Lets start at the beginning with the:

**3x3x2** or **Domino Cube**

Hasbro released a computer game, Rubik’s Games, back in 1999. I remember playing with a computer simulation of the 3x3x2 before playing with a physical version.

The first version I’ve seen of the 3x3x2 was the Domino Cube, released by Rubik in 1983. These rare puzzles would pop up on ebay and fetch $400 back in the 90′s. I picked up my first domino cube in 2005(ish) for $50 as more and more started resurfacing. Unfortunately, now the puzzle is being knocked off and recreated by various vendors.

Back in the late 90′s early 2000′s, a member of the Twisty Puzzles forum posted a cool thread about creating 2x2x3 and 3x3x2 cuboids by attaching regular sized 3×3 pieces to a keychain cube. Many brave puzzle builders jumped on building their own cuboids by hacking their cubes apart, I too attempted to build one but mine didn’t come out all that well and ended up being fragile and falling apart…

But enough history, lets get to solving!

This step is fairly easy and does not require algorithms to complete. Basically, distribute top corners to the top, and bottom corners to the bottom.

This can be completed in a few turns.

**2. Permute corners**

I generally start of by solving the top 4 corners. Shuffling these around is pretty easy. Sometimes the bottom 4 pieces fall into place, but sometimes they don’t. This is the alg I use to finishing the bottom corners and it swaps the Down Back Left corner with Down Back Right corner:

DBL <-> DBR **R F (D’ F D R)x2 D’**

Sometimes you may need to use the move twice.

**3. Swap Edges**

This alg swaps the Down Left Edge piece with Up Right Edge piece:

DL <-> UR **R (D2 F)x3 R**

After using this alg multiple times, the puzzle should be solved.

Now that you should have a good grasp of solving the 3x3x2, you can apply the same algorithms to higher order cuboids. Let’s move up to the 3x3x4.

**3x3x4**

The 3x3x4 is one of my favorite puzzles. I picked this one up at Cube4you.com as a DIY kit. Assembly is super easy and the puzzle is smooth turning and a joy to play with.

The cool thing is there isn’t much new to learn when solving this puzzle. You can apply the same algs from the 3x3x2 to the 3x3x4. The added middle layers lead to some different situations but its pretty easy to work these out.

Before we begin, lets first confirm notation. With the added middle layers these leads to some new turns. Lets note the 2 middle layers together as “M” where “Mu” is the Upper Middle layer and “Md” is the Down Middle layer. A lower case “u” or “d” means turn the Upper half or lower Half of the puzzle.

Alright! Lets jump into a solve!

**1. Solve middle layer corners**

I start off by placing 3 corners in the Mu layer. Usually the 4th piece ends up in the Md layer. I position the pieces so the FRMu slot is where my 4th piece needs to go. I then rotate the Md layer until the FRMu piece is in the FRMd slot. Then I execute this algorithm:

Now with the Mu Layer solved, it is time to fix the Md Layer. Sometimes the Md Layer is already solved, other times it requires pieces to be swapped. The cool thing is we can use the same alg from the 3x3x2 to fix these pieces.

This algorithm swaps the “B Md R” and “B Md L” Corners. With this algorithm you can complete the first step.

**2. Distribute and Solve outer corners.**

I start off by putting all my white corners on top and yellow on the bottom. I usually place my white corners in the proper places right away. You can do this without messing the middle layers by rotating the U face, D face, and restricting to the R face. With the white pieces solved on top, this will leave you with the yellow corners in either a solved or unsolved state. Again, similar to the 3x3x2, you can use the same algorithm.

If you are like me, you like to combine steps when possible. The cool thing is you can swap the Md corners and D corners at the same time:

The nice thing about combining steps is it won’t distort middle corners. However if you execute the alg that only swaps the D corners, you may end up with a middle layer parity case which leads to the next step.

There are 2 cases that may come up. One is a 3 corner swap the other is a 2 corner swap. Here are the algs:

Once you have the corners all in place it is time to move on to solving the edges.

This is my favorite part of the solution. Much like combine steps in 1 and 2, I focus on placing both middle edges and outer edges at the same time using the same alg from the 3x3x2 method.

Executing this algorithm will swap the MdL Edge with the MuR edge as well as the DL edge with UR edge. You will need to do setup rotations to effectively complete this step. I find this algorithm fun to perform.

Repeat using the alg to complete the puzzle.

You may also change the “d”s in the alg to “D” to only execute the swap of the DL and UR pieces. Warning, this will require fixing the middle corners again as it will swap the LF corners with BR corners in the M layer.

So now with the puzzle complete you can see how easy it was to implement the same algs from a 3x3x2 to a 3x3x4. The same goes to solving higher ordered 3x3xN puzzles. I use the same solution to solve my 3x3x5 and 3x3x7. The only changes is that these puzzles actually function as a 3x3x3 cube. This shouldn’t be much of a challenge as you can combine your 3×3 experience as well as this method for the 3x3x4 to complete the higher ordered variants.

In closing, this is a basic method and not a speed-cubing method. Though you can use it to solve the 3x3x2 and the 3x3x4 fairly quick there are probably faster solutions with more algorithms to learn depending on how seriously you take your speed-solving. Thanks for checking out the article, I hope it helps, feel free to leave feedback and questions in the comments below.

Many puzzle enthusiasts have probably already jumped on the Helicopter Cube which was released over a year ago. Solving the Helicopter Dodecahedron doesn’t offer much more of a challenge other than more pieces to place and the newly added inner edge pieces. Though, this may not be a new addition for you if you had a chance to play with TomZ’s Curvy Copter variant.

I picked one of these up awhile back, though the Shapeway’s material is gritty and feels light and unstable, the puzzle is quite sound and beautifully designed. Check out Tom’s Curvy Copter and other puzzles on Shapeways.com

You can see how on Tom’s Curvy Copter cube there are added inner edge pieces that you won’t find on the normal helicopter cube. Don’t panic though as they just require slight consideration when solving and doesn’t really complicate the solution process.

End game in the puzzle is also quite easy as you can use pretty much the same algorithms as the normal Helicopter Cube. Some algs may need slight alterations due to the pentagonal faces, similarly as one would alter certain algs from a 3×3 to a megaminx.

The second puzzle I picked up was the Starminx. This puzzle is very beautiful, but turning was pretty stiff upon opening. This is the Corner turning variant of the Starminx family. I picked up both a white and black version but I favor the white as the colors seem to appear to be more vibrant.

The puzzle solves similarly to a dino/rainbow cube or the edge pieces of a rex cube. It is also similar to that of the pyraminx as the inner corner pieces are fixed to the core and reveal the placement of the edges.

Solving this puzzle is fairly straight forward and one can widdle down the entire puzzle using the reduction process. One might encounter an odd orientation case but “walking” an edge piece around an entire face will fix this issue.

Other than that, the puzzle doesn’t offer much challenge and will probably take you longer to sticker than to solve. I would like to get my hands on either a face-turning or edge-turning starminx someday, as they may prove to be more challenging.

The final puzzle I picked up was more for novelty sake. Mefferts released their line of bandaged cubes. I picked up the original bandaged cube just for kicks as I’ve wanted one since 2003, where I got to play with one at the Rubik’s World Championships. At one of the parties at the hotel, one troubled cuber was complaining about how difficult the puzzle was, after about 20 minutes of playing around with it, I handed the puzzle back to him solved.

In later years, I moded some 3×3′s into bandaged cubes and gave them to some friends but never actually kept one for myself. Plus Mefferts had been out of stock of the item for so long I figured I’d jump on it while it was available.

The key to the puzzle is the lone corner piece as this piece will unlock the faces that can be turned. All other corner pieces have been fused to edge pieces which makes the puzzle easy to bind. Knowing these limitations, you mainly have a one way street with moving the pieces around until you get them sorted into a formation that allows 3 faces to be turned.

All you need is a bit of time and some patience and you can trial and error your way through the puzzle.

As always, if you need more help, or explanations of any puzzle, feel free to hit me up and I will try and create a walk-through. Happy cubing

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These videos reference an earlier post with the Walk-through for solving the Master Skewb: http://jakerueth.com/blog/?p=293

Solving the Edges:

Solving the Inner Corners:

]]>One of pieces “Catch a Big One”, has been getting some big exposure online. It was featured as a Daily Deviation on DeviantArt.com! This kept me busy with the flood of comments and emails for quite some time. The piece was also noticed by, Artist and Director of Community Operations, Fiona Hooley, who selected this piece to be included in the Community section of Digital Artist Magazine (Issue 19 – page 18).

With all the people I’ve met and conventions I’ve been traveling too its been interesting because some people keep popping up. John “Arty” Collins, from Arty Dawgz Photography and WeirdReview.com is one person I keep running into. Arty travels around to conventions and various events as part of the press and photographs the events. At several cons this past year we keep crossing paths or he comes and visits my booth which is awesome. Below is cool shot he got of me at my table.

Arty also featured me in a really nice article on his website. Read the article

If you are into Anime and comics, Arty has collected several autographed items from voice actors which he is giving away as part of a contest. Rules are simple, just log in and post a comment on his articles of the particular item you want and you have a chance to win! If you couldn’t make it to convention here’s your chance to get some autographed swag right to your door.

Here is a list of what he has as prizes:

1) 2 autographed photo collages of Vic Mignonga.

2) 2 autographed photo collages of Tiffany Grant.

3) 2 autographed photo collages of Quinton Flynn and Chris Rager.

4) 2 autographed photo collages of Micah Solusod and Pam Dougherty.

5) 2 autographed photos of Robert “Lord Zedd” Axelrod.

6) 2 photos autographed by four members of the New Class cast.

7) A “TENNEY CREEPS ME OUT.” T-shirt signed by four members of the cast, including Tenney himself! (I may be able to con them into sending me another!)

]]>The Professor Pyraminx was by far, way more fun to play with. After playing with it for a few minutes in the Post Office parking lot, I came up with a fairly decent method for solving the puzzle. It may not be the best or most efficient method, but it gets the job done. Here is how I solve the Professor Pyraminx:

You can really do this step whenever you feel like it, but I generally like to do this first. Just simply rotate the caps to align with the adjacent color. You do not need to worry about the global orientation of the corners at this point.

This step is pretty straight forward. Simply match the center triangles. You can use a similar style as solving the 4×4 centers.

This is where it starts to get a little tricky. You need to pair the 5 edge pieces together without destroying the center pieces. This can be easily done by using a similar style for pairing edges like the Rubik’s 4×4 or 5×5 cubes. I, personally, like to make pairs of two outer adjacent pieces, then sandwich the center edges later.

Now with all your pairs together, you can solve the puzzle like a skewb. Imagine the blue sections as the corners and the red areas as the centers. I would highly suggest learning how to solve a skewb before tackling this bigger puzzle. There are some odd scenarios that will come up due to the different orientation of pieces. Steps 5 and 6 deals with these special cases.

Occasionally an odd situation may appear where 2 edges need to be orientated correctly or “flipped”. You’ll see this case on the regular Pyraminx as well as any skewb mod that has a specific center rotation. Here is an algorithm that will solve this situation:

This is the last possible situation that you may encounter. Sometimes 1 or 2 of your tips will need to be rotated. This is pretty easy to fix using a “SUNE” type alg. Here is the algorithm for those unfamiliar with the “SUNE” alg:

And that should do it. As always feel free to post any questions you may have. I know my solutions are fairly vague at times but it helps if you know how to solve the basic puzzles prior to tackling larger puzzles like this. Good luck and happy puzzling!

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Well, I got my new Mosaic Cube from Mefferts today. Honestly the cube, though manufactured professionally, is still highly unstable. The puzzle exploded several times on me after the first couple turns and isn’t very easy or fun to maneuver. Which is too bad, as for a puzzle, this is a fun one to solve.

My first attempt, before the cube exploded, was to solve the corners, solve the edges, and then solve the centers. But when the pieces went flying I learned that the centers aren’t floating pieces but actually joined together to the centers on the adjacent sides. So after seeing the mechanics I realized it might be easier to solve corners, then centers, and then the edges. This solution proved to be quite efficient, and I had the puzzle solved before leaving the post office parking lot.

The Mosaic Cube, turns in a unique way where you can turn 2 edges deep or 1 edge deep.

The one edge corner turn will be useful as it doesn not effect the inner center pieces.

This is how I go about solving this puzzle:

**Step 1 - Solve the Corners.**

**I start off by solving the corners. This is pretty simple as the corners can never move, they are stationary, they simply rotate.**** **

**Step 2 – Solve the Centers**

**Next step is to solve the Center pieces.**

Each center square is not an individual piece but joined to the center on the adjacent side.

Knowing that the centers are joined, means you can position them amongst the corners and solve similarly like the “Dino Cube” or “Rainbow Cube”.

**Step 3 – Solve the Edges**

**This final step is also pretty easy****. **You can manuever the edges easily without destroying the solved centers and it is fairly easy to come up with your own algs for solving. You can use similar concepts like the “SUNE” from the 3×3 cube. Or you can use an easy 4 alg move similar to what we used to solve the rex cube, or pyraminx/pyraminx crystal. Here is one easy alg that I’ll share with you:

**Good luck, and have fun with this new puzzle! Let me know if you have any questions while solving
**

I was doodling to some tunes in the Brickhaus Cafe in Jefferson, WI again, and a song popped up on my Zune. I haven’t listened to it in several years. The band is called “The Death Set” and the song is titled “Negative Thinking”. Its probably my favorite song on the album but the song got me thinking how important it is to have positive outlets to vent our negativity.

Whenever I feel bad, or feeling stressed, I block away a set amount of time to draw. I feel a million times better after a drawing session and not only did it make me feel better but I’ve been productive too!

Several of my friends have told me, “Jake, thats cool that you have that kind of outlet, but I am not that lucky. I can’t draw!”

Well, drawing is just one of many outlets one could choose. There is so much one could choose from, cooking, exercising, woodworking, sculpting, photography, music, etc. Plus the more you do something the better you get.

So hopefully when you are feeling down next time, pick up a pencil, or a hobby of some sort. It has helped me and I know it can help you too.

Below is the final rendering of the sketch. I used Adobe Illustrator CS5. Please check out more of my work on DeviantArt!

]]>I was at the Brickhaus Cafe, in Jefferson, and while cranking up some tunes and sipping a chai latte, I doodled this out. It was a silly idea where in this world there are these water creatures and they are so timid and afraid that when the break the surface of the water they are paralyzed by fear. There are these land creatures that realize these water creature’s fear and use that to turn the creatures into their homes.

The little guy on the tongue in the bottom right corner is fishing for an addition to his cool home.

Once I finished the doodle, I sat back in my chair and thought, “Wow, this sort of parallels my current living situation.”

I’ve been on the hunt for a new place to live and I fell in love with an apartment in the old Jefferson Middle School. They built a new Middle School several years ago and someone transformed the old school into apartments. The little apartment they had available still even had the old chalkboard in it. Every apartment was unique and creative and cool. After filling out the paperwork the apartment contacted me and said, “We are sorry, we forgot to mention that these apartments are income restricted, and you are not eligible to live here.”

After hearing the news, my dreams were crushed. I wish finding a new home was as easy as casting a line and catching a monster.

I had 2 livestream sessions coloring and vectoring this piece up and it turned out super cute.

]]>WOW! I haven’t been this excited in a long time! I hopped on EBAY And found these guys and before I knew it they were on my doorstep. I’ve been wanting to play with one of these for years, and even contacted some puzzle builders to build me one, but no one got back to me. These puzzles are great! They turn very smooth and are very well constructed.

The normal skewb was one of my favorite puzzles and even held the unofficial world record for quite sometime. My record was finally broken not to long ago.

The Master Skewb offers a brand new challenge and proved to be a bigger challenge than I expected. It also has some distinct similarities as the Rex Cube and the Face Turning Octahedron. After about 2 hours of trial and error I was able to solve the puzzle. I have worked out a couple simple algorithms to get the job done.

First things first, we need to clarify some notation. Here is a simple sheet I created to help you out:

So now you have a scrambled puzzle, where do you start?

Sorry folks, but I am not going to show you how to do this. There are plenty of tutorials on the web showing how to do this part.

When you finish step one your Master Skewb should look like this:

This part is fairly easy and you should only need to use the algorithms above only 3 or 4 times to place all 12 of the edge pieces.

When you finish this step your Master Skewb should look like this:

This is perhaps the most time consuming portion of the puzzle. There are 4 inner Corners on each face that need to be correctly placed. Using the 3 cycles above you should be able to place them effectively. This also may require some set up turns to get your piece in place for the 3 cycle. Just remember that after you complete the alg to undo your setup turns and you shouldn’t have any problems.

After this step the puzzle should be solved!

The cool thing is you can apply these same algorithms on both the Rex Cube and the Face Turning Octahedron!

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The molded figures give the cube a unique tactile texture which adds to the character of the puzzle. Each sides supposedly represents the different elements. The 3×3 puzzle is also quite small compared to a normal 3×3. Both are beautiful puzzles and I’m glad to have them in my collection.

The other packages contained some of Mefferts newer releases, The Volcano, DaYan Gem, and the 14 faced Skewb Hex. All these puzzles are fairly easy to solve and don’t offer any real challenges as far as solving goes.

I must admit the Vulcano is the coolest out of the 3. Its fun spin off of the standard pyraminx and turns in an interesting new way.

The triangular tips rotate along with the individual faces.

The DaYan Gem, I felt, was the weakest puzzle of the batch. The solutions is so easy the puzzle basically solves itself. The puzzle can jumble into some unique shapes but I haven’t explored it any further.

The DaYan Gem is an Edge turning puzzle making it similar to the Helicopter cube.

Finally the Skewb Hex doesn’t offer any new challenge. If you can solve any of the other skewb puzzles, this one is a piece of cake. It is a beautiful shape and I do like their color scheme, but if you are looking for a new challenge with the skewb mechanics, I’d leave this one on the shelf for display.

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