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 Post subject: Elemental:Neon (formerly known as the BioHazard puzzle)
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 3:55 pm 
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Please forgive that there is nothing on this puzzle that twists. Despite this I think many on this forum will have some interest in this puzzle:
Image
I've been wanting to get back into puzzle building (it's been years) and don't have much time or shop space. I started thinking about puzzles I could build with just plastic sheet, and this is where it led.

To properly credit my influence for this puzzle, I must mention that a few months back Pantazis was teasing us with hints of his new Magics:
http://twistypuzzles.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6822&highlight=radiation
At the same time he was auctioning a Uriblock, and I had been considering remaking a Uriblock entirely from plastic sheet.
These idea of making a Uriblock style (Rubik's 15, etc.) out of triangular shapes instead of squares was born.

Here are a few initial sketches:

Note the numbers are height values for the various layers.
Image
Initial side views of the plungers, and a very simple (and wrong) diagram of a design.
Image
At this point I realized graph paper would be helpful, and generated some in my paint program (can you find triangle based graph paper on the market?). This made for a more exact diagram (although still wrong in many ways).
Image
My first actual prototype was made from the box top of a Little Caesar's pizza box. The prototype still smells like pizza. You can see the accuracy was poor, and the design flaws showed up immediately (the pieces wouldn't fit).
Image
Image
My next diagram was much better, and is the basis for the current design.
Image
My second prototype was made from the thick cardboard backing of a Gopher sonic stake (we have a mole problem in our backyard). The thicker cardboard was denser and less compressable than the pizza box, but the shiny surfacing of the cardboard made for a poor glue bond. But the prototype was actually minimally functional, which was an improvement. I showed both of these prototypes off at the last San Francisco puzzle meet up. Both the cardboard prototypes were cut with an Xacto knife, and man, the firmer cardboard was much tougher to get through.
Image
Image
Image
About this time I was able to go to the TechShop and use their laser cutter. The first acrylic prototype was much better than I had initially expected:
Image
The screws were too big and not countersunk (so I had to cut away at the clear plastic cover to allow movement). The alignment issues made it a bit hard to avoid lockups. The edges were a bit sharp in places. But it worked! The flourecent red acrylic came out great. The symbol was hastily made from a few circles, but got the idea across.
Image
Image
Image
Image
My next prototype addressed many of these issues, but still needs a bit of work before I'll consider it complete:
Image
In this revision I added countersunk holes for the screw heads, plastic pins as most of the fasteners, an internal notch mechanism to help alignment and the final bitmapped image of the BioHazard sign.
Image
As you can probably see, the countersinking was only partially successful. I implemented it by doing a deep etching with the laser cutter, and on the clear top piece this seems to have weakened the plastic enough to cause cracks to form near those areas.

Countersinking the darker plastic of the plungers seemed to work fine (no cracks, perhaps the greater diffraction of the clear piece was a factor?) but I mistakenly made six of the same piece instead of three and three mirrored, so I had to turn them over and use the non-countersunk side. Sigh. This makes the prototype not fully functional as those screw heads stop it from sliding under the clear top piece.

The notch mechanism spring was also a bit weak on this so you can barely feel it, but that is easy to change.
Image
So there you go. I'll post more pictures when I complete the next revision. I also have a bunch of other designs that all use the same basic principles, so once I work out all the issues with this one, the others should follow much faster.

Enjoy,

Dave


Last edited by DLitwin on Fri Jun 27, 2008 1:48 am, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 4:00 pm 
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When I saw that first picture, I thought that was a professional puzzle, that you were going to try remake or something! I don't know anything about that sort of puzzle, but it looks really really good! Very well made!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 4:06 pm 
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I remember that some time ago you mentioned to be working on this design and it was difficult for me to exactly imagine how it would look like.
I can only say that it came out very, very nice.
Congratulations, it is a great idea, a great built and it looks very professional!!!!

Geert


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 4:06 pm 
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Wow, that's pretty sweet!!! Thanks for that full story on each step - really shows how much goes into making a puzzle from the idea up! ;)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 4:31 pm 
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Wow... very impressive. Clever idea. Beautifully executed. And nice photos too.

Thomas

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 5:09 pm 
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As I said before, beautiful, now get them produced.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 5:39 pm 
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Thats tight

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 7:04 pm 
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I thought it was a production puzzle you found for sale somewhere at first.

Very well built.


Any chance of producing these in the future? I'd definitely be interested in purchasing one.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 7:04 pm 
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For some time I used to carry around a plastic bag filled with various puzzle tools, baggies of parts and random plastic. Then I remembered that I had my dad's old briefcase that I used for anything but business (I'm a programmer, why would I need a briefcase?). For some years it was a case to carry my paintball gun to the field.

I've now repurposed it as my portable puzzle shop. I take it with me to work, home, and to the TechShop. Lately my focus has been on th BioHazard, so I thought I'd add a picture to this thread. I just love that red flourescent plastic...

Image

Dave


Last edited by DLitwin on Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 7:34 pm 
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Noah wrote:
Any chance of producing these in the future? I'd definitely be interested in purchasing one.

I definitely plan on offering it for sale. I need to finish at least one more revision to fix various issues noted above. It works, but I am not yet satisfied.

Then I'll need to get a sense of interest so I can figure out reasonable pricing. Don't be surprised to see a pricing/interest poll (like Pantazis has done for his Panta-flips) in the General forum soon.

With enough interest I'd like to offer them for a fairly low fixed price. Without enough interest I'll put it, and perhaps some others, up on eBay and let the market decide.

It has taken a lot of design and revision time, but once I finalize it I hope it can be made without too much cost. The materials themselves aren't too expensive, but it does take some time laser cut (and I have to pay for my TechShop membership to use their cutter) and takes a fair amount of time to assemble after that (it has 103 parts).

EDIT: With enough interest I suppose I could offer it as a DIY... :)

Dave


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 8:10 pm 
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Well, I'm definitely interested - it looks like a great puzzle! I'm not really watching the general forum anymore, so a post here announcing the interest poll would be greatly appreciated.

Keep up the (obviously) very good work!

Ben


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 8:34 pm 
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David!!! That looks BRILLIANT!!!

It is always wonderful to see such new ideas like this! Especially triangles, lately they seem to get the attention they always needed! ;)

And yes, by definition, I am also interested! (DIY or not, doesn't matter for me LOL)

:)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 8:41 pm 
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Nice puzzle! I like the way the triangles worked out.

I had a sliding block puzzle inspiration while looking at the IPP 27 pictures. Nothing specific to the pictures, just an idea for a puzzle to enter next year. I think your puzzle would be a nice entry to the IPP 28 puzzle contest.

I am interested in a puzzle, perhaps we could trade DIY kits sometime in the future?

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Last edited by Puzzlemaster42 on Fri Aug 31, 2007 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 9:47 pm 
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Well done!! I can't wait to get my hands on one. Really wonderful job.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 7:44 am 
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Very nice puzzle, I would definately be interested. You may want to consider making two of them for the IPP design contest for next year.

-d


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 3:54 pm 
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That is really cool

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:35 pm 
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Am I the only one that thinks that puzzle needs theme music?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 4:10 am 
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Kudos to you for getting me interested in a non-twisty puzzle :D that's a first for me... nice piece of work there!


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2007 6:58 am 
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My apologies for explaining the joke, but despite not actually involving any rotation, this puzzle clearly qualifies as a twisty puzzle because it has a bunch of pieces which can permute, and to manipulate it you first scramble it and then try to get it back to its original position.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 11:10 am 
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I'm usually not much for puzzles with sliding pieces, but I must say that this is amazing!

Do you have any guesses as to how much it will cost if you decide to sell it?

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 11:48 am 
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Speedy McFastfast wrote:
Do you have any guesses as to how much it will cost if you decide to sell it?

Next time I go to the TechShop I'll pay more attention to how much time it takes to cut one on the cutter. Then I'll have to build a few to see how long that takes me and I can get sense of the time cost. I also have to calculate the materials cost, I've been working from scraps that TAP Platics has been giving me free, but that won't do for producing more than a prototype or two.

I'll also put out a poll and see what type of expected sales I'll have.

Given the response so far I really want to make more than just a few for eBay. Given that, I imagine less than $100 (or the market gets small enough to be just eBay at the highest bidder). But without knowing my cost, I can't yet set a lower bound. And without a lower bound, I don't know real expected sales.

I'll do my side of the homework and get back to you guys. I'll also start a poll in General (and post the link here for Ben Hendry :)) soon, to get a sense of what the interest is at different price points.

Sorry if it takes a bit of time, I can't get down to the TechShop so often.

Dave


Last edited by DLitwin on Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 11:49 am 
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Just to let you know, I would be interested in one of these.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2007 2:13 pm 
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joey wrote:
Just to let you know, I would be interested in one of these.

Me too. Nice build!Awesome!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:47 am 
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A hexagonal Zauberkreuz:
http://twistypuzzles.com/cgi-bin/puzzle.cgi?pid=1096
Very cool.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:12 am 
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Andreas Nortmann wrote:
Except in each of the Zauberkreuz, each plunger thingy is split into two independently moving parts.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 1:02 pm 
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Dave, have you figured out how to solve this thing? It's got two distinct orbits of pieces, and solving either the one consisting of the three pieces around the center one or the one consisting of the center piece and the outer pieces looks quite easy, but getting them both at once might be a bit interesting. Have you figured out a way of rotating the off-center three after solving everything else? Or is there some parity-like restriction which keeps that from being an issue?


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 Post subject: Re: BioHazard puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 2:30 pm 
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dlitwin wrote:
At this point I realized graph paper would be helpful, and generated some (can you find triangle based graph paper on the market?).

I think it is called isometric paper.

http://www.printfreegraphpaper.com/

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:56 am 
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I have files of isometric and square dotty paper if anyone needs it!


Attachments:
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Isometric.pdf [31.29 KiB]
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:41 am 
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Bram wrote:
Dave, have you figured out how to solve this thing? It's got two distinct orbits of pieces, and solving either the one consisting of the three pieces around the center one or the one consisting of the center piece and the outer pieces looks quite easy, but getting them both at once might be a bit interesting. Have you figured out a way of rotating the off-center three after solving everything else? Or is there some parity-like restriction which keeps that from being an issue?

It isn't a difficult puzzle. On the order of the Rubik's 15 or so.

Yes it has two distinct set of pieces (a triangular checkerboard of sorts) and to my knowledge you can cycle just one independent of the others, but I've not thought about it too much.

When playing with the first acrylic prototype I did wind up in a situation where the outer pieces were solved but the inner three cycled, but that may have been because that prototype was made of simple circles and so two pieces of the outer set could be (and perhaps were, in this case) swapped with no way to distinguish them. My solution was to swap those pieces back, which also had the side effect of a rotation of the inners. But if this is the case, a double swap will leave them back in place with a single reverse rotation of the centers.

Those are my thoughts, but someone who solves more formally instead of intuitively will probably have more to say.

Dave


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:53 am 
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Well, it might be true that using a couple of conjugates should be enough to solve. But since all generators share a few pieces, it is always going to be interesting.

And indeed, its order is related to the zauberkreuz, the triple cross, rubik's fifteen, and the uriblock. But going from squares to triangles always opens a new world. Similar world maybe, but not the same!

The more I look at your puzzle, the more I like it!!!

;)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 11:10 am 
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That is a very well done puzzle, and I love the design aspect of it.
The red on black looks just Awesome!

In my opinion though, the six screws on the upper faceplate look better big and not countersunk. I'm sure all of the other screws feel better when sunk, but those 6 screws are a design element in the first prototype and give it a very industrial look that goes along with the biohazard idea. It also gives it a handmade feel while still looking wonderfully professional.

~Fox


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:42 pm 
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TBTTyler wrote:
That is a very well done puzzle, and I love the design aspect of it.
The red on black looks just Awesome!

In my opinion though, the six screws on the upper faceplate look better big and not countersunk. I'm sure all of the other screws feel better when sunk, but those 6 screws are a design element in the first prototype and give it a very industrial look that goes along with the biohazard idea. It also gives it a handmade feel while still looking wonderfully professional.

~Fox

I was going for a "bolted down glass protected containment area" feel. That look for me involved countersinking, and it also gives a nice finish. What I really wanted was hex bolts or hex screws (allen wrench) which would fit the design even better, but I've not found them in the right size yet. They would also be less user friendly (how many people have a 0-80 sized socket set?). Pretty much anyone can get a small phillips head screwdriver.

Countersunk or not I agree that the large screws do give it a nice look. But I do like the countersinking and those screw heads make the countersinking holes too large.

I think the plastic bolts give a rivet look which works as well.

Actually, given the problems I've had countersinking with etching on clear acrylic I've changed the design to countersink the bottom pieces (not clear), and drive the screws from the bottom up.

So the top will have all plastic rods and three holes with slighly recessed screw ends. I think it will look good, but we'll see. It will certainly make things easier in the design.

One of the problems I've had was the large number of small pieces that look quite similar but have slightly differing hole sizes. The screws pass through some pieces, but need to bind others. My current solution was to have the binding pieces (the bottom) be opaque and the other pieces smoked translucent acrylic. This works, but requires three materials per puzzle (clear, smoked, opaque) instead of two.

Another problem was the six top plunger pieces are actually two sets of three similar pieces (mirrored). I've already made the mistake of making six of one instead of two sets of three :)

By driving the screws from the bottom, all bottom pieces (which are symetric and don't require mirroring) will be countersunk (easy to tell the difference there) and the top pieces no longer require mirroring.

I'm also looking at doing a hybrid of screw and plastic rod for the plunger fasteners, but I'll have to see how that looks. I could ditch the screws all together, but that would then require glue, and I am hoping to avoid that.

Dave


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 3:41 pm 
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I like the hex bolt idea but you are right, who has 0-80 socket set?
It also appears that you're using screws that aren't made for being countersunk. Maybe using some made for that purpose will provide the finish you desire with smaller countersinks.

Other than that, working from the back seems a very good idea and will clean up things quite a bit.

Have fun!
~Fox


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TBTTyler wrote:
It also appears that you're using screws that aren't made for being countersunk. Maybe using some made for that purpose will provide the finish you desire with smaller countersinks.

I looked at flat head screws, but they are angled on the base and it wouldn't be easy to etch an angled recess for them. Pan head seemed the best bet.

Dave


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:22 pm 
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I have a couple of questions/suggestions that have been floating around in my head...


Have you tried http://www.smallparts.com for your screws? I buy springs from them and they may have the screws you need. They may even have a #0-80 socket set...

You may be able to use flat head screws if you use a countersink bit to make the beveled hole. There are ones that are only a conical drill, and not a bit with a countersink attached.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:33 pm 
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Puzzlemaster42 wrote:
Have you tried http://www.smallparts.com for your screws? I buy springs from them and they may have the screws you need. They may even have a #0-80 socket set...

You may be able to use flat head screws if you use a countersink bit to make the beveled hole. There are ones that are only a conical drill, and not a bit with a countersink attached.

As it happens I have recently ordered almost $50 worth of tiny screws from them :)

Part of not using the flat head screws, as well as my redesign to push the screws up from the bottom, has to do with wanting to avoid having to take the part to a drill press or CNC mill. If I can do everything with etching, it saves a lot of time.

Were I to use a drill press, all of these options would be available. If I don't like the look of my next revision, I'll go back to screws on the top and probably countersink with a drill press. I think by the time I put it in a CNC Mill and centered the bit, I might as well have just used the drill press three times :) I'll have to look for the right bit for the shape I want, basically flat bottom edges.

Dave


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 5:49 pm 
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The pricing poll is up in the General forum:
http://twistypuzzles.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7690

Go vote Ben!

Thanks,

Dave


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 4:57 pm 
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Here are a few more pictures from recent prototypes.

The first is my first screws-from-the-bottom model, with orange pieces instead of the flourescent red:
Image

The next two pictures are another prototype from the same set as the Orange model. I tried out etched mirrored acrylic pieces. Good looking, but hard to take a good picture of because of the flash reflection :)
Image
Image
I go to the TechShop again tomorrow, we'll see if I can work out some of the remaining details.

It turns out extruded acrylic rod tolerances aren't as good as I would like. I sized my holes based on one piece, and now with other pieces they are too loose and slip through. The same applies to 1/8" acrylic sheet, it is not always 1/8". This means that my plastic rod and screw lengths can be off even though I measured them quite well from the previous prototype. Sigh.

Dave


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 7:23 pm 
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Love the new colors. That mirror acrylic is my favorite. That is a really creative idea you came up with.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 11:57 pm 
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I love the mirror one too!
Try to take photos using longterm exposure instead of flash

:)!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:09 am 
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kastellorizo wrote:
I love the mirror one too!
Try to take photos using longterm exposure instead of flash

:)!

Pantazis

That is what I did for the second picture of the mirror version. But it was inside (it was night) so the lighting was poor and came out yellow, requiring a bit of desaturating before I posted it.

Dave


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 4:08 am 
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. . . :shock:

. . . :shock:

That is HOT! I really want one now. . .


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:48 pm 
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Location: Bay Area, CA
Some updates on building BioHazards.

I spent my last Sunday afternoon cutting the bases for the puzzle. I figured I could get a large sheet of P95 acrylic (textured, really nice stuff) and honey comb the hex shaped bases to minimize waste. I went with a sheet 23"x17" (the cutter will do 24"x18").
Here is a picture of how they were layed out (I reassembled them after they were cut):
Image

Since I am cutting as well as etching an image as well as etching countersink holes this takes three passes (the countersink etching is much higher power than the normal etching).

It took just over an hour to etch the countersinks (first pass). This was *way* longer than I thought it would take, mostly because to get the higher power you have to slow down the laser. Moving slow and doing an entire sheet meant a long time.

Next was the picture and text etching, and then the cutting.

By the time it got to the cutting, the registration was off a bit at the bottom right of the sheet. It was only about a single mm, but when you cut screw holes in the countersink holes, they have to be exact. Off by a mm means the screw head won't fit. This means probably half that I printed are basically useless. :(

I'm going to look into using a drill press to expand them to the right place, but this will be lots of work.

In hind sight, I think printing more than a few at a time is not a good idea. Given the time to countersink and how badly it turned out, I may wind up using a drill press. I'm sure I could have done 24 in less than the hour it took to etch.

Oh well. Progress continues, and at least some of them look good:
Image

Dave

P.S. Yes, that says "www.LitwinPuzzles.com", but I've not done much with it yet. Soon...


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 2:02 pm 
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Progress looking good so far - despite the hiccups you currently ran into.


WOW... thanks for doing this! ;) I know it's something you probably wanted to do, but to do this for the community is greatly appreciated.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:32 pm 
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Amazing! I love how they are numbered.

I even visited the website before I had finished your post.



Do you plan on making/selling any other puzzles besides the Biohazard?

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Out of the game, but not completely.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 3:54 pm 
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Noah wrote:
Do you plan on making/selling any other puzzles besides the Biohazard?

Definitely. I have seven other puzzles based on the basic three plunger triangle design planned at the moment (well, I have seven other diagrams...).

BioHazard is first as it is one of the most basic, and I wanted a proof of concept before attempting the more complicated models.

My second design is half complete, and I hope to have pictures soon. In fact, the very first puzzle of this next design already has an owner, it is part of a trade for a puzzle that a friend recently built for me:

Image
But that's all I am going to say about it... for now.

Dave


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:10 pm 
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I feel like there's a giant April Fool's Day joke going on with several users and it's not even April.


Halpern-Meier Pyramid, Pyraminx Crystal, Fisher's Golden Cube and the Bump Cube being mass produced? It's like I died and went to heaven.

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Fridrich
3x3 PB 22.63
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25, Male
Started cubing Oct 15 '05

Out of the game, but not completely.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:19 pm 
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Noah wrote:
Bump Cube being mass produced?

I think what he meant in that post is that he traded a version of his new puzzle with someone(probably Hidetoshi) for that Bump Cube.
Noah wrote:
It's like I died and went to heaven.

If you do that, you can't buy the puzzles!

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http://www.xanga.com/j_ey


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 18, 2007 5:25 pm 
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Noah wrote:
...Bump Cube being mass produced? It's like I died and went to heaven.

No, Joey is correct. The Bump Cube is far from being mass produced, I think there a few more than 10 in existence. Hidetoshi (who built it for me) could tell us for sure.

I'm really, really, really happy to have received this Friday, and just couldn't help posting a picture of it. Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be able to post pictures of the puzzle I am designing as part of my trade for it. But for now it is pencil sketches and a few of the pieces outlined in InkScape.

Dave


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 2:22 am 
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After spending an hour and a half last night building a BioHazard using my etched base (#001), I have come to the conclusion the extruded acrylic rod pins are just not going to work. The tolerances are just too varried, so it is either two thin and falls out, or is too thick and requires me to bore out the holes (18 per top and bottom layer) to fit. If it is too tight the pin breaks or worse, cracks the piece fitting around it. The puzzle I built last night also seems quite a bit tighter than the others I've built, and doesn't move as well. I think the acrylic sheet is of varying thickness as well and I think the plungers are too thick compared to the body spaces.

So although I've built the first official BioHazard #001, I'm not sure I will go with that as the final model. I will have to redesign it to use all screws (like my first prototype). This will add cost, but I think if I am ever to sell them my time is worth more than the cost of the screws. Screws are about $.14 each and rod is about $.25 for two meters which yields about 100 pins ($.0025 each). Going from three body screws to 18 makes a bit of difference, but if the reliability makes building time 30 minutes instead of 90, a few extra dollars in screws is worth it. It will also add etching time for countersinking more holes, and I have to evalute that cost as well I suppose.

What a mess. I spent 6 hours at the TechShop last weekend and it looks like all 24 bases are not worth the fixup time :( Hopefully things are more productive this Sunday...

I have two built with pins that are fully functional (the orange and mirror I have posted above), as well as the model I just built which uses red florescent pieces (salvaged from my previous model with the counter sinking from the top).

I think these three will be the only models built with rods, and perhaps I will auction them off as special models to help fund the costs of building the general model with all screws. I will have to etch the backs of the other two, they are currently blank.

I go to the TechShop again this weekend, and I will hope to produce a few of the new all-screw versions.

Dave


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