Sunday, 5 June 2011

DIY Twisty mods...aka Rebuilding a Mosaic Cube

A couple of weeks ago I splurged a bit (I know, dear reader, you’re struggling to imagine that, but bear with me!) on some twisty puzzles from Kayleb’s Corner – there were quite a few twisties listed so I took the opportunity to add a couple of unusual twisty puzzles to my rather limited collection (I hadn’t really been a huge fan of twisty puzzles). 

One of them was a Mosaic cube designed by Oskar van Deventer (yip, him again!) and produced by Mefferts. It’s a corner turning cube with an interesting design that creates pretty patterns when you play with it (Yes, I’m very shallow!) While it looked great, playing with it left you with the distinct feeling that it was about to disintegrate in your hands – which isn’t so great. Turns out this is reasonably well-known and documented out there in internet-land: it stems from the design of the central frame that leaves quite a lot of space free inside the cube, so pieces can slide and shift a bit more than they should in the wrong places. 

While I was reading Rob Stegmann’s latest updates, I noticed that he’s just rebuilt a Mosaic cube on a new centre and reported that it is was much improved – intrigued, I  read a bit more about it and discovered that Oskar has designed a new centre-piece and made it available via his shop on Shapeways, so I ordered one (and a couple of other things while I was there) and soon enough I had a firm black ball with 8 holes in it sitting on my desk staring at me waiting for some spare time to rebuild the Mosaic cube...

Knowing I was going to have some time to rebuild it on Saturday morning, I started taking the cube apart on Friday evening – the hardest part is popping off the caps on the corner pieces – in the end I realised the easiest way was to prise them off bit-by-bit from each of their three corners using a flat bladed screwdriver ... most of them popped off fairly easily, some were real sods to lever off without stabbing yourself with a screwdriver (once too many in answer to your next question!).  

The corner caps are aligned with three little pegs mating into three holes on the corner pieces. Some of those pegs will break off during this process – but the caps need to be glued on anyway, so don’t worry if that happens.  Once the corner caps are popped off, a Philips screwdriver will unscrew the corner pieces and the puzzle effectively disassembles itself. 

Screwing the corners into the new centre is a piece of cake and everything fits absolutely perfectly. Once the corners are screwed in, you can assemble edge and centre pieces (I found it helpful to sort them into the right layout and then work from one face to the next, building up one edge at a time). The only slightly tricky bit in the assembly process is inserting the last edge piece, but I found that unscrewing the final corner allowed enough play to squeeze in the last edge piece without the rest of them falling out... from there you need to adjust the tension on the corners to taste and pop the corner caps back on again with a little glue. 

End result – a Mosaic cube that looks as good as new, but works a lot better!  

Thanks to Rob for writing this up and telling us about it – it’s transformed my Mosaic cube from a display-only piece into a nice working puzzle. If you have an unmodified one lying around, get the new centre and rebuild it – you won’t regret it!

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