About a week ago I started posting nightly builds of the new release of TouchDRO application. Based on the feedback provided by the beta-testers I've made a few changes to the user interface. The biggest one is the addition of the new "Axis Details" screen. It's purpose is to display the feed rate and chip load while the axis is moving, and offer few axis-specific functions.
|Clicking the axis readout brings up the "Axis Details" view|
Feed Rate Display
Feed rate is the linear speed at which the workpiece is moving past the cutter. Based on the currently selected units this readout will display the feed rate either in inches per minute or millimeters per minute. The value is refreshed roughly twice per second.
Chip load is the rate at which the metal is being removed. It can be thought of as the thickness of the chip being removed by each flute. Correct chip load is critical to tool life and surface finish. For instance, when it's too small the tool will rub and will wear prematurely. On the other hand, if the chip is too thick the flutes will load up and the tool can break. In fact, one of the most common reasons for breaking small end mills is too high of a chip load.
The formula for chip load is Chip Load = Feed Rate / (RPM * Number of Cutting Teeth). This means that, in addition to the feed rate, the DRO needs to know the tooth count of the selected tool and current RPM. Tooth count is set by selecting a tool from the tools list. When you click a tool, "Set Offset" dialog will pop-up. If no offset is desired, "X Offset" and "Y Offset" can be left as "None". RPM is provided by the tachometer.
The "½" (A.K.A. "Centerline"), +/- and "Set Zero" functions are not new. The latter is a bit redundant, since the same effect can be achieved by long-pressing the "abs/incr" button next to the axis. I added it because it might be useful while finding the center. For example, you would start by indicating one side of the hole, set axis to zero, indicate the other side and click "½" to find the center. A notable new addition is the "Audible Alert" function. When activated, the DRO will beep with increasing frequency as the spindle/tool approaches zero, starting at 0.250"/10mm away from it.
|Long-pressing axis readout brings up the new "Set Dimension" dialog|
Although this is not a part of the Axis Details dialog, this function is closely related to it. It can be activated by either long-pressing axis readout in the main screen or touching the position readout in the "Axis Details" screen. There is one notable change in the function compared to the previous version: it now gives you an option to preset absolute dimension. This might be useful in a situation where a drawing's dimensions reference a point that can't be indicated on the mill. In such case you can locate a feature whose coordinate is given in relation to the drawing's reference point and preset the axis to that dimension. From that point on all other dimensions will be in relation to the drawing's origin. Finally, although I like math, I still can't convert things line 17/32" to decimal in my head quickly. To make the life a bit easier for other folks that deal with fractional dimension, the dimension can be entered as a decimal number or as a fraction.
In addition to the features described above, I've made a few minor changes to the UI to make the app a bit more convenient to use. First of all, if the app was connected when you exit it, it will try to reconnect to the same device automatically. Second, when a tool is selected, it appears green in the tools list. Finally, tachometer value can be preset manually. If your mill uses a set of step pulleys to change the spindle speed, you will be able to preset the RPM to the current speed so it can be used by the "Chip Load" function.
|Selected tool is shown in green|
|If there is no tachometer, RPM can be set manually|
Finally, special thanks to the people who took their time to provide feedback on the beta version. Your input is very valuable and greatly appreciated. Keep it coming and I will try to keep up.