The Amazing Gyroscopic Cube Gears!

by joefe May 22, 2014
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Great work on design, everything went smoothly for me ,I only have one little questions the medium and small gear seem loose and not clipping on the small pins.

I tried to print the "bottom brace" piece, but whenever I would translate it to the G code, nothing will print off my printer. Do you have any idea why?

Do you have the STL for the Drive Gear that you used on the motor to make it motorized instead of hand spun?

I guess my PLA is too brittle for this, the pins on the drive cube corner keep snapping. The cube spins fine by itself, but the small amount of torque inevitably snaps those two pins..After printing 5 of the drive cube corner, 3 at 100% infill, I'll have to wait until I change up from this cheap PLA.

Does anyone have a listing of which pieces to print in which colors to get the optimum two or three color device? I can guess that you should print the small corners and large corners different colors, what about everything else?


Thanks for the reply! I use Makerbot Desktop. I should hevrephrased my original post. My merged files kept ripping up and/or melted onto the extruder. So far, progress is being made. Also, is the silicone lubricant necessary if the build plate smooths the bottom of the corners? My kapton does a good job of getting surfaces to be smooth.

(Also, sorry for the 5 accidental posts.)

The Meister

You can try it without the Silicone lubricant, but I found that it made a big difference. With all of the levels of gearing in this, any resistance is multiplied. One reason that I like to use Silicone instead of other lubricants is because it is clear, so it does not alter the appearance of your print.


You can try it without the Silicone lubricant, but I found that it made a big difference. With all of the levels of gearing in this, any resistance is multiplied. One reason that I like to use Silicone instead of other lubricants is because it is clear, so it does not alter the appearance of your print.


I'm too impatient.

I keep attempting to merge some files to make printing more efficient, but things just aren't that easy.
If anyone has had successful ways of merging files, please share out. For now though, i can't wait to
finish this. Looks AWESOME.

Hi PotatoMeister,

What software are you using to slice the files? I think that pretty much every slicing software has the ability to add and arrange multiple objects to be sliced together. That is why I like to post separate files instead of build plate groupings so that people can combine the parts in the way that works best for their own printers.

Thanks for the compliment and please post a make when you get it done!


Comments deleted.

Thanks for the incredible work, joefe! The Amazing Gyroscopic Cube Gears enthralled our Thanksgiving visitors and inspired me to make a removable drive unit (http://www.thingiverse.com/make:271368) so we can sit back with our feet up and watch your toothed wonder turn!

The Amazing Gyroscopic Cube Gears!

Hi RiverRatDC,

Nice job on motorizing it! That turned out great! I also like that it is controllable and removeable. If you post your design and info on the servo setup, I'm sure others would be interested in making it. I know that it gives me an idea for the steampunk gyroscopic cube gears that I am working on.

And thanks for the compliment, I appreciate it!

Thanks, Joe. The AGCG deserves a good "motivator", it just makes an already great piece of performance art better.

It'll take me a little while to clean up the enclosure inside and out in OpenSCAD & properly place the mating hole in a copy of the Left_upright from your Tinkercad profile so there's no "cut-and-try' needed in the finished Thing. I'll post a comment here when it's ready to publish.

I love your Steampunk cube gears & am looking forward to "The Amazing Gyroscopic Steampunk Cube Gears". It'll make me break out my model paints.


My cube pieces have too much space between the gears and some of them don't turn because they don't touch other gears. Has this happened to anyone else?

If you've matched small corners to small faces & large corners to large faces, It sounds like your cube pins may have turned out too long, pushing the gear pieces too far away from the center piece. In my case, I found that the key to a smoothly working AGCG was tuning the length and thickness of the pins to better match what comes out of my printer. You can use your host software to scale the cube pins to a shorter length by unlocking its' XYZ scale lock, and just shortening the long axis by several %, say from 1 to 0.96. I ended up printing a number of experimental pins until arriving at the optimal pin size for my printer. It's worth the effort, your cube will turn out silky smooth.

This made sense to me at first and I printed several new smaller pins (and some thicker), but I found that with the smaller pins, the gears have more leeway and wobble a bit more and don't always sit flush with the center (and it didn't seem to help keep the gears closer together). When I put the original pins back in, I realized the gears sit flush with the center and don't have much leeway, but once again, they aren't close enough.

Hi cindybee,

RiverRatDC has good suggestions for fine tuning the fit, but it sounds like that may not be the issue here.

The other thing that comes to mind for me is that there are two sizes of corner gears. The large and small gears need to be on alternating corners. In my pictures, the yellow corners are large gears and the blue corners are small gears. See if maybe you have small corners next to each other.

Hope this helps!

I just reread RiverRatDC's comment and he pointed out the large and small corners as well, so if you did that already, I am at a loss.

Without the pins, you should be able to hold the cube together and see that the gears mesh and form a cube.

Hi Joe,

I did a poor job of explaining the face sizes, and cindybee's reply seems to point to that being the problem.


What Joe said :) Assembling the cube on a tabletop or in the palm of your hand without the pins is the best way to initially line the pieces up correctly. The difference in the face sizes on the cube center are pretty subtle & easy to confuse (Ask me how I know :) ).


Thanks Kevin and Joe! Putting the pieces on the table made me realize that I accidentally printed 6 of the small sides. I am printing the large ones now and will let you know how it goes!

Edit: I printed the correct sizes for the cube and that went together well. I had to print new larger pins for the gears at the bottom, and it's not perfect, but it works if I turn it slowly. Thanks for the help! :)

Excellent! It will benefit greatly from a break-in with a drill like Joe shows in his instructions, if you have access to one. I printed a couple of extra "cube_pin_v2", the pin that gets chucked in the drill, beforehand as I bent one in the course of the break-in & swapped in the new one after the cube had loosened up nicely.

Good Luck,

Comments deleted.

It has different sizes for parts and you have to delete every one thats a different size. very frustrating

Hi snowzua,
It’s been a while since I posted this design, so I just reviewed the list of files to see what you are referring to. There are many parts that list small, medium or large. If you review the included instructions, you will find that they are all needed for the build. The only items that I included duplicates of is the crank pin and crank handle. I included different versions of those in case someone wanted a looser fit like I did for mine.

I hope that your build goes well!


My inner mechanism works very well, but the outer gears don't seem to mesh nearly well enough to actually transmit power. They'll skip, pop off or simply wobble out of the proper axis to even touch. The pins that hold them in are practically a ball-and-socket joint coming from my printer. Is there anything I can do to make them rotate more rigidly on the intended axis without flopping back and forth? Also, the cube has been silicone'd like crazy, and it will spin at blur speeds on a power drill, so I don't think that is the issue.

Is there a video on the assembly process? I am having some difficulty understanding the instructions that you gave. Thanks in advance.

Compliment, can you thing to drawing Toroidal Wionder??

Hi joefe: Thank you for taking time to respond. I found the problem and am posting it here as it may help someone else. When I downloaded the 25 or so files from your project -- 7 of them have extra long names. I handled all 25 stl files the same way and converted them to x3g files with Replicator and saved them on an SD card. My printer, a Flash Forge Creator Pro could see 18 and printed them just fine but the 7 with long names did not appear -- when I put the SD card back in the computer all 25 x3g files were there. I found that when I shortened the names of the 7 missing (with the long names) my printer could then "see" them and print them. Hope that helps someone else.

You raise 2 more interesting questions with your comment though. Even though I am a beginner at this, Replicator seems a bit unstable -- I appreciate your recommendations to try other software. Second, I have only had hands on experience with 3 printers and they all printed off memory cards rather than direct from a computer -- the reasoning given is that long prints can fail if your computer hickups -- you obviously have more experience than I do -- has that been a factor? Printing directly certainly makes sense and my software is already connected so I can change heat settings etc from my computer rather than from the little key pad on the printer. I have however been following the manufacturer's recommendations and saving my print files to a card. I would appreciate any comments anyone has on the 2 topics. Thanks again.

I really like your project -- I am kind of new at this -- I downloaded all your files and have printed most of them and they printed great. However 7 of them go through the process -- appear on the memory card just like the others but when I move the memory card to the printer, the printer does not see them. It sees most of the files and prints them correctly, just 7 of them are not being seen. I move the card back to the computer and the files appear to be there correctly. I went back to Thingiverse, downloaded the problem ones again, took them back through Replicator and copied the gcode to a new memory card but get the same result -- computer shows the files there but the printer does not see them. Any suggestions?

Hi zachonator,

I do not have experience with replicator software or using a memory card to transfer the files. I use slic3r, kisslicer and Simplify3d slicing software and I have my printer connected to my PC (hope to get set up with octoprint soon). It sounds like you have started trying different things. Have you been able to get other files to work since? You might try a gcode viewer to verify that your gcode came out right. The web site http://gcode.ws/ is decent viewer.

Since you mention using replicator, I wonder if gcode is what your printer uses? I thought that the Makerbot Replicator printers used s3g or x3g format.

You could try a different software to create your gcode. slic3r works well and is free.

I hope this info helps. Maybe someone else will chime in with a suggestion as well.

Good luck and post a make when you finish!

No one wants to print this many parts!

If you want to print an interesting piece that prints all at once already assembled, you could try my Little Digger

The Little Digger
by joefe

HELP! The pin that goes through the drive cube cornerand onto the large ring keeps twisting and breaking? i have had to print a new center and pin every time i assemble this?

Hi mscraftyperson,

I have a couple of recommendations. Try printing the center pin with more infill to make it stronger. Also, it is very important to make sure that the cube spins freely. Please see the pdf instructions for suggestions on lubing and breaking in the parts.

If it cannot spin freely, I recommend checking the calibration of your printer using one or more of the many calibration prints on thingiverse. I used to have issues with my X axis being longer than my Y axis which led to my printer making gears that were not round. They would not turn for me because they would bind.

Good Luck!

very cool im printing one now for my brother may print one for myself too,if it works well
and congrats on getting over 5k collections for this
also i finished it now but the gears keep falling off

You might try scaling the pins that hold the gears a little bigger to see if the helps. I know that I went through several different sizes myself to get it just right. With different printers having different tolerances, there may be a difference in what works for your print.

I use the free version of netfabb basic to do my scaling. With it I can scale each axis independently, and it has great repair tools.

Surprisingly all I had to do was print the pins in abs and the gears stay

Can someone contact me and help me put the parts together, because I am still new to all this work and I would really appreciate it if someone could teach me how to put all of these parts together: Email: nourallahmark@hotmail.com
Sincerely Markopolo

Hi Markopolo,

I put together a detailed set of instructions for printing and assembling this. It is a pdf file that you can find in the files download for this object.

Have fun building it!



What motor did you use to spin the gear in the second video? I've been looking for a small motor with a low rpm like that. Can you please me where you purchased it from?


I just searched for a gear motor on Amazon. I got it a while back, but it was similar to this one:

or this one:


I found that I could lower the voltage to 4.5 volts to go even slower, yet still have enough torque.


can be printed with PLA ?

Hi hassaidi,

Yes, I printed mine in PLA.


Thank u sir

Printed in ABS with no cooling - at first my Ormerod printer did not like the corner gears due to the overhang causing excessive curl-up, but re-orienting them so that they print with one of the three flat sides to the bed fixed that easily. Printed a set of parts at slow speed (40mm/s) in each of 4 evenings. I had set aside a couple of hours to fettle the parts and get it assembled - but blow me down it went together in just 10 minutes with a perfect tight fit - no finishing whatsoever, and turns really smoothly (with a drop of 3-in-1 on each pin). Excellent design and good assembly instructions. Thanks!

Thank you for this design. It is excellent. I printed and assembled the 'scope but failed to print the large drive gear. For some reason my printer only prints the first 3-4 mm. I tried different settings, different PLA filament, leveling the build plate, but with the same (non) result. I am now printing a 'drive gear' of my own design. Has anyone else experienced this. I am using a Makerbot Replicator 2. Any suggestions to address this problem is welcome. Thank you.

What is your slicer? I've had this happen with Cura when I exported the gcode before Cura was done slicing

Hey Joe

I love your idea of gyroscopic cube gears! Would it be a possible idea for making a gyroscopic globe in the future? :)

Hi Smileville,

Thanks for the compliment! Yes, I could see that being done. I have a list of things that I am working on right now, plus the requests that my kids keep throwing me, so it might be a little while before I could get to it, but I could see adding a gear on the inside to make the globe turn on a different axis.

I'll throw it on my list.

Thanks for the idea!


Thanks for the answer! Looking forward to it!

I think there may be some older files mistakenly uploaded, because I downloaded this all in one shot (zip archive) and the files don't match the instructions, and the operation depicted in the video is physically impossible.

For starters, the small ring is supposed to be able to rotate within the larger ring, but it can't. The holes where the drive shaft goes from the flat outside gears to the cube gears are round, so rotation is possible on that axis, no problem. However, the holes on the opposite side are BOTH semirectangular. The pin cannot allow rotation between the large and small rings because the flat sides of the semirectangle lock both rings relative to one another, making it physically impossible for the small ring to rotate relative to the large one. This is a showstopper.

There is also at least one pin that's too short. cube_pin_fixed passes from the cube gears through the small ring, but stops only part of the way through the large ring, so it can't engage the largest of the three gears. I verified that it's the longest pin supplied in the "thing files," which it is, by far. I elongated it by 8mm and it seems to work fine.

"The œcube_pin_fixed then goes through the hole in the small ring and locks into the hole in the large ring. Make sure that the small ring turns smoothly around the pin."

OK, so far, so good...

"Next insert the 8x20 pin through the hole on the other end of the large ring and lock it into the small ring."

The large ring has two inside holes, one of which is occupied, so you must mean the free one. A 20mm pin will not fit there. I think you meant one of the 13mm pins.

"You should be able to tun this pin while holding the large ring and have the small ring and cube gears turn."

That pin is supposed to allow rotation, but its sockets in both rings have a semirectangular profile, which makes rotation impossible without destroying the pin. It would only sieze up and grind gears if you tried to turn it through by hand. In other words, the device cannot function with the supplied large and small ring STLs.

Also, it looks like the site has corrupted the instructions. There's garbage characters and no spacing between paragraphs. It did this to me a couple years ago as well. If you reformat the instructions, they should stay legible from now on.

Hi 626Pilot,

First, thanks for pointing out that the instructions were corrupted. I had not looked at them for a while and yes they were messed up. I have edited them now to have proper spacing and remove the weird characters.

I agree that the assembly instructions could be spelled a little more clearly and think that pictures would probably help as well. Good news though, I have been printing parts to build another and plan to make a video of the assembly process this weekend to post here.

Now to offer a solution to the issue that you are having. You have the large ring turned around in relation to the small ring and cube. The "The œcube_pin_fixed" is supposed to go through the hole in the small ring and lock into the large ring. It should be the right length to make that connection. It does not go through the large ring.

Then the 8x20 pin connects the small ring to the large gear through the hole on the other side of the large ring.

I have to admit that it took me a little while to design the motions for this ting to work. I think that it helps to understand the motions at play that make this work. The gear on the large ring is turning the small ring within the large ring. The cube pin is locked into the large ring keeping the center of the cube locked in place with the large ring. since the small ring is attached to the cube corner, when it moves, it causes the cube gears to turn around the center piece that is being held in place.

I hope this info helps, and that the video helps when I post it this weekend.

Good Luck and please post your make when it is done!


Ah, right you are! I was so confused before. I followed what you said here, and it went together just fine.

I have another suggestion. At first, I printed out all the pins full-scale and spent a lot of time sanding them, re-fitting them, etc. It also occurred to me to use the drill trick you mentioned. Occasionally I'd over-sand, and instead of printing a new pin, I'd heat it up with a hot air gun and use some pliers to push the two halves of the pin apart, making them fatter.

BUT - I eventually settled on a much simpler solution. I loaded the pin into my slicer three times. I set one to 95% scale, another to 90%, and the last to 85%, then printed them out. I discovered the best fit was somewhere between 90% and 95%, then narrowed it down to 93%. At that scale, the pins fit just about perfectly, without any sanding. Then, I ran off another 6 copies of the pin, then did the main cube pin and some others, also at 93%. I would like it if these pins kept the original 100% of LENGTH, but what they've lost in length doesn't seem to be enough to stop them from holding everything together.

I would say that if you work on a new version, an assembly video, or even just photos of the parts where orientation is easy to get wrong, would help a lot.

Hi 626Pilot,

Glad to hear that you got it together. I think that I will add "Skinny" pegs to the files to help others. That way others can benefit from your input. Thanks!

I have the pieces printed and am getting ready to assemble them myself. I realized that I am not really set up to create a video of the process, but will instead take many pictures and add notes to them detailing the process. I have done some test fitting and want to be able to assemble my new one without needing any sanding, so I may end up trying the skinny pieces myself. I also made a couple of adjustments to the rings that should help printing and assembly.

A tip for scaling pieces. I use Netfabb basic for viewing models, scaling and repairing models. It is free, which is nice! You can scale each of the three axis individually with that program, allowing you to scale the two sides smaller while keeping the same length.


Just some notes to add for those having issues printing the small pins and the cube_corner_fixed. For the Pins I set my printer speed at 50mm/s and the fixed cube at 80mm/s. The fixed cube, I could not print with strength. (using abs). So I removed a portion and taped in a 3mm screw. The exciting part is Im almost complete. I plan to donate this to my wives innovation room at work. Thank you!

Still working on the motorized version? I'd love to build it!

Yeah, I kind of got side-tracked on other projects (and being busy with work, kids, life, etc.)

I started working on the motorized part again and decided that I need to build another one to do some testing (I gave away my first Amazing Gyroscopic Cube Gears as a gift). I figured that it would be cool to make it a little more wild with a steampunk type of theme, so I started creating that. I will be posting the steampunk version of the cube gears first (in the next few days, it's almost done) and then will work on the steampunk version of the gyroscopic cube gears. And to bring it back to your question, I will incorporate the motorized version at that time and will make sure that I have a version that is compatible with the original Amazing Gyroscopic Cube Gears.

Awesome! Can't wait to see it!

The steampunk cube gears is finally done. You can find it here:

It may take me a while to get the full gyroscopic version done. It is fun finding ways to make it look cool though.

Steampunk cube gears
by joefe

Do you need screws for this?
Also, do you think my 13 year old daughter would be able to print this on her own? She wants a challenge and thinks it would be a good christmas gift.

Hi Jeff,

You do not need any screws. All parts are printed and snap fit, except the bottom brace which is just a friction fit that you could glue if needed.

I think that this would be a good challenge for your daughter. As you may have gathered from my instructions, it will take some patience and persistence to get everything moving smoothly. This is partly a challenge for printing, and partly a challenge for post processing.

And yes, it makes a great gift! I gave the one in the pictures to my dad, so I will be making another one soon.

Good Luck!

i starded with printing the cube. that all went very well. but the small ring seems to be to big for the cube. it doesn't quite fit. i checked in cura and the dimensions displayed by cura were the same as the printed piece. is this normal?

greetings leon

Hi to all. I have a problem with 'motor_gear_fixed' model. Repetir-Host programm note next 'The object is not manifold...' Then Slic3r make a broken model. How can I fix this model?

I'm sorry to hear that you are having problems with slicing the motor_gear_fixed. I ran all of the STLs through the Netfabb cloud repair service before posting to make sure that there weren't any issues with them. Netfabb does not show any issues with that STL. Maybe try downloading it again to see if that helps. I stopped using Slic3r a while ago because it was too slow and had issues with complicated models (that may have changed in recent versions). I use kisslicer (free version works great) or craftware(free beta works great) or Simplify3d (expensive but works great). I tried slicing it with the current version of Slic3r that I have on my PC, version 1.1.4, and it sliced perfectly. There is a hole on the side that of that gear for a set screw. Is it possible that is what made it appear broken?

I hope this info helps. Good luck with printing and building this. It is challenging but fun. Post a "Made" when you get it done!

Comments deleted.

Thanks! It was a lot of fun to make!

Comments deleted.

Amazing! :D
I made one ^_^

Thanks! Your print turned out great!


Very nice design. It took me almost 2 weeks to print, with all the issues I had with my printer, trying to print parts together, and then separately, and then pins moving around, etc. etc. etc. But at last, the final product emerged, and I am quite happy to say that it looks awesome assembled.

I have a problem with the 3 gears outside the ring, they are very flimsy, and slip gears instead of turning the inner circle. I sanded down all the parts a bit, did the silicone spray as instructed, everything. So I need a different solution for the outside gears. Other than that, Awesome design.

Glad to hear you like it. It was fun to design. I probably printed enough parts for three of them by the time I got it all working just right.

Sorry to hear that the gears are not working right for you. It sounds like the pins for the gears might be too loose. They should be able to turn , but the gears should not wobble. Watch the video where I use a motor to see how they should turn.

I would try printing new pegs for the gears. If you need bigger ones, the "pin connectors V3" in the remixed from section, has a customizer that you can use to make different sized pins.

Goid luck! Let me know if that helps and post a make so we can see how great it looks.

just made mine and scaled it here and there on my UP Plus 2 printer

still fails



Nice project :-)
I did search for the openscad files, but couldn't find them :-(
Can you please give me a URL where I can find the openscad files ?
(I want to change the base-foot, and would like to add support for a polulu micro motor)

thank you,
keep up the good work,


I added a link in the info to my Tinkercad page where I made the designs. You can create a free account and modify them there. I believe that you should be able to import the stl files into openscad if you want to use that to modify them.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I started making a base that held batteries and modifying for a micro motor. I plan to finish it after I complete my T-rex skeleton.

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your response.
My wife does have a Thinkercad account, she use it all the time to do some "jewelery". (mainly earrings)
I downloaded the files in vrml-format, so I can use them in Solidworks :-)

I'm currently designing a "non-conventional" clock.
2 robot-arms (uArm derivatives), will pick up ball with numbers on, and put 4 of them on a display,
so one can read the correct time. I'm using one arm for the 2 hour-balls, and one arm for the 2 minute-balls.
In between these 2 arms, I have some "spare place", I will put your gyro at that place, but slightly modified :-)

Due to illness, it will take some months before I can complete this project, but you will surely see it on Thingiverse when done :-)
Otherwise, you can keep an eye on my personal blog: http://www.digitalplayground.be
Besides modelrailroading, I have all kinds of cool toys, like a small CNC mill (mainly used for PCBs), a large CNC mill (for metal and aluminium), a lathe, a 50W CO2 laser CNC, all kinds of microcontroller programmers etc ...
(and ofcourse a few 3D printers => currently designing/building my own "large" 3D printer, with a build volume of 55 x 55 x 55 cm.
(printer will only be 79 x 79 x 79 cm in size)

best regards from Belgium,

Nice job, that's a fun derivative!

Thanks! Your work has definitely inspired me!

This is nuts!,
Any advice before I start printing ?

I'd focus on getting the cube turning well before doing the rest. The lubrication is necessary. After I got it turning well, I stuck the cube pin in my drill and slowly sped it up while holding the corner that it goes through to help break it in.
When it was ready to go, I could hold on to the corner and flick-twist the pin and have it do a full revolution before stopping.
Good luck! Keep me posted on your progress.