My CNC Timeline
1976 I am working in a company called Gordos in Bloomfield NJ. The maintenance guy was moving a 4' X 8' piece of Grey PVC plastic so I helped him. We move it over to the acid station. After a mercury switch is tipped off the envelope needs to be cleaned. The gas flames blackens the glass bulb so acid is used to remove the soot from the glass. Hydrofloric mixed with hydrochloric is used to clean both the leads and the bulb at the same time. The acid station used stainless steel sinks. After awhile the acid would eat the sinks and the counter around the sinks. So the maintenance guy was going to replace the sinks and then use the PVC as the countertop. I had never seen a sheet of plastic that big. I realized that the PVC was great stuff when I saw the holes for the sinks being cut. I asked for the sink cutouts. Then the maintenance guys helper suddenly wanted them. (You know how that works!) I was then told that the PVC was only affected by acetone all other chemicals were ok. The maintance guy told me of a local plastics place in Bloomfield where I could buy some Grey PVC.
1984 After my father died I started making fish tanks from scratch. I bought a book written by Dow Corning. It showed step by step how to make a fish tank. (Cool) I came up with a way to mount a homemade fishtank on a wall using only two screws in the same wall stud. I found away to move the center of gravity and to move all forces to the two screws. This was later used in my CNC designs. I wanted to make a custom light fixture. I called Bloomfield Plastics and a guy there sold me a bunch of scrap pieces for only $20! The plastic can be cut-drilled and tapped. It is better than Plexi-Glass and it does not yellow since it is grey.
1985 I bought a shortwave radio and while I was at Gilfer Shortwave radio in Park Ridge NJ I was told there was going to be a Flea Market at the store outside in the parking lot. I rented a space to sell off my excess electronic parts. After the Flea Market was over I helped the owner of the store cleanup. She had me carry in all kinds of stuff that I had seen in Popular Electronics. She then told me her husband Perry Farrell help start PE. I was then offered stacks of 73 and other electronics. I took them home. The stack of 73 was not a complete year but it had several articles on how to build a Radio FAX machine. They used a geared down AC motor to synchronize the drum. On the shortwave bands weather maps are sent to ships using Radio Fax. The signal sounds like sea gulls.
At the same time a guy at work had hundreds of paper tape readers in for repair. He would take the stepper motor apart and oil the bearings. He had no idea what he was doing. I was told to go over and fix the problem. After doing some reading I realized I only had to power up the unit and rotate the motor so the holes in the paper tape would line up with the sensors. As the units started working the guy got very jealous. What a Tool! Yea! I am an A$$
I then took home a driver board and a stepper out of a 1.2Meg floppy drive. I got it working with the driver board. Using some ideas from Ralph Taggart and others I was able to build a working Radio Fax machine using steppers. The unit was demonstrated at Gilfer using only a Sony 2010. The myth was then smashed that a 2010 could not do FAX. (This becomes the theme in my life) The FAX machine used a brass Floating Drive Nut that traveled in a slot. This prevented binding so that my unit could receive smooth newspaper photos from around the world through the air!!!
1996-1998 I designed several crank organs using harmonica reed plates. The final design is call the Harmonicat. I sell a booklet that shows how to make the unit. The unit is made using Grey PVC and White PVC pipe for the music drums. The last Crankorgan booklet is where I started to refine my method of making designs super simple.
2000 I was called upon to repair a Bridgeport Boss. During the repair I realized there might be a need for a cheap CNC machine. My first design used $100 of PVC. It used CRS rails and PVC bushings. I then was hanging out at a glass company when I was offered scrap store front aluminum channel. I looked over the scrap only memorizing the profiles. That night I had a brainstorm. I went back the next day and had them cut me a piece. This was a big day for the hobby.
Back in 2000 there was Hobby CNC with their plans using bushings, rods and Baltic Plywood. A company called Super Tech had MiniRobo plans that were put up on the web in 1997. In 1994 Dan Mauch did a drawslide planset for Nuts&Volts. There may have been others.
I set out to make a cheaper machine with easy to find materials. At first my machine used PVC Gibs and Jibs. While doing some work for a guy he told me about a white plastic. It was HDPE. When I went to my plastics place I was sold Delrin instead at $20 for a 6" X 6" X 5/8" block. The hobby changed that day!!!
2000 Next to me they were building a new house. As I was talking to the guys they were putting in wooden steps. The wood looked weird to me. I asked what it was. I was told it was MDF. I had read the big mouths knocking this material over on one of the worthless Internet groups. I used this material first in the Pipe Dream. (Unpainted) I then realized painting MDF seals it and if you use light grey paint you can see your layout lines better!
2001 I took a nap just after I read an Email. People wanted a bigger CNC machine then my Brute style. I had a funny thought about using rollerskate wheels. I checked the net and found that Sports Authority carried replacement Roller Blade bearings. I walked over and back and returned with tubes of bearings. As I was standing in my workshop I rolled the bearing on some Gas Pipe that was left over from the Z axis of the Brute style machine. I then had my buddy at his hardware store cut and thread some gas pipe. I was laughing the whole time I was building the Pipedream. At one point I was stuck as to how to mount the bearings. Laying there was a scrap of 3/4" aluminum angle. I mounted the bearings and created a Skate assemble. It ran like a dream on the Gas Pipe! The Pipe Dream was born. Two years later people told me it was and old idea used on a tablesaw. Raisins and Chocolate are old ideas! Putting the Chocolate on the Raisins was the trick! I was the first to create a set of plans that uses RollerBlade Bearings running on Gas Pipe in a machine built out of MDF. Old ideas put to use! Just like the Z axis beam of the Brute II uses Gas Pipe. A neat old simple idea used in a new design!
2001 I was walking over to my friends computer store. On the corner of Stuyvesant and Valley Brook avenue in Lyndurst NJ I was hit with a vision. My buddy thought I lost it! I was excited because I realzed I could take Pipe Dream elements and make a smaller machine. It became the 7th Sojourn.
2002 I built lots of designs in 2002! I started painting the MDF which kept it from absorbing oil and mosture. I also found out I could Tap MDF and use 10-24 bolts. I came out with the centering blocks now found on other people's machines.
2002-2011 I had more explosive visions and ideas. I went on to make a machine that was made to cut balsa wood model parts, a wood lathe add on, a machine that could cut aluminum and several kinds of motor drivers.
John Conrad Kleinbauer
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