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.