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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 #11: We are in Production!!!

Posted by Paul Boswell (Creator)
75 likes

That's right! We are IN PRODUCTION! I can't tell you all how good it feels to say that.

More precisely, I should say we are now all the way in production. We actually began production of the box, the book, the vacuum trays, and all the other non-plastic parts a little over a week ago. But now, every part of the game is ready to go.

Before I tell you the story, let me start by saying that since we have finally entered into production, we're going to charge credit cards for add-ons and pre-orders. So please make sure the credit card you used on BackerKit is current. We'll charge them all for any add-ons and pre-orders tomorrow.

Since the 3rd round of plastic parts...

You might remember the third round of plastic parts had a few serious problems. The biggest problem had to do with the ramps: the hole in the center was cut too small, making them not quite fit onto the pins on the board anymore. Since it's not possible to add metal to a mold (to make the holes bigger) it looked like we might have to remake the mold, delaying things even more.  

Speaking of molds, I thought you might appreciate seeing some pictures of the injection molds. I asked Sky (you'll hear more about him later) to take pictures of the molds while he was at the factory. Here's one of the molds:

Half of one of the molds...
Half of one of the molds...

 

...and here's the other half.
...and here's the other half.

This is called a "family mold" because it makes several different types of parts in one shot. Notice how there are multiple cavities for some parts. That way, they can make all the parts needed for one copy of the game in a single shot.

At first glance, the mold seems pretty simple, but they are surprisingly complicated. I found a great video on YouTube that explains more about injection molds. It's definitely worth the 10 minutes to watch it.

Here's another one of the molds:

One half of the mold for the gear bits...
One half of the mold for the gear bits...

See those shiny circles on each of the gear teeth? Those are actually pins that run all the way through the mold to the outside. They're called "ejector pins". After plastic has been injected into the mold and it's cooled, the mold is pulled apart, and those pins are pushed forward to pop the part out of the mold.

...and here's the other half.
...and here's the other half.

On the other side of the mold, you can see little dots sticking up on each of the gear teeth. They actually added those little pins after the first round to help reduce "sink" in the plastic when it cooled (more on that later).

The ramps were also made in an 8 cavity mold like the one pictured above. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of mold for the ramps. The problem was that the pins sticking out of the mold (that formed holes through the ramps) were all too small.

And here is where our hero enters. Sky is the name of our engineer at LongPack and he really stepped up. First, he spent a long time trying various approaches to solve the problem without making drastic (risky) changes to the mold. He was able to get 5 of the 8 cavities to work that way, which was good, but not good enough. So he decided to make one last-ditch attempt to fix the problem. If it failed, they'd have to remake the whole mold.

He attempted to cut out the little pins in the center of each of the ramps, and then replace them with new, slightly larger pins. I'm no machinist, but this seems extremely difficult to me. The pins he cut out looked a lot like this pin:

Little pins like these had to be cut out and replaced with slightly larger ones.
Little pins like these had to be cut out and replaced with slightly larger ones.

Cutting the pins out without damaging the surrounding metal seems difficult enough, but then somehow attaching a new pin in the correct position at the base of the hole seems ridiculously hard. And they had to get it perfect all 16 times (8 pins on one half of the mold and 8 pins on the other half).

The 4th round of plastic parts

Well, they did their best, and this morning I got the 4th round of plastic parts from LongPack, including the new ramps.

The 4th round of plastic parts
The 4th round of plastic parts

I opened up the box...

The new parts
The new parts

The Ramps

The very first things I tried out were the new ramps:

The 4th version of the ramp
The 4th version of the ramp

Along with the ramps, LongPack sent two sizes of counterweights for the ramps: 6.1 mm balls and 6.35 mm balls. They thought it might be worth trying out both sizes because they found in some cases it was more reliable with the 6.1 mm balls. In the following video, the ramps on the left side have 6.1 mm balls and the ramps on the right side have 6.35 mm balls:

 project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

First of all, YES!! The ramps work! The holes are just the right size now. Problem solved, and we didn't have to re-make the mold.

As for the counterweights, I'm planning to stick with the 6.35 mm counterweights because the balls move down in a slower, more controlled way, and I haven't run into any problems with their reliability, yet. 

Balance

Last time, we also had an issue with the balance of the ball release system. It needed a little more weight on one side to work 100% correctly. Unfortunately, adding that weight is not as easy as just adding a hunk of plastic to the mold. If you have too much plastic in one place, the inside cools slowly and the outside cools quickly, causing the inside to shrink more than the outside, leaving sunken spots on the surface of the plastic or worse, big voids. That's actually the main reason that the plastic stuff you buy isn't ever solid plastic, it's always made of thin walls with ribs - that way everything cools (and shrinks) at roughly the same rate.

To solve the balance problem, LongPack had the idea of sticking a washer that weighs just the right amount behind each of the levers at the bottom of the board. Here's a picture of the levers with and without the washer in place:

Levers with (right) and without (left) the washer
Levers with (right) and without (left) the washer

The washer solves the problem perfectly.

Production

So that's it, everything works (even better than in the prototype), and now we're in production! The plan is to begin the actual production of the plastic parts soon after workers return from Chinese New Year at the beginning of March. During the actual production of the plastic parts, which will take about a week, I'll fly out there and hopefully just be a fly on the wall, checking once in a while to make sure the quality control procedures are working. I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures of the factory and the process to share with you all.

I guess there will be little progress in manufacturing over the next month with Chinese New Year almost upon us, but one exciting thing is that in a couple weeks we'll be attending the New York Toy Fair! I guess it'll kinda be like Kickstarter 2.0, but for retail stores and distributors...and it's 4 days long instead of 30. We've been working hard on our booth the last couple months and today we finally loaded it onto a truck bound for New York. We are anxious and excited!

There it goes. We'll see it again in a couple weeks.
There it goes. We'll see it again in a couple weeks.

Also, thanks so much for your patience and words of encouragement. The molds took WAY longer than I expected to finalize, but we really appreciate how encouraging you all have been. It made a big difference for us.

Your friends,

Paul and Alyssa

Jack Barker, Spencer Skett, and 73 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Paul Boswell Creator on

      @Tom D and Micheal Hensley: Ha! When I was younger we had a turbo button. I never really stopped to think about the point of the turbo button. I just *always* made sure it was pressed down. :) I *love* the idea of that "Overclocking kit"! The 6.1 mm balls don't make enough of a speed change to do the trick, but maybe if they were made of plastic or aluminum instead of steel?

    2. Missing avatar

      Bernhard
      Superbacker
      on

      You guys rocked! I am very excited. Keep up the good work

    3. Missing avatar

      Tom D on

      Fantastic news. I can't overstate how much it means to be kept in the loop about these things :)

      I also want to +1 Michael Hensley's idea about including the 6.1mm counterweights as a turbo/overclocking option. Great idea, as long as not too pricey.

    4. Missing avatar

      Zu on

      Congratulations - great news! Thank you for all the detailed updates along the way, I really enjoy reading and learning from them. Best of luck at the Toy fair!

    5. Michael D. Hensley
      Superbacker
      on

      Thank you for the detailed progress updates! *This* is why I back KS projects: the development process is really interesting, and the excitement of creators who really care about the thing they've made is a joy to experience. I've backed projects that made me a bit sad when they were finally delivered -- they product was great, but the journey was so much fun!

      Suggestion: ship a bag of the 6.1mm counterweights and label it "Turbo button". Those of us who used pre-Pentium computers will find it hilarious! Alternative label: Overclocking Kit.

    6. Oglik Naes
      Superbacker
      on

      Thanks for the update and thanks for your attention to all the details! Looking forward to getting this out on the table!

    7. Missing avatar

      Gary Fredman on

      Congratulations Paul and Alyssa!!!!!!!!!!!!! What great news that production is underway. Super good news to bring with you to the New York Toy Fair too.

    8. Paul Boswell Creator on

      Thanks everyone! At the start of all this, I was hoping the injection molded version of the game would be even more reliable than the prototype. And now, it is! I feel really good about where it's at.

      I'll send an update in a few weeks about how Toy Fair went. It's going to be an interesting experience!

    9. Luds on

      Sounds good!

    10. Missing avatar

      Thomas Becker on

      Congratulations on being fully ready for production! It's been a long and arduous process, but has been an exciting one to follow. Best on your New York Toy Fair presentation. I'm looking forward to getting my own sample in the coming months and keeping my fingers crossed to see them on store shelves, too!

    11. The 4th Jawa
      Superbacker
      on

      Moving to production is pretty exciting news, we're yet again 1 step closer to getting it into our hands.

      I also love that you guys are getting out there to promote the Turing Tumble. Good luck at the New York Toy Fair.

    12. Catherine Villeret on

      Waou! I love living this adventure along with you guys! Thank you so much for the best curious-backer-friendly communication on Kickstarter! And a happy new year, the year of Turing Tumble ;) ...

    13. Justin Gramm
      Superbacker
      on

      Awesome news! Good luck in New York!

    14. Missing avatar

      Asaf Hamtzany on

      +1 to Robert Stewart comment.
      I don't ever expect Kickstarters to be on time. But I do expect to know what's going on, and you did a great job there!

    15. Robert Stewart on

      We appreciate how open and forthcoming you've been about the process and the issues that have been holding things up - many project creators wouldn't have said more than "there's been a delay in starting manufacturing" or even not being open about there being delays expected until the original delivery window is closing and people are complaining.

      Getting to see behind the curtain like this, and understand and appreciate why things are going to take longer than originally predicted rather than just having to accept unexpected delays, is a real treat (and a benefit of backing on Kickstarter).

    16. Missing avatar

      Mike Porter on

      I love the mold making process.
      My machining "yoda" is a mold maker...and I bow to their machining powers and ability to think backwards and inside out. Gives me a headache when I try,

    17. Missing avatar

      Mark on

      I'm very excited to see things going well. And I love the snowy picture as I am also from Minnesota. I'm getting really excited to get this in front of my girls and have them start solving the puzzles together. (OK...I'm excited for me too)

      Thanks for the update.