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Build mechanical computers powered by marbles to solve logic puzzles. Escape planet Eniac and discover how computers work.
Build mechanical computers powered by marbles to solve logic puzzles. Escape planet Eniac and discover how computers work.
4,198 backers pledged $404,071 to help bring this project to life.

Turing Tumble Progress Update #10: The Third Sample

Posted by Paul Boswell (Creator)

Hello friends,

On Tuesday, our third sample arrived. It took longer than we expected, partly because it took a while to find the right solution to the problem we had with the gear bits and partly because the changes to the ramp mold were tricky. I'll show your our solution to that later.

The third sample of Turing Tumble
The third sample of Turing Tumble

This was the big one. The parts should be colored correctly, textured, and the final problems we had with the last sample should be solved. Alyssa and I opened the box.

The game box had a new matte laminate coating, so there were no scuffs on the back of the box like last time:

The back of the box has no scuffs with the matte laminate coating
The back of the box has no scuffs with the matte laminate coating

And inside the box, the parts were indeed colored correctly. Here is the top tray with the board supports.

The top vac tray and paperboard separator, all put together correctly
The top vac tray and paperboard separator, all put together correctly

The board supports were black (as they should be) and the tray itself was made correctly. It has a nice, quality feel now.

Lift that top tray out of the box and you find the rest of the parts:

Under the top tray
Under the top tray

This will be more or less how it's packaged in production. There are only 10 ramps in the box there, but there will be 30 in the actual game, which will fill up that tray on the right side. And colors! Did you notice the beautiful colors? We were getting a little tired of working with dirty white and gray parts. That was refreshing.

Problems solved

Last time there were some important problems, and we hoped to solve them all with this sample.

Gears and Gear Bits

A gear bit and a gear
A gear bit and a gear

If you remember last time, we had a problem with the gear bits as a result of the low friction. When 3 or more gear bits were connected together, they worked perfectly, but when only two gear bits were connected together, they'd flip so fast that they'd bounce back the other direction. 

We thought long and hard about how to solve this problem. It was actually Cy from LongPack that came up with the best solution. His idea was to add washers behind the gear bits that add friction. The next day I went to the hardware store, picked up some rubber washers, placed them behind the gear bits, and viola! They slowed down the gear bits enough that they worked when only two were connected together! LongPack then sourced better looking washers. We'll include 10 of them with this version of the game. Here's what they look like:

Three "high-friction gear bit washers"
Three "high-friction gear bit washers"

So from now on, whenever 2 gear bits are connected, the washers must be placed behind the gear bits, but whenever 3 or more are connected, you don't need to bother with them.

The Computer Board

Remember last time, in the video, how a ball got stuck in that space under the lever? There was also an issue where the balls would sometimes roll on top of the levers to places they shouldn't be. Both of those problems are solved. I added little protrusions that stop those two things from happening:

I added a plastic in the circled places to more tightly control where the balls can go
I added a plastic in the circled places to more tightly control where the balls can go


Last time the crossovers sometimes fell off the board. Adding dimples to the smiles solved that problem:

The final version of the crossover
The final version of the crossover


Last time they forgot to add the lip that made it snap into the other pieces. This time it was there and it snaps nicely.

Remaining Problems

The Computer Board

Just one problem remains with the computer board: the factory still didn't remove all the extra plastic at the "parting line" (i.e., the place where the two halves of the mold come together). Here's an example of a hole with extra plastic where it shouldn't be:

One of the holes with too much extra plastic at the parting line
One of the holes with too much extra plastic at the parting line

They say this is an easy problem to solve, and that it will be completely fixed next time.

New Problems

It was great to see the old problems solved, but we were surprised and more than a little disappointed to find some new problems.

The Bit

The new bits
The new bits

I took a bit and tried to put it on the board, didn't fit! The hole was too small, which was strange since I didn't ask for any changes to that part. I asked LongPack about it and they said that the molders used a different temperature when they molded them this time, and as a result, the bits shrunk more than they should have.

This problem should be an easy fix, but it worries me. If this kind of thing happened during production, it would be disastrous. I'm preparing a list of quality control tests for the molders so that this kind of thing doesn't ever happen again.

The Levers

Like the bits, somehow the hole for the presser shrunk. 

The presser didn't fit anymore
The presser didn't fit anymore

The presser doesn't fit all the way in anymore. LongPack is looking into why this happened. Hopefully it is the same problem as the bits, and can easily be solved by changing the molding conditions.

The Ball Release System

The balance in the ball release system was slightly different this time. It caused the levers to only rise about halfway up after being pushed down. To solve the problem for good, we'll need to add between 0.5 g and 1 g of plastic to the side of the lever with the counterweight in it.

The Ramps

This is the most challenging problem. You might remember that last time we made some changes to the ramps to stop them from jumping off the board. The changes solved that problem, but in the process of making those changes, the hole in the ramp (where it fits onto the pins) was accidentally cut smaller.

The new ramp
The new ramp

With injection molding, it's relatively easy to add plastic to an existing part because it just means cutting away more of the metal in the mold. But you can't subtract plastic in most situations because you can't add metal to the mold. So when a hole is cut too small, you either figure out how to make it work or you remake the mold.

Remaking the mold would take a significant amount of time. It's not our first choice. Fortunately the hole is still big enough that it fits over most of the pins. We think we can make some changes that will allow the existing ramp work for the rest of the pins. LongPack is making a first attempt at those changes today and they'll have a sample to test tomorrow.

The silver lining is that the smaller holes slow the ramps way down. In the previous videos you might remember the balls shooting through the ramps. Now I think the speed is just right.

 project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with

We were able to make the ramps work in the above video (even though the holes are smaller than we'd like) by adding thin plastic washers behind the ramps. It lifted them up to a part of the pins that is slightly thinner.

Timing Update

So far, each round of changes has taken about one month to complete, so I think it would be safe to say that these changes will be complete at the beginning of February. Unfortunately that's also when Chinese New Year begins. So if these changes are truly the final changes, the new schedule looks roughly like this:

Feb 1: Final changes to the injection molds are complete. Production begins.

Feb 7: China starts shutting down for Chinese New Year

Mar 1: Workers return from Chinese New Year.

April 1: Production is complete. The games are loaded onto shipping boats.

May 1: The boats arrive and order fulfillment begins.

May 30: Order fulfillment is complete.

Thanks for sticking with us, everyone. It was discouraging to get this version of the plastic parts and still find significant problems. We're getting mighty close, though. We'll keep you posted on how this next (and hopefully final) round goes.

Thanks again,

Paul and Alyssa Boswell

Amy Fredman, Robin Thayer, and 64 more people like this update.


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    1. Nicholas Wang on

      Like many others, I'd like to thank you for these detailed updates on the pre-manufacturing process. It's actually very interesting to learn about it from someone who isn't already familiar working with manufacturers, it's like we're going on the ride troubleshooting with you. That said, I'm very impressed with how you've solved one problem after another. I can imagine if some of these problems weren't discovered and ironed out, us backers will get a flawed product. One thing I wonder about is how much all of these back and forth with LongPack is costing you. Would you mind sharing some of the numbers?

    2. Paul Boswell Creator on

      Quick update: The factory made a change to the ramps that lifted them off the surface of the board by about 0.5 mm. Basically they added a few protrusions out the sides that acted like washers. It was enough to make *some* ramps work, but some of the ramps still were too tight on some of the pins on the board. They considered altering the pins on the board, but decided against it because it would leave noticeable marks on the surface of the board. I'll learn more later when I talk with them tonight, but it sounds like what they're doing now is cutting out the pins in the mold that make the hole for the ramp. Then they're going to put new (slightly larger diameter) pins in their place. It sounds like this is the most likely to work, but also the riskiest. If it fails, they will start over and make a new mold for the ramps.

    3. Tony Dougherty on

      I agree with the comments below - I'm happy to wait on a quality product. What I appreciate more than anything is your communication and transparency. Other kickstarters could learn a lot from you. Actually, I'm quite enjoying learning about the design changes to fix issues - it's a side of the industry that we don't usually get to see. Thanks for explaining it all to us.

    4. Edward Vogel on

      Sounds good. I will have an extra serving of noodles on Lunar New Years to ensure your success.

    5. Paul Boswell Creator on

      @Aaron Eberhard: Yeah, I do think LongPack has been good. It's nice to hear that they seem good from your perspective, too. It was also interesting to hear about the 20-page guide. I'll probably end up with something like that in the end. I'm also planning to fly to Shanghai when they produce the plastic parts. I'll try and keep my nose out of things as much as possible and monitor whether the QC processes are working.

    6. Paul Boswell Creator on

      You guys are awesome. Thank you SO MUCH for the encouragement. On to round 4! It feels sometimes like it will never end, but we *really are* getting there. Writing updates helps me get better perspective on the progress we've made. It felt like round 3 was a bust, but really it was more like two steps forward, one step back.

    7. Nathan Morse

      I love your meticulous attention to detail and quality control. I could easily see people dismissing TT if it fell apart. If it works like, well, clockwork, then it will be incredibly addictive.

    8. Sean Sartell on

      Ditto on quality + transparency over timing. I love your commitment to delivering the highest quality product you can. It'll be worth the wait.

    9. Missing avatar

      Aaron Eberhard on

      Thanks for all of the videos and thorough explanation of the problems and solutions you're running into. I'm really enjoying the process, even though it's delaying the product, I feel you're truly doing a world-class job at QC and PR. Nicely done. I'm always as interested in the process as the result, so I'm okay with the delays because it feels like this kind of in depth analysis is part of the product I paid for, so thank you!

      As someone who is in the manufacturing business (CAM/Machining), I'm actually quite impressed by the quality of work & prototypes you're getting from LongPack. I know how fiddly injection molding can be and it seems like they have a pretty good handle on their end of things, but you're absolutely right that if you want a quality product received from an outside vendor, you have to control way more than you ever thought about when you initially conceived the project. It's not unusual for us in the manufacturing world to ship a 20 page book with a part specifying the processes to follow in addition to the inspection cycle and sometimes equipment to validate before it ever gets put on the boat. QC & fitment check sign-offs are normal, and often times will have an independent third party stop by for spot checks.

      Keep up the good work!


    10. Justin Gramm

      I concur with most everyone else posting thus far. Delays are always inevitable, but the transparency you have shown lets all of us see exactly why the delays are happening, and that makes a huge difference in the community response. I agree with Sylvain in that this project should be a use case in how to do communication with backers right. Letting us know exactly what is working and what isn't, and how you tried fixing it and what the current solution is has a way of not only keeping us informed but making us feel invested in the campaign. I am very much looking forward to getting mine, but I also have no problems waiting as long as needed for it to be right because the communication you have shared with us gives me nothing but confidence in both you and this project. Thank you for being everything a KS Creator should be!

    11. Noel Yap on

      Thanks sooo much for ensuring the quality of this product!

    12. Missing avatar

      Rankin Johnson

      I can't wait to get it. It's frustrating that it's not ready, but I can see how a mechanical computer would be fiddly, especially at the beginning of production. I definitely prefer that you take the time to produce a product that works consistently. Thanks for the detailed update.

    13. Sylvain Ethier on

      Hi Paul and Alyssa,

      First of all, I would like to thank you for keeping us in the loop. I backed so many project were frustration for delay take ridiculous proportion because of lack of communication. Every campaign should use your way of handling communication as best pratice. Regarding problems, I feel everytime you solve one there is a new one popping which is kind of normal but delays add up. I think you are doing such a good job at prototyping and you have such a good product in your hand that I expect you to design expansions or something cool based on your game. I would like to suggest that, if in the long run, all your learning leads to a second project, you could consider giving some kind of perks to backers of this project.

      In other words, if you realize that delays are inevitables, I think the majority here will agree to not sacrifice quality (and you seems to think the same) and one way to reward patience is to recognize that we were there during this learning process. I say that because often as delay add up, pressure increase, frustration increase and rarely I see creators thinking about solution outside the campaign and I just have a feeling that you have planned after :). I could be wrong but it any case. Awesome project, good luck with the next challenges! I really feel we are in good hands with you and really happy to be part of this journey with you.

    14. Paul Boswell Creator on

      @barjammar: I guess the ramifications of a stuck part are *slightly* greater in that case. :)

      Yeah, FaceTime is a good idea. We've been doing a lot of Skype. At the beginning, I thought that would be all we need, but it makes a big difference actually having the parts in my hands to test. The problems are often hard to diagnose. The day I get the sample, I spend all day with a calipers comparing the sizes of parts between iterations. When there's a problem, having the parts in hand also lets me try out different solutions, like adding the plastic washers behind the ramps, for instance. Or adding the rubber washers behind the gear bits.

      I'm going to check out that Windscale disaster video. Thanks!

    15. Missing avatar

      barjammar on

      I watched the story of the Windscale disaster last night on YouTube - “our reactor is on fire” which was having a similar problem with cans of uranium dropping down and occasionally being stuck or breaking at the back of the pile.
      Since we missed Christmas I don’t mind waiting for perfection. I suggest you have someone setting it up for you and running it on FaceTime before they send the near final iteration. I know some smart folks could do that. Be patient, and be perfect.

    16. Jamie Specht on

      Sorry to hear it, but keep it up. This is so cool

    17. Paul Boswell Creator on

      @Brian Cutler: I was wondering about that today, too. They've added pins into the molds for other purposes already. I'm not sure why this would be any different. I'll see what they say and get back to you.

    18. Paul Boswell Creator on

      @Tyler and Jeff: Thanks! I really appreciate it. We'll make *sure* it works right before we ship it. A mechanical computer that doesn't run itself is not much fun.

    19. Brian Cutler

      Great update - speed on the movement looks just right! In regards to Adding Plastic to the Ramp. Isn't possible to just replace the pin with a larger one in the tool that forms the hole? If the detail is in the solid you still should be able to add a pin to solve the problem. Again loved all the detail and work that has been accomplished.

    20. Missing avatar

      Jeff DeSurra on

      Thanks for all of your hard work on this to get everything right for the final product launch. I agree with the other backers: your transparency in this whole process has been great. I'd rather wait a little longer to get a great product rather than getting it rushed out with problems so that it meets an arbitrary deadline. So thanks for what you're doing! Keep it up!

    21. Missing avatar

      Tyler Auer on

      Paul and Alyssa,

      I appreciate the details and the care you are putting into this! I am really excited to get my TT, but I am also happy to wait longer to give you the time you need to make it the best it can be.

      Hopefully everyone is being patient!

    22. Paul Boswell Creator on

      @The 4th Jawa: Yeah, the slower speed was definitely a positive outcome of the mistake. LongPack is adding some material out the sides of the ramp to offset it from the surface of the board, which should have the same effect as adding those plastic washers behind the ramps like in the video. I think in the end, they'll need to add about 1 mm of material on each side. Of course, after they do that, the ramps will run into gears placed over them, so they'll also need to raise the gears by about 0.5 mm. Those two changes ought to do it, though.

      Getting these injection molds to work is a logic puzzle in itself.

    23. The 4th Jawa

      I really like the new speed on the ramps, makes it feel like the system is processing something ;)

      Don't worry about the delays to much, of course no-one likes delays, but I would prefer a great product to early delivery. And you guys have been very open about issue's and setbacks.

      Looking forward to the next update :)

    24. Paul Boswell Creator on

      @Tina: Ha! Yes, I'm not very good at managing my own expectations. Alyssa can tell you all about that. :) Good advice, though. Thanks for the kind words!

    25. Paul Boswell Creator on

      Thanks a lot, Robert! It most certainly has been an adventure. Hopefully these technical challenges will all be solved by the next update. I'm more than ready to begin production!

    26. Missing avatar

      Tina on

      I love all these updates! It's very interesting to follow you guys through the prototyping process. If I could offer some advice? Don't pin your hopes on the chance that the next round will be the final round. I'm being a bit pessimistic here, but my feeling is that it probably won't be (because that's just the nature of designing a new product) and if you're pining your hopes on it, it'll be very discouraging. Instead, maybe look forward to troubleshooting the new prototype and improving the components? Over the last few months, the Turing Tumble has become more and more impressive with all the small and not-so-small changes you guys have made to it.

    27. robert levy on

      Just wanted to say how much I appreciate your transparency on all of this. Projects where backers are "along for the ride" and get to learn things from the creator's experience facing and overcoming challenges are what I enjoy most about Kickstarter. Looking forward to a future updates and great product!