Geneva Mechanism iPhone Case

by jessed, published

Geneva Mechanism iPhone Case by jessed Jan 6, 2013



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This is a slim case for the iPhone 5 that has a working geneva mechanism on the back. It's something fun to fiddle with, and always draws curious questions. I don't like bulky stuff in my pockets, so it only adds 3mm to the back of the phone.

Updated 3/16/2013 to provide a better fit around the phone.


1) Print the case & wheels. I used PLA, 0.2mm layer height, 30% infill, 1 extra shell.
2) Drop the wheels into the case as shown in the photos.
3) While holding things in place, make sure the mechanism turns smoothly. If your top surfaces are rough, you may need to smooth them out. If your first layer is thoroughly squished onto the build platform, you may need to trim the edges of the wheels (especially the tips on the star wheel).
4) I find it helps the action a bit if you rub a pencil around the inside of the "ring" on the case and the outside of the "moon" on the moon wheel. The graphite will help keep things from sticking.
5) Pop your phone into the case to hold the wheels in place. I find it's easiest to slide the top edge in first, and then press the bottom into place.

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Have you expierenced any scratching of the back of the iphone with the rotation of the bottom wheel?

I don't take the case off very often, but I believe it's getting a bit scratched up, yes. The plastic itself won't scratch the case... the trouble is when the tiny bits of dirt start to get in, and the wheel rubs them around and around. You could probably protect the case with a layer of tape or something -- I haven't really looked into it.

is there any way to make it spin smoother?

Mine have moved pretty smoothly. I left the case slightly loose to help this. You basically need to fiddle with it and see where the issue is, but if you're seeing poor action, here's some things to consider:

1) Run a finger over the top surfaces of your prints. If you feel little prickly bits sticking up, you are probably extruding too much plastic and you might want to try increasing the filament diameter in your print settings. My filament measures right around 1.75mm, but I needed to set the filament diameter to 1.95 in order to get a relatively smooth top surface. You can use sandpaper or a razor blade to smooth things over a bit, too.

2) Is it binding mechanically? Maybe you need to trim the points of the star wheel slightly? I usually need to trim at least one, where it starts printing, since there's a little blob of plastic there. Also, some extra plastic squishes down on the first layer and leaves things a bit large.

3) Are you using ABS? Perhaps the parts shank/warped in a way I didn't anticipate. I've never printed this in ABS.

4) Is the stiff action around the ring that holds the moon wheel? Run a pencil around the outside of the moon wheel and the inside of the ring that holds it. Goal is to leave a bunch of powdered graphite on the plastic, to help lubricate things. I often find that mine is a bit stuff at first, but after using it a bit the action smooths out nicely. Not sure if the graphite actually helped in my case, or if it just needed to sit overnight and wear in a bit.

Wonderful design!

Is there any chance that the source could be made available so an iPhone 4S version could be made?

Glad you like it!
gwc made a derivative for the iphone4, which I hear is the same size as the 4s.
So you might try that: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:40742http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

Geneva Mechanism iPhone4 Case
by gwc