Author Archives: leavingtheplanet

Driving the Gear Cube with a Motor Part 3 – Success

In my second previous post Driving Gear Cube with a Motor Second Try I told you about a new idea how it should be possible to drive the Gear Cube with a motor.

This time I was more in luck and it turned out to work.
By removing one of the edges and attaching the middle part to three metal rods I could fix the cube on a aluminium plate which was mounted on the motor base. The motor was driving an axis which went all the way through the cube and which was attached to the upper corner gear. This gear was then driving all the other 6 gears. So in total we have 7 rotating corners facing in different directions as it is typical for a cube.


Everything got a bit loose so it drives with the right speed quite okay but sometimes it can be that it gets stuck and everytime that happens it is getting more loose. So ultimately it will destroy it self.
Obviously a new 3d design has to be made. Eventually printing the rotary joints is maybe not the best idea, here real ball bearings and metal rotary joints would be probably the best to be long time durable.

In the video you can now also see that there is no thumbling of the edges. the motion is totally pointed and not wobbling as I thought first by just trying with the hand.

Now the incredible question is of course what is it good for?
I did not do it for just having fun looking at it, really.
Maybe it is time now to start with some deep idealistic thoughts, since in these days I am getting more and more the feeling that it is easier than ever before to have fun and to not realize that one is unnecessarily wasting a lot of energy or is creating plastic rubbish or any other pollutants which cause damage to our environment. In 2015 we (humans) have already caused over 70 % of the species that we recorded in the last 150 years before to be extinct. Mainly by our resource consumption and all connected factors.
I started to come to this consciousness and now trying to channel my creative and intellectual energy to come up with any thoughts, ideas, creations, inventions, programms or whatever it can be that might eventually help to fix the huge bunch of mess that the bigger part of humanity has caused in the past and is still causing every day, with an ever growing speed. In my opinion we don’t have much space and time left anymore. There are enormous global problems to solve, which are all very likely to extinct more species every year and ultimately can cause humanity itself facing extinction.
We have the amount of people that together can come up with enough combined brain capacity to change the handful of crucial things that cause the catastrophic developments (fossil fuel, nuclear power and weapons, capitalism, national states, hydro politics, starvation, non regulation of cancerous substances etc). In fact the problems are easy to identify, it just has to be collectively done. And then it is easy to solve them. You just have to collectively come up with new, clean technologies which replace the old way of thinking. In my opinion it is always possible to come up with something better than before. The biggest problem of all are repressive factors that keep developments stagnating, as it was long the case in the fully automated automobile and other machine industries. For example cars are a major factor of extinction and climate change on this planet when looking at the whole picture including deep-see oil platforms and production process and burning of fossil fuel by millions of cars every day. The thing is that the car industry could have easily come up with something better already 50 years ago, and there are concepts existing. The workforce and brain capacity of the car industry itself, if channeled right, would be enough to make a global change within a decade or even shorter. But as long as some people make profit, they don’t need to think about changing something.

What this has to do with the hacky and dirty cube that I made turning?
It is very simple. First of all it represents as an intelligent artifact the incredible potential that has emerged with the uprising of the 3D printing technology and furthermore, the 3D printing community.
These are people that can change the world with technology in their living room.
And it doesn’t even cost something and people make it non-profit and open source.
There are now people on which lays the last hope of humanity.
One of those peoples are the 3d printing people (next to some other people that do other significant stuff of course). Not to forget.. there is the issue with the plastic and a lot of users are just printing crab that is 100% purposeless (so is this cube at this point).
But there are chances that those people come up with something relevant after the thought has developed in their mind. And there is a chance that this will be the next big thing.

The localized, DIY, clean energy resource that cuts a household from the net.
The new transportation device that drives without fossil fuel.
The device that turns waste plastic into 3D printing material.
The autonomous hydroponics system.
The new smart thing that no one ever had thought of so far but that changes everything over night.

But not that the cube is just an artifact representing this potential, but it is also a single unit with new capabilities that has not existed before for DIY enthusiasts.
It is a omni-directional motion energy translator that can be used as a heart for many projects.
Imagine you can drive one axis by water or wind force. And conserve the energy with 6 generators.
You can add magnets to the edges in the right composition so that they support the momentum and this way get eventually even more energy out of it.
On the other hand by driving it actively, you can make a walking mechanism for a robot that uses only one motor. For this you just have to arrange the legs in a proper way so that a crab-like movement comes out of it.
Driving it from the inside leaves a blank cube that can move on the floor.

These are just some of the more realistic use cases that I would like to imagine for this object.

With those thoughts I want to finish this series of guest posts on the Times Up blog and say thanks for the nice time at Times Up Robotic Workshop.

The Files to the original Gear Cube by emmet can be found here

Posted by David Gann

Driving the Gear Cube with Motors Second Try

In my previous post I talked about the Screwless Gear Cube and my attempts to drive it with a motor.

Unfortunately the first attempt was very humble and naive as I can say now when looking at it from a retro perspective.

As you might have read in the first post, the idea was to glue a rubber hose to one of the edges and fix another edge which is 90 degree oriented to the rotating one.
The short version is the glue did not hold and brake for one of the edges in the very beginning and for the other a couple of minutes later.

The motion of the cube nevertheless is interesting, and what I want to achieve can be seen in this rough video which was taken short before it broke:

It was clear that I had to try something new. Being thrown all the way back to the beginning is always a good possibility to inverse your thinking.
The new Idea was to take the cube apart and work more closely with the single units rather then trying to work with the assembled cube.
In the image you can see how it looks teared apart and especially interesting is how the middle part looks.
I realized that it would be easy to drill a precise hole from one end to the other and add that hole also on two of the corresponding gears.
Obviously this hole was perfectly suited for a metal axis.


Then I realized that it would be possible to fix the axis on one of the gears. So that I can turn the axis to drive the whole cube.
The only thing that was left to be added to this concept was to fix the middle part against the turning axis.
I did that by leaving out one of the gears and adding three metal screws that should hold it in place on the motor platform.
The missing gear is not really a problem for the cube!


With this new technique it should be possible to drive the gear cube with a motor from only one visible axis.
Which is great because we would have more rotation axis free  than I planned before.

The only problem left is that the cube lost its stability after working with it with heavy metal and disassembling it several times. So it probably will not drive very long when I finished the motor plate to hold the cube in place on Friday.

But that is okay since it is only a prototype and the final result should be of course a modified 3D model which has all the necessary holes and connections.

Driving 3D Printed Cube Gears with a motor

Massively inspired by the works of Thingverseuser emmet’s I decided to try out how it can be driven with a dc motor.


One way of doing it would have been of course to add joints and screw holes to the 3d model and then print it. However the motion is so complicated to think about, that it made sense for me to try a hacky way first.

For everyone not knowing what it is. It is basically a set of 4 big and 4 small gears, each oriented in a corner of a cube. the gears are intersecting each other and are freely moveable. This causes all 8 gears to turn when you turn on one of them. The gears turn in a way that each opposing side is turning in the same direction. So you can image it as a 4 axis cross with all axis turning in the one or the other way.


Of course there are a lot of amazing gear systems out there that exist already in metal form in some high tech device or some old school clock work mechanisms. So it is wrong to talk about something completely new. However it appears so intelligent and complex that everybody is amazed or at least surprised by the little cube. And certainly it is new that you can print those things for almost free in a 5 hours run of your (or any) 3d printer. My hope would be that you could do something extremely useful with being able to translate 1 circular motion into 8 in different directions in 3d space. I just dont know yet what that useful device would do.


I got started by cutting and wielding metal mountings for the edges. Since the motion is slightly wobbly I found it nice to use a rubber hose for attaching the cube to the motor as it can compensate for any movement and still keep the rotary motion (not confirmed).


Then the Cube got glued to the metal mounts and a frame was screwed on the DC motor.
The frame is necessary because the cube needs a second gear to fix the whole construction in place. This holding gear corner is turning loosely but holding the cube in place in regards to the motor axis rotation.
Now we have to see if it will move when we putt both things together.