Sunday 24 March 2019

Ken’s Pushbutton Burr

Ken Irvine’s been designing unusual cube assemblies for a good few years now… mostly they’ve been lovingly designed by hand (because BurrTools isn’t that useful at solving assemblies that rely on rotations – and a lot of Ken’s designs certainly involved rotations – that, or taking a step into the next few dimensions and back again!). 

Last year he entered his Pushbutton Burr in the Design Competition and I was lucky to snaffle one from Tom Lensch who’d made a few extra copies just in case anyone wanted one.

Tom’s usual build quality yells out loud and clear and if you hadn’t spotted it from the outsides, there’s a confirming little logo on the first piece you get to remove… it is beautifully made. 

The unusual feature on this design is the dark spots on all of the sides, almost opposite one another on each side, ten of them…

Sit down and fiddle with it and you find that you can’t pull any pieces apart -  but if you push on the buttons, they’ll move – there was a large clue in the name!

Move enough of them and you’ll find you begin moving the lighter pieces and indeed disassemble the whole thing into a disorderly pile of oddly shaped pieces – except for those five pairs of spots formed of five offset rods that interfere with one another through the centre(-ish) of the assembled puzzle. 

Mix ‘em up and puzzle a little and you’ll find you can figure out where the light bits need to go with a little trial and error, but the fun bit is introducing all of those keys at the right time in the right direction so that you can continue to get everything back into the 5*5*5 cube that you started with.

Once again, Ken’s produced a fun puzzle – not horribly difficult, possibly even within reach of absolute muggles – but definitely in the “fun-range” for mere mortal puzzlers like me-self.

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