, the guy that's tending the machine doesn't have to know much about what's going on, just keep taking finished parts out and putting raw stock in- the machine does the rest. This is a great technology, but the initial expense is back-breaking; the company I work for has just installed two Hitachi-Seki 6 axis machining centers, with pallet loading capabilities. They cost $2,000,000 each; for most small facilities, that's just too much cost to support, because the small Mom and Pop shops that I started in don't need the capabilities that these machines have; they depend on short-run jobs that are contracted to them; this has been going on for years, and it's the segment of the industry I enjoy the most, and it's the subject of the project I'm involved in. I'm working with the head designer of a small but well-equipped machine shop; our goal is to create an open-source suite of applications that small shop owners will be able to afford, and that will run on older equipment that the owners may have.
    We're going to use Debian as the Operating System, because of it's availability, it's stability, and it's ability to run on older systems.
    What I'm looking for is people who can contribute ideas that will make for a more comprehensive system, one that a small shop owner can setup and use to run his operation in all phases, for instance, one of the more expensive overhead costs is bookkeeping; we all know that there are open source applications are just as capable as the high cost closed-source programs that are in common use, and just as easy to use.
    This topic is very extensive, and, I'm sure confusing to people who haven't worked in this industry, but believe me, there is a HUGE potential out there.
    What I'm going to do is ask anyone who is interested in possibly participating in an initiative like this to PM me, and ask questions; if you're still interested, I'll tell you how to get involved. (I'm NOT looking for money, and participation is at the individuals discresion, any one can leave at any time.)

  2. #2
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    Re:A few good Geeks

    What exactly is the Deb box going to control now? Is this going to be a company server for files, email, databases and such? I am willing to give a hand in another week or two. I am a little cramped for time at this time, but should loosesn up next week or so.

    Now, if you are using this to control then its different. I may be able to help with interfacing to various cards ports that have control lines going to various machines. I almost worked for QuadTech doing this sort of thing on their mailroom equipment in the Pewaukee, WI plant (repair tech, then after a few years, a tech engineer who designs new shit).

    You are difinitely right though - industrial applications of computers is amazing shit !!

  3. #3

    Re:A few good Geeks

    Schotty: I'll get back to you with some details. We want the box to be as capable as possible; as an example, there are 386's that control a significant portion of the Saturn foundry (yes, that's the car). Multi-function is the watch word in this project.

  4. #4
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    Re:A few good Geeks

    crossover office mimics all the m$ office apps, such
    as excel, access, word. you can DL a 30 day trial
    from www.codeweavers.com
    about cnc: do you use 386 based controllers?
    im surprised because i thought most cnc is controlled
    by the motorola 68k (which debian supports also) ???
    also: what book/or online site do u recommend for
    those (me?) who wanna learn cnc?

  5. #5

    Re:A few good Geeks

    [quote author=capybara link=board=13;threadid=4420;start=0#44168 date=1028254470]
    crossover office mimics all the m$ office apps, such
    as excel, access, word. you can DL a 30 day trial
    from www.codeweavers.com
    about cnc: do you use 386 based controllers?
    im surprised because i thought most cnc is controlled
    by the motorola 68k (which debian supports also) ???
    also: what book/or online site do u recommend for
    those (me?) who wanna learn cnc?
    [/quote]OK; basically, most manufacturers of CNC controllers use proprietary languages; what works on one system won't work on anything else; my major concern isn't so much modifying the controllers, although that COULD happen if a piece of equipment is no longer supported by it's manufacturer; but that would be an extreme case at this point. My concern is more for the manufacturing'engineering aspect of things, making it possible for small shops (less than 100 employees, say) to be able to have the networking capabilities (and design capabilities) to compete on a level playing field with bigger competitors by using a suite of open-source applications that are as capable, if not more capable, than the proprietary MS-based systems that they pay through the nose for, and still don't own. There are literally thousands of small shops in this country that are spending a significant amount of thier profit margin just to stay competitive because of the high licensing fees for software; I think that something like our project could keep some of these small shops from going under, not to mention cut down on the amount of perfectly good equipment being scrapped because a manufacturer no longer supports it.

  6. #6

    Re:A few good Geeks

    [quote author=capybara link=board=13;threadid=4420;start=0#44168 date=1028254470]
    crossover office mimics all the m$ office apps, such
    as excel, access, word. you can DL a 30 day trial
    from www.codeweavers.com
    about cnc: do you use 386 based controllers?
    im surprised because i thought most cnc is controlled
    by the motorola 68k (which debian supports also) ???
    also: what book/or online site do u recommend for
    those (me?) who wanna learn cnc?
    [/quote]OK; basically, most manufacturers of CNC controllers use proprietary languages; what works on one system won't work on anything else; my major concern isn't so much modifying the controllers, although that COULD happen if a piece of equipment is no longer supported by it's manufacturer; but that would be an extreme case at this point. My concern is more for the manufacturing'engineering aspect of things, making it possible for small shops (less than 100 employees, say) to be able to have the networking capabilities (and design capabilities) to compete on a level playing field with bigger competitors by using a suite of open-source applications that are as capable, if not more capable, than the proprietary MS-based systems that they pay through the nose for, and still don't own. There are literally thousands of small shops in this country that are spending a significant amount of thier profit margin just to stay competitive because of the high licensing fees for software; I think that something like our project could keep some of these small shops from going under, not to mention cut down on the amount of perfectly good equipment being scrapped because a manufacturer no longer supports it.

  7. #7
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    Re:A few good Geeks

    Okay, so your goal is to create a Linux/BSD based solution for both the office backend and the client worksations? That shouldnt be that hard. Today I am rebuilding my worksation and will be going from a P233-MMX 64MB to a P2-266 192MB and from a 2.5 GB drive to a 13GB !!

    I will annotate what I have to do to interoperate with M$ sofware fully. Curently the only expected issue is Access and MS-SQL databases. I can do excel and stuff fine via GNumeric and StarOffice.

  8. #8

    Re:A few good Geeks

    After a 2 hour long distance conference call, I'm much more excited about this than I was.
    I'll be posting a fairly extensive outline of the project in the next few days; this thing is really taking shape.
    BTW; the invitation is still open; we want involvement.

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