Thursday, 20 October 2016

4L puzzle

4L is a packing puzzle designed by Yasuhiro Hashimoto, crafted by Mine and awarded by an honorable mention at IPP 2015.

The puzzle is composed of some plexi, a wooden cage and 4L shapes pieces to pack inside the box. To be more precise you have 2 pairs of L: one kind of L piece is a bit thiner.

The goal is easy and the puzzle looks so easy....Well how can a puzzle be hard with only 4 pieces you can wonder. Well, wonder more! :-)  This is a difficult puzzle and it has given a lot of pain to the puzzle collectors who have this (nice) puzzle.

Indeed you have many ways to pack the pieces and you have also rotations. Some rotations are (or seem?) impossible, other are not that difficult, but in any case you need precision. 
I worked on this puzzle for long time and at some point I thought it was impossible and that there was a fit issue with my puzzle...sign of despair maybe...I could not really find other collectors who played with it (or solved it), so not easy to get some hints.

I worked again a bit later on the puzzle and tried to focus myself of the shape of the plexi and how I could use the space between the plexi and the pieces, trying to see which piece can go between this space and in which positions. No success but I tried.

After I came back to my first ideas of how to pack 2 pieces and then how the 3rd one could be put inside. At the beginning I tried to pack the pieces outside of the box with the constraint of the 4th piece but I could not really make progress. So well, I came back putting pieces inside the box, that's the goal, right :)
After a sequence of moves I managed to put the 3rd piece and after some sequence of moves the 4th piece was packed! A very satisfaying puzzle and it's worth the money!! And the solution is easy to repeat. I fear burrtool won't help you because of the rotations...But your brain is more powerful, isn't it?

I always have the feeling that packing puzzles are too frustrating because of all the possibilities to pack the pieces and solving a puzzle should not involve frustration but satisfaction! So when I buy packing puzzles, I try to choose the ones that have a little something different regarding the solution or the design. I was right to buy this packing puzzle because of the "ah-ha" moment with the 3rd piece packed and because you realize that a puzzle can also be difficult with few pieces!

All pieces packed, but this is the only orientation where it does not spoil too much

Thursday, 13 October 2016

My first attempts to craft puzzles!!!

It's good to collect, buy from time to time or just play with puzzles. But at some point you aim at either designing and crafting, just designing, or just crafting some puzzles. Maybe it's a way to see if you could compete with other craftmen? Well....normally you will not reach the high top of puzzle designers in a couple of days! It's a long process ;-)

Many (if not most) people trying to craft puzzles craft flat packing puzzles because they are the easiest to craft. Sure, it's way easier than crafting a 3D burr puzzle or a complex sequencial discovery puzzle, no doubt about that. And flat packing puzzle (or just flat puzzle) can be "easily" done with some plexi and a laser cutter. So guess what I crafted??? Flat puzzles isung plexi!!!

I will show you what I have done so far and the difficulties that one can experience.

The first question to ask yourself is the choice of plexi (if you want it transparent or not) and the thickness. If it's too thick, maybe it will not be useful and maybe the laser cutter will not properly cut it. If it's too thin, well you might break it when playing with it...I decided to use a 3mm thick plexi.

Let's begin with a flat puzzle:

The goal: use all the pieces to make the same shape but bigger.
Yes, this is a very simple-looking puzzle, but I liked the idea and decided to craft it. There are several puzzles in the same spirit, but I just wanted to craft one.
About the difficulty, I would say it's pretty easy: you should not take too long before finding the solution. And all people who tried this puzzle (most of them are not really puzzlers) solved it without too much trouble. It just takes a couple of minutes.
I like this puzzle because it's simple but efficient. And easy to carry with you!

Now another flat (but packing) puzzle:

Obviously the goal is to pack all the pieces inside the tray. At the beginning I cut the pieces in absolutely transparent plexi and well it was not only difficult to see the pieces inside the tray but also the look was not that good. Thus, I decided to cut the pieces in non transparent blue plexi. Moreover at the beginning, I thought it would be a nice idea to carve some section on each piece. I mean: instead of having for example the plain piece of 3 octogon, there were marks so that we could clearly see 3 different octogons. The idea was nice but even if it was only carved, these marks made each pieces more fragile resulting in some cracks.

I am not used to crafting puzzles, so well my issues or questions may seem obvious to you but were not to me at this stage. I thought it would be nice to have a tray, so that the pieces do not slip out. Obvious? Definitely. How to do? Well, screwing plexi is not an easy task because you can break it. My only solution was using strong glue. I even managed to put a bit of glue on my fingers....s**t! It sticks so quick...Next time I will be using gloves!
Using glue is a pretty good idea, but the bad thing is that when glueing 2 transparent pieces of plexi, you can see the glue between both layers. And this is not nice! :-(
I like the fact of using a transparent tray and opaque pieces however. And the blue of the pieces contrasts well with the yellow of the tray.

If you look well, you will also notice that each piece has like a small square and I cut 7 small square on the tray. My first idea was that it could be a nice idea to be able to push the pieces out of the tray. Sure, if you have very very small fingers... ;-) but you can still use a pen. I feel it's also more beautiful.

Regardless the technical thing and the issues I faced, some quick words about this puzzle: first the fit is perfect! And I am sure it will not move with humidity :)
About the difficulty, this is not a difficult puzzle (even if more difficult than the first puzzle above). All people I gave this puzzle to managed to solve it. I like it!

Now the last puzzle made with plexi (and the most difficult in the series):

This is a famous puzzle. You need to use all the pieces, put on the right order with a right rotation so that when looking through the stack of pieces you can see a rabbit shape. This is a very difficult puzzle because you have so many possibilities to stack the pieces. I like the idea and it's easy to carry with you on travel, for example.

I couldn't not try to 3D print a puzzle as well!
So here it it:

Each part of the sphere took around 30 minutes and each part of the cage took around 1 hour to print.
The cage measures around 3.5cm x 3.5 cm x 3 cm, which is not too small and fine to manipulate.
The quality is pretty good. But the bad thing is for the sphere parts, the 3D printer had difficulties to make it perfectly round. I mean, it's round but there was a little residue of filaments that needed to be sand-papered. The round shape is the most difficult thing to 3D print because obviously when the printer starts to work it puts some material that is flat. So, any sphere shapes will have a flat base that we have to be rounded with sandpaper.

Apart from that the fit is tight with the cage, luckily the parts are strong enough to resist pressure when putting the 2 parts together.

The goal is to open the cage by manipulating the sphere inside. Maybe you have recognized a similar puzzle? Well, the cast marble crafted by Hanayama uses the same mechanism. But for the cast puzzle you need to twist the cage which is more difficult than just opening the cage, and metal is always nicer than 3D printed puzzles! :-)

To finish this post, I also wanted to craft a mathematical structure.
It uses 30 identical pieces and stay together. Indeed, the friction with plexi with each end part of each pieces makes the structure pretty sturdy. When using plexi, you do not have to put glue. But glue is mandatory is you do not use plexi because otherwise the structure will collapse!

Believe me, this was a lot of pain assembling the structure. But you get easily confused about which piece goes where. The more you make progress on building it, the more you will feel tnesion between pieces. And plexi can break easily, don't forget that! Also plexi can cut like paper sheets. It's pretty sharp. And when I finish building it, my hands were a bit painful.

I really like the shape but I need to have a severe critic about the design: in my opinino the design can be more improved so that you could use any kind of material without glue and have stronger "key-ends" on each piece. I mean, it's like modular origami: usually it does not require any glue if the modules are cleverly designed (so that they hold by themselves with each other). If you need glue, it means the foldings is weak. Here, I would make the same comment. You can manipulate the structure if it's in plexi but you still need to be careful.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Summary of cast puzzles (Hanayama) level 1

I have reviewed all the level 1 puzzles so far. I am sure there will always be new level 1 puzzles.
I don't think I will update this page (but I will see later) because it would be long to find it.

So far, you can find:
Cast ABC
Cast bike
Cast flag
Cast hook
Cast key
Cast loop
Cast seabream
Cast shark

My favourite is the Cast loop: it has a nice design, is tricky to reassemble even if you disassembled it few minutes ago and is always fun to solve. I like the feature with the magnet.
I like also the Cast shark.

My less favourite puzzle is cast hook. Well, the puzzle is far from being obvious, but what I like less is that there is a bit of friction and you really need to make tiny moves to solve it.
Don't get me wrong, it's a nice puzzle, but just not my favourite one :-)

What's your favourite level 1? And your less favourite level 1?

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Cast loop: level 1

A nice puzzle, designed by Vesa Timonen, that could easily be a nice necklace if it was a little bit smaller though :)
The puzzle is indeed provided with a small rope.

The puzzle is put as the below position. At the beginning I thought the puzzle was almost solved, but actually this is the starting position. You need to disassemble the 2 parts of the puzzle and then make a complete closed ring.

Note that there is a magnet which provides the ring from disassembling by itself, a very good idea!!!

Reassembling the 2 parts to get the final closed ring (as shown on the right above picture) can be pretty confusing. Even if you manage to do once, the next time you try it, you may fail. It requires a good brain to remember what to do.

In my mind, this puzzle deserves a 3/6 difficulty ranking and definitely not a 1/6. It's not super hard, but enough confusing to puzzle the best solvers :-)

This puzzle is very cleverly designed and is my favourite so far in the 1/6 difficulty ranking.
It's very fun to solve it again and again and to torture people's mind trying to solve it.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Cast hook: level 1

This intriguing puzzle was designed by Vesa Timonen, who designed several cast puzzle by the way, with usually a common point: some twists involved.

The shape of the pieces is pretty strange and I feel it may be a nice idea for earings ;-)

Anyway you will have to make several steps to separate the pieces, many more than what should be required to solve a level 1 cast puzzle. Moreover, the steps are not that easy and the last one can be forgotten easily. Plus if you have a bit of friction between both pieces (unfortunately, even if Hanayama's puzzle are mass produced and are usually of good quality, you will likely not have a whole collection of perfectly made cast puzzles....unfortunately), then it may be difficult to guess some steps.

In my opinion, it deserves a level 3 for ranking difficulty, and certainly not a level 1!
Not sure how Hanayama classifies the cast puzzles....obviously it goes with the wrong rating (too) often, even if it depends on one's skills.

Don't start with this puzzle if you intend to start from easy to difficult. A beginner will have a lot of difficulties.

Not my favourite among the level 1 cast puzzles, but still a nice one!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Cast shark: level 1

Second puzzle in the marinelife series designed by Akio Yamamoto, this puzzle is (much?) more difficult than the cast seabream: the shapes of the pieces make the puzzle a bit confusing and if your puzzle has some flaws (it can happen with mass-produced puzzles!), then it's pretty hard to discover the moves.

I like the design of a shark going through jaws without being bitten ;-)

The puzzle is less easy than what you can think at a first glance because you need very small moves and good precision when you manipulate it so that it can move. So if you're blocked, try to make small and slow moves, and maybe it will help you....And obviously you need some idea to progress.

It's worth more a level 2/6 difficulty in my mind. I think it's an interesting puzzle. So try to buy it, you won't regret!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Cast seabream: level 1

Designed by Akio Yamamoto, this puzzle belongs to a marine series of cast puzzle with usually 2 metal colors. As it's about marine sealife, the moves are not regular ones and can be very hard to discover and manipulate the pieces.

Actually this puzzle is not difficult and the moves are easy to discover: you will have to move and rotate the fishes.

I think this puzzle is a nice introduction of using rotations when solving a puzzle, and it's definitely easy to repeat. But still, it's fun and nice. Good puzzle for beginners....and for more seasoned who want to complete their collection :-)

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Cast key: level 1

Designed by Nob Yoshigahara, this puzzle embodies perfectly what a level 1 cast puzzle should be: a puzzle with several steps but not too many, not confusing but pretty straight forward steps.

The puzzle can be solved by anybody, it's really not difficult. The sequence of steps are nice and I love the idea and the design.

Starting with this puzzle in your cast puzzle journey is the best idea you can have :-)
Even if you won't have any difficulty to solve and reassemble the puzzle, it's pretty addictive to play again with this puzzle.

Can you also try this challenge below (the position of the right key is not the same)

I usually try to find if you could have several challenges for a given puzzle. For this puzzle, yes you have 2 challenges in a way, for more fun!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Cast flag: level 1

One of the several puzzles designed by Nob Yoshigahara, the goal of it is to free the flag from its cage.

The core is composed of 2 moving parts and depending of where the flag is in its cage, you can move one part or the other on different side of the cage.
You really need very good precision, because otherwise you cannot move the flag and think you're blocked, even if it's not the case at all!

Honestly, this puzzle has a lot of moves for a level 1! And I am sure a beginner would have difficulties. I would classify it as level 2.

With my old packagings I did not have the writting below, so it made me smile.
Well, when the solution doesn't go along with the puzzle, it just means that the designers/puzzle firms are too lazy to write a proper solution. The solution is part of the puzzle, it should always be included.
Luckily, it's not too difficult to find the solution of the cast puzzle on the internet if you're ever blocked.

You can buy this puzzle at Sloyd

Monday, 12 September 2016

Cast bike: level 1

A pretty big puzzle regarding usual size of the cast puzzles. This puzzle designed by John R.Lynn is composed of a bike and a ring to free.

The bike is like a maze and has some slots on both side. As they are on different place on the bike, you need to always look at both side of the bike. Indeed you may think you're blocked, but actually you can still move on one side of the bike.

You will have to navigate thourough the whole bike to free the little ring.

There are a lot of moves and thus, I would classify it as level 2. In my opinion, level 1 puzzles should have fewer moves. So even if it's not a difficult puzzle, it's still challenging and should not be classified as level 1.

Due to the small size of the ring, it tends to slip away from your hands, not practical....

I like this puzzle. You can buy it at Sloyd

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Cast ABC: level 1

I will try to make up for lost time in terms of reviewing the cast puzzle series. I may have already reviewed some, but now I will try to speed up a bit. However, there are a lot, so it will take months. Plus I may do some breaks to speak about other puzzles.

I will also try to each time make a summary of what I consider to be the best in each ranking of difficulty. That's my choice, some may not agree and feel free to give your feelings as well!

Something to add: for several puzzles the difficulty ranking has changed. I will trust the ranking of the packaging I have.

This time: cast ABC designed by Nob Yoshigahara

As you notice you need to free the C letter from the AB. This is not a difficult puzzle and is worth well its ranking (level 1). You should not have difficulties to solve it, but pay a lot attention where the C is freed from.

Actually I put the puzzle solved and tried to reassemble it later and I was blocked because I tried to put the C on the wrong slot. It's surely funnier to try to reassemble a puzzle later because you can forget a bit the solution and thus have still some challenge left.

Finally I managed to find the right slot and reassemble. Nice puzzle!

You can buy it at Sloyd

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Popplock T2

T2 is nice, is secret, is difficult to open, and is definitely a collectible lock. Let's see why.

T2 was made in 2 different version: a limited version was made out of stainless steel and thus is rarer. The only difference with both version of the lock is the material used, the solution of the way they work remain the same, of course.

A nice feature that I like with this lock is that you can opened it by unscrewing the front pannel and see the mechanism. And if you like, you can even create a plexi cover to put instead of the metal cover so that you can admire the mechanism while solving the lock.
But well, it makes it a very easy lock them. The main difficulty is that you cannot see what you're doing while trying to solve it. And even if you have feedback from the lock, well, it's difficult to solve. And you always need to pull the shackle to see if you have solved the lock as, unfortunately, the shackle does not pop up :-(

Your tools: you have a key and something like a rod. The first version of the lock had only one tool which was the key with a small rod on it's top, which gave a clue: you could only use the key or the small rod, and not both together. Whereas, with the 2 tools you now have, you can use both at the same time. You follow?

You will hear some clicks while you turn the keys inside the keyhole, and sometimes you will be blocked....and at some point you may solve it without understanding what you did :-)
The interesting thing is to open the lock to see the mechanism.

I had difficulty to open the lock and I do feel it's not easy to repeat. But obviously it's highly collectible, it's a popplock after all! Plus it's still fun to play with it. Give it a try!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Time to fold...some flower origami !!!

Some new pictures, still without glue and without scotch tape. And the modules don't fall apart.
The models are not that big, the biggest one is the red and rose one as it requires more modules. All are time-consuming to make (cutting the paper, folding each piece of paper, assembling the globe in the appropriate way, correcting the potential mistake during the assembly process which becomes more and more complex as you add more modules...).

And as usual, if interested to buy any foldings, PM me :-)


The following is a bit loose because of the number of modules used (12) and the shape of the origami. Some glue can be added to make the folding less fragile.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Time to fold....some spirals !!!!!!

The following foldings are all made with only one sheet of paper, without any scotch tape and without any glue. The "theme" is spirals as you can see the paper rolling again and again around an axis.

The differences between each of them are the angles and the shape of the base (square, triangle...).

These foldings are time consuming and require a lot of precision, and a bit of dexterity as well ;-)
What is interesting is that they are 3D foldings and "pop up" in a way, but can be flatten as well to admire the shapes.

As usual, I can sell some of them if any interest you. But I won't sell some as those ones are a pain to fold and I am not up to make them again. Feel free to ask if a folding catches your attention!









For the 2 above, it seems they are the same, but not really. Look precisely at the picture on the right and you will notice a variation. Actually, the folds are very different!





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