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 Post subject: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:39 pm 
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Ethereal Maze Puzzles are a new type of rolling ball 3D maze puzzle. The models shown in the images below are rated from easy to moderately difficult.

Ethereal Maze Puzzles are mazes that you solve by rolling a ball through an innovative new three dimensional lattice structure which forms the maze paths. The goal is to roll the ball through the maze from the entrance to the exit. Start by pushing the ball into the spring loaded entrance ( it looks like a backwards “J”). Tip the maze in different directions to roll the ball along the paths through the maze. Don’t worry, if you make a wrong turn, the ball will not fall out of the maze. If the ball runs into a dead-end you can just roll the ball back the opposite way and try another path, that’s all part of this fun challenge. When you reach the exit there is a spring loaded button to press to release the ball from the maze. The exit is in a corner of the maze, where you will find a bar with the little button sticking out from the side of the maze.

See for yourself how Ethereal Maze Puzzles take maze puzzles to a whole new level of challenge and fun. With their convoluted lattice structure they can also be enjoyed as captivating and intriging sculptural works of art.

Ethereal Maze Puzzles are a brand new class of maze puzzles I invented in 2011. I named this new type of maze “Ethereal Maze Puzzles” for their light and airy structure, and almost intangible pathways. The first models were developed in October 2011 and are currently available for purchase through my Shapeways shop below:

http://www.shapeways.com/shops/EtherealMazePuzzles

For videos and more information please visit my Youtube and Facebook Ethereal Maze Puzzles pages below:

http://www.youtube.com/user/EtherealMazePuzzles
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ethereal- ... 11?sk=wall

Enjoy!


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Steve Winter
Inventor of Ethereal Maze Puzzles - A new type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
Available at my Ethereal Maze Puzzles Shapeways shop


Last edited by Steve Winter on Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:42 pm 
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Very cool, would be nice and cheap for 3D printing too! :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:59 pm 
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Very, very clever, and at a great price, too! I might just have to get one (or more) of these on my next Shapeways order.

-Eitan

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:43 pm 
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I like that you can see the whole maze at once, but the solution is still not obvious. A great idea, and those Shapeways prices are really tempting.

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:55 pm 
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Excellent use of printing! I love the fact that what makes it so cheap is also the thing that makes it tempting yet difficult: Thin beams that let you see in but confuse the eye.

Great ideas,

Dave :)

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:21 pm 
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Beautiful. Bought. :D

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:33 pm 
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Would this concept work with non-orthogonal geometry? If so you could expand into many other beautiful shapes, just as twisty puzzles have developed from the original cube...

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:07 pm 
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Wow, cool.
I bet designing a good 3d maze isn't easy.

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:45 pm 
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Very nice. I love it, Ill have to order one.

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2011 11:49 am 
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Thanks for all the supportive comments on my new maze, I’m glad people are enjoying them. Here is a tip that I learned from puzzlers that have ordered my mazes:

Maze and Ball Color Tip

I have found that a lot of people have been ordering my mazes in the different colors that Shapeways offers; White, Red, Indigo and Black. When you order a maze it comes with a ball of the same color. If you order a white maze you can easily color the ball yourself. I have also found that some people will order two of the same maze, but each in a different color. That’s a great idea. For example they can have a Red Maze with a White ball, and a White Maze with a Red ball. Having the ball a different contrasting color from the maze makes it easier to see the ball as you maneuver it through the maze.

KelvinS:

Interesting idea about using non-orthogonal geometry for a maze design. Definitely something I will have to look into. That would make for some very intriguing shapes.

Alaskajoe:

Yes, designing a good 3d maze isn't easy. I wrote a lot of complex software to help in designing these.

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Steve Winter
Inventor of Ethereal Maze Puzzles - A new type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
Available at my Ethereal Maze Puzzles Shapeways shop


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:49 pm 
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Location: Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Hi Steve,

Took the liberty to add a link to your shop at http://www.doolhoven.startpagina.nl (Dutch overview page of actual mazes, books regarding mazes, puzzles, games etc.).

Your puzzle shown here looks great; did you use 3-D designing software to create the structure in 3-D?


Best regards,

Splinter
(who sticks to 2-D maze designing for now, with some exception, but is very familiar with ProEngineer software. Never used it for mazes though)

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Maybe I'm amazed... Mfave's puzzle shop | Burgh Lock trick-lock, Splinter's amazing Shapeways shop, my E-book, maze overview page (Dutch)


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:26 pm 
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Splinter:

Thanks for adding the link, I really appreciate the help in sharing my mazes with others interested in mazes and puzzles.

To design these I have written a lot of custom software. Then I interface to an old Solid Modeler CAD tool to transform it into a solid model, and generate the STL files. It is a lot of work to make one of the mazes, but it is fun to create a totally different type of puzzle maze that is fun to play, and is a visual work of art.

Best Regards

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Inventor of Ethereal Maze Puzzles - A new type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
Available at my Ethereal Maze Puzzles Shapeways shop


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:55 pm 
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These look really fun and I will most definitely have to order one ASAP.
I could only imagine this type of puzzle integrated with Oskars Hollow Cube :lol:

EDIT: Just ordered all three. Can't wait till they come in!

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:03 am 
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Seeing this forum likes cubics and such, here's how far I've come with a cubical 3-D maze.

(It's in fact a 2-D maze spread over a 3-D shape. My E-book -see section marketplace of this forum- also contains what I would say is a 2.5-D maze: a 3-D figure (cube) sketched on 2-D sheet)

If you like to 'build' this yourself, it's in the preview-file here


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:45 am 
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Bought the mix-pack. So now I can start looking forward (like many others ordering at Shapeways) when the package arrives. Probably somewhere end of January.... (it's a big ocean and the processing takes 10 days).

<correction>: Shapeways is located in the Netherlands.... no big ocean to cross. I even think they are in Eindhoven. Would I be getting a personal visit :lol: ?
<update>: yep, Hastelweg 222, 5652 CL Eindhoven. Personal visit, or should I go over there to fetch the package? :o
(I've heard of a 3-D printing company that is a spin-off of an incubator of Philips. But was not aware this would be Shapeways)


I hope I may ask this (curious to learn this):

Steve, you write at Shapeways "The design elements of Ethereal Maze Puzzles are registered and protected works". Did you do this via a so-called 'design registration' (only for US). And/or do you own a trademark on the name 'Ethereal Maze' (that was not in the text)?

I wonder whether you can even have a (slight) profit from selling the mazes, seeing your labour (that would be hobby as is for me, so 'no cost'), the registration costs, and the cost of production at Shapeways. Or is 3-D printing this affordable???

Or do you think to sell 5,000 pcs of those?? :o

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Maybe I'm amazed... Mfave's puzzle shop | Burgh Lock trick-lock, Splinter's amazing Shapeways shop, my E-book, maze overview page (Dutch)


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:26 pm 
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I received mine today and I must say they are nifty little mazes.
I colored all the spheres with a sharpie and it worked very well. I really liked how you put the balls in their own little cages for shipping. I almost didn't want to cut them out :lol:
The only problem I had was that on the largest one, a few areas were slightly bent. I think it was from them over stuffing the box with bubble wrap. It's not a big problem though, as it doesn't affect the functionality.
Would you consider offering these in metal? I didn't see any sort of metal as an option and I'd really love to have more sturdy versions that I can carry around without fear of them being broken.

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:53 pm 
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Splinter:

Note on Shapeways – They just hit their one year anniversary of opening offices in New York City. They plan to have their own production operational there sometime in 2012, so hopefully delivery in the USA will be faster, and maybe cheaper.

As far as design protection on my mazes, I can’t say much now as approvals are pending. I can say that the cost of trademark and copyright registrations is fairly low, while patents are much more expensive. So you could look into copyright and trademark for hobbyist type selling if you think you are going to sell a lot over the years. I do plan on creating many more models, versions, and variations of my mazes over the years, so I wanted to have some protection in place.

At this point my maze shop is just at the fun/hobby level. I came up with the concept for Ethereal Maze Puzzles while working on some other designs and I thought it was a perfect match for sharing with puzzlers through a shapeway shop. I wanted to make them very affordable, so don’t make much profit on them. I just want to get them out there, and get a little back for the time I put in.

Thanks for ordering some of my mazes. I hope you enjoy them. Keep an eye out for new models to come in 2012.

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Inventor of Ethereal Maze Puzzles - A new type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
Available at my Ethereal Maze Puzzles Shapeways shop


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:09 pm 
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OBNoo:

Thanks for ordering some of my mazes. Glad to hear your are enjoying them. Sorry to hear one of yours got a little bent. I designed the mazes to be very forgiving, so that if it got bent a little it will still work fine. I recall reading on one of the Shapeway forums that someone received their model of a ship or something that was a little bent due to shipping. They put it in some hot water ( not boiling, but like hot tea ) and it sprang back to normal by the time the water had cooled.

I can look into some models for metal for 2012 if I hear enough interest. It would require some design modifications since the maze entrance and exit have springs made from the plastic, and this would not be possible with metal. The Shapeways requirements also mean that the bars have to be much thicker, so the whole maze would have to be scaled up in size. More volume makes it more expensive, and the metal material is much more expensive.

What kind of price range would people be willing to pay for a metal version of an Ethereal Maze Puzzle? Let me know puzzlers, and I will look into it.

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Inventor of Ethereal Maze Puzzles - A new type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
Available at my Ethereal Maze Puzzles Shapeways shop


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:21 pm 
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Steve Winter wrote:
OBNoo:

Thanks for ordering some of my mazes. Glad to hear your are enjoying them. Sorry to hear one of yours got a little bent. I designed the mazes to be very forgiving, so that if it got bent a little it will still work fine. I recall reading on one of the Shapeway forums that someone received their model of a ship or something that was a little bent due to shipping. They put it in some hot water ( not boiling, but like hot tea ) and it sprang back to normal by the time the water had cooled.

I can look into some models for metal for 2012 if I hear enough interest. It would require some design modifications since the maze entrance and exit have springs made from the plastic, and this would not be possible with metal. The Shapeways requirements also mean that the bars have to be much thicker, so the whole maze would have to be scaled up in size. More volume makes it more expensive, and the metal material is much more expensive.

What kind of price range would people be willing to pay for a metal version of an Ethereal Maze Puzzle? Let me know puzzlers, and I will look into it.


About how much more expensive would a metal version be? Obviously there's no way for you to just answer that without having a new design already done, but are we talking a few dollars more, twice as expensive, ten times as expensive...? I'd definitely be willing to buy metal ones at twice the price, possibly triple if they were really awesome. Which I think they would be.


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:28 am 
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On the cost of a metal version:

I was doing some rough calculations on doing a metal version. Shapeways charges about 7 times more for metal than the plastic. Also for the metal the wall thickness requirements are much thicker for metal, so I think I would have to make the rods at least 2 times the width, which means 2x2 = 4 times the area. Then I would have to scale the length of the rods up by 2 so that you could see in between them. So a rough calculation on how many times more volume is needed is 4x2 = 8 times the volume. Shapeways charges by the volume of material times the cost per CC of volume that is in the model, ( 7x for metal, 8x for volume). So this means the cost would be around 50 times as much! Wow, I would need to pull a rabbit out of my hat to come up with a design variation that would make it affordable in metal. If anyone has any ideas let me know.

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Inventor of Ethereal Maze Puzzles - A new type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
Available at my Ethereal Maze Puzzles Shapeways shop


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 2:12 pm 
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Steve Winter wrote:
On the cost of a metal version:



Just a wild idea: it's possible to bronze, silver or gold plate soft material (like a shoe). And create a metal object (on the outside) this way. Maybe it's also possible to plate Shapeways' material (it was said here that this was nylon).

Ask your local jewellery store if they think it's possible, or look for a plating / metal coating company.

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:23 pm 
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Just received my mix-set today.
Same as with oBNoo: the wall surfaces of the cubes are not all 'perfectly straight' but still OK.
I understand the request for a metal version better now :)

Just an idea for improvement (and cost rise): how about making the cubes 1.7 times bigger?
So that the threads will grow from approx. 1.2 mm thickness to 2 mm thickness (much more stiffness).

As I've advised here, I've put the smallest cube in a cup of water. I hope this will improve material characteristics further (doubt if it will be noticed in this thin kind of threads).

Will update this thread when I start solving the cube after the water-treatment (and when I find some time :roll: ).

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:23 pm 
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Splinter:

I have been working on a new maze variation that I hope to have available before long. I can also make the cells in the maze larger and the rods thicker. This should keep the rods much straighter. Also the cells will be bigger so you can see into the maze better. Will need to do a round or two of prototyping to get it perfected, and try to keep the cost low also. I will post here when it is available.

P.S. There are some techniques you can use to help you solve the maze. Prince Thesus used a ball of string to help him escape the Labyrinth, a huge maze King Minos had constructed on the isle of Crete to imprison the Minotaur. Can you figure out some tricks to help you escape the Ethereal Mazes?

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Inventor of Ethereal Maze Puzzles - A new type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
Available at my Ethereal Maze Puzzles Shapeways shop


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 6:45 am 
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Steve Winter wrote:
Can you figure out some tricks to help you escape the Ethereal Mazes?


Well, let's think about some tricks beforehand:
- first start with the smallest, the 5x5x5 that should be the easiest
- from the 5x5x5 try to determine how you, Steve, thinks/works regarding the creation of mazes
- and try to keep the cube as much as possible in one orientation, to not get lost due to disorientation
- and then it's probably tough to use a technique other than walking criss-cross (try-and-error) through the cube. I don't think a kind of 'right hand technique (keep following the wall with your right hand)' will work

- if I'd be a software developer (which I'm not), I could consider modeling the cubes and have an algorithm follow 3-D paths :lol: . But this would probably take more time (and mean less fun) than actually solving it myself :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:27 am 
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Update:

I've put the Shapeways WSF Ethereal maze puzzles for about 3 days in a cup of cold water, and dried them naturally for a day (no heat source applied).

And it worked! The maze cubes now have almost perfect straight surfaces. No bending from transport to be noticed any longer.
And I also think the puzzles have gained some extra flexibility/strength. I can just imagine it, but to me they seem now less fragile than before. More like an elastic wall now / elastic spring (I tested this by compressing the cages for the balls together with no damage occurring).

I've painted the balls -as suggested by Steve- to make it more simple for me to see (my eyes are not that good). I did this with a CD-marker. To be sure the balls are drying now (to not have stains on the cubes). So for this weekend: probably some puzzle time! :D


PS for Steve: the only weak point I find in the puzzle, is the entrance of the 5x5x5 maze cube. Maybe add an extra stud to this entrance in the outer wall?

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:13 am 
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Splinter:

Thanks for the update on the technique for soaking the mazes in water to straighten out any bent areas. I'm glad to hear it worked so well.

I looked at the area at the entrance of "Zig Zag Zog", the 555 maze that you mentioned. Yes, I can see that it is quite bendy in that area when you are inserting the ball. My original design intent was to give the mazes a very airy and open structure, but I see where this could use some more strength. I will look at updating this in my next design cycle.

In regards to solving a maze; Although I have used algorithms for determining where to place the maze boundaries, that knowledge is not needed to solve the maze, and would be of insignificant use in developing a technique for solving the mazes.

I look forward to hearing back from you to learn if you have come up with any techniques for solving the mazes. Enjoy!

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Inventor of Ethereal Maze Puzzles - A new type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
Available at my Ethereal Maze Puzzles Shapeways shop


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:49 pm 
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I received my mazes yesterday. I dyed the balls to all 3 puzzles black. Wow, these puzzles are great! Mine are not warped at all. I figured out the 555 relatively easily. The 666 and 777 are deceptively difficult. I have not solved them yet, but I haven't put much time into either.

Thanks Steve, great puzzles for a great price!

Edit: after a couple more minutes, I solved the 666. On to the 777!


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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:53 pm 
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:lol: I solved both the 5x5x5 (Zig-Zag-Zog) and 6x6x6 rather quickly, or didn't I?

Truth is, I started to solve both puzzles with my intuition (which seemed right): go in the direction you don't expect.
My original plan was to not turn the cubes that much to keep overview, but that didn't work. :)

Well, after solving the 5x5x5 rather quickly having the ball at its exit, I tried to work from that point back again to the start. And found that more difficult, while it's obvious to just follow the route back. But there comes the nice aspect of these puzzles: it's rather difficult to see (and thus remember) the exact route that was followed.
And what I also found out: initially I solved the 5x5x5 on intuition quickly, and trying this again was also not that difficult. But for the 6x6x6 when I really tried to go the same route once again and better study what I was doing: it went wrong. So, tactics is to not think too much and just do 8-)

And the other thing that makes it quite difficult: the ball is difficult to control, and to put in just that exact spot where the correct route continues....


Now find some time to start with the 7x7x7.... (and study the 6x6x6 once again)

PS The entrance and exit mechanisms work very well. Good engineering.

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 Post subject: Re: New type of 3D rolling ball maze puzzle
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 11:59 pm 
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Wow these look very cool, Very tempting!


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