Archive for March, 2012

Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle – Section B

After finishing sections E and A, I next moved onto section B. I began this section on Saturday, 11 February 2012 and finished on Tuesday, 21 February 2012. So this section took 10 calendar days to complete, while the previous two sections section took 3 weeks each. I did not use the previous completed puzzle as a template until I got up to the white.

The initial sorting into color groups took 4 or 5 hours. I finished the initial sort of pieces into Ziplock bags by about noon on the 12nd of Feb.

Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

I started with Yellow for this puzzle. I seem to pick the color which has the fewest pieces to begin with because it gives me a boost of confidence. I find it helpful to power me through the process of completing the puzzle. Somehow after getting a few hundred pieces together, assembling the 4,000 pieces remaining seems more possible.

I finished sorting the yellow pieces in about 20 minutes and completed assembling yellow the next day.
Yellow sorted in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

Next I moved onto Pink. I finsihed half of pink a few hours later.
Yellow complete.  Pink half complete in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

Next I moved onto Red. I had to actually do my real job during the week (unfortunately earning a living took precedence over completing the puzzle), so I did not complete red until Friday evening on 17 Feb.
Red complete in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

I completed Green the next day.
Green in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Green in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Green in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

After completing yellow, pink, red and green, I moved onto Blue. Last would be Orange, which had the greatest number of pieces for this section. I completed assembly of blue two days later.
Blue in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Blue in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Blue in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

After Blue, I moved onto Orange. It took about 12 hours to sort and complete the orange. After completing Orange, all of the panels were assembled, leaving only the white to connect the panels into a puzzle.
Orange in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Orange in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Orange in Section B of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

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Ravensburger 32,000 piece Puzzle – Section A

After completing section E in just about 3 weeks, I decided I had some chance of succeeding in this venture, so I started taking pictures and documenting my journey. I tackled section E first because when I opened the box, that bag had ripped open and the pieces were spilling out. As it turns out, when I finally finished the section I discovered one piece missing. Oh well. Nothing’s perfect.

Even though the instructions said not to, I decided to glue the finished section together. I just could not bear to see it fall apart while I was working on the next sections. I used three bottles of glue to cover both front and back. That was pretty strong, but the glue did cause “shrinkage” so when I completed the next section, the two did not quite fit together. Its not ideal, but since I dont have enough space for the whole 17 foot completed puzzle anyway, I’m not losing any sleep over it. Maybe if I glue them all, they will all shrink about the same and fit together. I’ll figure that out in the end.

With section E (lower left hand corner) complete

Section E of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

Section E

I decided to next attack section A. The first step is always sorting and the first step in sorting is deciding how to sort. The way I looked at it, the more time I spent sorting, the faster the actual assembly would go. I got better at sorting as I completed more sections and right now I am reasonably happy with the technique. Sorting can be very boring. Many times I just wanted to get finished and get onto the puzzle assembly, but I stuck to it. I think the extra effort paid dividends.

Sorting the pieces of the Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

Sorting the pieces

I sorted each major solid color into its own pile: Blue, yellow, Red, Green, Pink, Orange, and White. I arrayed these around the table in a semicircle. By the way, I had trouble distinguishing orange and red at times and mixed those up a bit. Behind each solid color, I made a pile that was that color plus black. Behind the color=black pile, I made a pile of color+black+white.

In between the piles I made piles which had two base-colors plus black. In this puzzle, I had: yellow+blue+black, red+yellow+black, green+pink+black, etc. You get the picture. No matter how hard I tried I never really get better than about 99.9% right. I always miss a few that have a tinge of color or a tingle of black on them. I try not to worry too much about this. It works itself out.

As you can imagine, 4,000 is a lot of pieces so after a while the piles started to run into each other. To keep things sane, I put each pile in its own ziplock bag.

Bags of sorted Puzzle pieces

Bags - Sorted

It took about three rounds of putting pieces into piles and then moving into bags to finish sorting all 4,000 pieces.

All pieces sorted and placed into ziplock bags

A bin of bags

It took about four solid hours to sort the 4,000 pieces into bags. With the pieces all sorted, I had to choose a color to start with. I chose green, because it looked like the smallest and started with the green+black bag.

Green + Black in section A

Green + Black

First I poured out the pieces and started to organize by shape
Green + Black getting organized

Green + Black sorted and organized

Then started to put it together
Green+Black Assembly

Green Dolphin in Section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

This took a few hours to complete. I finished orgainzing the pieces at about 10:00AM and completed this section at 4:30 in the afternoon (I did not work straight through). Then I moved onto solid green. This took about 45 minutes to complete.

Solid Green

Solid Green complete in Section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

Solid Green complete

After green was done, I moved onto pink. I separated out the pink+black pieces by shape and then separated out the pink+black pieces which had a straight black line, because these were the border pieces. Some of the black lines were thin, some medium and some thick. The different widths generally meant different sides, but not always. Since the black border line is a bit wavy, it tends to ebb and flow on thickness. So I had to include the pieces which were slightly diagonal in the straights.

Pink+Black in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

I assembled the pink+black pieces and then moved onto the solid pink. That took most of the day.

Then I moved onto Orange. That took another day.

Next onto Blue. That took two more days
Blue in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Blue in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Blue in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

Then onto Red. I got to that the next weekend.
Red in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Red in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

When I came to solid red, I had to update my sorting technique. There were just too many solid red pieces to fit on one cardboard section, so I needed to split them up and come up with a more refined sorting approach
solid Red in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

I separated out the standard pieces (two innies and two outies, opposite from each other) onto their own cardboard sheet. In the first two columns I placed pieces where both outies were round and straight. In the next column I places the pieces with two straight outies, where one or both were big. In the next row, I placed pieces where one end pointed up. Next I placed pieces where one end faced down and in the final row I placed the pieces where the two innies were way offset so that the piece looked like a capital “S”
solid Red in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

This technique worked pretty well and helped me finish the solid red in a reasonable time (about 4 – 5 hours).
solid Red complete in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
solid Red complete in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

Next I moved onto Yellow. There were a lot of yellow pieces, which is why I left them to last (except for white, which was really last). Again, I had to update my sorting technique.

Yellow pieces sorted in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
I first separated the pieces with a straight-ish black line onto its own sheet. These would create the outer border of the panel. For the remaining pieces, I separated first by shape, then by design. For the standard pieces (two innies and two outies across from each other), I placed the pieces where the black goes diagonally up to the right in the first column. Next came pieces where the black goes diagonally down to the right. Next come the pieces with a black stripe (in other words had yellow edges). Next came pieces which had a yellow stripe (in other words had black on two edges). Next came pieces which were the end of a black line (in other words had a rounded black shape on the yellow background). Next came pieces which did not fit any of the other categories. Finally came the pieces with just a tiny amount of black. With the pieces all sorted, I set out to assemble the yellow+black parts of the puzzle.

Yellow+Black assembled in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Yellow+Black assembled in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
This took about 5-6 hours. Then I did the solid yellow, which was not too bad. It took about an hour to complete.

Yellow assembled in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle
Yellow assembled in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

Now that all four panels were complete, I had to do the white, which connected them all together. I organized the solid white pieces the same way I had organized the solid red pieces.
White sorted in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

After about a day, I had the white pieces mostly assembled. But then I noticed something strange. I had a bunch of pieces that kind of sort of looked like they should fit, but didn’t. They looked like the right shape, but were either slightly too long or slightly too short.
White mostly assembled in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

Then it dawned on me that with so many pieces, there had to be a pattern. And given the regularness of the white, I finally figured out that there must have been one column that was almost exactly like another on the other side of the puzzle. I had mixed up long and short versions of the same piece, because they seemd to fit (and for all intents and purposes they did). So I pulled out three columns of white pieces which were all the same pattern.
Three columns of white misfits in section A of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

After lining these three columns up next to each other, it became very obvious which were the short versions and which were the long versions. As I suspected, I had mixed them up. Once I reassembled the white columns ensuring all were the same size, the puzzle fit together nicely.
Section A complete of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

It took a total of three weeks to complete section A of the puzzle. I started on Jan 21, 2012 and finshed on Feb 11, 2012.
Section A complete of Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

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Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle

I usually blog about enterprise architecture, but this entry is a bit different. I am 1/2 done with the Ravensburger 32,000 piece puzzle (named Double Retrospect; Art by Kieth Haring), so I thought I’d start writing about my experiences in putting it together.

First Half of 32,000 piece puzzle

First Half of 32,000 piece puzzle

I received the Puzzle as a Christmas Gift (December 25, 2011). Here is the box. It came with its own dolly to wheel it around.

32,000 piece Puzzle Box

32,000 piece Puzzle Box

I finished the first half on March 18, 2012. So slightly less than three months. We’ll see if I can keep up the pace.

I have to admit, when I received the gift, I found it a bit daunting. I looked at all the white and all the solid colors and I thought “How am I ever ging to do this?”. My kids immediately asked “Dad, When do you think you will finish?”. They were all excited. I did some quick math and responded “In about 18 years, after you have kids”.

Even though I was pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing, I was on vacation and had some time, so I figured I’d give it a try. Since I had no expectation of finishing any time soon, I did not bother to track my progress. But on January 17th (less than a month later), I finished the first section (of 4,000 pieces)

Section E of 32,000 piece Puzzle

Section E

The puzzle is packaged into eight bags and each bag holds about 4,000 pieces. Each 4,000 piece bag creates a section of the puzzle with four panels in a 2×2 grid. Knowing this really helped. Rather than a single 32,000 piece puzzle, its really eight 4,000 piece puzzles. That’s a bit easier. Here is one of the bags

One Bag

One Bag

You can tell which bag is which section of the puzzle. The Puzzle Sections are each given a letter from A to H. A is in the upper left hand corner, then B, then C and D is in the upper right hand corner. E starts the next row in the lower left hand corner, then F, then G and H is in the lower right hand corner.

Each bag has a control number (in German: Kontrollnummer) and the first letter of the control number indicates the section of the puzzle contained therein. This bag holds section A

Control Number

Control Number (Kontrollnummer)

The Hall of fame for this puzzle is at http://www.largestpuzzle.com/. I hope I make it.

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