The Slip Clutch

Kids gathered around GearLab

For years, GearLab ™ has been gathering crowds at Maker Faires, Art Galleries and Conventions. One of the things we love most about it is the seemingly magical attraction that brings together total strangers to work cooperatively , exploring gear interactions and kinetic art.

However, when the group of strangers includes small children, at some point during the day there would come that moment when someone grabbed the handle and cranked while someone else had fingers in the gear train.  We always had a responsible team member keeping an eye on interactions with GearLab™ when children were involved.  The startle of the  yowl created from pinched fingers always caused the crank turner to freeze, even if they did not realize they caused the problem, and no one has been seriously hurt.  However, this idea haunted our engineering team and they wanted to find a solution that still allowed teams to build large, complex ( often multi-layer) gears trains, with some protective features.

After a lot of white boarding and tinkering, our engineering team is happy to release a magnetic slip clutch crank handle that will release when something is jammed into the gear train.

This is an exciting new feature and will be included in the Gearlab package we are delivering to a school media center in Texas in March.

For more information email .

More video of slip clutch testing is available on our YouTube Channel

Locking Gear Boxes

For a simple venture into do it yourself kinetic art, Cogbots currently offers kits to create several style of locking boxes.  The boxes use a slide lock mechanism that is  controlled by turning the gear on the top of the box to securely fasten the lid to the box body.

This little bit of motion is a practical venture for those just starting out.


Square locking boxes come in two sizes : one that fits standard  playing cards, collectible card games  such as magic, or other small treasures. This kit comes complete except for screws, and the entire body is made of wood.

A second box style uses the same locking mechanism, but allows the kit builder to use round PVC or cardboard tube at any length they wish, varying the height of the box for it’s intended design.  Round boxes have been used short for dice and hair clips and very tall for as arrow quivers.



A perfect winter project, you can finish the boxes in any way you desire, using paint, stain, metal leafing or other techniques.   Easy assembly instructions can be found on the Cogbots store website.

Fully assembled and finished kits make wonderful Valentine’s Day presents that can hold the treasures close to your heart. Unfinished kits make excellent gifts for the maker in your life.

Box kits ship easily anywhere in the US, email for quotes for international shipping.


Spring is a manual crank organic gear kinetic sculpture

Spring can be either wall mounted or kept as a table top interactive art piece.

Spring is currently on display at the 1 of One Gallery in Noblesville, IN and can be purchased there.



Support STEM in your favorite school

GearLab Jr ™ Kickstarter expands rewards to include STEM supporter levels for schools.

September 1, 2014 Kokomo, IN

In support of teachers and schools who are trying to grow STEM activities, the GearLab Jr ™ Kickstarter project expanded to include special “ships to schools” reward levels. Kickstarter backers now have the option to support their favorite teacher or school with one of three STEM reward levels. These special rewards deliver game sets directly to a school indicated by the backer.

GearLab Jr™ is a wooden gear puzzle game that provides math, science and art applications in the classroom. It comes out of the box with a set of challenges and a link to an online community of other game owners.

The GearLab Jr ™ Kickstarter project is trying to raise the $57,000 to cover materials for 650 game preorders and to expand dedicated equipment that will allow the games to be produced at a higher volume. Each game includes a game board and 30 gears, and  takes approximately 10 hours to cut.

GearLab Jr™ was recently a kids favorite at Makevention  in Bloomington, IN and will be at the Cogbots booth at the Ft. Wayne Regional Maker Faire Sept 13-14.  The Kickstarter is currently active at

–contact Nan Braun at  for more information —


Makevention bound with Gear Lab, Jr.

The Cogbots crew will be at Makevention in Bloomington, IN on Saturday, Aug 30.  If  you like our stuff because you build, hack or improve things, a gathering of makers is something you will love.

We will have  gear lab with us – so the makers can all build kinetic art IMG_5608

We will also have Gear Lab’s new little brother with us so that you can check it and play in person before ordering from our currently running Kickstarter project:

photo (4) photo (6)

morning smiles

It was an early morning session of reviewing emails, plans and commissions in the cogbots offices today- and then from across the table I heard  “oh cool-  might want to build one of those.….” I love it when our customers send in ideas and plans asking for design assistance or parts consults and they send in something that gets the creative juices flying.  Smile inducing- keep them coming in folks!

GearLab 2.0

The original Gear Lab was a  2011 Kickstarter funded project that has  travelled the midwest for the last several years.  As our art and product offering has grown and wear and tear has taken it’s toll, it was time for a refresh.

Our amazing Engineering Lab gave the project a rethink and came up with an amazingly compact GearLab 2.0 that travels and stores small and assembles quickly into a functional Public Kinetic art installation without eating up so much of our booth space at any given event.

It also makes it easier/more convenient for events that want to book us in as a special feature.

Take a look and be amazed at the  assembly process- in under 6 minutes!!



Booth in a Box

Being on the road can be a challenge for a Kinetic Artist- all of those moving parts can take up a lot of space. Add to that the space our old booth set up used to take and we were getting VERY cramped in the truck.

To solve the problem, our engineering team came up with “Booth in a Box”.

This is a compact wooden crate on locking casters that converts to the booth- fully fortified to support the weight of our kinetic creations.

The box lid is actually the booth counter, and when removed you can see all of the booth components inside: IMG_5574


the first layer in the box contains the booth struts and supports:




When those are removed, you can see the Pegboard that is the “hanging surface” for the booth in tucked inside:



The box even has great storage space for all the booth essentials everyone needs– from electrical to lighting to tape and drape cloths!



Assembly is easy and requires no power tools at all– just a hand driver for tightening up some screws and making sure it is all secure!


The “legs” for the display counter go on quickly and easily….



Flipped over, the legs mount on the box base to provide a booth counter with easy access to under storage.


Telescoping back mounts screw in place and can go as high as 10′, but lower to accomodate drop ceilings in many venues.



No Stress Assembly:




Two upright mounts:




And then cross braces with L- brackets in place to create “slides”



The pegboard mounts in the slide channels easily:



And our custom banner, mounted on the front provides a clean look and blocks the view to the “booth clutter”



There are even kickstands on the back to provide balance and stability:




The whole assembly took less than 20 minutes and was a dream! Going on the road doesn’t seem nearly as crowded any more!!



Social Climber

Social Climber was a commission piece for a client in New York City.

A combination of wood gears, polished metal and linear pistons, this electric motor kinetic wall mounted sculpture expressed the pressure and repetitiveness of social climb for those who play the game.

1’x 4′