I haven’t really posted many hardware reviews on the site, mostly because, as a mediocre solver, I’ve tended to feel like my opinion and knowledge of cubes was not very valuable. But I do think I have a discerning eye (or, as it were, touch) and that, in some ways, an average cuber’s views are more interesting (as we are still wading our way through hardware and techniques). So, sheepishly I proceed….
I’m excited to have purchased a Camcuber Zhanchi SE, which is an OEM Dayan Zhanchi that has received Cameron Browns custom “tune up.” Cameron sells them at his shop for $39.99 (plus $5 more for the Special Edition). When I tried to buy it a month ago, the site listed it as sold-out. I emailed to see about pre-orders, and got a near immediate response. Cameron was working on a new batch, and they’d ship soon. So, I pre-ordered, got a shipping update about three weeks later, and the cube arrived two days after that. I was surprised to find it nicely wrapped in holiday paper with a bow and candy cane and all. A really nice touch over the holidays.
Before I get into the review, here’s an excerpt from the description page: Continue reading →
I wrote a few weeks ago about the custom stickers I had made at 123stickers.com. I was fairly pleased with the visual appearance of those stickers, but they were clearly of a different sticker stock than normal cube stickers. As I wrote in my review, the stickers were very thick (probably three times a normal sticker) and the UV coating was especially shiny. Also, I had printed only monochrome stickers (black/gray), so I wasn’t able to comment on 123stickers.com‘s full-color print capabilities.
When I posted to speedsolving.com, someone pointed me to Oliver Nagy’s sticker site. Oliver is based in Hungary, and apparently makes custom stickers for a lot of Euorpean cubers. I contacted Oliver through his site, and exchanged a few emails. He was extremely responsive and easy to work with. Here’s a link to the logo section of his shop. Continue reading →
UPDATE: I just received a set of color stickers from Oliver Nagy’s shop, and prefer them over the ones described below. Review here.
About a month ago, I wrote about my crazy idea of having custom center cubie stickers made for my cubes. Cubesmith offered that service at one time, and now doesn’t. Bummer. Not one to give up easily, I reached out to handful of sticker sites. The quotes I got back varied widely, from $19 to $625. Yes, six-hundred dollars! In (very partial) defense, those more expensive ones included one-time art, silkscreen fabrication, and die-cut tooling charges that would not appear on repeat orders. And those would have been exceptionally high quality stickers with precision screening akin to the Cubesmith logo stickers.
Alas, not willing to throw hundreds of dollars at this project, I settled on one of the cheaper options: 123Stickers.com. For $20.00 plus $4.95 in shipping, they quoted 180 custom-sized (0.61″ square with rounded corners) CMYK (multi-color) stickers on vinyl with a UV coating. Continue reading →
The rabbit hole deepens…. As I’ve become a fan of re-stickering my cubes with higher-quality, high-brightness stickers from Cubesmith, I haven’t wanted to add the Cubesmith logo to my cubes. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m generally not a fan of branding/logos. Leave the horsey off my “polo” shirts, please…. Same with my cubes, I suppose. That means that the white faces of my re-stickered cubes are ALL white, without that contrasting, easy to pick out center cubie — which means more hunting during inspection.
Wouldn’t it be cool, I thought, if I could create my own custom center logos? Turns out, Cubesmith once offered a custom logo printing service, but no longer does. There are some Youtube tutorials on how to create your own using tape, laser printer toner, etc. I tried those methods; they don’t work. Printing on clear mailing labels does sort of work, but the toner wears off quickly and it’s hard to shape the labels perfectly.
So, I’ve decided to order commercial custom stickers. I have some leads on sticker houses that can do stickers this small for relatively inexpensive rates (between $25-$50 for a good amount of the stickers). While I continue to search for exactly the right vendor, I mocked up a handful of logos. The “G” comes from my last name.
I have a couple favorites in the group, depending on if I do single color or full-color. In the meanwhile, here are a couple of them printed out on clear mailing labels:
As I posted last weekend, I’ve enjoyed the distraction of my QJ Pyraminx. It’s a fun puzzle, and the QJ turns easily with just the right amount of clickiness. My only complaint was that the stickers, while good quality, were pretty drab. The red was very dark and the green and blue were hard to distinguish in low light. Enter cubesmith. I re-stickered this morning with a set of bright/flourescent stickers, and am really happy with the results. (Strangely, the iridescent orange appears red in the video.) As long as I had the GoCam handy, I set it up and captured the process in time-lapse. Fifteen minutes compressed to 90 seconds:
The soundtrack is Thom Yorke‘s chilling solo rendition of, fittingly, “Pyramid Song,” from the October 26, 2002 Bridge School Benefit show (amazing cause!).
Just got a new 3×3 personal best (non-lucky) solve: 46 seconds.
(R U2') (R2' U') (R2 U') (R2' U2' R)
Only a half-second better than my last best time, but it definitely felt smooth and easy. I’m starting to believe the much-preached truth that consistent, slower turning is better than rushed turns punctuated by long delays of hunting for pieces. I was excited to encounter and easily apply a newly-learned OLL (#22) during the solve.