Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Naked (Coloured) Maze

This "new" design of mine is not really new....at least not the concept. There are a number of similar puzzles incorporating see-through maze channels, including some interesting ones like the Cubus, the Boston Subway and The Lunatic Revealed.



I wanted to try my hand at designing a hidden maze and I also know a guy who can do laser cutting and familiar with the puzzles (packing ones) that he has been churning out for me. It was also an opportunity to try out Burr Tools for this design...a puzzle with only ONE moving piece.



Basically the Naked Maze consists of 3 layers of 10mm thick acrylic (plexiglass) that is glued together and these 3 are sandwiched by a 3mm top and 3mm bottom translucent coloured layer. Each of the 3 main layers have maze channels cut into it and the combination of the 3 layers results in both horizontal and vertical channels throughout the "box".

The maze has a number of twists and turns and in this first prototype, there are about 12 dead-ends. The object is to pass a ball bearing through the hole in the green layer, navigate and exit the ball from the hole in the orange layer. For this puzzle, I used a 9.5mm ball bearing that is heavy enough and fits very nicely inside the channels.





Because I used transparent acrylic, you can actually see the ball from the side of the puzzle as well as through the top and bottom coloured translucent layers. However, while you can see the ball, the channels are not that easy to determine and the dead-ends make the puzzle a tad harder. For a really difficult puzzle, the maze can be constructed of all black (opaque) acrylic and there would be no way to see the channels and/or the ball, making it a really "blind" maze in every sense of the word.



I know how the channels run (cos I designed them) so it wasn't difficult for me to navigate the ball to the exit rather quickly. I am curious to see how another puzzler or non-puzzler would perform, so this coming weekend, I will try it on some unsuspecting friends and also ask award-winning puzzle designer Goh Pit Khiam to have a go at it when we next catch up. My next prototype will be a 4 layer maze which should make it even more challenging, particularly if its a blacked-out totally blind one.

And did I mention its really cool to see the solve on Burr Tools...as you watch a little cube (representing the ball bearing), going in one hole and out the exit, racing through the channels using the shortest route possible!

7 comments:

  1. Erm - maybe I'm being too simplistic here, but couldn't you test it out as a truly blind maze by making a black paper sleeve? It would certainly cut down on construction costs.

    Regards, Stewart

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    Replies
    1. Stewart, this is an excellent idea...just wrap it with black paper and make the necessary holes! Now why didn't I think of that??? I have tried fully blind mazes in the past and they are extremely difficult (for me). The trick is to show enough and give enough feedback during the solve...but the challenge is finding just the right balance...that's where the construction and choice of materials play a part

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  2. As with all your puzzles, it looks beautiful! Your skills always amaze me....I wish that I could manage to design something.

    Kevin
    Puzzlemad

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kevin, go on, try to design something...its not as difficult as you might think, especially since you know how to use burr tools

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  3. Looks great! I like the colored sides and the clear interior. Did you glue the layers together? You might consider using some long screws instead. Easier than gluing, and you would have a bonus that the maze could be reconfigured, with pieces swapped in and out.

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    Replies
    1. George, thanks. Yes, this first prototype I glued the layers. I considered long screws, definitely a nice option, but the type where you have two pieces that screw into each other from opposite ends are rather expensive.

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  4. I have to agree with all of the above. It looks great. I like the frosted top and bottom with clear sides. Nice mix.

    I have to admit that I found the X-matrix mazes a tad tiresome. But yours looks to be the right length and complexity for proper enjoyment, and a reasonable chance at an intentional solve!

    ReplyDelete

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