I call this: The 3-Way Modular Geared Shop Sign (final name pending)
Background of idea (feel free to skip):
I was thinking of some way to be creative with this “sign” challenge, and I ran across lenticular images/signs. I thought it was a cool idea that you could stand on one side of the sign and see a certain image/phrase, and then stand on the other side of the sign and see a completely different image (because of the angled surfaces on the material). I looked into doing this on the CNC, but decided it would be hard to carve something like a lenticular surface, let alone design it….(let me know if you give it a go!). Instead I figured making the sign itself move to show different words would be easier…
This led me to thinking of other ways that the sign could change. I always wanted to incorporate some kind of gears into these contests but just haven’t had any fun ideas. Then I thought: “Hey, what if the sign itself could change (thinking along the lines of billboards that can shift their images…at least that’s how I imagine it…)!” This led me to start experimenting with creating a gear train that could manipulate pieces of the sign:
I went with triangular pieces because they rotated nice and compact on the gears, while also giving me an additional surface over just putting a flat rectangle sign on the gear (which would give two sides of text).
At first, I was going to have vertical pieces (each with a string of letters that formed words when read across the pieces) e.g. five vertical pieces, each with three letters/numbers:
T E S T 1
T E S T 2
T E S T 3
Final design stages:
But, I decided that would look weird and spaced out, so I opted to make the pieces horizontal:
With this concept decided on, I wanted to make this a design that was relatively simple to source materials for, so that I and other people could make this with a couple of pieces of wood. Since this prototype was to be a quite small size (14 inches tall by about 14 inches wide), I decided I would use 1/4” material for the gears and the signpieces (also allowing me to cut both from the same material if I wanted). For the side pieces and the top, I went with 1/2" material for strength and stability.
Something I always appreciate in products is their ability to be constructed and deconstructed as needed. For this sign, I thought it would be a cool bonus to make the joints and fastening of the pieces in a way that would allow me to swap out the sign pieces as desired. I didn’t want to make a shop sign that I got bored of after a little while. Thus I went with nuts and bolts as well as non-glued box joints (correct me if I’m wrong about the joints). This also would allow for the design to be scaled either vertically or horizontally if I wanted a bigger sign! Thus, I arrived at the below concept:
I put gears on both sides, probably unnecessary (something from my memory of MechE classes in college told me it would help) but I was gear-crazy. @Julien I can tell you that this Shapeoko has stirred up some more gear lust after this project…no need for a Nomad here
I placed a smaller gear (circled in red) on the right side so I would use it to spin the sign with my hands. I also put little “feet” in the design (arrows in red) for this prototype so that I could reach through the gap from the outside if I covered up the front side access. I tried to make the feet subtle so that when I hang it in the shop they wouldn’t be very noticeable:
The CAM and Cuts:
Now for the machining side of things, I used a 1/16” bit on the gears and the spacers for the gears. I did all of them with a 1/16” bit so I could conveniently cut them on one piece:
A HUGE help to setting up these gears in Fusion360 was the “Add to New Pattern” option. I think @WinstonMoy mentioned this at one point or another in his videos, or maybe that was the grouping by folder thing. Anyways, this allowed me to select all the toolpaths for the first similar gear and then create a pattern that copied the toolpaths. This allowed me to only tweak a couple of toolpaths, which would then impact how all the instances of the same gear were cut out.
For the signpieces, I also used the CAM pattern to do all nine of them with one toolpath and cut them out with a 1/8” bit:
For the lettering on the signpieces, I used the 1/16” bit again:
Yes, I could’ve used Carbide Create to make the gears sign pieces, but I guess I was on an F360 high or something. I also was having issues with importing dxf’s from F360 into Carbide Create (not sure if that’s a known issue @WillAdams /others ?). Otherwise I would have loved to use CC’s easy CAM interface for these pieces.
I also used the CAM pattern on the 1/2" frame pieces too (even though I didn’t need to) and cut them out with a 1/8” bit:
(felt like assembling a LEGO set that I made albeit with no instructions…)
The box joints for the frame pieces were a little tight, but nothing that a bit of filing couldn’t handle. In hindsight, I would’ve added some extra tolerance to make assembly easier. The signpieces fit into the gears nice and snugly (made the holes in the gears about .030” bigger than the signpiece tabs in both dimensions). In hindsight, I should’ve made the signpiece tabs only 1/8” long and ¼” wide. I had made the pockets on the gears only 1/8” deep, so there was no need for the signpiece tabs to be 1/4" (I fixed the fusion file that’s on CutRocket)….and this actually made me remove the spacers on the left side so that the frame would actually fit together LOL.
Side 1 (maybe a tiny flare of C3D in there ):
Side 2 ( a little play on words with our last name) :
Side 3 (yup that’s my CNC’s name):
-Pocket out a recess for the gears and their circular counterparts in the frame (that way they are completely hidden). Although the steampunk in me actually like the exposed gears, nuts and bolts…
-Make the driving gear larger to make it easier to spin the rest of the gears.
-Use one long threaded rod spanning the whole length of each row of text. I think this would better support each level.
TLDR: Liked gears, made a cool sign that utilizes gears. Made the design and build with the capability of scaling, so that this could make longer, taller, shorter, huge or tiny signs.
Let me know if you have any questions!