Monday, September 20, 2010

Improved transparency for the Cooksey Tribute puzzle

EDIT: Just to clarify, I only built the transparent rings in the pictures. The brightly-colored maze cylinders were purchased from Oskar's store at Shapeways.

In a previous post I described how I'd made transparent rings for Oskar's Cooksey Tribute maze puzzles. The transparency enhanced the puzzle, but they were only semi-transparent at best.

I had sprayed the previous parts with Weld-On 2007 to improve their transparency, but I soaked a second set in the solvent for 25 seconds and then permitted it to air-dry for an hour. The results were substantially more transparent.

There's some optical distortion where build chatter has been transformed into wavy lenses, but the new part is more transparent.

So now I'm building a new set of enhanced transparent rings using the solvent soak-dip.

I had discovered the value of a solvent dip long ago, but I'd been using a simpler solvent-spray to make it more convenient. The dip requires a relatively large volume of Weld-On 2007 welding solvent, a solvent-resistant surface, gloves, and ample ventilation. But these results are worth some special effort!

There are additional pictures of Oskar's Cooksey Tribute in my PhotoBucket Album.


  1. Does the cylinder really need to be so tall (along the cylindical axis)? Why not make it shorter?

  2. The heights are largely dictated by functional needs with only a tiny dash artistic decision. You're seeing the puzzle *after* the necessary adjustments, in fact.

    Oskar's first prototypes were slightly shorter and used a 1 cm high ring. That design was sufficiently narrow that it could twist off-axis slightly, just enough to make it difficult to distinguish permitted moves from blocked ones. The user might even force movements that could damage the puzzle.

    Oskar's solution was to enlarge the ring to 3 cm, as it appears here. The pins inside the ring sit higher now, so the 'clear' region at the bottom had to be enlarged and the puzzle made taller to accommodate it. The 'clear' region at the top has to extend sufficiently above the maze to help thread the ring into the maze and to prevent cheating by twisting the ring crookedly over the last wall.

    Unfortunately the finished puzzle looks vaguely like a fetish toy, which provoked customs to detain one of the shipments after it had been X-rayed. Such items would be allowed, but they demanded evidence the contents had been declared accurately!

  3. Thanks for all the info. Another possibility would be to make the cylinder a frame rather than a solid piece. But the clear cylinder is already a huge improvement over an opaque one ...

  4. Great minds think alike, I suppose.

    Oskar did build a 'framework' version with very pretty filigrees to look through, but the walls had to be thick near the pins (for strength) which blocked the view.

    I embossed a decorative pattern into one of the clear rings as an experiment, but the decoration created optical distortions that distracted from the puzzle. Oskar decided the simple un-decorated rings were more functional.

    Click the link at the bottom of the blog entry to view my PhotoBucket album. You will find pictures of my "Decorated Ring" experiment and Oskar's opaque "Framework" rings. They're both pretty, but not as functional.