Model #360

I’ve been plugging away at my next puzzle, Model #360, for some time now. I made the first prototype out of wood, oak I think, back in the late 1990’s and it was pretty bulky. It sat in a box until I found a machinist to make me some slimmer models from delrin. Then I changed jobs and other interests and responsibilities consumed my time so it sat on a metaphorical shelf for another couple of years. Anyhow, after I built my 3D printer I decided to revisit the design, print some new versions, and eventually refined it to the point where it made sense to have some SLS prototypes made. Here is the family portrait:

The leftmost one is oak, the next two are delrin, the white one on its side in front is white nylon (SLS), the blue one is off of my 3D printer, the black short one is a dyed nylon version (also SLS) from Shapeways, the purple one is from my 3D printer, and the rightmost one is the latest version.

Most of the changes from version to version are internal and I can’t talk about them without giving away the solution. But I can give you this close-up of the final version:

My plan is to have it made of nickel-plated aluminum which I think will look pretty slick. Those of you who solved Model #808 may remember the red disc inside, the “proof of work”! Well, Model #360 has a bigger prize, a turquoise sphere which you can see in the picture. I’m a little worried that variation in their diameter may mean that some won’t fit but they should arrive today and then I’ll be able to check.

Like Model #808 this one will also be made on a limited edition basis. There will only be about a 100 and yours truly will be assembling, numbering, and initialing each of them by hand. I had hoped they would be ready before Christmas but that’s looking mighty unlikely; I think late January is more realistic at this point.

That’s it for today. Now I just need to put the quote out to bid and pick a machine shop to make them!

More Prototypes

Though I haven’t blogged in about a year, at least I have been making progress on my puzzles. Pictured here are Model #808 (the rectangular one with two holes), Model #518 (the multi-colored cube), Model #921 (the circular one), and Model #360 (the thicker rectangular one with the red logo).


The internal design of Model #808 (formerly known as Model #873) continues to evolve and I’m hoping to get a prototype today that will confirm the reliability of the new design. I guess it’s no surprise but getting a puzzle mechanism to work in theory is easy, getting it to work once or twice in an actual mechanism is doable, but getting it to work dependably and reproducibly is really hard. I’m on Rev. 9 on this one.

Model #360 turned out to be easier to get working than I expected and it may be the first one to reach production in aluminum. Models #518 and #921 still have a ways to go.

In other news, I now have an FDM type 3D printer (the i3PRO from MakerFront) to shorten the cycle of revise design / make new prototype / test new prototype. I’m still learning how to get good quality prints from it but I look forward to being able to get a physical prototype of a puzzle design within hours instead of days. I’ll post some videos of my experiences with it in case anyone else is contemplating buying one of these things.