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.