Funzzle Epsilon

I’ve had the Funzzle Epsilon sitting in a box for a few weeks and last night I decided to give it a go. I don’t have a ton of experience with Burr puzzles, But, I enjoyed the Funzzle Beta, so lets see how this one goes.

Like the other funzzle puzzles this one is made of bamboo. I don’t mind the bamboo – it feels a little cheap, but having some good inexpensive puzzles available is a good thing – I can always buy a pricier Burr if I want.

Anyway, the first 15 minutes with this puzzle was a bit frustrating. One piece falls out immediately, which inspires confidence, but it is quickly dissolved by the roadblock ahead. I fiddled and fiddled with it and came away with only a few possible moves. I couldn’t seem to find any way to free up any more pieces, everything was locked into place regardless of the combinations I chose. So, I put it down.

Later on I returned with renewed focus – once again, I challenged myself to start trying new things, even if they didn’t seem likely. As per usual, this little challenge helped me get the next move. It seems that a rotation is necessary to free up the next piece. After this rotation, I then had many options for movement. It was at this point that I began to fear putting it back together. It started feeling really complicated as to what pieces were moving – As the puzzle gets looser, it becomes harder to keep track of the movements. So, I put it back together, numbered the pieces, slowed down and started taking notes.

I was able to get back to the earlier position and then very carefully moved pieces and kept track of what I was doing. The goal was to figure out how it worked so that I could put it back together – is this cheating? I don’t know what other people think, but I don’t consider it cheating. I’m speeding up the process at which I figure the puzzle out – it seems efficient, but not rule breaking.

Funzzle Epsilon ready to solve
Ready to start pulling pieces out, notes in the background.

A few moves later and I was able to free up all the pieces. As usual, the feeling of solving a puzzle is fantastic and this was no let down. Once the pieces were removed, I breathed a sigh of relief and then assembled it back together. Assembly was pretty easy due to the fact that I had the pieces numbered, I had notes, and also pictures of the near-final state. Maybe the next challenge will be to erase all marks, put away the notes and camera and see how well I do without any aids…

Funzzle Epsilon Solved
The pieces have been removed. You can see my labels on the puzzle.

Overall, I enjoyed this puzzle and I think I may purchase more burr types in the future because they are pretty fun to work out.

Pyrigan #360

Last week, I received a package of puzzling goodness from the fine folks at Sloyd.fi The package took a little while to arrive, but it was worth it!

Inside was the Pyrigan #360 – an intriguing nickel-plated aluminum puzzle with an entrapped turquoise ball. This puzzle is wonderfully crafted and has tons of appeal.

It’s a beautiful puzzle.

8/17 I’m in love with this puzzle. It’s gorgeous, intriguing, and compelling. In my world, this in the pinnacle of puzzling. It’s like holding an alien relic, its full of intrigue and mystique. It’s very well made, it feels heavy and solid and even though I know it comes apart, it is held tight with precision tolerances. It’s begging to be opened. The turquoise ball sits there waiting. You can even touch it – but you can’t have it… yet. I feel like a treasure hunter holding this thing.


I’m going to put in 15 minutes and see if I can discover anything.
Ten minutes in and I am still in love with this puzzle. It is so pleasing to hold and manipulate. Its the perfect size and weight. I’m no further along in solving it, but I do have a few ideas and I have learned a couple of things. I spent a bit of time with my ear pressed up agains each side of the puzzle as I tilted it around trying to decipher what was inside. It sounds to me like there is one very small metal ball along with 2-4 metal rods. Subtle tilts in the 360 will make the small ball roll back and forth, but it takes a bigger angle to make the metal rods shift position.


The other thing I noticed is that if I keep moving it around and pulling and twisting, there are times, were there is slightly more movement/play between the pieces. This leads me to believe that there are several metal rods that are holding this thing together and that rotating/tilting the 360 causes the rods to move. I believe that if the 360 is rotated/tilted/spun in the proper manner, it will open up. There’s not really any other option to open it. I don’t think the blue marble has anything to do with the solution and I don’t believe that I can simply push/pull in an area to open it. There have to be pins on the inside and some manner of moving the 360 will put the pins in the open position.

A close-up look at the seams. Everything is very tight.


8/18 Ok. I have 15 minutes to work. let’s go!….And its solved. 07:29 into the 15 minutes and blammo, she’s a done deal. It happened waaaay quicker than I thought it would. That was pretty damn exhilarating though.. I don’t want to give away the solution, but needless to say, I was manipulating the 360 a bit and it seemed like it loosened up some. I didn’t know if my mind was playing tricks on me, but I could have sworn it was held together very tightly when I first looked at it – now it was a little wiggly. Hmm.. This was encouraging, so I continued the same sort of manipulation and it loosened up even more! At this point I became suspicious that my mind was tricking me, so I stopped what I was doing and tried to reset the puzzle – sure enough, it tightened back up. Clearly I was on to something.


I went back to the original plan and tried again. It eventually loosened up again a bit. So I kept at it and sure enough I could now twist the pieces and create a 1mm gap between them. And then, it was solved. In fact, I think I may have solved it earlier, I just didn’t pull on it correctly.


Inside the secret was revealed, and I have to say – Its really impressive. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s a really clever twist on a classic. My initial prediction of one small ball and 2-4 metal rods wasn’t that far off. And it’s all engineered with such precision – I’m so happy to have this puzzle in my collection and I can’t wait to see what John (the inventor of the puzzle) comes up with for his next puzzle.

The Turoise Ball has been released!

Hanayama Cast Dial

Another fun puzzle from Hanayama! I love these puzzles that seem so impossible at the beginning, but slowly reveal the solution over time. This one was wonderful to solve and is very cleverly built.

At first, it just seems that there is no way to make any progress. There is a triangular frame that is made up of 2 pieces and an internal, rotating “dial” that is also made of two pieces. The only thing that stands out is that the 2 dial pieces have different thicknesses. But otherwise, there isn’t much to go on.

The 2 dial pieces can rotate independently, but it doesn’t seem to affect anything. Its a confounding situation to have a puzzle that seemingly has no entry points. Its also a bit frustrating, because there’s not much manipulation to be had here. A lot of Hanayama puzzles consist of 3 intertwined pieces, so you can at least fiddle with them and change positions – but with Dial, there just isn’t much to play with. You can flip the dial and turn the 2 half, but nothing else.

The first time I picked this up, I didn’t get anywhere. It just didn’t seem like there was anything to manipulate. But, as I resisted this puzzle later on, it came to me that I just had to work with what I got.

I noticed some subtle variations when spinning the dial – sometimes, the triangular frame seemed to loosen up a little bit. So, I played around with this for a while. The hard part here, is that it is difficult to grab the frame. I had a good idea on how it would open, but it was hard to apply  pressure in the right place. Eventually, I achieved the first move. It was glorious to feel this thing open a bit after a few hours of tinkering.

But, it wasn’t over yet. As I tried to open it further, I accidentally closed it again and had to start over. It was a bit of a bummer, but ultimately helped because the second time around, I was more aware of how it was working.

Eventually, I got the thing open and the internal secrets were revealed. Now, all the turning made sense to me as I could see how things worked mechanically.

The Dial has been opened. The backside of the dials hold the secret.

Reassembly was a bit tricky, but it also revealed to me more of how things work. Once everything was positioned just right, I was able to close the dial back up.

Overall, a very fun puzzle that was quite challenging to me.

Hanayama Vortex

What a beast! This puzzle sure looks nice and pretty, but don’t be fooled, its a demon. It took me about a week to get this puzzle separated into its 3 pieces, and I briefly tried to put it back together, but ultimately resorted to a youtube video.

And although I was mighty happy to open this up last night, It wasn’t my favorite puzzle. I think, perhaps, this type of entanglement puzzle just isn’t my cup of tea. 

To find the solution, I mostly played with it for hours. Sometimes it would bind up, sometimes it would feel looser. Sometimes, I would move a piece through another piece and things would “feel” like they were moving in the right direction. Sometimes, I’d execute a seemingly complex move only to result in no perceivable change. 

The big thing that makes this puzzle so frustrating is the actual shape of the pieces. They seem simple, almost like a nice “C” shape, but really, they are more shaped like a closed “6” This makes manipulating them very difficult as the smaller circle is alway blocking the way and getting caught on things.

Ultimately, it just came down to determination. I was starting to loathe this puzzle and getting back to work on it was not a fun thought. So, I decided to bite the bullet and just get it done. I was at the points where the 3 tails were connected, but just couldn’t move forward. 

Finally, something happened and I was able to unlock one of the tails, thus creating a chain of rings, which was easily disassembled. The relief was great – that is until I realized that I had no idea how to put it back together.

Finally got ‘er done.

It funny, I’ve been noticing lately that for every hour of puzzling that I do, I’m actually focused and engaged for only a small portion of that. Seems that my mental state and focus level has everything to do with how quickly I can solve these puzzles. It’s easy to half-ass it and accomplish nothing. Its hard to stay focused, determined and push forward. But ultimately, that’s the only way to get it done.

Funzzle Beta

That was brutal and I’m glad I don’t have to do it again. After about 3-4 hours of focused work, I finally got the Funzzle Beta puzzle taken apart and put back together. 

This is the start position. I wish they had used a darker wood to better differentiate the pattern.

When I first started this puzzle, I couldn’t get anywhere. It would constantly lock up on me and I found it difficult to manipulate the pieces. Even when there was an obvious move, sometimes it was difficult to actually move the piece because the bamboo binds up so easily.

To make it even more difficult, it is hard to determine the exact shape of the pieces and there are also strategic wooden blocks glued in various spots on the interior that constantly catch the pieces as you move them.

After a good 45 minute session, I hadn’t accomplished much and gave up, ready to focus again later. Luckily this would pay off for me.

After getting the kids to bed, I put on a record and refocused all my energy on this thing. I quickly realized the ability to raise and lower pieces as I manipulated them. This opened up some more options for me as I was able to stack 3 pieces in a tight area and then could better rotate and manipulate the 4th. I didn’t have a real goal in mind, I just kept focusing on moving pieces and trying new things.

Eventually, I came to a place where a certain piece felt very loose, so I began to explore options centered around this particular piece. I then got that same piece completely freed except for a one block corner. I had to backtrack a few steps, but eventually rotated the piece, thus freeing it from the block. It felt damn good to finally get those pieces out. 

You can see the final steps below.

Unfortunately, the puzzle wasn’t complete yet – I was dreading putting this thing back together. But, I put on another record and got to work. 45 minutes later and I wasn’t even close. I put it down for the evening and went to bed.

Today, I woke up determined to finish this thing. I spent another 30 minutes working on it only to discover that I had worked my way back to the solution again and the pieces came out. I broke down and did a google search for the solution. My only option was to request one from Puzzlemaster. I couldn’t bring myself to do that, so once again sat down to focus on this thing. Somehow, I got it done.

I dunno. This puzzle could have been excellent. It really had some cool moves and was seriously difficult to complete. But it was overly hard to manipulate – not in a challenging way – but in a frustrating way.

Completed. Phew.

Puzzle Available at PuzzleMaster

Hanayama Cast Chain

Oh, the cast chain. You were fun to solve.

I really liked this particular puzzle. It was simple enough that I could wrap my head around all the interactions, but solving it took some persistence. This was one of those puzzles where the solution was pretty obvious from the beginning, but manipulating the pieces to the correct position proved to be the challenge.

When I first picked this puzzle up, I didn’t get anywhere. It just didn’t seem like there were any options. I fiddled with it for 15 minutes, half-distracted, and then put it down for later.

Looks easy right? Think again. There’s not much room to manipulate the pieces.

Later in the day, when I had the time, I decided to dedicate 30 focused minutes on the puzzle and see if I could make any progress. It was somewhere during this 30 minutes that I discovered how to connect the chain ends and switch the order of the links. This was a cool discovery, and it gave me some hope. Unfortunately, I had to put it down again to take care of some things.

Later on in the evening, I picked the puzzle up and focused another 45 minutes and found the solution. I think I would have solved it quicker, but I was somehow convinced there was a “3rd state” for the links to be in. It turns, out there is not “3rd state”, I simply had to get the links in the correct order and orientation.

After the first link is removed, the second is trivial.

Once solved, it was easy to put back together and restore to the original state. 

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this one. It kind of reminds me of vortex, in that it is 3 interconnected pieces, but I was able to keep track of everything much easier – vortex gets confusing to me (and I still haven’t solved it).  Built quality is great as is the fit and finish.

Puzzle Available at PuzzleMaster

Hanayama Nutcase

I picked up the Hanayama Nutcase last week and finally got a chance to dedicate a little time to it over the weekend. Overall, I liked the puzzle. It felt impossible at first and it’s always satisfying to solve a puzzle that starts off as “impossible”.

The object of the puzzle, like most Hanayama puzzles is to take it apart and then put it back together. The two nuts easily turn, but there is no apparent way to remove them from the bolt.

Closer inspection reveals some interesting details. There is a loose nut that rattles around inside the bolt. I quickly determined that it was unlikely to help in the solution. The inside of the bolt was smooth and there was nothing for that loose bolt to catch onto, nor were there any pockets for it to fit into.

The outside of the bolt, however, held some of the clues needed for the solution. After playing with this puzzle for about an hour, I set it down to go take a shower. It was at that moment that I had an idea of what was going on. The idea just hit me upside the head and I was suddenly sure I had the answer. At that point, I was thinking that I could solve it in 5 minutes.Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. Although my solution was correct, it took another hour or so to finally get it right.

This puzzle is a bit loose and tinkery. Even when you have the solution, it isn’t exactly easy to get everything perfect, thus the puzzle isn’t quite as enjoyable as it should be. I have a number of Hanayama puzzles that are of excellent build quality and tolerances, this one just doesn’t measure up.

solved puzzle, no secrets revealed

Puzzle Available at PuzzleMaster