Monday 11 July 2011

Balls of steel

Back at Xmas 2009 my parents bought me a gold coloured NeoCube for one of my presents and I've had many fun hours since then playing with it and making things out of it. If you're unfamiliar with it, they're simply 216 magnetic spheres that originally form a cube (6x6x6), but you can shape into loads of things as they're incredibly magnetic. So much so that you have to actually be really careful not to get it too close to anything electronical incase you fry it!

Last week I joined Google+ (It's weird isn't it? I don't think I'll be ditching Facebook anytime soon though...) and my friend Tyrel posted some pictures on his account of things he'd done with two of these cubes. I've long since wished I had more so I could make bigger items and as you can imagine I was a bit jealous. Lately I've noticed that less and less people sell the gold coloured one I have (in the same size) and since I'd want matching ones I decided that I should proably buy another set now because I might not be able to in the future. So I bought 3 more sets! :)

You can see my original cube in the top-right corner, it's slightly discoloured after 18 months of heavy use, but they're all mixed together now and you can't really tell them apart. Four cubes is 864 spheres and it's actually pretty heavy! I've got the smaller "classic" size so each sphere is 4.76mm big so whilst the picture might look quite big, the actual thing really isn't. In fact, unless you're looking at this on a mobile device, the picture is going to be at least twice the size of the real thing!

They're fiddly little things and the slightest knock and they'll stick to the wrong ones, but that's half the fun! I made a 9x9x10 tower and then a mini tower on top to use up all the balls and then I made a few more shapes, but the best one I made tonight was probably the hollow cube:

I can't take any credit for the design as it's nothing new and it took me 3 attempts to get it right. The secret is to use some sort of thin plastic (in my case I was using my old swipe card from work!) so line the spheres up with the plastic in between them (it'll easily attach through the plastic) and then remove the card to complete that section. Doing it without plastic is quite frankly suicidal and unless you have the steadiest hands in the words, you can expect to have to do it multiple times otherwise :)

Oh and regarding the title, they're not steel, they're neodymium, but as you've realised, "Balls of neodymium" really isn't as funny :)


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