Sunday 18 June 2023

The Radiation From Walter's Radio Fried My Brain

Walter with his rather large radio
Yes, Dee Dixon has done it again! He sold me a new toy and it took me a very VERY long time to solve it and, sob!, I needed a nudge.

This beautiful toy matches the lovely Canarywood Walter that I have in my collection. It is made from iroko and jatoba woods and  measures 4.5 x 6.5 x 1.75 inches. This is a perfect size for all the manipulations that were needed for the solve…several of them were a bit fiddly. There are an amazing 20 steps in the full solution to it.

When it arrived I noticed a wedge of wood freely able to rattle about behind the speaker grille and I had to contact Dee to ask whether the rather rough postal service (the box had a bit of a big dent in it) had dislodged something - he reassured me that it was supposed to be there.

There is a story to go with the puzzle:
"When a wave of Angry Walters waged war on the world, we fought back valiantly, seeking to remove the cold fusion generators that fueled his robotic rage. Some of us succeeded, disabling the power sources in support of the sapien resistance; others struggled to make sense of the robotic systems, their patchwork patterns too puzzling, too complex to understand. The robots exploited this gap, continuing to grow in numbers as we humans faltered in the face of their fury. But the Walters soon faced a new dilemma: as they grew, so too did the need for an infrastructure that could sustain the new robotic world order. As humanity sought refuge online, sharing stories of the underground at war with our new overlords, offering advice to those who could not overcome the Walters' power, as we banded together, the Walters' world frayed at the edges, humanity chipping away at the cracks within. The Walters scrambled to fill in these gaps, developing new communications technology that allowed for the instantaneous transfer of information between synthetic minds. Such profound development rested on the invention of the Dimensional Electronic Divergence Chip (DED chip), a small component that disseminated data through tiny wormholes connecting the radio devices.
Humanity's hope faded as the radios allowed the robots to respond quickly to each battle, each spark of resistance snuffed out as soon as it surfaced. Humanity learned that the removal of the DED chip could turn the tides of the robopocalypse, diminishing the Walters' ability to communicate. But they knew that any such success would come at a great cost, and so they ensured that the removal of these chips would not be such a simple task. After humans stole what copies they could, they discovered that the removal and manipulation of the DED chip allowed them to transmit their own data, indistinguishable from that sent by the Walters, creating the opportunity to subvert their communications to humanity's own ends.
Human fighters recently secured a shipment of radios that are being shared across the global resistance movement. We must find our way through the robotic defenses built into the devices to remove the DED chip and undermine the Walters' newest weapon in the war for our world's future. Go forth and answer Walter's Radio!"

Now, that must be the longest spiel I’ve ever seen come with a puzzle! It can be summed up as use tools to dismantle the radio and remove a special chip. So where to start? Looking at it there are plugged holes on each edge of the puzzle and a push button on the back. Pushing all of these did absolutely nothing apart from wiggle a millimetre. 

The next thing I noticed was that the speaker grille could rotate freely and didn’t seem to engage with anything and then I realised that the wedge of wood inside was able to drop into one of two gaps on opposite sites of the grille. It takes a bit of dexterity to manipulate the wedge to where I needed it. Interesting! I guessed that I needed to find some way to make that wedge interact beyond that circular area. This led to a bit of exploration and 4 areas that would block further movement as the wedge fell further through. I found some positions did nothing and others seemed to manipulate something inside. This was fun. Very quickly I found that one of those interactions did something that gave me a new tool or at least a piece of the puzzle and left a hole.

And then it was less fun for a very very long time. As usual, I got in touch with my insanity and did the same things over and over and over again hoping for something different one time. Mrs S was convinced I had actually gone nuts because she watched me do them multiple times but tried in every orientation o could think of. Of course, nothing changed! I was on the verge of trying to do it in a handstand position or even submerging it in gin. I had noticed a few things of interest but they didn’t help for this current position. I was stuck…yet again!

Then, at the last Midlands Puzzle Party, I happened to walk by as the puzzle solving machine that is Louis Coolen was playing with a copy. He had got to the same point as me and had tried something that I hadn’t managed in several weeks/months. It wasn’t helping him but I instantly realised that I had already found something that would help him. I suggested what to do and it worked - Louis had found another puzzle piece and I had a plan to take home with me. That very evening after I got home from the MPP, I gushed about what a great time I had had and immediately picked up the radio and managed the next step.

Of course, I got stuck again! Removing the two pieces that I had so far led to something very tempting and I pushed another piece that looked like it may have interacted with the previous two. It pushed a little way in but stopped sharply after a little way and nothing else happened. I then had a brainwave (or brain fart) and manipulated other things to give me some extra space and pushed even further. Needless to say, it didn’t do anything useful and got wedged in place quite hard. I had locked the puzzle up! Aaargh! The instructions say that no banging is allowed but there had to be banging to reverse my stupidity. It would probably be best if Mrs S bashed some sense I to me occasionally.

Yes, stuck again. I had 2 pieces, a few things I had already worked out I could manipulate and nothing helped. I stayed like this working my inner insanity again for the best part of 2 weeks. I even drew a diagram of what I had found and what I thought might be happening inside. At this point, I did one of my usual moves but was holding the puzzle differently and I saw what one of my moves was doing. Oddly, I have always held the puzzle in a certain way and had not been looking at the opposite side whilst doing my insanity thing. This time I was hoping it differently and noticed the effect of a manipulation. Little empty bwain creaked into activity and I thunk to myself - "what if I…?" 

The Ded chip
I had another tool! This tool was going to need a bit of dexterity to use but I figured that if I tried the move that had landed me I trouble earlier but using the new tool then I might get somewhere. It certainly did something but the move was visibly locked. This time I, and my diagram, had a solution to that locking mechanism. A bit of fiddling and another tool followed by another and another. Now I had quite a few pieces that were of interest to a cat and I had to put them in a plastic bag. The moves were flowing now and from here I managed to find the final moves and deactivate the evil radio. All this was done in a single evening with me getting more and more excited and Mrs S getting more and more fed up with my muttering and shouts!

This puzzle was an absolutely wonderful odyssey! I didn’t count the moves but the 20 that is in the description from Dee is just the right number. There are a couple of very hard to figure steps which may be my stupidity or may be because they are so well hidden. Once found, there is definitely progress before the next halt occurs and some real thought is required. In all, this probably took me 15 - 20 hours of intermittent fiddling (even if quite a lot of that was Einsteinian repetition). The final sequence was genius and beautifully setup. The craftsmanship here is astonishing. Every piece is perfectly made to lock and interact with others. This has put Dee's work on my "must have" list.

Walter's radio deactivated with the makers mark shown

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