HomeWild GearsFor Wild Gears Super Geeks: Modifications


For Wild Gears Super Geeks: Modifications — 10 Comments

  1. I forgot to mention that the burr set I got was 400 grit. The slightly coarser 240 grit should also work well. I wouldn’t recommend going finer than 400 for this.

  2. Thanks for this!

    I can’t say as I’ve noticed this, but my eyesight isn’t that good. I wonder whether this problem is in the nature of later cutting acrylic? Should Aaron Bleakley or Ponoko be made aware and the problem addressed at source? Too late for those of us already using Wild Gears.

    I’m a little daunted by taking a drill to a set I’ve paid £100 for! I admire your courage, talent dedication!

  3. I use H4000 Silicone Spray when I notice any “little hang ups”. It has worked well for me so far. I also use the Silicone on the flat surfaces and it helps the ‘glide’ of the moving gears on the paper.

    • Direct from the manufacturer is the only place I’ve been able to find that and they want a ridiculous amount for shipping. Most other products seem to contain other ingredients that I’m not sure will get along with acrylic. Silicone lube sounds like a good idea if I can find the right product.

  4. I’ve discussed the issue with Aaron. It’s not a defect so much as an artifact of the laser cutting process. ALL laser cutters work by moving in discrete steps along the X and Y axes. Very expensive ones move in smaller steps and would produce a smoother surface when cutting at angles other than directly along the X or Y axis, but the cost for using those machines would no doubt be considerably higher, driving up the price for Wild Gears.

    I in no way meant to imply Wild Gears are deficient as they come from the manufacturer. The grinding of the holes and teeth on Wild Gears is a more extreme mod in search of perfection. During much of my career there was a push for continual product improvement and I’m afraid that has influenced my daily life as well. I’m always looking for ways to make things better, even if it’s only by a little bit. Aaron, I suspect, shares this ideal as evidenced by his recent changes to existing gear sets trying to make them better.

    • (Continued from above)

      I was also very reluctant to take an abrasive bit to my Wild Gears. I wouldn’t have done so if the bit set hadn’t been so cheap or possibly of use for other things. I carefully did the first pen hole by hand, testing the feel and checking the roundness after each twist of the bit. If it had gone out of round or not clearly resulted in a smoother feel I wouldn’t have continued. It wasn’t until I’d done several holes by hand that I was brave enough to give the drill a try.

      The stair steps from the cutting process will eventually wear down from normal use. Using the abrasive burr bits is just a way to speed up that natural process.

      • Out of curiosity, Jay, what was your career, since you mention it in the past tense? I was going to make a remark about your bifocals being better than mine, but refrained, lol.

        I’ve noticed the irregularity more in the small gears than the bigger ones. Perhaps the inertia of the larger mass, and/or increased friction on paper, overrides the effect. I might try this on some smaller gears first. It would also be more noticeable with very fine-point pens, and less with pens having a larger barrell, kind of like the stair stringer example you mentioned.

        Over time, the laser cutters will probably improve in quality, just as computer monitors, for example, are giving us better and better pictures as the pixels get smaller.

        Meanwhile, it’s so much fun to explore the possibilities of what the gears can do.

        • I spent most of my career doing software design and programming. Interestingly, during the latter part I worked with high precision laser equipment.

          My bifocals are worthless. I have to take them off to see up close. But this was less about vision and more about feel. With the larger holes in particular I can feel the ridges as the pen moves around the hole. A larger barrel would definitely reduce the effect.

          I did some experiments where I used other gears as climbable obstacles inside a ring. This required the teeth to slide against each other as the gear moved from ring to obstacle and back. The ridges on the teeth became a noticeable issue and that’s when I started looking for a way to smooth them out. I started with a nail file and eventually ended up with the burr bits.

          There are laser cutters with much finer control (stepper motors with smaller movements) but they are a lot more expensive. The ones used at Ponoko seem similar to most of the other online laser cutter services, about 0.1mm steps. They’re basically good enough for most cutting where extremely smooth curved surfaces aren’t required.

  5. What worked well for me on smoothing the large holes was I took some 400 grit sand paper, cut into a smaller piece, rolled it into a tube and twist it around in the hole for a minute or so. It didn’t really make the holes perfectly smooth but it helped get rid of the ridges.

    • Good idea. It makes me think: I have some round files from when I used to make jewellery. I should try them – gently.

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