I don’t know about you, but I am continually envious of the really excellent designs up on Thingiverse that make use of gears. Greg Frost, Emmett, and Whosawhatsis have been rocking Thingiverse lately with their incredible designs incorporating gears. But, what’s a simple blogger with zero gear-knowledge supposed to do?
Well, Chris Connors, teacher and Maker-extraordinaire, recently posted about gears, motors, and attachments thereto over at Make: Online!. His post referenced a gear tutorial by Dustyn Roberts, author of Making Things Move, all about gears.1
I learned more about gears in Dustyn’s first paragraph than I did after hours of trying to design my own gears from scratch.
One nice thing about gears is that if you know any two things about them – let’s say outer diameter and number of teeth — you can use some simple equations to find everything else you need to know, including the correct center distance between them. In this project, we’ll design and fabricate spur gears using free software (Inkscape) and an online store (Ponoko.com) that does custom laser cutting at affordable prices out of a variety of materials. If you have access to a laser cutter at a local school or hackerspace, even better! You can also print out the template and fix it to cardboard or wood to cut the gears by hand.