About this Site

This site is developed using WordPress. It uses a theme I developed titled “First in Flight” which is based on the theme UnderScores which was created specifically for others to copy.  Many other pieces of software are either used on this site or in the creation of it. The majority of them are released under some form of opensource license. Where possible the license for each is listed below. Like the Creative Commons License, these licenses enable sharing and improvement by those who desire to do so. While each license is unique, the overall goal of advancement through shared knowledge is consistent.

The manufacturing industry suffers from a lack of this same goal. Equipment, software and education are all costly and primarily proprietary. Knowledge is locked away in expensive, and often outdated, textbooks and classes which serve to deter rather than encourage people from entering the industry. Perhaps a shift to opensource would open the industry to young, innovative talent and spark the kind of growth in manufacturing that the computer software industry has enjoyed over the last 30 years.

Open Source Software

  • WordPress – GPL – WordPress is technically a blog server, although many people use it as a Content Management System in the creation of websites. It uses MySQL as a back end and is easy to customize through the use of themes and plugins.
  • Underscores – WordPress theme developed by a community of developers. The theme demonstrates WordPress theme best practices and is intended to be used as a starting point for theme developers.
  • Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer   — GPL Plugin to WordPress that allows the use of many data sources as the back end to html tables.
  • First In Flight Image Fader — Used on the front page to display the image slide show. Developed by me. Not currently released.
  • GIT GPL – Source code management system used to back up files and maintain a revision history of changes.
  • Linux Mint – GPL – My operating system of choice
  • Apache –   Apache License – Web Server used for the site.
  • PHP PHP License – Language that WordPress and hence the IronPunk site is written in.
  • JQuery  A cross-platform JavaScript library designed to simplify the client-side scripting of HTML.[3] jQuery is licensed under the MIT License.
  • Citable – Not sure of the license on this but I’ve included it in this section as it is freely available and free of charge. It’s a super useful extension to Chrome for saving links and data from web pages into a Google spreadsheet.

Commercial Software

  • Bitbucket – Bitbucket is a cloud based storage service that integrates with GIT. I use it for offsite backup of the site. Bitbucket is a commercial service that is free for less than 5 users.
  • PHPStorm – PHPStorm is a commercial, cross-platform IDE for PHP[1]  written by JetBrains . Although the application is commercial and licensed using a yearly subscription service, discounted and free licenses are available for startups, opensource projects and educational use.
  • Smugmug – SmugMug is a paid photo-sharing website. I use smugmug because of it’s features, fast downloads and the lack of advertising. Hosting the photo’s using a commercial site allows me to run the website on a cheaper lower bandwidth account. It has nice features for embedding slide shows in WordPress as well as organizing and light editing of photos. Soon I will replace all galleries on the site that currently use Photo Gallery (below) with Smugmug galleries.
  • Photo Gallery – PhotoGallery is a commercial plugin for WordPress that enables the creation of image galleries. It is the free alternative to the “Pro” version which is available from the same company. I am not a big fan of the plugin and am working to remove the site’s dependence on the plugin.

Site Task List

This site needs much work. It is really still in its infancy. Here are some big picture tasks still to be done.

  • Make Responsive to better suit mobile devices – For a project focused on putting resources on mobile devices, this site views very poorly on smaller screen devices (and needs more help even on large screens). I have made some steps toward responsiveness but much more needs to be done. The CSS for the site is poorly organized and needs much cleanup.
  • Make Front Page view better on small devices and those with portrait displays – Enhance FIF Image Fader to serve images tailored to the device.
  • Turn the Online Resource List into a community sourced resource database.  – Start with a “Submit a Resource” form.
  • Forums/Chat/? – Some form of social interaction to discuss and get support on projects.

Grant Proposal

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.