Monday, July 29, 2013

Rundown of puzzles for IPP33

Peppermint, my entry for the puzzle exchange, was digitally manufactured in colorful ABS by Bradley Rigdon at PrintTo3D.  I built prototypes on my SD300, those PVC models were a bit too flexible to give the right "feel" for this particular puzzle.  Each piece is made in two colors, red and white; the colors play a subtle but important role.

 Moiré Maze combines laser-cut acrylic and 3D printed vinyl.  The challenge is to guide a small magnet through the maze from Start to Finish.  That goal sounds simple enough, but it's easy to get lost in the visually-confounding patterns of rings reflected against a mirrored background.

Cubic Trisection is one of the puzzles I also sold at IPP32 last year.  The challenge is to assemble the three pieces into a cube, as shown.  All three pieces are identical, but not symmetrical.  Most users easily assemble the first two pieces, but encounter trouble adding the third.

Puckup is a two-piece assembly puzzle, which I'm selling in transparent material or a red-white color scheme.  Tyler Barrett suggested a somewhat edgier name "What the Puck" but the simpler Puckup name had already been picked up on one of the puzzle forums.

Twisty Trillion is a successor to Puckup whose shape provokes a lot more confusion among users.  Neither puzzle is fiendishly difficult, but Twisty Trillion takes most people a whole lot longer to figure out.  I built them all on the SD300 using transparent vinyl because light reflects attractively inside the puzzle.

I commissioned two copies of a Trillion Pendant to be built as puzzle jewelry--one in brass from i.Materialise, the other in silver from Shapeways.  But neither model was delivered on time--Shapeways lost one of the pieces, and i.Materialise is over 3 weeks behind schedule.  So I salvaged the partly-incomplete silver model by building its other half in luxuriously-dark blue vinyl, which contrasts gracefully with the silver piece.  Frankly, it looks nicer than it would have if both pieces had been silver!

Here's a colorful assortment of marble puzzles, three of which will be available for sale as Bag of Marbles.  The others are experimental designs, which I'd like to test on a few puzzlers at IPP.  In particular, the pink and purple models are two closely-related designs, but my first few testers think the purple one is much harder than the pink one.  Will others react the same way?  IPP is a great opportunity to find out!

Monday, July 22, 2013

More on Moiré

I previously wrote about my Moiré Maze puzzle as if it was finished, but it had all sorts of unfinished details until this weekend.  For example I didn't have suitable packaging until George Bell referred me to Clear Bags which supplied the attractive box pictured above.

I built this inexpensive plastic insert on the SD300 to hold the puzzle safely inside the box.

The closeup above emphasizes two more gripes:
  • The Start and Finish are denoted by two bulb-shaped chambers, but there aren't any markings to identify which is which.  I suppose I could supply an instruction sheet, but it could get lost.
  • It really needed some sort of mechanism or barrier to keep the chambers separate, to prevent the user from trivially moving the magnet from Start to Finish without tracing the maze.  The acrylic cutting pattern included an eyelet for attaching such a mechanism, but how should I use it?
To add markings to the puzzle, I used a KNK Zing plotter-engraver I had recently purchased.  The machine can't handle the bare acrylic pieces so I 3D-printed a template and taped it to a large piece of poster paper, which the machine happily accepted.

To calibrate the KNK Zing to the acrylic sheet, I aligned the the engraver's laser-pointer with a small hole in the 3D-printed template/holder.  And I installed a diamond-tipped engraving tool into the plotter.

Start and Finish are clearly identified after engraving.

And I installed a one-way vinyl flap that permits the magnet to be pulled from the Finish chamber to the Start chamber.  It doesn't let the magnet slide the other way.  The only way to travel from the Start to the Finish is to navigate the maze.