For a number of reason reasons I find myself in PhD position that involves very little real research activity and I'm having hard time to fully understand my situation.
To give some context, I started a PhD on a thematic scholarship on a project that I've not even touched since the start of the program and was eventually canceled. Instead, since the start, I am working as developer for an experiment that require the production of specialized hardware. My job could be described as "embedded hardware engineer", and my tasks range from designing very simple PCB boards to writing C code for embedded devices.
Given the scale of the project and the limited number of (human and practical) resources in this group, this endeavor was enough to keep me occupied full time. In no part of this job I had to apply or develop any innovative algorithm or find a solution to a problem that was worthy of a publication. It's a very technical job and now I am facing the problem of how to push out a thesis on this.
I had some discussions with my advisers over this, but between political problems (e.g lack of people working on this experiment) and personal problems (conflict of interest and some people just being difficult to deal with) I've not found a satisfying solution; the idea is that I should write a thesis on the scientific context of the experiment (of witch I have a very limited understanding. I know how the instrument works very well, but nothing about the science they want to do with it).
Is my situation in some way "normal" or is there good reason to be concerned?
While the suggestion of my advisers seem reasonable and well justified, I don't think it's normal or fair to spend a PhD doing grunt work and then ask me to "arrange" a thesis on a topic I don't really understand (or care about to be honest).
Is it convenient to quit from this program if I want a "career change"?
I am not acquiring any meaningful skills that I couldn't get anywhere else. I feel like I am wasting my time and don't really want to lose another year(s) in this situation. I would like to quit and build a more interesting career in industry (let's say, robotics or other embedded stuff). But many people heavily discouraged me from this, saying that a PhD is relevant title even in the industry and quitting is going to look bad on my CV. At the same time, I think that to continue means losing more precious time, that I could use to gain new skills and experience, only to get a (potentially irrelevant) title.