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 Post subject: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:48 pm 
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I figured I should start a new thread, the Neon thread was getting long and this is a separate puzzle.
From the Neon thread, for context:

"So speaking of the Chromium... I went to the TechShop last night and prototyped it. As expected there were an number of problems so it isn't really functional. The pieces are too small so they lock up all the time, and the sizing of the puzzle is off so the plunger tops slide off the puzzle a bit. You will note it is fairly ugly. I chose to cut it out of scraps opaque green (with opaque black unetched pieces) because I knew it was just a prototype and would probably have problems. Why waste good acrylic?"

Here are some better pictures I took of my Chromium prototype last night. For higher res pictures of any of these just remove the "Small" from the link.
Image
Image
Here are some pictures of its movement:
Image
Image
Image
Image
Here is a picture showing the lockups that happen because the pieces are too small:
Image
Here is one showing how much of a gap can show up:
Image
Here is a picture showing a design fault where I sized the puzzle body too small (or the plungers too big...) so the plunger end comes off the body of the puzzle (oops!)
Image

Enjoy,

Dave

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Last edited by DLitwin on Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:54 pm 
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As I said before it's great! So that's the same exact one in the other thread, but just the pictures are of better quality? It looks like you touched it up from the old one but as you said the pictures were by a phone.

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:59 pm 
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awesome, so its a higher order neon?

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:04 pm 
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Siraj A. wrote:
As I said before it's great! So that's the same exact one in the other thread, but just the pictures are of better quality? It looks like you touched it up from the old one but as you said the pictures were by a phone.

New pictures, but I re-took the solved picture.

Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:39 pm 
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Very nice, Dave. I looks hard. Is the green the perminate color for the puzzle, or will it be the same as Elemental:Neon?

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:03 pm 
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TheCube wrote:
awesome, so its a higher order neon?

Not really. Yes in the sense that it is a three axis sliding block puzzle with two plungers per axis instead of one per axis, but the configuration is quite different. See the Elemental:Neon thread for some of my other puzzles. Zinc is the closest to a higher order Neon, and Selenium is also close.
http://twistypuzzles.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=91517#p91517
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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:06 pm 
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Taylor wrote:
Very nice prototype, its cool to have a different colored body. And it moves very good. How long does it take you to assemble a chromium? Thanks

The moves *look* good, but the piece locking problem is so severe it took me many minutes of fidgeting with it to get it into each position. I hope to solve that next week when I can cut some larger pieces.
I actually find the body color fairly ugly, but to each their own :) I'm partial to the transparent colors, but am building a few Neons out of opaque black to see how that looks. It probably won't make much difference for the body (six layers loses the transparency) but you will see it in the plungers.

Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:08 pm 
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TheAtarian1 wrote:
Very nice, Dave. I looks hard. Is the green the perminate color for the puzzle, or will it be the same as Elemental:Neon?

I haven't decided on colors yet, but I imagine a dark base with different colored pieces (depending on the etched image) will be the norm for the Elemental puzzles. If you want to pay me extra I'll use whatever acrylic you want, but I wouldn't expect many people to choose opaque green :)

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:30 pm 
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Fantastic work! I can't wait to see a finished version.

Regarding your previous threads, I love how you take us on the journey of creating your puzzles.

I wish I had half the skill you do.

Patrick


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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 8:51 pm 
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Good jobs

Can we had news?

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:04 am 
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It takes a very long time while walking through the corridors of theory, then from theory to practice,
and then testing the practical part.

It takes a lot of effort to design a new puzzle, especially one with a totally new mechanism,
but step by step, a marvellous gem will arise.

The Force is strong with this one!

:)


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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:29 am 
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Alokin wrote:
Good jobs

Can we had news?

I had hoped to have more to say by now, but after my last trip to the TechShop I didn't make much progress. Due to a problem with CorelDraw (I assume) when I tried making the pieces slightly bigger to avoid the lockups they either came out too large or still too small. One would assume if I sized them to 102%, 103%, 104% and 105% they would steadily grow larger, but there is barely a difference between 100-103%, and then 104% and 105% are a big jump larger. Clearly not sizing correctly.

So I've started sanding down the 104% pieces, but have just smoothed them out for now. It is actually better to sand down the plungers as I have more control (two surfaces per row as opposed to many many piece surfaces).

I'll post again when I have more. I have a sad feeling the larger Elemental puzzles will require some bigger mechanism changes to keep pieces aligned. I have a number in mind, but all will require substantial work and prototyping.

Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:35 am 
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OK, I am long overdue for an update on the Chromium.

The good news: I have tried a number of new designs to solve the piece locking problem, each requiring some interesting innovations.

The bad news: None really solve the problem :( ;(

But they were a lot of work, and make for nice pictures so here you go.

Idea number one was to have some sort of sprung ball bearing like in a Pyraminx or Skewb to help keep the pieces in place. I toyed with the idea of 24 (one for each piece) but thought I would try just seven (one between each set of six pieces) first.
The first problem was how to fit a spring and a ball bearing in a vertically thin puzzle. The normal approaches (a spring and a ball) take up too much room. I considered a conical spring (compresses flat) but in the end came up with another solution taking advantage of my use of thin plastic spacer layers. The basics involve starting with the base plunger mechanism:
Image
We then add a layer of 1/16" acrylic with large holes cut in the areas where we want the bearings:
Image
On this we add a single spacer layer. We now have a flexible layer over some space into which to flex. Image
Above this we add another 1/16" layer with holes just large enough for bearings. In this case I used 2mm bearings as 1/16" acrylic is about 1.5mm high. So uncompressed, the bearings stand .5mm above the layer, and then compress completely into it:
Image
2mm ball bearings are small. 3mm ball bearings are what most people think of when they think of ball bearings (in the pyaraminx and skewb they are about 3mm). I bought a number of sizes, including 1mm just for fun. Those are *tiny*. Here is a picture of a 3mm, two 2mms and a 1mm bearing:
Image
Over this we then add plungers and top:
Image
Into this we drop the 2mm ball bearings (with one on top to show the size):
Image
In this area we place the pieces, in between the bearings:
Image
With all the pieces in, we have our puzzle:
Image
...But it still locks up:
Image

Adding these two extra layers of 1/16" added height, enough so to lose any chance of using my existing screw lengths. So I switched to 1/16" acrylic for most of the plungers (all but the bottom layer, which needs countersinking if I don't use flat screws). The plunger tops are still 1/8" so I can get enough threads to hold well. From the side, the extra layers look pretty. This was built on an all white/cream body where I replaced the plunger layers with the 1/16" which is black. I like the look:
Image
Image
I think *perhaps* with some larger ball bearings I might get better blockage of the other pieces, but I am not optimistic. And bigger ball bearings (3mm at least) require more depth. The 1/8" acrylic is about 3mm, and I would want about 2.5 so I would have to use the 1/16" and a lot of spacers to get the right height. Unfortunately I can imagine the spacer material (cellulose acetate) would too quickly get formed into a depression and lose all spring, so even if larger bearings works better, I think I would have to reconsider a conical spring.

Next up (idea #2) I had the idea to notch each piece to the others. They would click into alignment, and it would require some flexibility in the mechanism of the plungers to allow things to give enough to unlock:
Image
The plungers have a double spring (Z shape) on them to allow compression without the end rotating.
I designed and cut it (in fluorescent green, not to the most visible on a white desk with a flash) but didn't actually assemble it. The notches were too harsh, it would have never moved. Perhaps with a redesign to have smoother notches it could have some promise.

This led to the next design, somewhat the end of the line of thinking of smoothing the notches of the second idea: Scalloped pieces:
Image
This almost worked. With everything aligned I was able to get one row to work as expected, here it is mid move and move completed:
Image
Image
But that was the best I could do. I think the initial prototype was perhaps better.

So in the end, what do we have? Months of work, some neat ideas and solutions to tangential problems, but ultimately no further than before.

Sigh :)

Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:42 am 
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I can't wait to see these finished, and the custom ones start coming out. Fantastic puzzle, Dave!


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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:52 am 
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You and me both. My name is on the list isn't it? I still like blue and my name! :lol: The rest is up to you! As reeech has said, it's been a bit of a dry year.....(We're only 13 days into it and I have only gotten um around 40 new puzzles so far. I'm greedy and want more!)

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:53 pm 
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flambore wrote:
I can't wait to see these finished, and the custom ones start coming out. Fantastic puzzle, Dave!


I second that! How much are these going to cost me? :P

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:02 pm 
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still, its always fun to try out new ideas right?

really like the scalloped peices


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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:00 pm 
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I think you ought to try one ball bearing, or a small cluster of three, under each piece, to lock them into place.


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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 5:53 pm 
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trixter wrote:
I second that! How much are these going to cost me? :P

Until I get it working I can't know how much work it will be to make it.

To start with it has roughly twice the number of laser cut parts, screws and pins as the Neon. This means twice the production time (roughly) and a bit more materials cost. Figure twice the assembly time. Well, that was with the basic green/black design with no modifications from the Neon style design. When I add the extra layers for the ball bearing version or the Z spring plungers the parts and cutting time go up.

So for starters I would just guess at somewhere around twice the Neon price. Who knows, I may have to get into magnets, electronics or even Tony's clip and slide mechanisms to make this beast actually work.

I am not inclined to sell my non-functional prototypes (I like keeping my prototypes) so if you want one of those it will cost you a Teraminx. Probably not a good deal for you though.

Dave :)

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:27 pm 
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If these are in as limited supply as the original neon, I'll be buying one, but I think that seeing as I haven't solved the regular, I REALLY don't think I'll be able to do this!


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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:11 pm 
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The prototypes look epic. Nice job Dave. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:13 pm 
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Interesting approaches Dave, I hope you figure this problem out! Have you considered trying a different ball bearing approach? Perhaps instead of placing the balls in between the parts, what if you put them under the center of the triangles so that each triangle clicked into place after each move.

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:28 pm 
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Hey Dave, I think I have the solution to your locking problems: Orthogonal motion :-)

Seriously though, maybe I should go over sidespin with you, that uses all the techniques you've been working on and will actually work.


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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:47 pm 
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Scott Bedard wrote:
Interesting approaches Dave, I hope you figure this problem out! Have you considered trying a different ball bearing approach? Perhaps instead of placing the balls in between the parts, what if you put them under the center of the triangles so that each triangle clicked into place after each move.

Check the top of the recent post, I mention:
DLitwin wrote:
I toyed with the idea of 24 (one for each piece) but thought I would try just seven (one between each set of six pieces) first.
One problem with it is sheer number, the other is rotation, although with close fitting pieces this is less of an issue.

Three under each has also been suggested, but that makes for 72!

I may try these, but until I am more confident of success I am thinking about other solutions.

Dave :)

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:49 pm 
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Bram wrote:
Hey Dave, I think I have the solution to your locking problems: Orthogonal motion :-)
Yes, just push those triangles without them squishing up and down ;) I have thought of tracks, but even tracks have to cross, and crossing tracks have to be rounded, and rounded areas have give, and give leads to squishing... ;)
Bram wrote:
Seriously though, maybe I should go over sidespin with you, that uses all the techniques you've been working on and will actually work.

We'll talk this Sunday at the Exploratorium (SF cube competition and meet up. I can count on you to come, right... ?

Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:03 pm 
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I was thinking about this last night and tracks obviously came to mind. If it's possible to have some sort of novel way of having tracks pop up in line with the side that's being pushed, and then retract when not being pushed, it could work. Perhaps some sort of two stage 'push' the first stage pops up the tracks, an the second stage pushes the pieces. I don't think it would be easy though. I can't think of a very elegent way to do this. Especially with just acrylic.

-d


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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:21 pm 
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This might be difficult, but you could put an indentation in the middle on the bottom of each triangular piece. Then, in the base of the puzzle, put some of the ball bearing/spring setups (like in the skewb), so that the tiles click into place. It would be difficult, but it's just a thought.

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:45 pm 
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Fractangle wrote:
This might be difficult, but you could put an indentation in the middle on the bottom of each triangular piece. Then, in the base of the puzzle, put some of the ball bearing/spring setups (like in the skewb), so that the tiles click into place. It would be difficult, but it's just a thought.
This is the "24 bearings" one per piece design I mentioned above. It was one of my first redesigns, and I tried the 7 bearing version (bearings between pieces) first because of the numbers and manufacturing time.

The main problem with this is that when you push on one side of a row, forces push pieces in many directions. The bearings try to hold the pieces in place, but at some point they are going to pop off (or no movement could be possible). At this point which way are they going to move? Not exactly the direction you are pushing them because of the angles of the pieces. This is where drift happens, and drift, in aggregate, allows lockups.

Next up I have some track ideas as well as more bearing ideas. In fact I may combine the two, where I have tracks cut into the piece bottoms that move along piece centered bearings. So a piece would stay on track, but prefer being centered. This would require two depths of etching on the backs of each piece.

I'm not giving up yet :)

Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Elemental:Chromium
PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:46 pm 
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DLitwin wrote:
I'm not giving up yet :)


That's the spirit!

Your Neons are so amazing, and you're so close on the design of this one, it'd be a shame to stop here!

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