Neil's Puzzle Building Blog
5Apr/120

Daedalus

Daedalus is one of the IPP31 Design entries from Gregory Benedetti. A simple 3x3 cube where the goal is to take the pieces apart. As an eight piece puzzle, from the outside it doesn't seem that this can be too challenging, however as is so often true, this puzzle is far from simple! I was fortunate enough to be able to buy my copy from Puzzle Paradise when Gregory offered a few for sale there after the IPP.

Daedalus in Walnut

Daedalus in Walnut

Measuring in at just under 3" x 3" x 3" my copy is made from Walnut with some very interesting grain running through the cubes. Gregory made the puzzle available in a number of different woods including Marblewood and a few others. Made by Maurice Vigouroux this is a beautifully crafted puzzle with bevelled edges on each of the cubes and a mirror smooth finish to the sides of the cubes, which I've learned myself can only be achieved through very accurate cuts.

The puzzle consists of a main outer frame, with 7 moveable pieces contained within that frame. What makes this rather different to your standard 3x3 cube is that the pieces have rods and tracks embedded in them, making a maze of sorts through which the pieces must be moved in order to remove them from the puzzle. Of course this is made more challenging because the internal maze changes as you move the pieces around, since the maze is part of the pieces themselves!

Now if that wasn't hard enough, Gregory makes things more complicated (and removes the use of Burr Tools by throwing rotations into the mix too. When you find out how to move the pieces around you find that you have created enough space to allow some very interesting rotations to take place, including some that completely change the orientation (top->sides etc) of some pieces, which will either get you closer to the solution or just further lost in the maze.

Growing arms and legs to get the first piece out

Growing arms and legs to get the first piece out

The puzzle doesn't remain in a cube shape for long, and appears to grow arms and legs as you manipulate the pieces. It took me just a few seconds to find the first piece which moved, and then several minutes more before I found the second piece which would move. After this several more hours were spent sliding pieces back and forward, and exploring rotations and really trying to understand what is possible in the constraints of the pieces. Lets just say that there's plenty of dead ends, blind alleys and red herrings (yes, this puzzle is like the Tardis ... much bigger on the inside than the outside) to keep you busy. It certainly kept me busy for more than long enough. Taking 22 moves to remove the first piece it's no small challenge. In total there's 22.8.7.2.2*.1 to remove all the pieces. (* 2 pieces are removed at this point) I'd call that a challenge!

Daedalus open

Daedalus open

After several hours spent over several days, I had this puzzle open, and all the pieces out. As you can see all the pieces are unique, and other than the tracks that make up the maze, there are no internal voids when closed. Returning the puzzle back to the starting point is every bit as much of a challenge. Since it had taken me a couple of days to open this one, I had forgotten the orientation of the pieces and even which pieces came out first, so it took another few hours to get this even close to being a cube again. All in all great value.

The gaps between pieces

The gaps between pieces

One small issue in my copy is that the outer frame which forms the largest of the pieces isn't perfectly square which does mean that the pins can be seen through gaps in the cubes. While it doesn't prevent the puzzle working in any way, and certainly doesn't make things any easier, it does slightly spoil the surprise of finding out that this is not an ordinary cube, by giving that little secret away early.

Overall I really enjoyed this puzzle, and I'm very happy to have a copy. I know I'll keep going back to this one as the challenge is tough but not impossible, and the range of movement that is achieved is excellent, making you want to go back to it time and again, simply because you can't believe that some much complexity can fit into a 3x3 cube.

Thanks for this one Gregory, it's a great puzzle, and I love it.

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