Ecorider

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Hill We Climb

I was moved by this lovely poem and want to post it here as a reminder of what needs to be done and what CAN be done in America. A new era is arriving. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.  

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world:

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice.
And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so, we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped; that even as we tired, we tried; that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
I like many of my fellow Americans was glued to the television this past Wednesday watching the inauguration. We stuck around for the televised concert later that evening and enjoyed the uplifting music.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it. Because being American is more than a pride we inherit; it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked: “How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?” Now we assert, “How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised, but whole; benevolent, but bold; fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation, because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.
So, let us leave behind a country better than one we were left. With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.
— Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb,” as recited at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris



Saturday, January 16, 2021

Heptagonal Star


This article was published in CFF #113.  We've attached it here with the Burr Tools files accessible to anyone.  Please enjoy the read.  


Solving Heptagonal Star Using BurrTools

by George Miller, Aug. 2020


Heptagonal Star was exchanged at IPP-18 in Tokyo by Yoshiyuki Kotani.  I was able to purchase a copy recently and it arrived as 7 flat pieces.  I wanted to display it as part of my IPP exchange puzzles collection, but did not know the exchange year, the designer or even the shape it was supposed to take.  By looking through the IPP-18 book I discovered the designer and the date of the exchange.  Sadly, Kotani san’s page neglected a solution or even a picture of the puzzle.  I was able to deduce the final structure of the assembled puzzle by its name, Heptagonal Star.

I quickly managed to piece together 6 of the 7 pieces, alas, the 7th piece stubbornly remained allows for man-insertable.  I decided to move on to the other puzzles that had come in the mail, but, decided to “cheat” by programming the solution using BurrTools.  After all, this is an interlocking combinatorial puzzle.


BurrTools allows for many different grids, but certainly not one with seven fold rotational symmetry.  I tried to simplify the programming effort by imagining this puzzle as a ring that has been cut vertically and spread out flat.  Each piece could be rendered rectangular by cutting the top and bottom of each hexagon.  Each piece had blockage at the top and/or the bottom in four places.  I chose a 5x3 rectangle to represent each piece. The first two blockages of each piece are represented by voxels in the first two columns.  The last two blockages are represented by voxels in columns 4 and 5.  The middle column is left empty as part of the weaving.


The resulting shape will be a flat 14x3 rectangle assuming I could connect the end of the rectangle with the beginning.  But, Burrtools has no such notion so I had to “fake” it by adding 3 variable voxels on both ends of the rectangle as such:






I know this will produce too many “solutions”, but I can go through the results by hand and pick out the real ones.  BurrTools gave 13 “solutions”.  I picked this one as the best one to try:



As you can envision,  the rectangle can be bent in a ring with the blue end fitting neatly under the yellow end.  Both the blue piece and the yellow piece have their blockages on just one side and thus could be dropped in as the last piece.  I started with the blue end and moved towards the yellow end by putting the blue into the red piece, the two green pieces together before putting the pair on top of the red and blue pair next the cyan and then the pink before dropping in the final yellow piece.


Realize that BurrTools is an advanced programming language which is “coded” in BurrGui, a graphical interface.  BurrTools solves the problem.  BurrGui describes the problem. The trick to coding this program lies in transforming the physical puzzle into the BurrGui language.  The language allows for disjoint pieces and variable voxels which used wisely can transform most any combinatorial problem into a BurrGui program which can be solved the companion BurrTools engine.


Below is the .xmpuzzle file.  This is a text file.  BurrTools can read both the text version or the binary version.  To get a text version, I opened the .xmpuzzle file in the BBedit application.  After loading it into BurrTools, go to the START tab and press the START button.  You should see 13 solutions.  Move to the 10th to see the above mentioned solution.


<?xml version="1.0"?>

<puzzle version="2"><gridType type="0"/><colors/><shapes>

  <voxel x="17" y="3" z="1" type="0">+++###########++++++###########++++++###########+++</voxel>

  <voxel x="5" y="3" z="1" type="0">#_____#__#_#_##</voxel>

  <voxel x="5" y="3" z="1" type="0">#__###__#__#___</voxel>

  <voxel x="5" y="3" z="1" type="0">_#_##___###____</voxel>

  <voxel x="5" y="3" z="1" type="0">##_###__#______</voxel>

  <voxel x="5" y="3" z="1" type="0">##_#_##_##____#</voxel>

  <voxel x="5" y="3" z="1" type="0">##_##_#________</voxel>

  <voxel x="5" y="3" z="1" type="0">_#_#_#____#___#</voxel>

 </shapes>

 <problems>

  <problem state="2" assemblies="13" solutions="13" time="0">

   <shapes><shape id="1" count="1"/><shape id="2" count="1"/><shape id="3" count="1"/>

    <shape id="4" count="1"/><shape id="5" count="1"/><shape id="6" count="1"/><shape id="7" count="1"/>

   </shapes>

   <result id="0"/><bitmap/>

     </problem>

 </problems>

</puzzle>


Since you are viewing this article online you can download the Heptagon Star.xmpuzzle file directly by clicking here or here.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

A year in the life of a puzzler. Looking back on 2020

 2020 has been a bittersweet year.  

In January our IPP puzzles finally arrived and we had Nick Baxter over for an afternoon and a dinner.  Little did we know this would be the last of the world as we know it.  Our daughter was sicker than she has ever been but we forced her to continue to attend classes.  Thankfully she was at university and we didn't get sick. I ordered our tickets to IPP and began looking forward to a year of travel and puzzling. 

In February the world started to slowly learn about COVID-19.  Our president said it was under control and would not effect us here in the USA. It was a China problem.  We were making plans for yet another three month cruise.  George's workshop was finished and the cleaning and organizing was to begin.

March saw increased concern over this virus.  People around the country started hoarding of all things TOILET PAPER.  What is happening!  Our golf course closed and we decided to throw ourselves full tilt into fixing up Puzzle Palace.  George kitted out his workshop and I began working on cataloguing our collection.  We had plans for the first Boca Bash, but sadly it was cancelled due to Covid.  

The summer saw us continue with our work on the garage and the house.  I discovered a new 'room' in one of our attics and decided that I didn't want any more bare floor joists showing at all in any the attics.  George put down plywood flooring in two of them and I hired contractors to make the newly discovered area into a room.  We later had this painted and carpeted so George could have a new 3D printer room and storage area. 

Golf opened up again with tee-times.  Something we have never had before.  We met our dear friends the Bookatz's and have been playing together ever since.  

The kid was sent home from uni in late spring because of COVID-19 and began photographing our puzzle collection.

Then disaster struck.  IPP was cancelled!  Our main puzzle party of the year was not to happen.  We along with many other puzzlers around the world were devastated.  The organizing committee put together a few zoom meetings at odd hours of the day for those of us in the west.  I think we were still asleep for the first one.  The Midlands group put together a number of zoom parties and staggered them into three 2 hour sessions so as many people as possible could participate. 

By the end of September the bridge to link George's new workshop and the garage attic was completed.  I began populating the bridge with puzzle games.  After a talk with Rob Stegmann, I devised a way to display paper puzzles.  Our crystal puzzle collection is almost complete and almost completely assembled.  George's workshop is finished and is being used.  We have built at least 2 years worth of IPP exchanges and have ideas for another two or three.  

I managed in October to get George to blog with me.  He's posted a few times and will in future load his CFF articles that need burrtools files.  Dutch Cube day was cancelled as was our circumnavigation of Africa.  Another puzzle party bites the dust. 

In November we voted!  Thank heavens the tRump reign of terror is over.  We continued to work on a variety of puzzles in the house. George got fixated on doing a puzzle analysis for Oskar and we finalized the design for our new driveway and ordered the pavers from Canada.  Thanksgiving was a rather casual affair.  We brought it down to Miami and had an outdoor picnic with the kid.  Sadly, all too many in America did not stay at home, or follow social distancing protocols.  The airlines saw an increase in travel again and the US saw another surge in the number of confirmed cases.

Early in December we picked up the kid from Uni and the poor thing has been stuck with old boring parents ever since.  Although, I'm pretty sure it is us who is suffering more at this point.  The driveway was dug up mid-month and the pavers came in.  The good folks at Genesis Alliance Group and Balderez Construction worked full out to get it in a useable condition before the holiday.  Carl Hoff came out for a rather short visit and left with a CNC machine. 

George built me an Advent PuzzleTree and he was a lucky man.   I gifted him 25 puzzles via the tree and a couple more on Christmas morning.  He gave me the wonderful gift of 3D printer lessons just as soon as the kid goes back to Uni.  

The year ended with my version of the 12 days of Christmas.  I wish you all a Healthy and Happy New Year.  I hope 2021 is better for one and all.  And as my dad always says upon hanging up the phone, "Stay away from the virus!"

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

12 Days of Christmas PuzzlePalace style 2020.

 On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me

12 Burr Puzzle Sets

Here we have 12 burr sets.  Starting left to right.  The white box was made by George when he was in college.  He found a book that listed a set of burrs and he set about making his own.  This set is not pristine, there are many perfect imperfections in each of the pieces, but given that it is one of his first puzzles, it deserves a place of honor in our collection.  He tells me the book was written by Anthony Filipiak but I couldn't find it in the book he has.  Having said that, he's the one who built the puzzle, who am I to argue.*

In front of that piece is Boite 13 by Jean Claude Constantin.  I got this set from PuzzleMaster.ca.  It is said to make 40 six-piece burr puzzles.

Next in the back row is the Chinese Cross made by Pentangle.  This puzzle I won on auction earlier in the year. This set can make 314 puzzles.

In front of this is a "Professor" burr set from the Yamanaka Kumiki Works Japan. George got this set as a Christmas gift when he was around 13.  He promptly wrote to the company to tell then there were more solutions than listed on the box.  He got no response. 

Next to this is a burr set listed on Thingiverse.  We have here the starter burr set and the extensible burr set. After seeing them on FaceBook, I pointed George in the right direction and he immediately printed a set.  Too bad he didn't print the box...

In front of this we have the Darryl's Dense Dozen designed by Darryl Adams, machined in Brass by Bryan Turner and purchased through CubicDissection.  

The final two in the back row are the Pentultimate Burr from Cubic Dissection and Sherlock from Marbles the brain store. 

The next row holds the Phoenix Family burr set (Allard writes about it here) by Jack Krijnen and Rombol's 151er Teufel.  

The final two are a Level-5 burr set by Jack Krinjnen and a simple burr set we picked up when we visited Dilemma games in Cheng Mai Thailand. 

This will not be the end of our burr collecting.  My beautiful lover really likes burrs and he enjoys sets even more.  I'm looking for a Jack Krinjnen copy of the Ultimate Burr set and would be over the moon if I could find a copy of Wayne Daniels 42 piece Interlocking set or Kamei's set of 52 pieces.





We hope you enjoyed this years version of the 12 Days of Christmas and had an enjoyable holiday season.
*I just found reference to this book published in 1942. Looks like he really was right.  

11 Workshop Machines 

Today’s Christmas post is brought to you by George.  As many may know, we built an addition to our garage so that George could have a nice workshop.  Today we bring you 11 of the many machines he has in there.  I hope you enjoy his contribution to this year's song.
                             

The first up is the laser cutter.  I got rid of my old Epilog and purchased a new Flux Beambox Pro.  Unlike my old one, I can now use wifi to send projects to the cutter.  I purchased this one after moving to Florida because it works with Macs and has a built in camera that allows me to see the work going on.  It has a water cooled laser and is just more modern.  

Again, out with the old, in with the new.  I gave a way my 3 axis Roland Modela MDX500 and purchased a new Roland 4 axis Modela pro II MDX-540.  This milling machine was too good to pass up.  It has a full enclosure and all the additional bells and whistles.  Add the fact that it only had 60 hours on it and this baby had my name written all over it. 

This machine is a vacuum forming machine that I made in 1998.  I purchased a kit and set to work.  It has seen many projects and will see many more once Roxanne learns how to use it. 

Up next we have a drill press.  I have added a small XY vise to the base so that I can easily align the bits.  Also added is a laser crosshair that spots the place on the work piece which will receive the drill bit. 

This bandsaw was purchased at Harbor Freight.  I left the old one in California and this was the perfect size for the bench top.  It is a nice little machine for the price.  We even used it to cut frozen pork ribs one day.  DO NOT try that at home. It's an absolute mess to clean! (I had to take apart the entire machine).

Here we have a jigsaw also probably purchased at Harbor Freight.  Again, the old one was left behind because it was broken.  I really like the idea of having all of these machines on the bench top and this is no exception. 

Here we have a mini sander.  I've had this one for years.  It is super thin allowing me to sand small parts.

This belt sander is much larger than the previous one. As you can see, it also has a disk sander on the side. The attachment allows for different angles to be sanded.

Here we have my Saw Stop.  There was no question of leaving this one behind.  It takes up the majority of one garage, but is worth it in that since we have been here, it has saved my fingers once, and the fingers of a construction worker once as well.  This has a rather large bench attached to it and a router as well.  It's a very handy machine.

This little machine is a Hegner MK4.  This is a German machine that was discontinued in 2010.  They are difficult to find now.  It was originally advertised as a toy makers saw.  This seems to fit with what I do.  

This final machine is a DeWalt planer. It is used to flatten wood.  

I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of the machines I have in my workshop.  

10 Spanish Anvils

You knew we couldn't get through this without a Berrocal reference.  Puzzle Palace has one of the largest Berrocal collections to be found.  I know there are some who scoff at the quality and durability of the pieces, but to me they are just beautiful.  I remember  an art exhibition in HK called "Naked Art".  We had to take off all jewelry and be blindfolded. Upon entering a room, we were encouraged to touch the art on display.  I loved the sensation and perhaps that is why I love the Berrocals.  They just feel nice.  

This set is called Desperta Ferro (Opus 240-249). They were made between 1979 and 1982.  Each piece has been built around an anvil and has a number of different pieces.  Our set is quite unique in that each one has the same serial number: 41/200. Having had many conversations with the members of the Berrocal foundation, I've come to realize that these are much more unique than I expected. While it says this was a run of 200 it may not have necessarily been so.  Usually when I see these pieces come up for auction it is one piece at a time.  I have never seen a full set for sale.  

These were made as part of his multiples that were produced. The original sculptures were a set of 20 - ten were the Desperta Ferro and ten were the Almogávares.  The latter are a rather large set of torsos that can often be found on display in different museums around the world.  These were inspired by the warriors sent to Constantinople by the King of Aragon between the 13th and 14th centuries. Each anvil has the name of a member of these warriors.   If I understand correctly, the original Desperta Ferro were made of wooden pieces shaped around the anvils and are no longer in existence. Later the Desperato Ferro series were made into the smaller brass versions you see here. 

Pictured below are our set.  As you can see, only one is polished.  We have chosen (for now) to leave the rest with their natural patina. Each piece is rather heavy as they are built around an actual anvil. I'd guess they come in between 10 and 15 pounds.  Should you ever visit PuzzlePalace, the pieces are available for disassembly as are all the other Berrocal's in our collection.  



An even better idea would be to visit the Berrocal Foundation where you can learn a great deal about the sculptor himself.  We had the pleasure of visiting in November of 2019.  Click the link to go back in time for a few blog posts about this trip.  

The Almogávares were on display in 2020 at a museum in Malaga and a nice write up of the exibit can be found here.  

Finally, on The Epiphany (6th of January) the Berrocal Foundation will be holding a zoom journey through the foundation.  We participated in the last one and it was well worth the ten euro cover charge.  Sign up here and tell them Roxanne sent you. I get no kickbacks. Just continued friendship.  If you miss that date, click this link to see more upcoming dates. 

9 golfing clubs 

Pool?  Who cares about pool?  Golf is the way to go.  I started playing to get into George's good graces (read pants) and have loved it ever since.  We play at least 3 times a week.  George more than that because he plays with the ancients twice weekly.  These sticks?  They are the main clubs my beautiful lover uses.  me?  Not so much on the woods I like the irons myself.  I myself am a dæmon with the 4 iron! And heaven forbid you cross me while I've a driver in my hand.  The last time someone did that, his bedroom door window was smashed.  


Should you make a trip to PuzzlePalace, we've plenty of extra sets for your pleasure.  Come for the puzzles, enjoy the food, stay for a round of golf.  

8 pool table balls

Ok. So as it turns out, puzzles are not the only thing in our lives.  We've a beautiful rainbow pool table in the billiards room and we have been known to shoot a game or two.  Although, I must admit, My beautiful lover is much much better at the game than I am. Come on over and challenge him to a game or two.  He'll love it.  This table was shipped over from China and installed while we were on the container ship heading home.  It's a 9 foot professional table.  Much harder to play on than the ones we find in the local pool halls.


Of course, the 8 balls in the middle go with the table, but the other items you see here are all puzzles of sorts.  I mean a magic 8 ball is a puzzle isn't it?  How does it give such good answers?
The second row holds a 'world's smallest' 8 ball and a plastic burr picked up from a gumball machine. 
On the bottom are three old Binary Art's puzzles called Diamond Bob's Billiard Puzzles.  All were made in 1998.



7 Christmas puzzles

Now I know most of you are thinking these are puzzles I was gifted for Christmas, but they are not.  Each of these puzzles was a part of my Christmas decorations this year.  The large Christmas tree in the background is called "Around the Christmas Tree".  It is from Bits and Pieces and was produced in 1997.  This 750 piece Jigsaw puzzle when assembled can be glued and stood up as you can see here.  

Under the tree from Left to right is a snowman jigsaw ball by Ravensburger.  It has 77 pieces and was produced in 2007.   You might be able to find it on eBay, or at Ravensburger

Next up we have a hand carved and painted Santa that I got off eBay many many years ago.  His sack is a disentanglement puzzle, and inside he holds yet another disentanglement. 

Next to him is a gingerbread man cube from Professor Puzzle.  It's been out of stock for a few years and I was lucky to find this on eBay.  There is also a Santa, and an Elf in this collection.

The Christmas tree was produced by Jeruel in 2016.  It has 69 pieces and comes in both green and white.  As far as crystal puzzles go, this is an easy solve.  Too bad there are no ornaments to go on it.

In the front row we have a Rubik's brand 1x2x3 shapemod made by PolyTwist Designs.  Somewhere along the way Winning Moves picked it up and branded it.  There is a much cheaper version available elsewhere

The final puzzle in this photo was made by yours truly.  I was upset last year because there are very few Christmas puzzles outside of sticker variations on Rubik's cubes.  I went to TJMaxx and bought a box set of these Chinese made burr puzzles and a few eyes, pipe cleaners and baubles.  An afternoon with the hot glue gun and a bit of creativity later and I made 8 different Christmas puzzles.  All are still fully functional as a puzzle. 


Without realizing it, when I took the photo there was one more puzzle in there.  If you look carefully, you can find a U-Gears Christmas stocking hanging off the tree.  


6 New Brass Monkeys

We all know them. Those two gents from the UK who seriously must be over compensating for something with all this heavy metal hanging around. Really, these puzzles could have been made of plastic or wood and people would have been satisfied.  But noooo, they had to go the extra mile and make everyone who doesn't have these get brass envy.  I can't wait to see them come out with a set of brass (puzzle) balls.

First up we have the trio of Brass Monkey's: the classic one, two, and three.  These are tough little buggers. The first step is of course to work out how to get the protection off without breaking it.  The last thing anyone wants is broken protection. Then, there are these dumb buttons you have to push.  I broke a nail trying to solve one of these things.  George had much more luck than I did with them.


Next up we have the hyperboloid burr designed by Oskar.  This was an IPP exchange given out in wood.  As expected, these two had to go one better and Brass it up.  George played with this one at a DCD and when it became available we just had to grab it. 



Feed the monkey is yet a heavier puzzle from this duo. To keep this blog Rated G, I removed the rather large banana that Mrs. Monkey is eating.  This one is a packing puzzle in the extreme. This poor girl has to have 16 varying sizes of shaft inserted into her.  


With a grin like that, what's not to love.  Nova Plexus sounds like it could be  a good puzzle, but I've no idea because it came in and went right up to the metal room.  George was unimpressed that I had once again brought in shiny puzzles for him.  This pair comes in brass and stainless steel and will probably remain unfinished on the shelf until we get a real monkey over here to put it together.  


Kong.  Who doesn't want big brass rods?  I purchased this one from their Kickstarter campaign knowing it would be hidden away until Christmas.  Well, Christmas came and with it, 4 pounds of rock solid rods.  It now sits on the master bathroom counter waiting it's turn in the queue.


And here it is.  The one we've all been waiting for.  The Joy of Hex.  Yes, you see that right, this set has 4! boxes of hex pieces, it's very own manual of different positions and a hex aid for when you need a little extra help.  


All of these puzzles and more can be found at Two Brass Monkeys.
And yes, I have the Monkey's nuts.


5 Puzzle Rings

The colorful one on the left was made by Carl Hoff.  I believe it is called Wasp.  It can be purchased in a much smaller version at Puzzleringmaker. This particular version was sold to me at an IPP a few years back.  It's much to large even as a bracelet.  I can wear it around my  upper arm.

The large yellow one was made by Oskar and I'm sure you can still find it on his shapeways shop or on Puzzleringmaker.  Again, I bought this at an IPP many years ago.  At the time, it was raining and the dye had not quite set yet.  I looked like I had urine running down my arm from the dye. The green ring is also made by Oskar.  This one can be unwound and worn like a necklace.  This and other variations of it can be found on Oskar's shapeways shop.

The grey ring was made for me by George.  I wanted a puzzle ring that was attributed to Miguel Berrocal but was actually made by Antonio Bernardo. I didn't realize this at the time, and only later discovered taht his rings sell for upwards of $5000.  George made 3 copies of this ring.  We gave one to his son Joe and the other two are in my collection.  They were made on an SLA printer in Hong Kong, and he says as they are so much work, he'll never make another.  I'd love to have one made in metal and perhaps one day I'll send his design off to Thailand...This copy is sufficiently different from the original to not be a copy.  He didn't want to make me an exact duplicate. 

The final gold ring is my wedding band. It was designed by Oskar for George and me.  The difference between this ring and other puzzle rings is that all three bands can be separated when the ring is taken apart.  George's has a phallus like protrusion while you can see mine has an opening.  Yes, they can be combined in a rather interesting manner.  Oskar sells a rated G version called trinity ring on his shapeways page. 



4 (00+) Crystal Puzzles


I started putting these puzzles together Christmas of 2010. The bug and I went to the Toys Street with my then sister-in-law and my niece and nephew to look for some Christmas bag goodies.  We came across the 'bags in bags' store and discovered our first crystal puzzles.  (Not really, but this was the real start of our addiction.) We had a few from the toys fair in earlier years, but this year we found a bag of 20 for less than 1 US$ each.  We bought the bag, took all the duplicates, and gave the rest for goody bags.  This was the beginning of an obsession.  In Hong Kong, the kid and I assembled around 50 of the larger pieces and at least as many keychains.  When we left, her father refused to let us have them. No skin off my nose, I have friends in high places and managed to get all but 5 of my original puzzles back.  Now I hunt auction sites worldwide to find those missing pieces.  

These are simply 3D jigsaw puzzles.  Many come with solutions, but many more do not have them. Knowing how to read Japanese (yeah right!) helps.  But seriously, the google gods know all if you need it. I've found my own special feeling way of solving these puzzles.  Last night I managed to solve 6 dragons of 56 pieces each in less than 2 hours.  After a while it just becomes second nature.  If you haven't tried one yet, I recommend them as a good form of calm.  Perhaps that is why I like them so much.  I  just go into a zone when I'm puzzling in this way.  Very zen-like. 

Since the beginning of the quarantine, I have assembled 530 of these.  I just adjusted my spreadsheet. I guess this is a bit more than 400+!!!

3 3D Printers
My beautiful lover is the father of home 3D printing.  He bought his first many moons ago and spent a long time perfecting the art of 3D printing.  He is the premier prototyper.  When he left his life in California and came to Hong Kong to live with such a woman as I, he left behind his printers.  He engaged the services of a 3D printing company to aid him in his continued puzzle printing.  He used 3D Mart Hong Kong who had wonderful service. When we finally arrived in Boca Raton, he purchased an Ultimaker S5, the same as was used in HK.  He has enjoyed printing many a puzzle on it.  

The next machine we see (with my monkey on top) is a FormLabs 2 SLA printer known for its high resolution and weird method of printing from the bottom.  

The final printer was purchased through kickstarter.  After a scam I endured, I never expected to receive it but the Creality CR-6 SE is in the dormitory installed and ready to go.   Filament is commonly available in the two standard diameters of 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm and now he has two FDM machines to handle filaments of both sizes.

2 Crazy Puzzlers


and a SPH in an APT

A standard puzzle hamster in an advent puzzle tree

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

12 Days of Christmas PuzzlePalace style 2020. Day 11.

 11 Workshop Machines 

Today’s Christmas post is brought to you by George.  As many may know, we built an addition to our garage so that George could have a nice workshop.  Today we bring you 11 of the many machines he has in there.  I hope you enjoy his contribution to this year's song.
                             

The first up is the laser cutter.  I got rid of my old Epilog and purchased a new Flux Beambox Pro.  Unlike my old one, I can now use wifi to send projects to the cutter.  I purchased this one after moving to Florida because it works with Macs and has a built in camera that allows me to see the work going on.  It has a water cooled laser and is just more modern.  

Again, out with the old, in with the new.  I gave a way my 3 axis Roland Modela MDX500 and purchased a new Roland 4 axis Modela pro II MDX-540.  This milling machine was too good to pass up.  It has a full enclosure and all the additional bells and whistles.  Add the fact that it only had 60 hours on it and this baby had my name written all over it. 

This machine is a vacuum forming machine that I made in 1998.  I purchased a kit and set to work.  It has seen many projects and will see many more once Roxanne learns how to use it. She's promised not to use it to make drawer dividers.

Up next we have a drill press.  I have added a small XY vise to the base so that I can easily align the bits.  Also added is a laser crosshair that spots the place on the work piece which will receive the drill bit. 

This bandsaw was purchased at Harbor Freight.  I left the old one in California and this was the perfect size for the bench top.  It is a nice little machine for the price.  We even used it to cut frozen pork ribs one day.  DO NOT try that at home. It's an absolute mess to clean! (I had to take apart the entire machine).

Here we have a jigsaw also probably purchased at Harbor Freight.  Again, the old one was left behind because it was broken.  I really like the idea of having all of these machines on the bench top and this is no exception. 

Here we have a mini sander.  I've had this one for years.  It is super thin allowing me to sand small parts.

This belt sander is much larger than the previous one. As you can see, it also has a disk sander on the side. The attachment allows for different angles to be sanded.

Here we have my Saw Stop.  There was no question of leaving this one behind.  It takes up the majority of one garage, but is worth it in that since we have been here, it has saved my fingers once, and the fingers of a construction worker once as well.  This has a rather large bench attached to it and a router as well.  It's a very handy machine.

This little machine is a Hegner MK4.  This is a German machine that was discontinued in 2010.  They are difficult to find now.  It was originally advertised as a toy makers saw.  This seems to fit with what I do.  

This final machine is a DeWalt planer. It is used to flatten wood.  

I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of the machines I have in my workshop.  

10 Spanish Anvils

You knew we couldn't get through this without a Berrocal reference.  Puzzle Palace has one of the largest Berrocal collections to be found.  I know there are some who scoff at the quality and durability of the pieces, but to me they are just beautiful.  I remember  an art exhibition in HK called "Naked Art".  We had to take off all jewelry and be blindfolded. Upon entering a room, we were encouraged to touch the art on display.  I loved the sensation and perhaps that is why I love the Berrocals.  They just feel nice.  

This set is called Desperta Ferro (Opus 240-249). They were made between 1979 and 1982.  Each piece has been built around an anvil and has a number of different pieces.  Our set is quite unique in that each one has the same serial number: 41/200. Having had many conversations with the members of the Berrocal foundation, I've come to realize that these are much more unique than I expected. While it says this was a run of 200 it may not have necessarily been so.  Usually when I see these pieces come up for auction it is one piece at a time.  I have never seen a full set for sale.  

These were made as part of his multiples that were produced. The original sculptures were a set of 20 - ten were the Desperta Ferro and ten were the Almogávares.  The latter are a rather large set of torsos that can often be found on display in different museums around the world.  These were inspired by the warriors sent to Constantinople by the King of Aragon between the 13th and 14th centuries. Each anvil has the name of a member of these warriors.   If I understand correctly, the original Desperta Ferro were made of wooden pieces shaped around the anvils and are no longer in existence. Later the Desperato Ferro series were made into the smaller brass versions you see here. 

Pictured below are our set.  As you can see, only one is polished.  We have chosen (for now) to leave the rest with their natural patina. Each piece is rather heavy as they are built around an actual anvil. I'd guess they come in between 10 and 15 pounds.  Should you ever visit PuzzlePalace, the pieces are available for disassembly as are all the other Berrocal's in our collection.  



An even better idea would be to visit the Berrocal Foundation where you can learn a great deal about the sculptor himself.  We had the pleasure of visiting in November of 2019.  Click the link to go back in time for a few blog posts about this trip.  

The Almogávares were on display in 2020 at a museum in Malaga and a nice write up of the exibit can be found here.  

Finally, on The Epiphany (6th of January) the Berrocal Foundation will be holding a zoom journey through the foundation.  We participated in the last one and it was well worth the ten euro cover charge.  Sign up here and tell them Roxanne sent you. I get no kickbacks. Just continued friendship.  If you miss that date, click this link to see more upcoming dates. 

9 golfing clubs 

Pool?  Who cares about pool?  Golf is the way to go.  I started playing to get into George's good graces (read pants) and have loved it ever since.  We play at least 3 times a week.  George more than that because he plays with the ancients twice weekly.  These sticks?  They are the main clubs my beautiful lover uses.  me?  Not so much on the woods I like the irons myself.  I myself am a dæmon with the 4 iron! And heaven forbid you cross me while I've a driver in my hand.  The last time someone did that, his bedroom door window was smashed.  


Should you make a trip to PuzzlePalace, we've plenty of extra sets for your pleasure.  Come for the puzzles, enjoy the food, stay for a round of golf.  

8 pool table balls

Ok. So as it turns out, puzzles are not the only thing in our lives.  We've a beautiful rainbow pool table in the billiards room and we have been known to shoot a game or two.  Although, I must admit, My beautiful lover is much much better at the game than I am. Come on over and challenge him to a game or two.  He'll love it.  This table was shipped over from China and installed while we were on the container ship heading home.  It's a 9 foot professional table.  Much harder to play on than the ones we find in the local pool halls.


Of course, the 8 balls in the middle go with the table, but the other items you see here are all puzzles of sorts.  I mean a magic 8 ball is a puzzle isn't it?  How does it give such good answers?
The second row holds a 'world's smallest' 8 ball and a plastic burr picked up from a gumball machine. 
On the bottom are three old Binary Art's puzzles called Diamond Bob's Billiard Puzzles.  All were made in 1998.



7 Christmas puzzles

Now I know most of you are thinking these are puzzles I was gifted for Christmas, but they are not.  Each of these puzzles was a part of my Christmas decorations this year.  The large Christmas tree in the background is called "Around the Christmas Tree".  It is from Bits and Pieces and was produced in 1997.  This 750 piece Jigsaw puzzle when assembled can be glued and stood up as you can see here.  

Under the tree from Left to right is a snowman jigsaw ball by Ravensburger.  It has 77 pieces and was produced in 2007.   You might be able to find it on eBay, or at Ravensburger

Next up we have a hand carved and painted Santa that I got off eBay many many years ago.  His sack is a disentanglement puzzle, and inside he holds yet another disentanglement. 

Next to him is a gingerbread man cube from Professor Puzzle.  It's been out of stock for a few years and I was lucky to find this on eBay.  There is also a Santa, and an Elf in this collection.

The Christmas tree was produced by Jeruel in 2016.  It has 69 pieces and comes in both green and white.  As far as crystal puzzles go, this is an easy solve.  Too bad there are no ornaments to go on it.

In the front row we have a Rubik's brand 1x2x3 shapemod made by PolyTwist Designs.  Somewhere along the way Winning Moves picked it up and branded it.  There is a much cheaper version available elsewhere

The final puzzle in this photo was made by yours truly.  I was upset last year because there are very few Christmas puzzles outside of sticker variations on Rubik's cubes.  I went to TJMaxx and bought a box set of these Chinese made burr puzzles and a few eyes, pipe cleaners and baubles.  An afternoon with the hot glue gun and a bit of creativity later and I made 8 different Christmas puzzles.  All are still fully functional as a puzzle. 


Without realizing it, when I took the photo there was one more puzzle in there.  If you look carefully, you can find a U-Gears Christmas stocking hanging off the tree.  


6 New Brass Monkeys

We all know them. Those two gents from the UK who seriously must be over compensating for something with all this heavy metal hanging around. Really, these puzzles could have been made of plastic or wood and people would have been satisfied.  But noooo, they had to go the extra mile and make everyone who doesn't have these get brass envy.  I can't wait to see them come out with a set of brass (puzzle) balls.

First up we have the trio of Brass Monkey's: the classic one, two, and three.  These are tough little buggers. The first step is of course to work out how to get the protection off without breaking it.  The last thing anyone wants is broken protection. Then, there are these dumb buttons you have to push.  I broke a nail trying to solve one of these things.  George had much more luck than I did with them.


Next up we have the hyperboloid burr designed by Oskar.  This was an IPP exchange given out in wood.  As expected, these two had to go one better and Brass it up.  George played with this one at a DCD and when it became available we just had to grab it. 



Feed the monkey is yet a heavier puzzle from this duo. To keep this blog Rated G, I removed the rather large banana that Mrs. Monkey is eating.  This one is a packing puzzle in the extreme. This poor girl has to have 16 varying sizes of shaft inserted into her.  


With a grin like that, what's not to love.  Nova Plexus sounds like it could be  a good puzzle, but I've no idea because it came in and went right up to the metal room.  George was unimpressed that I had once again brought in shiny puzzles for him.  This pair comes in brass and stainless steel and will probably remain unfinished on the shelf until we get a real monkey over here to put it together.  


Kong.  Who doesn't want big brass rods?  I purchased this one from their Kickstarter campaign knowing it would be hidden away until Christmas.  Well, Christmas came and with it, 4 pounds of rock solid rods.  It now sits on the master bathroom counter waiting it's turn in the queue.


And here it is.  The one we've all been waiting for.  The Joy of Hex.  Yes, you see that right, this set has 4! boxes of hex pieces, it's very own manual of different positions and a hex aid for when you need a little extra help.  


All of these puzzles and more can be found at Two Brass Monkeys.
And yes, I have the Monkey's nuts.


5 Puzzle Rings

The colorful one on the left was made by Carl Hoff.  I believe it is called Wasp.  It can be purchased in a much smaller version at Puzzleringmaker. This particular version was sold to me at an IPP a few years back.  It's much to large even as a bracelet.  I can wear it around my  upper arm.

The large yellow one was made by Oskar and I'm sure you can still find it on his shapeways shop or on Puzzleringmaker.  Again, I bought this at an IPP many years ago.  At the time, it was raining and the dye had not quite set yet.  I looked like I had urine running down my arm from the dye. The green ring is also made by Oskar.  This one can be unwound and worn like a necklace.  This and other variations of it can be found on Oskar's shapeways shop.

The grey ring was made for me by George.  I wanted a puzzle ring that was attributed to Miguel Berrocal but was actually made by Antonio Bernardo. I didn't realize this at the time, and only later discovered taht his rings sell for upwards of $5000.  George made 3 copies of this ring.  We gave one to his son Joe and the other two are in my collection.  They were made on an SLA printer in Hong Kong, and he says as they are so much work, he'll never make another.  I'd love to have one made in metal and perhaps one day I'll send his design off to Thailand...This copy is sufficiently different from the original to not be a copy.  He didn't want to make me an exact duplicate. 

The final gold ring is my wedding band. It was designed by Oskar for George and me.  The difference between this ring and other puzzle rings is that all three bands can be separated when the ring is taken apart.  George's has a phallus like protrusion while you can see mine has an opening.  Yes, they can be combined in a rather interesting manner.  Oskar sells a rated G version called trinity ring on his shapeways page. 



4 (00+) Crystal Puzzles


I started putting these puzzles together Christmas of 2010. The bug and I went to the Toys Street with my then sister-in-law and my niece and nephew to look for some Christmas bag goodies.  We came across the 'bags in bags' store and discovered our first crystal puzzles.  (Not really, but this was the real start of our addiction.) We had a few from the toys fair in earlier years, but this year we found a bag of 20 for less than 1 US$ each.  We bought the bag, took all the duplicates, and gave the rest for goody bags.  This was the beginning of an obsession.  In Hong Kong, the kid and I assembled around 50 of the larger pieces and at least as many keychains.  When we left, her father refused to let us have them. No skin off my nose, I have friends in high places and managed to get all but 5 of my original puzzles back.  Now I hunt auction sites worldwide to find those missing pieces.  

These are simply 3D jigsaw puzzles.  Many come with solutions, but many more do not have them. Knowing how to read Japanese (yeah right!) helps.  But seriously, the google gods know all if you need it. I've found my own special feeling way of solving these puzzles.  Last night I managed to solve 6 dragons of 56 pieces each in less than 2 hours.  After a while it just becomes second nature.  If you haven't tried one yet, I recommend them as a good form of calm.  Perhaps that is why I like them so much.  I  just go into a zone when I'm puzzling in this way.  Very zen-like. 

Since the beginning of the quarantine, I have assembled 530 of these.  I just adjusted my spreadsheet. I guess this is a bit more than 400+!!!

3 3D Printers
My beautiful lover is the father of home 3D printing.  He bought his first many moons ago and spent a long time perfecting the art of 3D printing.  He is the premier prototyper.  When he left his life in California and came to Hong Kong to live with such a woman as I, he left behind his printers.  He engaged the services of a 3D printing company to aid him in his continued puzzle printing.  He used 3D Mart Hong Kong who had wonderful service. When we finally arrived in Boca Raton, he purchased an Ultimaker S5, the same as was used in HK.  He has enjoyed printing many a puzzle on it.  

The next machine we see (with my monkey on top) is a FormLabs 2 SLA printer known for its high resolution and weird method of printing from the bottom.  

The final printer was purchased through kickstarter.  After a scam I endured, I never expected to receive it but the Creality CR-6 SE is in the dormitory installed and ready to go.   Filament is commonly available in the two standard diameters of 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm and now he has two FDM machines to handle filaments of both sizes.

2 Crazy Puzzlers


and a SPH in an APT

A standard puzzle hamster in an advent puzzle tree