Google Website Translator Gadget

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Midlands Puzzle Party No.4 (MPP4)

Hi all! I've been away on holiday for the last week, hence the lack of recent blog updates, but I should have some very interesting things coming up that are worth keeping an eye open for.

Till that's ready I'm going to repost from Allard's Puzzling Times for anyone out there in puzzledom who may be interested in joining us at a very casual puzzle party in the UK.

"We're planning on holding the fourth Midlands Puzzle Party on Saturday the 17th of September. We haven't nailed down the venue yet, but unless the numbers suddenly mushroom, I'll probably offer my place as a venue again (southern side of Birmingham [UK, not Alabama!]) - the last three have been (extremely) casual puzzle parties, and expect this one will be similar - a gathering of puzzlers and puzzles, puzzling ...

Here's a blog post on the last one. If you're interested, please drop me a line...

We'll be meeting from about 10:30 until 18:00 there's usually lunch, snacks and drinks-a-plenty."

If you're interested in a bit of puzzling madness then please let Allard know via his blog so that he can arrange a venue accordingly. The last few have been awesome, and it would be great to see some new faces there!

NOTE: This event has now finished. Read all about it on Allard's Puzzling Times.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Popplock T6

Here's a very cool little (and I mean little) puzzle lock that had me going in circles for weeks. And also I'm not ashamed to admit that it managed to best me with it's rather simple, clever and pretty devious solution.

This is the latest creation of puzzle lock master Rainer Popp, and it is called the Popplock T6. The version shown in the picture on the left is made with aluminium rivets, but it is also available with copper rivets for the same price. It's a matter of taste I guess, but I prefer the look of the lock fully in aluminium. The back of the main body is engraved with Rainer's signature Popplock logo and the name of the lock.

Also the key I believe is coated brass, so there shouldn't be any key snapping incidents with this one.

The main noticeable difference between the T6 and it's predecessors is that the T6 was designed to be far more affordable. As such the lock itself stands a mere 6cm tall, which is practically the same length as the key that opens it! The main body and shackle of the lock is also made from layered sheets of aluminium, so it is far easier -and I imagine- cheaper to produce than the earlier Popplocks as they were all milled from solid brass block. It also has what Rainer describes to be "only one trick", but I would say that there are two distinct steps involved in order to find the solution.

Although this is the cheapest Popplock to date we were assured that it is still a Popplock. And as such it should not be looked upon lightly. I have to say that when I first saw it I couldn't help but laugh at it's size. I just didn't believe that any puzzle lock that small could hold a very decent solution, and luckily I can now say that I was incredibly wrong.

The solution as a whole is remarkably simple and yet brilliant, and even though I had a good couple of weeks with it I could not suss it out.
The key would go into the lock, and I could turn it freely. After a little while I had noticed a couple of things that were definitely useful and there for a reason, but I could not work out what that reason was! As usual I started to over-think the solution and I came up with incredibly complex ideas in my head that all turned out to be wrong.

When the time came for me to return it and I was shown the solution I absolutely kicked myself. I really should've been able to work it out. So yes; this may only be 6cm tall, be a fifth of the price of the others and only have one trick, but I promise you that this is still a Popplock!

Both the Aluminium Version and the Copper Version are still available from Puzzle Master for a very reasonable price.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Impossible Arrow (DIY Attempt)

There has been a bit of chat in puzzle forum world recently about 'Impossible Objects' and how to make them, and this sort of piqued an interest that I've had for a little while now of making something for myself.

Impossible objects are not always thought of as being mechanical puzzles in the traditional sense as many of them do not have a solved state. The puzzle involved with impossible objects is to try and work out how on earth they were created! Some are trivial to work out, others are incredibly difficult, some seem simple but end up being difficult, and some are down right impossible!

So today after two attempts, a bit of faffing around and a decent amount of saw dust inhalation I managed to make this:

 The arrow is carved and sanded down from a single piece of wood, and the metal washer is 100% stainless steel and has not been modified in any way.

I'm sure many of you will know how this is done as it is one of the more popular impossible object designs, but I definitely think it is a cool talking piece to have on display for when you have people over.

Next I intend to move on to working with glass. Perhaps even combine glass, wood and metal all in one piece. The options really are limitless, and soon I hope to come up with a design that can make people just as confused as I have been looking at the creations of some other great impossible object masters!

I'll keep you posted!

Also it seems by reading Neil's Blog that I'm not the only one to have been bitten by the impossible object bug recently.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Aluminium Dovetails (Wil Strijbos)

Here are a pair of puzzles recently designed by one of my very favourite puzzle designers; Wil Strijbos. And in true tradition to many of his latest creations they are beautifully precision machined from solid aluminium.

 They are called the Aluminium Dovetails, and although they are not sold as a pair I would definitely consider owning both of them if you were to ever decide on getting them.
They do look extremely similar. Both have a milled aluminium finish with a green anodised finish on the aluminium dovetail centrepieces, but if you look a bit harder you'll notice that although the dovetails look the same from the side angle the top view shows one of them having a concave cut to the top surface and the other having a convex cut.

Surely these are impossible objects! There is no way that a dovetail joint can be put together unless the join is straight. At least that's what I would've said if I hadn't already seen the designs of the Sandfield brothers, but I now know that simply because a join looks like a simple dovetail it doesn't mean that it is.

The anodised pieces will move a tiny fraction in the main body, but they refuse to move any further. The puzzle mechanisms used in these are an old friend of the seasoned puzzler, so the solution is unlikely to elude for too long a time. Despite the fact that these are not difficult puzzles it is a real treat to see the look of confusion on people who study the dovetails before claiming that there is no way that these could even have been put together, never mind taken apart.

It is worth mentioning that the mechanism used in both puzzles do work on the same principle with a slight twist to tell them apart. The puzzles are also numbered in sequence as a form of serial number to show how many were made before yours. Since these come from Wil I shouldn't need to mention that the quality is second to none, and that coupled with his design skills make this a pair of puzzles worthy to be in any serious puzzlers collection.

Edit: This puzzle is now also available from Sloyd in Finland.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Zen (Charles O. Perry)

Some of you regular readers may remember that back in May I wrote about a puzzle called The Ball Puzzle by the late sculptor, designer and architect Charles O. Perry, and very recently (largely through both luck and generosity) I managed to obtain another of his rare and brilliant puzzle sculptures.

 This puzzle is called 'Zen', which was designed and made in 1987, and like several of Perry's other designs it is made from very high quality materials. In this case the five pieces are made from machined solid brass and the casing from Delron (Delrin) which is a form of high quality engineering plastic that is ideal for machining. The diameter of the whole puzzle is 2 and a half inches.
Despite the fact that I had seen pictures of Zen several times I had never actually seen any images of it disassembled, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect once it was apart. In fact I didn't even know how it came apart!

The reason I referred to Zen as a 'puzzle sculpture' earlier is because I wouldn't really say that it's primary purpose was to only be a puzzle. I only think this because as a puzzle it is not very difficult and most people won't take much time in taking it apart and putting it back together again providing that they apply a little logic. But going on the quality of the materials and effort that went into the design and manufacture it was clearly designed to look awesome, and I think it succeeds at doing just that!
 Just like all of Perry's other puzzles this one is also signed by him in the form of an engraving of his surname as can be seen up close in the picture to the left. I love puzzles that have been signed by the designer or manufacturer, it really makes the puzzle feel so much more unique.

Now as a puzzle: Zen consists of five brass pieces which have been machined in such a way as to fit around each other in the form of a spiral. And as you can see the Delron casing has also been machined to snugly hold the pieces in their spiral configuration.

Because the casing is shaped as it is it means that the pieces have to be placed into it in the right orientation and also in the correct sequence. As the casing is open on both sides the puzzle will look identical whichever way you decide to display it, however only one of the pieces is engraved on only one side.

When I took it apart it turned out that three of the pieces are in fact identical. One other piece is solid with no cut grooves and a built-in sprung ball bearing, this is the final locking piece. The exact same technique was used in Perry's Ball Puzzle to hold the final piece in place.

If you pay a bit of attention to the pieces and apply a little logic then the order of insertion should become pretty obvious, and for that reason I won't class it as a difficult puzzle. It took me no time at all but it could take a non-puzzler perhaps a few minutes to work it out properly.

Even though Zen is not a very difficult puzzle it has easily become one of my favourites because of it's sheer quality and design. It is a very rare puzzle to come across, so I'm incredibly happy and privileged to actually have one in my collection.

For anyone interested in owning some of Charles O. Perry's puzzles then it may be worth checking over on Puzzle Master as it seems that they still have some stock of his Ball Puzzle in both Brass and Plexi Glass.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...