Daily snippet Nerd-out Corner NEW/Random

The Box of Opportunity (possibly)

The uninformed middle-range cuber faces many challenges, starting with homework then gear and working up to international lockdown.

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it, but I picked speedcubing again last year. Cubing: the dedicated/obsessive solving of Rubiks cubes and variations thereof. In particular, I’ve taken to the megaminx. Megaminx: a dodecahedron shaped twisty puzzle. Like the traditional 3×3 cube, but with twice as many faces.

I use CS timer, kind of a website for timing and averaging solves. And this is where I get into the actual story for today: the problem is, there’s this thing called Inspection. Before you start a solve, you have fifteen seconds to plan how you’re gonna do it. If you use the timer in CS timer, it automatically gives you inspection time; but most people prefer using the official method of timing (and then entering the results into CS), which is this:


This timer does not have any way of allowing for inspection. I’ve got no idea how to make sure I don’t go over the fifteen seconds. Just hope I don’t? Use a stopwatch? Is there some sort of extra function on the website?

Of course, I could just Google it. Obviously there is a common solution. Obviously I’m to lazy to type those few characters and hit enter. My solution? Spend hours over two days programming my micro:bit*to do the work for me. Micro:bits are simple, but coding is really not my game.

Technically, you’re supposed to cover the cube and start inspection the moment you see it. I tried two methods, both requiring me to cover the Mega with a box.

The first one was light-based. Basically, when you lift the box off the puzzle (and, now, the micro:bit which somehow is stuffed in there too), the change in light triggers a fifteen second countdown. And if I put the micro:bit back in the dark, it resets and is ready to do it all again.

This worked better than I thought at all possible in the simulation on the website I use to create the code, but for some reason the actual micro:bit sees all light as exactly the same: 100% super bright.

Method two is a bit more clunky, but it works. Now, the countdown is triggered by motion. I just need to take the box off and drop it on its side, so that the micro:bit ends up right-way-up. To reset it, I tilt the box the other way, so the micro:bit is upside-down.

Now, the box. That was the easiest part. I just took the box my megaminx came in, stuck down the flappy bits, and taped the micro:bit to it! It’s a bit of a squeeze to put the Mega back in, but hey! – it works! Erm, almost every time.

I still have no way of stopping the countdown, but that isn’t technically necessary as long as I keep an eye on it to make sure I don’t go overtime. It’s a bit hard to read the 2 digit numbers, because they scroll across the screen, but thankfully the only numbers that are really worth paying attention to are under 6.

Oh, and by the way, I said that lockdown was an issue to the upper-mediocre speedcuber. That’s because there aren’t any competitions, so we never get to find out if can call ourselves pretty decent cubers, good cubers, speedcubers.

If you’re a cuber who’s found other solutions, please please share them in the comments. And if you’d like to see the code, just ask! I doubt that any of the maybe six people who will see this know about micro:bits, but if any do and if you know what the problem with the light sensor is, please tell me.

*micro:bit is a little computerish robotty thingy you can program to do all sorts of things from your computer, like play games, communicate with other micro:bits and be a timer. There’re even kits to make it into a remote-control robot. You can code it with Microsoft Block Editors, Javascript or Python. Please check it out at the link if you’re not a pro coder but like to solve puzzles, design or invent. And no, this isn’t any form of ad.

By storiesnstuff22over7

Books, dogs & nerdy things

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