Boca Build 2.0 Geared Sliding Puzzle Part 3: Fabrication Details

I used the measurements off of the two aluminum handles I made earlier to create 13 more.

The parts that get glued in the wooden panels are the same for all 15 panels. .389" x .4" (high) shoulder for the Boca bearing to sit on and a 1" x .25" plug that is sandwiched between the wooden panels.

The aluminum handles for the cogged wooden panels are slightly different than the plain panels.

The cogged handles have an additional machined shoulder that sits on the top of the bearing so that the handle does not clamp down on the cog, allowing it to spin freely.

.6" riser for the 1" wide handle.

This gives you an idea of how many pieces can be machined from one bar.

Keep in mind there are a total of 30 components, 15 handles and 15 pieces glued in the panels. I was originally hoping to use mostly standard hardware but ended up machining all of these manually.

Afterwards, each handle had to be filed with a square hole on one side to fit a carriage bolt that has a square shoulder.

To distinguish the drive gear and end gear from the sliding gears, I used a frosted white acrylic.

For the sliding gears mounted to the wooden panels, I laser cut some smoked black acrylic and sandblasted them for a softer grey look.

The panels consisted of two different thickness of Mahogany with 3 different cut patterns.

I used a table saw to cut 3" x 3" squares and then placed them in the laser cutter. To keep the cut pattern accurate, I cut out a 3" x 3" square out of acrylic and was left with a 3" x 3" hole. I place each tile in this "jig" and applied the appropriate pattern.

The top panel (left) is 1/8" thick and has a hole laser cut through for the bearing's aluminum seat. The center panel (center) is 1/4" with a hole for the piece of machined aluminum and 4 holes for the brass rods. Since it is 1/4" thick mahogany, it is too dense to be cut on the 40 watt laser I am using. However I use the accuracy of the laser to etch a pattern that I can then center punch and drill out on a drill press. The bottom panels (right) have a 1/2" hole for the nut that secures the handle and 4 holes for the brass rods that slide against the steel base. These pins also allow the 2 bottom panels to be aligned when they are glued together.

Now that the aluminum has been machined and each panel has been drilled and cut out, they are ready to be glued together.

I will be gluing the 3 sections of each panel together and then clamp everything up. I need a clamp for each side of each panel (4) but do not have 60 small clamps so I plan on stacking several panels together and then clamp them like a huge Big Mac. Since the brass pins stick out of the bottom of each panel, I have to create spacer panels with holes drilled in them. These will be thrown out later so I just use 1/8" plywood.

The threaded aluminum pieces and 4 brass rods are placed in the middle panel. The bottom panel is aligned with the middle by the brass rods while the top is aligned by placing the edge of the top panel and bottom panel against the workbench. Once everything is lined up and stacked, I use 4 clamps to hold them together. Since the wood is thin it is often warped to some degree so clamps need to be used on all 4 edges.

Pictured here are the original test panels. I only clamped them together one panel at a time, but for the final panels, I stacked 5 together at a time.

Here are the final parts for assembly.

Here is a short video of a couple different kinds of bearings I used in the projects. Once set is steel and the other is a lightweight, smoother bearing. They're pretty cool.

I welded a steel frame, motor mount and end gear mount using 1" x 1/8" thick angle iron.

I originally designed the panels to slide together with very little space between each panel. The video game is designed like this and I also thought it would be better for the gears. However, when trying to slide together several geared panels in one corner, the gears will not slide into place.

Here is a walk through of the puzzle. I have decided to remove the magnets from the base to allow for a smoother movement of each panel. Since the panels need to be a little loose to keep the gears from binding, the magnets are working against the user, prohibiting smooth movement. In order to keep up the tolerance of gears' spacing and also allow for clusters of gears without binding, I think the gear needs to be able to be lifted up as it moves to another section. This is more complicated and requires some rethinking of how the handles are fabricated. If this is resolved then it would make sense to reinstall the magnets and angle the game from a horizontal position to a slightly angled position (like a laptop screen).

Here is the puzzle in action with out me going on and on about it.

Chad B.
August 26, 2015

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