Using the little cylinders ('doughnuts') that go into the medium and large holes can yield a wide variety of results. This post is a starting point for developing further techniques.
Gear Sets come with a range of sizes of the doughnut pieces with each one provided with some duplicates; recognizing how easy they are to lose. The multitude of them can make it hard to determine how many sizes there are and what size any one piece is.
When I start using the doughnut pieces I'll line them up by size, removing ones that I can recognize to be of the same size. To calibrate the doughnuts take a simple ring-gear combination (72:36 for example) and start with the doughnut with the biggest hole and make the design. Switch colours; ideally to a lighter one, black to red is very good for this. Using the lighter colour and the next doughnut piece in the line repeat the design. If it is the same size then the red line will not show up as it is directly on top of the black line. If it is a very little bit different the red line will show up very close to the black line. Depending on the pen type there may be no white space between the two lines. If the size difference between the pieces is larger there will be a blank pinstripe gap between the two lines. This process can be repeated to calibrate the sizes between all the doughnut pieces in the line; sorting them by size and removing any duplicates as well as informing the relative step sizes between them. Note: Using different brands of pens will yield different line positing too. For this calibration step use two pens of the same brand, or stick to just one pen.
In this photo I have finished the calibration step and selected 4 different sized doughnut pieces. I have them lined up so that I don't get confused. I've selected colours to go with each step and you can see that black and red are aligned with a 5th blank step that corresponds to using the medium pen hole without a doughnut piece.
The picture below was made using 72:48 1B (+4Hoops), (12 CCW) 2B (+4Hoops) where 1B used Black, Blue, Dark Blue, Purple, and Red and 2B used Red, Orange, Yellow, Light Green, Dark Green.
Notice that the pen lines and colours are each distinct but have not white space between them. Because these pen colours overlap just a bit the stronger colours dominate and the central lines look narrower.
Depending on pen line weight it is possible to use this effect to make a narrow pinstripe of colour down the middle of a black line by sandwiching a line (I like red or gold for this effect) between two heavy black lines.
More space can be made for each individual line and colour by choosing doughnut pieces that provide more space, like in this next example.
These are the core techniques of how to determine the spacing provided by the doughnut pieces and some different ways to begin using them. By experimenting with spacing, colour, and line weight you can create incredibly diverse and powerful variations on a design.
The tightly packed parallel lines made by the doughnut pieces also appear different at different distances. Quite some time ago I made a design that was composed of a tightly packed set of these lines that played to tartan inspired colours and and spacing. Much to my surprise, at a distance it looked more like a beige design but it caught the eye in a hard to describe sort of way. When approaching the piece I would cross a some critical distance and all the individual colours in ti would snap into focus and it would suddenly appear colourful. I'll try and find this piece and share it in a future post, but I have no idea how to capture this feeling of it photographically.
Thank-you for reading.
I've been making my own shorthand notation for how I made designs for several years now and slowly refining it.
This post can be a starting point in trying to codify any of it. Hopefully this will be the start of a useful shorthand.
Today, I'll lead with the picture and we can work from there.
I made a complex piece using several designs layered on each other.
Lets start with a copy of the notation below the design and then I'll break down what each part means and why it is structured the way it is. Hopefully this description will enable you to make use of the notation for yourself if you are so inclined.
96-40(64/16) : C3
48-32: 1A, (8 CCW) 1A
48-16: (4 CW) 1, (8 CCW) 1
There are four lines; each giving information about a different stage of the design.
These steps form the lines of the design. I then coloured it in a checkerboard pattern starting by colouring all the outer cells and alternating on my way into the center of the design.
This picture is a visual reference for the 6 O'clock starting point described in step 3. In this case it would be for the design 72-42: 2A.
This is a starting point for developing a broader notation involving more details and types of designs. This should prove to be a robust starting point for gear-in-ring style designs.
Previously I've posted pictures and videos to various parts of the internet highlighting interesting, pretty, and often complex designs that I've made with Wild Gears.
I'd like to make a slightly different space for posts and pictures that talk about different techniques of using Wild Gears. This will start building a knowledge base for people to bring to their own creativity and exploration.
I'm going to start simple and short with a few pictures and hopefully not too many words.
Today's topic is pen angle.
When starting to use Wild Gears the aim is usually to make clear crisp lines and uniform designs. This is best achieved by holding the pen vertically; rather than angled like is more common when writing. Applying consistent pressure and speed is also good (some pens need that much more than others). The first trick to get a better looking line is to go over the design two or three times. This gets a solid ink line that looks bolder and crisper. It also helps hide the point where the design started and stopped.
Now that you've got the hang of making solid consistent lines thought complex designs lets look at how to add subtle body and emphasis to the lines. A lot can be done by tilting the pen while going over the design an additional time. The key is to be aware of how and when the pen is tilted. For example tilting the pen consistently to the left will give a different line weight pattern than tilting the pen towards the center of the ring at all times.
This picture shows a very simple design that has been done three ways.
The 1x design looks similar to the 3x design but the 3x design is more bold and stands out better but both have uniform line thickness. The top right design 'Tilted' shows off narrow lines near the center and thicker swooping lines near the edges. The top right lobe is the best example.
Clearly, these photos also need better lighting to do them justice but for now it is good to be getting started.
If you have questions, comments, or want more details about pen angle, I'd love to hear from you.
Thank-you for reading,
Doing some spring cleaning and organization led to a discovery of two Strange Shapes Gear Sets V2. If you want a Strange Shapes Gear Set for half the regular price act now! (supplies are limited)
Note: These are version 2 Strange Shapes Gear Sets (V3 is current). They have all the same parts but lack the hatch marks around the edges of the gears as well as the numbered pen holes and the prime factors listed on each piece.
The gear set in the picture has had some of the brown paper layer removed from one side to make the pieces stand out better.
I often get asked about how to store and organize wild gears; especially the large sets. There are many creative and wonderful ways that people have shared with me that they have come up with. Perhaps I'll collect some of them for another post in the future. But right now I want to tell you about the simplest storage solution that I have found.
Pizza boxes. Wait, clean pizza boxes. The pizzeria down the street will sell me pizza boxes for $0.50 each. I got an extra large pizza box and it holds large gear sets very well. Large Gear Sets are 15 inches, and small gear sets are 7 inches. You can probably even get blank pizza boxes somewhere if you look around. Cardboard is light, durable, and easy to decorate.
I like this solution, and will probably employ it for several of my gear sets because it lets me stack, label, and organize things and I really like the low profile boxes for not taking up more space than is needed.
Bonus cat (Echo) for scale. Echo was being very sweet as I shared her spot in the sun for this photo.
Hello Wild Gears Fans!This has been a busy, hectic week for me but I got the Kickstarter page done.
It turns out that Kickstarter has a review process that is either new, or I totally forgot about. It takes up to 3 days so I might not be able to launch the campaign until the 14th.
Here is a preview link to the campaign:
I'm pretty sure that I can still make edits to the campaign while waiting for the review so if you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them so that I can make this even better before it launches. I'll definitely be giving the page a once over this weekend to find things to tighten up and improve.
The plan is to launch as soon as I get the review done (sometime on the 14th). I'll send out another quick note when that happens.
Hello Wild Gears Fans!
Today I want to give you some initial details about the upcoming Wild Gears Kickstarter and some of the new features that are in development.
I have set an ambitious goal to launch Wild Gears Kickstarter by the end of next week. I am going to try my best to hit that goal but only time will tell.
Wild Gears 3.0 Kickstarter will be raising funds to allow for another round of improvement on existing gear set designs as well as launching some new gear sets. Wild Gears is continuing to grow and I hope that in the future general sales of Wild Gears will support ongoing development and improvement but it isn't there yet so I will once more turn to crowd funding and enthusiasm to help improve and expand on Wild Gears.
Initial work on the Compact Gear Set has been prototyped to test out different design changes and improvements. I am very happy with how well this initial round of prototyping has gone and in working with it I've discovered more improvements that I want to implement.
Some of the improvements that will be made to all the gear sets include:
Little errors on some of the gear sets will be corrected; a misplaced pen hole, a missing gear set name, or a thin weak section of a part will be thickened.
A new type or 'size' of gear set will be introduced. I currently call them Adjunct Gear Sets but may select a better title for the Kickstarter launch. Adjunct Gear Set are the same size as Small Gear Sets and explore a small theme. The two Adjunct Gear Sets that are in development are the Triangle Hoop and Ruler gear sets.
The Triangle Hoop Gear Set explores adding a triangular gear into a set of rings so that one can explore 3 gear systems with a non-circular gear in the mix.
The Ruler Gear Set is two almost strait ruler like pieces. They have a slight wave to them to keep it interesting. Also, yes these prototypes are cut from wood. It is a beautiful option that I am exploring the durability of.
Due to their simpler design and less laser cutting required the adjunct gear sets will be less expensive than Small Gear Sets.
The Wild Gears Kickstarter will feature some new gear set options available as part of the base funding goal or as a stretch goal. Adding new gear sets as a stretch goal has a few desirable features from a designer point of view. My main goal of this Kickstarter campaign is to cover the majority of the prototyping costs for the new version of Wild Gears. I have a good handle on how much that is likely to cost so I can make an ambitiously low funding goal which increases my odds of raising the funds. Making new Gear Sets is more uncertain and takes more iterations on the initial prototype so it costs more and has more uncertainty. Both of those traits require raising more funds.
The reason I am pushing to launch the Kickstarter campaign for next week is that I want to be able to deliver the backer rewards in time for Christmas and working that time line backwards means that I have enough time to complete the project if I start very soon. I could delay by a few weeks but that would cut into the number of rounds of revision I would be able to do. I don't want to rush the design and improvements so I'm buckling down now to get this show on the road.
As with the Wild Gears 2.0 kickstarter all backer rewards will be offered at some discount below regular price. There will also be a limited number of early bird backer spaces that will offer a greater discount on all gear sets.
No-matter when the Kickstarter launches I will send out a short newsletter the day before with launch details so that everyone who wants to get an early-bird pledge level can get one.
Some of the new gear sets / ideas that I am contemplating for this campaign are as follows:
More material options may be available. I experimented with two colour gold-black acrylic. It is gorgeous and shows the engraved writing very well. However it only comes in 1.5mm thickness so I'll have to test it a bunch as I anticipate that it'll be harder to use.
Thank-you for taking the time and interest to read this newsletter. It ended up being way longer than I expected; I guess there is a lot of exciting news :-)
If you have something to say, I'd love to hear from you. Now is the time for any suggestions or feedback to have an impact of the next version of Wild Gears.
Thank-you for your ongoing interest in WIld Gears!
I am in the process of getting ready for another Wild Gears Kickstarter to make version 3 of Wild Gears and have a bunch of ideas about what would be good improvements and additions to make to Wild Gears. I am also looking for feedback from you. You can provide feedback by using this google form
The preparatory work for Wild Gears Kickstarter is underway. Some early prototypes of some of the improvements are being made right now. If everything comes together I'm planning on launching the campaign in 3 weeks.
I'd like to tell you about some of the things I'm working on or planning.
Wild Gears will get several features which will make the gears more usable. Features like: listing the prime factors on the gears along with the tooth count, including some sort of tick marks / ruler marks on the gear teeth to make it easier to count them, more legible numbering, and numbered pen holes.
Have you come up with any cool ways of using Wild Gears that aren't represented in this list?
If yes, please tell me! Or better yet, send me a picture or three.
Around Christmas Ars Technica published this fantastic article about Wild Gears. It was a wonderful experience and a total fluke of luck that I met a person at the right time. I'd love to get more coverage like this
I also am intending to develop an educational Wild Gears bundle with a focus on educational usability. If you are interested in this aspect of the project (or know someone that would be) I am looking for a few educators to work with to make sure my ideas aren't too far off base.
Wild Gears Newsletter #2 will include pictures to break up the enthusiastic wall of text and show off all the new prototype pieces.