Motorized Cube Gears

by dougc314, published

Motorized Cube Gears by dougc314 Sep 5, 2011

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A motorized version of Emmetts' Cube Gears.
I built it (Emmett's that is) and was showing it around work. One of my favorite collaborators (Brian C.) and I were discussing motorizing it. I had visions of a tiny motor in the center, and was fussing over battery size, etc. when Brian suggested blowing a hole through one of the big corners and connecting a drive shaft to the center to an external motor. A quick look on Ebay found a motor, and when it came in the mail I started in on the design. I designed the parts in Alibre, sorry, OpenSCAD is a very impressive tool, but I am too CAD oriented). I did import the stl of the gear into Alibre. The zip file has the Alibre files and STEP AP203 exports as well.


Due to motor availability, the first thing to do is figure out what motor you are going to use. The motor affects all three parts that I designed. The link I provided shows motors with flats, but the motor I found on Ebay has a 4-40 threaded shaft. The main concept is to morph the big corner gear into a gear that attaches to the motor. Design a drive shaft that attaches to the motor shaft and the center part of the cube. In my design I epoxied the drive shaft into the original center hole. The other end takes a epoxied 4-40 "large pattern" nut (0.25 inches across the flats) I liked the threads as it stops the cube from climbing/pulling off the shaft. (if it turns the right direction, CCW when viewed from the top).

My exact assembly process was:
print Emmetts parts, thing #10483
print my three parts. (not motorflange2.stl)
remove one of the big corners and pin, and the three associated small corners and pins.
glue the nuts into the motor-gear flange and drive shaft(4-40 large pattern) and let set.
attach the motor to the gear flange (bgear1motorflange2.stl)
screw the drive shaft onto the motor shaft and then glue other end of the drive shaft into the center hole where the removed corner was. I used a thick piece of paper to gap the center. Be sure to align the center correctly (mine is wrong, although it doesn't matter too much)
Wait for the epoxy to cure, and reattach the three smaller corners.
I then cut a USB extension cable to the desired length, stripped the cut end and epoxied the cable into the base. I had to attach the red, or positive USB voltage to the motor NEG terminal to get it to turn in the correct direction.
Epoxy the motor into the base.
With the motor I used USB power barely makes it go, I assume if I polish all the pins a bit to remove friction it would run more smoothly.
Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjBAd8S2Yms

I guess I don't know how to add parts properly, so while I figure that out I'll add the url here

1/19/11: Due to a builders issue I have added a redesigned drive shaft that captures the nut, so that it isn't just glue holding the cube onto the motor shaft.

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hello. what motor need for this thing.? thanx.

I love this design and really want to get one working. I found the 2RPM version of this motor on eBay and bought one. Printed everything out and got everything glued and ready. Tested it out and it started to work got through about a quarter rotation and then the shaft popped off the motor, leaving the nut behind. I've since printed two more shafts with slight scale variations hoping to get a better hold with no luck. I even tried using a solder gun to heat press the nut in place. No matter what, that thing pulls loose.

Anyone else have this problem? I think I'm going to mix up some ABS glue and try heat pressing the nut in far enough that I can get a layer over the top. Any other ideas?

Added version 2 of the driveshaft that captures the nut. Thanks for building it, I hope this works!

Awesome, thanks so much for doing that. I was actually thinking of making a similar modification, but haven't had any time lately. I'm going to be showing the printer at a technology in higher education conference in March and am hoping I can have a motorized cube gears running at my display table.

I reviewed my design, (to remember exactly how I did it). I used epoxy glue to glue the nut into the hex recess. With my build, if the cube binds (I have smoothed so it doesn't) but if I hold the cube, the motor stalls, and the nut holds. It's possible your motor is stronger. I will look into redesigning the shaft so that it actually captures the nut, but give me a couple of days.

The Screwless Heart Gears (Thing 12208) are now posted!!!

When can we expect to see Motorized Heart Gears? :)

Yeah, actually I'd like to see that too. Nice job motorizing this one; I saw one in person at Makerfaire NYC.

I bought the motor on EBAY, listing # 150524101401, which is an active listing, as the seller has "more than 10" still. I bought 3. They cost $4.95 ea. Its a 6 volt, 4 RPM motor. The motor's website doesn't show a 4-40 threaded version, so I don't know the exact model#. My suggestion is get em on EBAY while they last!

I don't know the model #, as the motor web site doesn't show a 4-40 thread version. It is a 6 volt 4 rpm motor. I actually bought it on ebay, listing 150524101401. And the listing is still active "10 or more available", $4.95 plus shipping.

Which motor did you use on that motor link page? Which model and how did you order it? Would you mind telling me the cost?

Just as an update. After cleaning out the roughness on the pins and cleaning the holes in the center and each of the corners it turns under motor power very nicely.

Hey what about using the old DC motors from the the MK5!? Great up-cycling.

Wow this is Great!

Now we need the same thing for the Heart Gears!!! :)

Argh - you beat me to it. I have a 5rpm motor sitting on my desk for the exact same purpose!

Oh I Must do this!!! Thanks for sharing!!

Mesmerizing awesome!

I want to print this
amp; put it on my desk at work. Sweet!