Two sided hex maze

A post here from a few months back got me fiddling around with mazes… after a few prototypes (and a lot of “too busy for crafting” weeks) I came up with a version I’m pretty happy with.

The general recipe goes something like this:

  1. Two mazes from mazegenerator.net. Tip: turn on showing the solution to the maze and re-generate a few times till you get one you like. I figure a maze toy like this benefits from having a solution path that winds its way around instead of taking a more direct path.

  2. Some stroke and boolean operations in Affinity Designer to make a solid piece for the walls of the maze. Note the cutout at the top — that’s the “start” placed by the maze generator, which is the same for both mazes.

  3. Material sandwich! The two mazes are :proofgrade: Thick plywood, about 5mm thick, which gives enough room for the ~4mm bead to roll when sandwiched between two solid pieces. In between the two mazes goes a piece of :proofgrade: Medium ply, with two holes cut through — one smaller than the bead, so it has a place to rest when you solve the maze and get it to the center, and one larger so the bead can fall between the two maze layers at the “start” point.

  4. Windows: to keep the overall thickness down, I used thinner-than-PG clear acrylic from the scrap bin at my local TAP Plastics. (Probably about 1mm.) It’s supposed to be laser safe, but it sure stinks more than PG does when cutting. Maybe I’ll try instructables next time, or maybe PG will eventually have Thin acrylic…

  5. Keeping it together: a hexagonal friction-joint box from the boxes.py generator, with a little bit of tweaking so that the top and bottom pieces have a cutout that lines up with the maze walls. To make sure I got a solid fit, I cut the rest of the pieces and clamped them together before measuring a thickness/height to use for the generator. (And made sure the “radius” for the generator is a tight match for the maze/wall/window sandwich.)

And that’s it — holds together pretty solidly with no glue. The 6- and 11-year-olds approve, so maybe we’ll have to make more sometime. I’d submit it to the gallery, but a) there’s the non-PG material for the windows, and b) what fun is it if everyone’s making the exact same maze? :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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What’s the ball made of?

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Looks like a cool passtime for kids - like me!
Nice work. :sunglasses:

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The ball is a bead that’s been among my wife’s craft supplies for some time, so I don’t know its original source. Ball bearings or buckshot or whatever you can find might work just as well.

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Very cool!!

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This is really cool! Heading to jump down a rabbit hole now on maze generating! :nerd_face: :nerd_face: :nerd_face:

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Oh, I like it, really like it! I’ll have to make some along those lines. I can think of several seven year-olds who would like it.

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That looks like a lot of fun to play with! I bet you could sell a lot of them to any place that has waiting rooms - like doctors offices, dentist offices… Would be a lot more fun than looking at magazines while they wait. Just a thought. :slight_smile:

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What a genius way to think your way through the project and then execute it!

So cool! ANOTHER project to add to my list…

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excellent work, both the design and execution.

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Very fun. This is a great use of the maze generator!

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Well, this might be more of a prototype after all. Between the all-friction-fit design and the cutout (note top of the pink image above), the maze-wall layers are just a bit too flexible — they can get bumped out of alignment, and then the pressure from top and bottom layers holds them that way.

I’ll be looking into whether to salvage this with a re-cut middle layer (with engraved channels to keep the walls in place) or adding some glue after all. Next time, though, the outer wall of the maze layers needs to be more solid.

The difference in smell is likely due to cast vs extruded acrylic.

Ah, good to know.

Following up once more — my plan of using a re-cut middle layer worked pretty well. With engravings to seat the maze walls, everything holds together nicely with the friction joints. Now I’ll have to see which variation works best for the next maze. Or if I should try another kind of maze entirely. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: