The NSRP Video Weld Demo and Tutoring Station
We were quite excited when the Navy suggested we try using cameras to speed up welder training. Cameras have long been used to help athletes perfect their form and since welding also requires very high dexterity and good form, we thought, “What a great idea – that should work.”
We’re all aware of the welder shortage and how it is getting worse with the baby boomers retiring. This problem is especially acute in shipbuilding where welders are needed everywhere and robots are impractical.
Under the Navy’s NSRP program, we collaborated with shipyards, academia and industrial partners to test this idea and determine what should be in a station. It had to be effective, but also economical. Another important goal was that it be welcomed and used by real-world instructors. It had to be used, not forgotten like so many simulators in closets.
Over 3 years, we tested many future-looking features, keeping those that worked and jettisoning those that didn’t. With several major versions and literally hundreds of small modifications, we zeroed in on a core that was simple and effective.
The mission for the system was two-fold: Demo and Tutoring.
To accomplish these, the final system used 5 elements:
- Our V2016-Z color zoom weld camera to get close-up views of the arc and puddle. We put this on a flexible arm so you can point it anywhere on the welding table.
- VAmpWatch monitor for real-time volts and amps.
- A big-screen TV for demo
- Software that automates demos and video tutoring so the weld instructor can concentrate on instructing, not running the machine.
- The software runs on a Microsoft Surface Pro, mounted on a flexible arm. This gives easy touch-screen operation and built-in disk space to record demo and student videos.
The simple software controls use big buttons for touch-screen control.
This shows live closeup video of weld demos on a 55 inch big-screen display on a stand next to the welding table. The video includes a live volts and amps graph:
You can use a simple big-screen like the TV on a stand like Manchester CC, or can go all out with 4 screens overhead like Blackhawk Technical College did:
Someday, we hope an NFL team will put a weld on one of those 60-foot stadium monsters.
Through the testing, we learned to avoid adding work to the very busy days of the instructor. Wherever possible, the system automatically handles things allowing the instructor to instruct.
The system automatically records the demo welds so they are all available to replay to answer questions or point out interesting details. The volts and amps are recorded along with the video so the graphs are recreated on playback – the same as it looked live.
In addition to recording automatically, the system automatically erases old videos when space gets low. The instructor just welds, day after day, and the system takes care of things.
Of course, you’ll want to save some videos from erasure, those perfect demos as well as instructive mistakes. The systems let you mark these as ‘KEEP” and they are added to the “Keep” directory where they will never be deleted.
The system is also designed to help with tutoring. The idea is that the student / trainee will weld a coupon using the camera while the instructor watches. With a good view onscreen, the instructor can see the weld and coach the student to get the proper weld stroke. We typically hear instructors saying things like, “slow-down… slow down… that’s good. You’re arc is getting long and your amps are dropping… that’s better; keep that arc…”
The welds are all automatically recorded and will even automatically play back so the student and instructor can see and review the good and bad parts – all without touching any controls !
Typically, after a short tutoring session the trainee knows what needs practice and goes back to their booth to practice. Practice is much more effective when it is directed to a specific skill to perfect.
Well, we could go on and on, but let’s use the power of the web.
We shot a number of videos that show the system and how to use them.
Here’s list with direct links to all 10 videos so you can jump straight to the videos. You might find the most interesting one to be From the Instructor’s Viewpoint.
|Demo and Tutoring Station Overview||CLICK for YouTube||Download 430 MB|
|From the Instructor’s Viewpoint||CLICK for YouTube||Download 202 MB|
|Quick Weld Recording Session||CLICK for YouTube||Download 131 MB|
|System Walk-through||CLICK for YouTube||Download 279 MB|
|Demo Training Session||CLICK for YouTube||Download 137 MB|
|Quick Tour of Software||CLICK for YouTube||Download 64 MB|
|Lesson Suggestions||CLICK for YouTube||Download 200 MB|
|Tutor Station Software and Settings||CLICK for YouTube||Download 288 MB|
|Tips for Better Videos||CLICK for YouTube||Download 593 MB|
|Advanced Features||CLICK for YouTube||Download 430 MB
Visible Welding cameras are currently used at many educational institutions in weld training courses.