Circular Wall Shelves

For some time, I have been wanting to get a nice shelf unit to put over our platform bed, in lieu of a headboard. I had a notion for a circular, semi-spherical shelf for the wall.

I searched for a manufactured unit, and when that failed, searched for images. I found this unattributed image, and reverse-engineered the dimensions, using the CD cases in the image for sizing. I then created a 3D CAD model as a baseline model for adjustments.

The shelf in the photo is made of 3/8" plywood, and is about 43" across. I wanted a slightly more substantial material and size to fill the space over the head of the bed; scaling the entire model 4/3rds, made the material thickness 1/2", and about 57" across, just the size I wanted. That simple operation also made the shelves go from just under 6" to a over 8", making them more accommodating for general use.

I have made the center rows and columns slightly larger, and reducing the shelf size of the tapered ends in the process. I also adjusted the stock thickness to 3/4", which gives the unit a more assertive look. Renders rarely do a finished product justice, but here it is:

Because of the modeling process I am using, the edges of all the shelves match the spherical contour. I would like to keep that feature, but crafting such cuts without the benefit of a good band saw and patient sanding will be problematic. I don't know what I would do if I had to buy a good band-saw!



I have never been entirely satisfied with the rules of capture and control, but it has always been a game of pleasure in pattern, not strategy and winning, so perhaps I am just trying to hammer a hexagonal peg into a square hole. Regardless, this will be an opportunity to feel the game in my hands, share it with friends and family, and discover how we feel about those rules.

A render of a 3X panel
I found there were several schemes for the game board panels Osbolique required, and while many resolved the issue of tessellation, and most only required one type of panel, only one schema did all that while also being aesthetically pleasing and practical:

A quasi-hexagonal pattern, following the standard color tile distribution pattern and laid out in a way that the number of tiles along each face is a multiple of three. These panels are rotationally self-tessellating (with other panels of like size) and lock together with a 'saw-tooth' edge. While a single 3X panel (one with three small hexagonal iterations on each major face) is a bit small for a game, three or four such tiles together make an adequate field of play. A 6X, 9X, or even 12X panel is sufficient for a small game, and can be further tessellated to create much larger games.
    Most board games have clearly defined starting positions, but by its very nature, Osbolique resisted that tradition: When piece creation is achieved dynamically as a result of movement and promotion, defined starting positions compromise that fluidity and restrict the potential of the game. By allowing placement only on one's own panel, it encourages pattern development, neither being influenced by preordained starting positions, nor the influence of an aggressive opponent.

    A game played on four 3X panels (what I deem to be an optimal 'small game') allows each player to begin on their own panel, giving ample opportunity to evolve patterns and position before any interaction is achieved. When playing larger games, perhaps on 2 or more 6X, 9X, or 12X; the additional space on each panel simply allows for more elaborate patterns to be evolved before interactions occur. In all these situations, the number of panels used should set the tone of the game.  Fewer panels will force earlier and more aggressive interactions, while the greater the number (and size) of panels, the more relaxed and 'expansive' the match.

    This is consistent with the design premise of ancient and long lived Elvorae who played on infinite fields in never ending matches that were explorations of patterns in growth and conflict, where victory could only be scored in the context of the most recent move, and only in that finite portion of the field it affected.



    I have recently discovered that online manufacturers and rapid prototyping services have become very competitive both in terms of their prices and the quality of their product. In the past, these services could only make products from brittle styrenes and acetates, and for outrageous prices. They now offer a broad selection of materials including wood and stainless steel, and the overall cost is cheaper now than ever.

    The 1/1/1/1/1 Pentimo
    Amongst my game ideas, I have spent some time working on pentagonal dominoes. In the past I have tried to find some pentagonal tiles or blocks that I could mark on to experiment with rules and scoring, but to no avail. I am now committed to making a set of these 'Pentimoes' in a fairly affordable and durable material.

    I modeled a small series of them up in AutoCAD, and uploaded them to a stereo-lithography service to get a price quote: it was still too rich for my blood. I then looked into other methods, and found I could have them laser-cut from wood at a fraction of the cost!

    I haven't finished the cut-file and spec'ing the design, but based on the pricing of the test file I uploaded, I expect it to cost about $140 for the set.  While it is an outrageous price for a regular set of dominoes, these are not regular, and considering I have been unable to find even something with a pentagonal cross section I could cut into tiles, let alone actual pentagonal tiles, This seems like a fair price.

    Before I submitted a design, I needed to choose what units were going to be on the pentimoes, their distribution and arrangement.  The original pentimo sketch had random scratching on each face, while later sketches used conventional numbers. I briefly considered using some collection of wing-dings or shapes, but ultimately decided to go with the domino standard: pips.

    Domino tradition also dictated that there would  be one pentimo for every possible combination of pips in a set. Because pentimo have 5 faces, the number of pentimo for even a small range of pips was huge. Luckily because off their radial nature, a 1/1/1/1/2 pentimo is the same as a 2/1/1/1/1 pentimo, its just a matter of orientation. Clock-wise or counter-clockwise does matter though: 2/3/1/1/1 is the same as 1/1/1/2/3, but not the same as 3/2/1/1/1.  With all that in mind, I settled on making a set of pentimoes with 1, 2, or 3 pips per face. That gives 243 total combinations, but ruling out radial redundancies, that leaves 51 unique combinations. Considering a set of double 6's has 21 dominoes, 51 seemed like a fine number.  Besides, fitting more than 3 pips along a face would have been daunting.

    The CAD file with pip combinations.
    That information has now been graphically incorporated into the cad drawing, and just needs to be converted into a format the laser cutter can work with.

    I spent a lot of time trying to optimize the fill pattern while maximizing shared cut lines to reduce cut-time. Ultimately, because cutting costs are much higher than material costs, wasted material is less sinful than excessive cutting.

    The only thing left to do is get a set shipped to me, and set to work on games and rules. Luckily, dominoes are like playing cards: There is no official game, let alone a single set of rules for any given game. I can comfortably create as many rule variants as I want, without feeling the need to pick a winner!


    Time Marches On

    I got a fun idea, watching some tidbit of a kid's show the other day.
    Mesoamerican calendar discs, like this one, are fairly consistent with a central face, four surrounding character icons, then a wheel with icons for the years/months.  It has been a while since I studied this, and I don't want to dilute my creative process with too much fresh research, so that is good enough for now.

    The notion here is for elemental or spiritual manifestations that appear similar to these discs. They would hover along ominously, the central face speaking and seeing for them. I picture this modified slightly, with the four surrounding faces being facets of a polyhedra of some sort so the central faces could rotate and exchange. I also picture the smaller icons for the years to be able to manifest off the disc, as minions or helpers. There a number of other icons on the disc that may either manifest seperately in this fashion, or maybe animate and function as attached limbs for whatever purposes they are suited. Some, such as the curly-V's are supposed to be symbols of sunlight, as I recall, and maybe some of the symbology could be preserved, and those are actually beam emitters and/or light sources.

    Deviating my design from the historically accurate would actually be fair-game, going forward with the premise that the calendar discs were actually artistic interpretations of these beings. That sort of caveat buys a lot of latitude, when one considers some of the fantastic and absurd illustrations of African and Asian beasts that were produced in Europe during the dark ages.

    Anyhow... just another idea to punt around.