Ziggy Demonticon – Radek Micopulos

I saw this puzzle pop up on nothingyetdesigns.com a while back and was instantly intrigued. I didn’t know anything about it and the description didn’t really say what type of puzzle it was or how difficult. But, when certain puzzles catch my interest, I usually just pull the trigger and hope for the best.

Ziggy is the first in a series of demonticons designed and built by Rademic Puzzles. Demonticons are a family of puzzles where each is shaped the same but incorporate very different internal designs and mechanisms. The goal is to open the Demonticon to see what is inside the “head” of each character.

Ziggy is described as follows “A lot of love and care has gone into making Ziggy but he still seems confused. He needs your help! Can you figure out what’s going on inside his head and make him happy?”

Ziggy looks confused. With a demented smile and unbalanced eyes, he looks out of sorts. It’s a whimsical design and the backstory really adds another dimension to the puzzle. It also makes me want to own the entire family of demonticons (I already have 4 of them!)

Each demonticon comes with a stand. A nice touch to make them stand out on the shelf.

I solved this puzzle many months ago, so when I just picked it up again, I had forgotten the solution. It took me a good 20 minutes to remember what to do and in the process I was reminded how fun this little puzzle is. It’s actually pretty brilliant. Even after solving, it took me a minute to understand how it works. It was definitely frustrating seeing the puzzle solved while not really understanding exactly what was going on.

But, after a bit of tinkering, I finally figured it out. It’s very simple, but also very elegant. It’s almost comical how simple the mechanism is, but without understanding it, it is very confusing. At least I was confused (kind of like Ziggy).

Ziggy has been solved! I wish I could show more!

Overall, it’s a fun solve and a great start to what looks to be a long series of puzzles. It is pricey, but also high quality and built like a tank. Just a warning though, if you buy one of them, you may get addicted and have to complete the set!

HoKey CoKey Lock – Steve Nicholls & Ali Morris

I’ve never done a puzzle lock before. Not sure why, but I just never pulled the trigger when I saw them for sale. Maybe I was too addicted to wood in years past. But today, I have my hands on the HoKey CoKey Lock. I’m not sure what to expect, but let’s take a look.

Looks like a lock, acts like a lock. But, keys don’t work. What to do?

Since this puzzle has been available for many years, I’d assume that most serious puzzlers have probably already solved it. Maybe it’s to the point where all the people who solved it are now forgetting the solution (or not), so perhaps this will be a trip down memory lane. But for me, this is brand new, I know nothing about this lock.

My first impression is that this sure looks like a normal lock. I don’t see any indication that this is a puzzle. The only strange thing that I notice is that the 2 provided keys do not match. Also, the teeth on the keys themselves look very small. I have done a bit of lockpicking as a hobby, so have a general understanding of lock mechanisms and how keys work, etc. Maybe that knowledge will help here? But for now, I have a normal lock and 2 mismatched keys. Let’s continue.

The shackle has a bit of movement, but nothing out of the ordinary. At this point, all I can do is try the keys.

Ok. Both keys go into the keyway with no problem. But, as one might guess, I can’t turn either key. (It wouldn’t be much of a puzzle if the keys worked) Right. Ok. Now what? I have a couple of ideas. let’s see if either of them are fruitful.

You do the HoKey CoKey and you turn yourself around.

Nope. neither idea worked. Nothing happened. Still sitting here with a normal lock and 2 mismatched keys.

Time to do some thinking.

Well, the lock sat unsolved for 3 weeks. Occasionally I’d pick it up and tinker a bit, but really, there was nothing to tinker with. I’d insert the key and unsurprisingly, it wouldn’t work. I’d insert the other key and again, nothing would happen. WTF. Is this a trick? Is the thing broken. I’d run out of options and had no clues or ideas left.

That is until last night. I was deep in a conversation and blindly fiddling with the lock. I looked down and was very surprised to see something that had escaped my observation. Miraculously, there had been a change. It seems that all my fiddling had in fact accomplished something.

From this point, the solution was obvious, but it was still a very exciting moment. I had solved my very first puzzle lock. It felt great and I marveled at the design and workmanship. The design is classic. Keep the solver in an endless loop. Convince them that they are almost there. Keep them focused on the clear solution. Meanwhile, hide the real solution somewhere else.

Puzzle is solved! Shackle has been removed!

For years, I’ve been on the fence about puzzle locks. They are usually pretty pricey and I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d enjoy them or not. Wood puzzles are still preferable to me, but this opens the door to more puzzle locks. I’m not quite up for spending the money on a popplock, but there are still a ton of classic locks out there that are in the $100-$200 dollar range. Looks like I have some shopping to do.

A Bolt from the Blue – Ali Morris

A Bolt from the Blue, is a very sturdy bolt puzzle offered by Two Brass Monkeys. I’ve never owned or worked on a bolt puzzle, but for some reason, this one spoke to me and beckoned for me to purchase it. When it arrived, I was bit shocked at how big the bolt was. This thing is very sturdy with some real heft.

Having never worked on a bolt puzzle, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, it’s a bolt, how much “puzzle” can there be? It is really a puzzle or more of a magic trick?

The bolt comes enclosed in a plastic tube/case thingy. It seemed a bit strange to me, but upon more reflection, I can see why this is a good thing. First, it allows one to display the puzzle on the shelf. Second, it has the name of the puzzle on it, so the collector’s like me don’t get confused or forget which puzzle is which. And lastly, well, crap, I forgot the last point. oh well.

Once the bolt is removed from the case, it can be worked on. Again, my initial impression is, man, this is a big beefy bolt. The bolt has a fixed nut, a brass washer and a locking nut. The goal is to remove the washer. It would seem that the only way to accomplish this would be to remove the locking nut. Ok, with that obvious observation out of the way, let’s proceed.

Remove the Washer and you will be victorious.

For a long time, I examined the puzzle. And, I kept examining the puzzle. Unfortunately, there is not much to examine; there is not much to do. It’s a bolt with a washer and a nut. No matter how many times I rotated it and studied the details, it remained a bolt with a washer and a nut. What was I supposed to do? It felt like a SD puzzle where I was just staring at it hoping something would come to me, yet making zero progress. It’s a bit demoralizing. I like to push parts back and forth and follow mazes of moves and do trial and error experiments, but with this, there were no moves to be had, no dead ends, no mazes and no trial and error. It was just a bolt with a washer and a nut.

I wasn’t stumped forever though and I eventually discovered a clue. I really can’t say any more without giving it away but needless to say, I found a path forward and that quickly lead to the solution which had me smiling and shaking my head.

The washer has been removed! No spoilers here.

With my first bolt puzzle solved, I have to admit that I’m ready for another one. It was really fun solving this. It was a great moment when that wall of impossibility was knocked down. I can’t wait to show this one to others at a party or event. I imagine that it will be really fun to watch someone struggle with this, all the while knowing that the solution is SO CLOSE!

Once again, I am reminded of why I puzzle. It’s to overcome obstacles. It’s to persevere in the face of doubt and despair. It’s to experience the glory and rush of endorphins when the solution is finally revealed. It’s the feeling of tangible accomplishment. Solving puzzles is fun and all, but it’s also a life skill. The same methodology and mindset can be applied to any of life’s problems. Learning to puzzle is learning to live.

Well, the puzzle is solved and I come away enlightened. I can’t compare this to other bolt type puzzles, but on its own merit, it’s a fun puzzle that has now earned its rightful place on my display shelf. It’s definitely a dinner party puzzle, or something to toss to the guys on gameday and see how they fare.

Kudos to the Two Brass Monkeys crew for providing entertainment and an opportunity for glory and self-reflection.

FastMaze #1 – Dan Fast

FastMaze #1 arrived today and I am beyond excited to give this a try. Ever since pictures were posted on FB, I have been anxious to get my hand dirty on this one. There something about how this one looks – It just screams “play with me!”

It’s an amazing looking puzzle that is even more fun to manipulate

FastMaze is an aluminum puzzle designed by Dan Fast and manufactured by Cubicdissection. It is comprised of 3 plates and 4 brass pins. The objective is to move the plates and pins until the puzzle is completely disassembled. It looks straightforward, all parts are visible, so no hidden tricks on this one, but with a solution, I already know that I’m in for a long haul.

The puzzle comes with assembly instructions – which is great in case you get stuck

First impression is that this is going to be challenging. A couple minutes of play and it’s becoming increasingly clear that there is a lot more going on than I first thought. Each plate moves independently as does each brass pin. thus there are multiple items to track at once. And although I can see all the plates clearly, there are still parts of the middle plate that are obstructed by the top plate. I can see some round holes in the plates that I would assume are the exit points of the pins. So now, all I have to do is position the pins above those holes. Easy enough, right? But, how many dead ends are there? And, how deep do the dead ends go? No idea, but let’s find out!

Straight out of the box, none of the plates will move. However, 3 of the pins will. And with each movement of a pin, I am seemingly unlocking more movements for the plates which in turn opens up more movement options for the pins.

Ok, I’ve been messing around for about 15 minutes and have a few observations. The puzzle is definitely challenging. It’s not easy to keep track of all the moving parts. Often times I’ll feel stuck in a dead end only to realize that if I just move one of the pins slightly, then another pathway opens up. Also, I had a couple of the pins unscrew a bit on me, so now I know to keep them tight and occasionaly check them. Not a big deal.

Early on in the process. Each pin movement opens up further plate movements

Ok, I’m about 30 minutes into this beast and I think I’m making some progress. It’s one of those puzzles where I don’t exactly know what I’m doing or where I’m going, but I sort of fix a goal in my head to move a pin into a certain spot and then I push and pull in different directions until something moves, then I adjust and keep going. The pins are definitely moving through the maze, but whether or not I’m actually progressing toward the goal – I have no idea.

It’s a fun puzzle to manipulate. The plates are heavy and the sound of metal on metal is pleasing. The pins slide effortlessly and the micro-chamfered edges really do make a difference. There is zero sticking or binding of any of the pieces. It’s smooth sailing the entire time.

Day Two. I’ve made some more progress (I think), but am also stuck. I’ve managed to manipulate one of the brass pins into position above a circular hole in the top plate. I can push the pin down into that hole, but then the whole puzzle becomes locked up. I’ve spent a good hour or so playing with this position, hoping that something will give, but thus far, no further progress. I’m fairly certain that I need to backtrack. And I have no idea if I’m actually any closer to a solution.

Lost along the way. Am I making progress or losing progress?

So far, most of this solve has been trial and error. I just move some pins, move some plates and see what opens up. Occasionally, I’ll flip the puzzle over and start working from the other side. This seems to open up more possibilities, but at the same time I sort of lose track of my initial goals.

I’m now wondering if the goal should be to align the 3 larger holes in the plates. If these were aligned, then a pin could pass all the way through in one move. This idea seems to make sense to me, so it is now going to be the goal.

Heck Yeah! I got a pin out and boy does it feel good! I had to employ a little rotation, but after re-reading the puzzle description, It is clear that rotations are allowed! So – Boom! Take that, FastMaze!

Ok, now 3 pins left to go. I’m looking at 24 or so moves to get the next one out. Let’s go!

And Boom! Pin #2 is free! This one was definitely easier. The plates were much easier to manipulate with only 3 pins and it seems clear that pins #3 and #4 will be even easier.

#3 was indeed easier and #4 was trivial. The puzzle definitely gets “looser” as pins are removed such that I employed many, many rotations to get pin #3 out, and #4 was trivial to remove.

Solved and Happy!

Wow! What a fun puzzle. It seemed very daunting at first and I had no idea what to do or where to go, but with time and experimentation I began to see progress and develop a goal. The puzzle was a good challenge, but certainly not impossible. 52 moves to free the first pin seemed monumental, but when there are 4 pins and 3 plates to manipulate, you can burn through those moves fairly quickly.

I really enjoyed this puzzle for a few different reasons. I liked the process of figuring it out, and also really like aluminum and brass as they are durable and heavy. I handed the puzzle off to my kids a few times without fear that they would break it or get it “stuck” forever. The fact that you can unscrew the pins and reset the puzzle at any time is also a bonus.

Overall, I would recommend this puzzle to anyone that is interested. There is also a FastMaze 2 and a FastMaze 3 which are both more difficult than this one. All 3 can be found at Cubicdissection.com for $65 each. They are selling fast, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see another run of these produced in the future.

*Full Disclosure – I was sent an advance copy of this puzzle to review for this blog. All opinions are my own and are based on my experience with this puzzle.

Psycho Disks – Eric Fuller

Psycho Disks is a relatively new puzzle designed and created by Eric Fuller at Cubicdissection. It’s composed of aluminum and brass and weighs in at about 1/3 of a pound or 148g. Considering it’s only 1.2″ x 2.4″ in size, it feels heavy in the hand.

When I first saw this one listed for sale, I knew I had to have it. This is exactly the type of intriguing puzzle that I love. It looks simple and gives nothing away. All the tricky bits are nicely hidden inside. It is pleasant to hold and manipulate and doubles as a fidget toy or paperweight.

The puzzle is attractive and fun to manipulate

When I first received the puzzle, I was stumped. According to Eric, the puzzle is inspired by Phil Wigfield’s ‘Spinning Tumblers’ puzzle – and having never seen or played with that particular puzzle, I had no idea what to do. The description calls it a Take-Apart puzzle, so I knew I had to disassemble it somehow, but it was not clear at all how to accomplish said task.

Upon arrival, I took it out and began experimenting. The two ends could freely rotate and so could all the disks sandwiched in between, but that was about all I could discover. There was some sort of small metallic souding piece that rattled inside one of the end pieces too. Other than that there was very little movement. The tolerances were tight and thus there were no gaps between pieces.

For a few days, I was stumped. I didn’t put a ton of time into really thinking about possibilites, rather I just enjoyed holding the puzzle and spinning the disks. I handed it off to my son and let him play with it, but he quickly became bored and moved on. Hmm, no progress yet.

The puzzle sat on the shelf for a couple of weeks. Then as I was preparing for a cross-country road trip, I decided that I’d bring it along and see if I could get anywhere in the car. That’s when my first breakthrough occured.

I was spinning the disks when I noticed that one of them was stuck. It would no longer spin. I knew this meant something, I just didn’t know what. When puzzling, we are always looking for a change, something different – whether that is a new path to take, a new rotation or just a new idea to work on, these differences are what tells us that we are making progress.

Inspired by this new development I put the puzzle in the car and started driving. Somewhere along the way, my wife took the wheel and I was free to puzzle. At this point I started making some real progress. I began developing some theories about how to solve the puzzle and sure enough things seemed to be headed in the right direction. I progressed through the sequence as I had hoped. I still had no idea what I was doing or how the internal mechanism was working, but still the puzzle was behaving as I had hoped and so I was optimistic.

I felt that I was close to solving it (and I was), but I still couldn’t work out how to get the darn thing open. What was I missing?

The puzzle went back in the glove box and I moved on – stumped again.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later, we were driving around and I heard some rattling in the car. What the heck was that? Oh yeah, the puzzle in the glove box was making that noise. Once again I was pulled into puzzle mode. This time determined to figure it out. And this time, I tried something slightly different and behold the puzzle was solved! I was then able to take it apart and see what was going on.

A challenging puzzle to photograph without giving anything away!

Interestingly, I was still a bit confused by the mechanism. Even with the guts laid bare, I still had some questions. A little more thought and experimenting and it finally dawned on me what was going on. It was at this point that I really began to appreciate the cleverness of this thing. The way the pieces work together to allow the final move is pretty darn cool. It’s simple, but it’s clever.

There are still some of these available at cubicdissection.com and it’s definitely a puzzle that I would recommend. I love that Eric is working with metal now and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Hanayama Infinity

Ok. Gonna do another real time run through with the Hanayama Infinity. I haven’t played with this one before, so this will all be done on the fly. I’ll start on the puzzle and every so often – 5 or 10 minutes, I’ll stop and record my progress and thoughts. Maybe this will reveal something interesting about the process – maybe not. But, its the process of solving these puzzles that I want to capture here. Solving puzzles is about being systematic and exploratory. Lets see if I can get this one solved here tonight.

First off, the puzzle is another beauty. Like most Hanayama puzzles, they are usually bigger and heavier than I anticipate from the picture. This one looks like its made of 3 pieces. 2 circular bearings and an outer casing. One thing that I notice right away is that each bearing has a circular cut-out where the other bearing fits. From the picture, I figures only ONE of the bearings had this cutout, but upon flipping the puzzle, I can see that both have this cutout. 

Ok, lets see if I can discover anything in 5 minutes.

Five minutes in and I haven’t solved it, but I have learned a few things. I’ve been able to manipulate the two bearings a bit and am starting to understand how the puzzle moves. The two bearings are able to rotate around – i haven’t been able to complete a full 360 either. I’ve gotten the stamped bearing to rotate probably 300 degrees, and the blank bearing only about 15 degrees. The bearings also can move up or down and moving them up and down unlocks the turning ability. The sides of the bearings are visible at times and I can see interesting shapes and tracks that are interlocking on each other and preventing or allowing movement.

Solving the puzzle will likely be a matter of knowing the correct position and/or sequence to release the two bearings. I’m not sure if I can take a systematic approach or not. I felt like I was making some progress in the first 5 minutes, lets see what happens next.

Ok, I’m now 15 minutes into this and I feel like I’m getting close. I’m pretty sure I have one of the bearings in the correct location. There is a scallop cutout that is lining up with a protrusion on the case. But, the other bearing isn’t budging and right now it feels a bit stuck. But, I’m hesitant to move the piece that is the correct position. But looks like thats exactly what I’ll have to do if I want to progress.

This puzzle is fun to manipulate, but is a little frustrating because pieces seem to lock up at points. I don’t yet know if this is sequential in any manner or whether I just need to get the pieces into the correct position.

32 minutes and 54 seconds total time, and the puzzle has been solved. I’m not sure if I did things correctly or not. It seemed to me like I could rotate the stamped bearing fairly easily, but the non-stamped one was difficult to move. I ended up moving the stamped bearing around about 300 degrees and then that would allow the non-stamped piece to move about 15 degrees, and I’d move the stamped piece back to the start and that would allow me to move the other piece 15 degrees. I kept at this until the puzzle was solved.

Hanayama Cast Infinity Solved
Sovled! You can see the “scallops” on the inside of the casing

The inside of this one is really cool. Its really amazing to interlock the bearings and move them around and see how they catch on each other and how moving up and down opens up new pathways. Overall, I’m very impressed with the design on this one. It seemed obvious from looking at it how it would work, but its design makes it really challenging. I think I’m going to hold off on putting this back together – I need to understand how the bearings interact better to see if I did things correctly or picked an inefficient solution.

Assembly was pretty straightforward, but still took me a good 10 minutes to complete. Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I’ll have to complete it a few more times to see if I can really  get a mastery of it.

Hanayama Cast Infinity
Back together again.

Hanayama Cast Elk

Ok, new format. Tonight, I’m going to document the puzzle solving experience. I have the Hanayama Cast Elk puzzle and I’m going to try to solve it while documenting my thoughts every 15 minutes. Hopefully this will capture the process or evolution of solving one of these things. I’m also hoping that I will perform better due to the greater focus required. Anyway, we’ll see what happens.

Begin: (first impression) – My initial though is – “how hard can it be?” I mean it’s only 2 pieces. Surely there can’t be that many ways to manipulate the two pieces, right? Beyond that, the puzzle is another excellent Hanayama. It has good weight to it, it has a nice shiny finish – similar to vortex. And, overall, its just pleasing to hold. Let’s see what I can figure out.

Only two pieces, but still tricky to solve.

Whelp, I solved it in 11:26, so didn’t need the full 15 I guess. It funny, cuz I had the pieces in the final position a few times, but didn’t “make the move” until later on after I had exhausted a few other possibilities. Really, there weren’t that many positions for the pieces to be in, which was making me a little frustrated after the first 5 minutes.

I initially figured out how to move the pieces through each other and felt good, but then I couldn’t progress any further. The pieces were easy to manipulate and many times, they were very close to passing through each other, so much so that I began to think that perhaps this was one of those lopsided puzzles where one protrusion is slightly smaller on one side than the other. I kept chasing this idea for a while – really examining the puzzle to see if there were any anomalies in size or shape. 

Ultimately, I didn’t find any anomolies, the puzzle looked symmetrical, even upon close inspection. So, I went back to manipulating the pieces. After a while, it seemed like I had exhausted the possibilites, so as per usual, I concentrated on doing things different. I was trying to go against natural instincts and move pieces opposite to what was natural.

This technique is something I use all the time in puzzling. Trying the same thing over and over doesn’t usually yield results, so consciously doing things differently often helps.

Anyway, just like that, I had the pieces back in a familiar positions but this time, tried a slightly different move and viola! They separated. 

The Elks have been separated.

After getting them apart, I quickly put them back together again, feeling confident that I knew the secret… except I was wrong… It wasn’t quite as simple as I thought and in fact, I’m confident that I got lucky the first time. Because this time, I was having a harder time finding the solution. It took me a solid 20 minutes to get the darn thing solved again, and I’m feeling confident now that there are in fact some subtle differences in shape and size in the pieces, arms and slots.

Pretty cool puzzle. I definitely don’t have it mastered, i’ll have to solve it a few more times, but it was fun and I liked it a lot – even if I did get lucky.

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.