Saturday, 28 December 2013

H Burr

Name
H Burr

Designer
Designed by Junichi Yananose in 2001. For Junichi's other designs (there are over 40), click here.


Manufacturer
Torito of Japan. Sold by Satomi Beattie of CU-Japan who's based in the United Kingdom. 

Type & Classification

Interlocking

Dimensions
8.3cm (Length) x 8.3cm (Width) x 8.3cm (Height). Chunky, heavy and solid..very nice!

Materials & Construction
Aluminium. Construction, fit and finish is very good. The burr has a nice matt finish (probably this is necessary since a polished surface would inevitably result in scratches after some time of playing). Each of the 12 pieces are smooth to touch with slightly bevelled edges.

Overview
I first found out about this puzzle from the Revomaze forum and wow! it's a metal burr...nice; got to have it! You can tell from the photos why its called the "H" Burr.

The H Burr consist of 12 separate pieces of which three pairs are congruent (ie identical). Object is to separate the 12 pieces and put it together again. 

Taking apart the puzzle literally meant "splitting" the puzzle in half. Here, there is not the usual single unique piece which holds the entire puzzle together which first needs to be removed. Instead, as I found out, the puzzle consists of two "halves" of 6 interlocking pieces each, which sort of "dovetails" nicely together. Depending on the orientation of the puzzle, you can either lift the top half upwards or pull the two halves apart sideways and then continue the rest of the disassembly.


Once the two halves have come apart, the rest of the disassembly was pretty easy. The real challenge is putting all the pieces back together to form the original shape. Although all the pieces are "H" shaped and similar looking, there are differences (some subtle) due to the various cuts and notches of each piece and this adds greatly to the challenge of putting them back together.

I was glad the puzzle came boxed with the solution. There are just too many pieces to grapple with to even try to memorise where each piece is suppose to be.

Difficulty Level
Very difficult even tho' there are 4 solutions. But I am sure there's someone out there who could probably solve it without the solution.

Summary

You don't often see an interlocking burr made of metal. Most burrs are made of wood. The only other ones I am aware of made of aluminium are the 7-Move and 10-Move Aluminium burrs from Wil Stribos and the Lee Valley Burr. The H Burr is a handsome and well made burr. Owing to its relatively large size and physically complicated looking interlocking appearance, it also displays extremely well.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Dancing Shoes

Name
Dancing Shoes. 

You can probably tell why the puzzle bears this name.

Designer
Goh Pit Khiam. Goh has designed well over sixty puzzles to-date, including the highly sought after (and no longer available) Tenary Burr first made by Brian Young and most recently by Eric Fuller. For some of Goh's other puzzle designs, click here



Manufacturer
Tom Lensch. Limited availability as far as I am aware. Priced at US$66/- plus S&H. 

Type & Classification

2D Packing

Dimensions
12.5cm (Length) x 12.5cm (Width) x 1.9cm (Height)

Materials & Construction
The frame is made of Maple while the four individual lighter pieces are made of Tulipwood. The dark piece is Kingwood. Construction, fit and finish is very good. Good size puzzle and handling of the loose pieces is comfortable.

IPP
Dancing Shoes won the Puzzler's Award at IPP33 in Tokyo, Japan this year. This award goes to the design entry that had garnered the most votes from the IPP33 attendees. This was Goh's first puzzle design award but unfortunately he was not present in Tokyo to collect his prize in person.

Overview
I first handled this puzzle at IPP33 during the two days judging process of the design entries. Given I had to go through around sixty puzzle designs, I didn't have the time (nor stamina) to try to solve it. Since Goh and I both live in Singapore, I was pretty sure I would be able to get my hands on a copy from him to play with at some subsequent date.

Just several weeks back, Goh contacted me to ask if I wanted a copy from him as Tom had sent over to him several copies which had just been newly made. Of course I said a resounding yes! 

The object of Dancing Shoes is the fit all five loose pieces flat into the tray. The tray itself is rather unusual in that the four corners have an L-shaped protrusion . At first glance, you might think that you can arrange the five pieces outside the tray to get the correct formation and then try to fit the pieces one at a time into the tray. Well this is what I tried initially only to discover (and I should really have known better) that this is impossible. The pieces won't fit in the way you want them to.

This is a packing puzzle with a twist; you need to think beyond the traditional methods of solving, which obviously will not work here. I am not good with packing puzzles so I grappled with Dancing Shoes for quite a while before finally hitting upon the solution. However I had the benefit of seeing how a couple of Goh's other puzzle designs work so I had an idea to the possible solution for Dancing Shoes. 

Difficulty Level
Challenging enough but not unduly difficult. It's not a puzzle that would frustrate one to wits' end (although it possibly might for some people). Its one of those puzzles that spur you to puzzle on because everything is there in front of you, doesn't seem to look that difficult, yet the solution is somehow rather elusive! 

Summary

Another great puzzle design from a prolific puzzle designer. Good quality too. Well deserving of the IPP33 Puzzlers' Award and definitely a must-have for the collector.or packing puzzle enthusiast. 

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Konstrukt

Name
Konstrukt

Designer
Yavuz Demirhan. For some of Yavuz's other designs, click here.


Nice contrast of light and dark woods and textures

Manufacturer
Pelikan

Type & Classification

Interlocking

Dimensions
9.0cm all round. This is a relatively large puzzle making for comfortable handling.

Materials & Construction
The Konstrukt is made of four different hardwoods; Maple, Wenge, Acacia and Paduok. Construction fit and finish is excellent and everything is not too tight and slides smoothly. All the pieces are very nicely cut with fine bevelled edges. Visually the Konstrukt is also an aesthetically pleasing burr due to the contrast of its different coloured woods.

Overview
The Konstrukt is a recent 2013 design from Yavuz Demirhan. An interlocking burr, it consists of 15 pieces of which 12 are congruent. From the remaining three, one pair is also congruent.

The object is to disassemble and reassemble the burr. At first glance you will notice that the puzzle is made up of the pieces criss-crossing each other on all the three axes. Symmetrical all round. Here is where Pelikan has made very good use of the contrasting woods to enable the opposite sides of the puzzle to have distinct colour tones.

The Konstrukt has a 3.2.1.1.2.1.1.1.1.1.1.1.3 solution, meaning it takes three moves to remove the first piece, followed by two for the second and so on. Disassembly is not too difficult once you discover that first (and only) moving piece that locks the entire puzzle in place.


While it took me several minutes to take apart all the outer pieces, for some reason, it took me longer to get the remaining three inside ones free. Putting the pieces back together is the real challenge here. 

As usual, I got stuck after several of the initial moves.Thank goodness Pelikan provided a printed solution which got me going in the right direction. About halfway, I sort of figured out where each piece was supposed to go and didn't have to rely on the solution any more (the printed solution was not too clear anyway, at least nothing compared to the ease of using Burr Tools). 

I eventually got the last two pieces into place only to discover that one of the early pieces was in the wrong position; so I had to re-do part of the puzzle again.

Difficulty Level
Taking the puzzle apart is relatively easy but reassembly is the challenging part, but not unduly so painful. As I mentioned, once you get the first five or six pieces correct, you sort of can figure out the rest slowly even without the solution. If the puzzle had all been of one colour, I think it may have been slightly easier.The correct solution requires that each two opposite sides of the puzzle comprise of just one colour and not a mix of different woods. So a bit of forward thinking early on is necessary. 

Also, because you are trying to grapple with several loose pieces at one time, it can be quite fiddly to physically hold the puzzle to position the pieces correctly.

Summary

A very high quality and fairly challenging burr to collect if you enjoy this genre of puzzles. With sufficient practice, you can actually solve it repeatedly without the solution or Burr Tools. Aside from the puzzling, the rather handsome Konstruckt also displays very well! 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Ball In Cylinder #2

UPDATE 30 September 2017: Ball In Cylinder #2 is now AVAILABLE again! Please email me at smallpuzzlecollection@gmail.com to purchase.

Update 23 October 2017 - Dear Reader, please check out my new puzzle blog and e-storat http://mechanical-puzzles.com

Name
Ball In Cylinder #2

Designer
Jerry Loo. Jerry also designed the Ball In Cylinder #1.



Manufacturer
Jerry Loo. Limited availability as of this post. Priced at SGD$60/- plus S&H. Please PM me via my Profile email if you are keen to buy one.

Type & Classification

Sequential Movement.

Dimensions
7.5cm (height) x 4.4cm (diameter).

Materials & Construction
The BIC #2 is made entirely of 6061 aluminium, while the Special Edition, copper. Ball bearings are steel. 

IPP
I had planned to enter both my designs the BIC#1 and BIC#2 for the IPP33 Nob Yoshigahara puzzle design competition but was advised by Nick Baxter, the organising chairman, to only enter one design in order to avoid confusion. Hence the BIC#1 became the competition entrant, my first!

Overview
The design of the BIC#2 was conceived at the beginning of this year, a couple of months after my BIC#1 appeared on the market. For a brief history of my first and second puzzle design attempts which resulted in the BIC#1, click here

How to tell difference between the BIC#1 and #2? Dimensionally they are the same. The BIC#2 has a pair of circular lines on either end while the BIC#1 has only one. The exit hole on the BIC#2 is also off-centre to one side. Like the its predecessor, the object of the puzzle is to remove the hidden ball bearing within the cylinder.

I had received positive reviews from several well known puzzle bloggers in the community who had played with the BIC#1, including Allard Walker, Kevin Sadler, Roxanne WongGabriel Fernandes and Oli Sovary-Soos. I was very encouraged by this especially since my second design, the BIC#2 employed not only a totally different mechanical trick from the #1 but was in my personal opinion, measurably harder as well.

With this new design I went back to my old pal the metal fabricator (an elderly gentlemen who cuts, drills and grinds everything by hand) and showed him what I wanted. By now he has had a lot of experience producing my BIC#1s. So he gave me a nod and a smile and said "no problem". While the BIC#2 is a more difficult puzzle with more complicated internals, strangely it is actually easier to fabricate than the BIC#1 The first prototype was made and after some minor adjustments and tweaking, I produced a small batch of BIC#2s. 


During this time I also wanted see how the puzzle would turn out in copper. As copper is less common for sale on the retail market in small quantities than aluminium, the raw material was prohibitively expensive! And not knowing the kind of response I would get, I bought just enough copper to make four copies, three of which have all been sold, leaving the last one for myself. One thing's for sure, a copper BIC#2 is really heavy! It weighs about three to four times the aluminium version. At around 600 grams or so, its about the weight of a Revomaze Ex.

Difficulty Level
From what I have heard, so far only a handful of puzzlers have managed to solve the BIC#2. Not sure if this is good or bad tho'? Perhaps there are those who have solved it already but make no mention of it. I hope no one has given up on it yet. If anyone who is reading this needs clues or the full solution, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Finally, a word of thanks also to Kevin Sadler for posting his review of the BIC#2 on his puzzle blog.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Lee Valley Trick Bolts V2

Name
Trick Bolts V2

Designer
Unknown


Manufacturer
Lee Valley & Veritas. Available for US$19.50 per pair. 

Type & Classification
Take Apart

Dimensions
3.3 cm (Length) x 1.8cm (Width) 1.8 cm (Depth)

Materials & Construction
Stainless steel. Made in Canada, this pair of trick bolts is very well made and exudes quality, belying their inexpensive price tag.

Overview
Trick bolts come in all sorts of shapes, size, materials and quality. Prices also range from inexpensive (like the ones featured here) to the high end, hand-tooled bolts and nuts like the Wan-Wa-Sure by Rocky Chiaro. And there are some like the Bolt & Washer that fall somewhere in between the price spectrum.

This is the second pair of trick bolts to come from Canadian hardware retailer Lee Valley Tools. The first (and slightly cheaper) pair which they now call the Trick Bolts V1 was reviewed earlier in this blog.

From Left: Trick Bolts V1 & Trick Bolts V2
Physically both bolts look similar in appearance but have different mechanisms. Lee Valley claims the V2 to be harder than the V1. Well, yes and no. For puzzlers who have experience with trick nuts and bolts, they are pretty simple. I solved both bolts in about a minute. For new puzzlers and the uninitiated, yes, they may prove to be a bit of challenge. The tricks the V2 bolts employ tho' are not entirely new for this genre.

Difficulty Rating
Generally easy for most puzzlers other than the absolute novice.

Summary
Extremely good value for money given the high quality of manufacture. If you are new to bolt puzzles and not sure whether you want to invest in them, well, they represent a good starting point. And if you are collector, definitely a must-have.