Maru CX3 / 60-Second PLL Time Attack

It’s been a little while since my last post — that monster parity article that still has my head hurting.  I’ve got a couple things in the works, but I put them aside when I got a Maru CX3 the other day.  I’m really impressed with the cube, and I found my turn style and speed improving with it.  On a whim, I thought I’d give a sub-60 PLL Time Attack another go with the CX3.  I came awfully close, at 60.65 seconds.  Here’s the video (with apologies for some of the out-of-frameness):

(music: Lettuce, “Outta Here”; cube: Maru CX3 w/ stock stickers)

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Clearly Zhanchi

clear-zhanchiI discovered a couple months ago on the speedsolving.com forum that Dayan made a small run of Zhanchis in clear plastic around April 2011. They were prototypes, and only about 100 were made. A few vending sites, such as 51morefun.com and lightake.com list them, but as sold-out at this point. Given the rarity, they’ve been hawked on Ebay for over $800!?!

I’ve always dug clear products. Getting to see the inner-workings of intricate machines is fascinating. So, the chance of getting my favorite puzzle in a translucent model was intriguing. The rarity of it made it that much more so. But I wasn’t going to drop 8 Franklins for what is otherwise a $12 puzzle!?!

I eventually found someone on the speedsolving.com forum who was willing to part with a new DIY kit at a reasonable price. I received it a couple weeks ago and finally got a chance to assemble it. Here’s a video:

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DaYan 6 (PanShi) Announced

I’m a big fan of Dayan cubes, and, for 3×3, use them exclusively. For a while, I thought the Zhanchi (Dayan 5) was the bee’s knees — in all incarnations (white, black, stickerless, 42mm, 50mm, 55mm, or 57mm). Recently, I’ve revisited my Guhong v2 — Zhanchi’s older brother, which has a somewhat blockier/thicker/clickier feeling. Cubing forums are riddled with hyperbolic, vitriolic debate on which is better. Personal preference, I’d say. Both are damn good.

There’s long been talk about a Dayan 6 model that would combine the best traits of the Guhong and Zhanchi (and even their older brothers, DaYan’s Lingyun and Lunhui). Based on this speedsolving.com thread, which gathers pics and quotes that DaYan’s designer (Daqing Bao) posted to the MF8 forum, the rumors now appear true. In fact, pre-orders are now being accepted at 51morefun.com.

Pics, Videos

Here are some pics that circulated a few days ago as part of the original threads:

And here is a video slideshow Continue reading

Review: Camcuber Zhanchi SE

cz-blackI 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 Brown’s 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

36 seconds (on-video PB)

I just got my fastest recorded (on video) 3×3 solve of 36 seconds. I’ll cut to the chase, and put the long-winded commentary below the media content for once. Here’s the video:

(music: “The War” from the Duplicity soundtrack; cube: properly Lubixed white 57mm Dayan Zhanchi with Cube Depot light matte sticker set)

At 36.10, this was not my fastest 3×3 solve; Continue reading

28 seconds

My first sub-30 solve: 28.28 seconds!  Pretty Lights’ “Finally Moving” played in the background.

Clearly, this is well outside of my ~40 second average. Even with the benefit of the 28-second solve, the session average was over 40 seconds. Everything just came together easily: I visualized the cross perfectly and performed it in six moves; my four F2L insertions went off without a hitch and with minimal hunting; and I knew the OLL (#23).

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I got lucky with a PLL skip, which probably saved me 4 seconds. But, even if you throw in a 2-look PLL, I should have been below my previous personal best of 34 seconds (with best-recorded of 39 seconds).

I guess my recent F2L work is paying off!

Eppur Si Muove (Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Dyed Cubes)

Yes, I know this is a LONG post. It really needs the backstory to contextualize (and justify) the cube-dying project. If you’re here for the DIY only, skip to the jump.

Backstory — The Force Cube

I’ve been cubing for about seven months now, and, in so doing, have gotten four friends to take up cubing. The five of us have spent our fair share of time on amazon.com and comparing notes, and have each come to favor Dayan Zhanchis as our go-to speed cubes. No real surprise there; many consider Zhanchis the gold standard. The surprise is more subtle. Of the three varieties of Zhanchis (black, white, multi-colored unstickered), we each rank them in exactly the same order: first, the unstickered; second, white; third, black. There’s just something “softer,” smoother yet clickier, more controllable about the unstickered cubes. We guessed that the matching preferences were the result of either small differences in the plastics or a shared placebic hallucination.

Slightly confounded, I found validation in this speedsolving.com thread about the “Force Cube.” Turns out another cuber, AL60RI7HMIS7, also had a hankering for stickerless Zhanchis. Realizing that they weren’t competition legal (the piece edges reveal the color of a face pointing away from you), she came up with a clever solution: Buy six stickerless Zhanchis, disassemble, and then reassemble, creating six different Zhanchis — each of a single color of plastic (read: competition-legal), and each made of the stickerless plastic that many some cubers prefer. Those solid colored cubes could then be stickered like any other cube. BRILLIANT! The only rub was that six Zhanchis would generate only one white cube, with five “byproduct” cubes in undesirable colors. Of course, none of the six were black.

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