A Little About Paul Jones

I am a Machinist/Toolmaker from the Adirondack Mountains of New York. I have been in this business since 1974, when I flunked out of Liberal Arts College. I decided that since I wasn't qualified to teach, I might as well learn something useful.(Teachers, if that joke offends you, I am truly sorry.) I worked in a job shop for several years, and then managed to get a position as an apprentice in a Toolroom at a vending machine factory. After working my way up thru the ranks, I acheived journeyman status and went back to work at the job shop as foreman.I took the NYS Civil Service exam for Master Toolmaker in 1983, and became a partner at the job shop, leaving in 1990 because of ethical conflicts.

I realize that this is probably more than you ever wanted to know about me, but there is a common thread running thru this entire time period:

At no time during all this experience did I ever use a conventional CNC machine of any kind. The closest I ever came to seeing one was in magazines like NC Shopowner and American Machinist. I used to read the articles and daydream about how grand it might be to use a computer to make parts and actually see them take shape. I would tell the boss that this was a good thing, and would make us money. His reply always was the same,"We can't afford it."

I determined that someday I would have one of these machines that make parts by themselves.

I had already purchased a computer in 1976, a zx made from a kit from a company in England. I remember two things about it: 1] It was hardwired, and had about 1100 connections.

2] It crashed more times than an Exxon tanker.

In 1980 when I bought a Radio Shack computer with a disk drive, I started to research the possibility of using it to control machinery. By the time I purchased my first IBM compatible in 1983, I had designed and built a computerised grinder for sharpening slitter blades for paper mills. I am proud to say that it is still working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week after almost 12 years of constant use. Of course, I changed the control computer over to an IBM compatible in 1988.

I wrote away for every bit of literature I could get on CNC controls, and bought books on the subject. Everything I read or discovered about CNC led me to one conclusion:

"We can't afford it."

I guess that is when I felt I would have to start designing and building my own system. I even went so far as to order one of those incredibly complicated outfits from Computer Continuum with the interface card, and the cable that cannot be longer than 16" under any circumstance, and the little circuit cards at the end of the cable that blow up if you breathe on them, and the $30 motors which I paid $90 apiece for. To add insult to injury, I paid $200 for software which I later discovered to be available as shareware (Dancad3d) for $20, and the author of the software (Dan Hudgins) probably never got a penny of the money.


I started researching the low end electronics business for suitable components. I burned up many chips and circuits. I discovered how electronic components work: They are full of smoke. If the smoke gets out, they don't work any more.

After several years, I finally produced a circuit that not only works well, but is actually pretty cheap to build. I remember when I first saw it work, I was so amazed that I had been able to make a machine that runs basically by itself. And, to be quite honest, I am still amazed every time I start it up!

The circuit is not unique, and I can't take credit for the entire design, because the principle is fairly much public knowledge. What I did was reduce it to it's simplest form and put it all in a 2" x 4" space.

Throughout this whole experience, I have found that I have done all of this from the perspective of a Machinist, not an electronics technician. I am an Iron Pusher, not an Electron Pusher.

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