LEGO Color SuDoku

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About: I have a background in chemistry, molecular biology and immunology and I am working in the field of in vitro diagnostics and life sciences. I like the concept of citizen science, and my intension is to simp...

When I saw tdonoclifts' instructable for his Rainbow Su Doku, I was thrilled. I found that thegnome54 had described another very nice version of a color SuDoku. But I neither have their craftsman skills nor the required equipment.

So I was wondering if it might be possible to build one myself, using some abundantly available, colorful parts, namely LEGO bricks. We have boxes full of Legos that have been accumulating over decades, so I thought it shouldn't be a problem to find enough of the right bricks. Nice starting hypothesis, but it failed. More on this later.

I have experimenting with a number of layouts, and have not worked out all details for every LEGO color SuDoku version presented here. I am still improving the concept and will report the results here.

But I hope you like the idea and will get some inspiration to build your own versions. Or just pick the version that fits best for you.

On the pictures in this and the following steps you will find different versions of the "LEGO color SuDoku". The first two versions showed above are using [32x32] plates, are the recent versions. Especially the version with double [2x2] bricks and the large flat cap (image 1) is looking cool. But the version without large caps (images 2 & 3) is more colorful, better to play and my current favorite. The version on the last picture was build at first and uses a 48x48 knob base plate.

One of the cool features of the recent version is that one can label the [2x2] bricks with small tags. This allows to experiment with different decision options if you get stuck, trace the stones set after one of the ways were taken and remove them if it has been the wrong one. You can't do this that simple in paper SuDokus.

Version July 6, 2018

Still work in progress. If you are interested, please come back from time to time

Step 1: SuDoku - a Bit of Theory

I suppose that if you are interested in this Instructable, you may have an idea what SuDoku is about. But let's define it nevertheless.

The classical SuDoku is a 3x3 array of nine 3x3 arrays. The smaller arrays are to be filled with nine different objects. In addition, all nine different objects shall to be found once in every of the nine columns and any of the nine rows.

As a starting point, several of the objects are placed at predefined positions, and you then have to fill the empty spaces such that the final result fulfills the rules described above.

Usually we are using the numbers one to nine (1, 2, 3, ..., 9) as the "objects" to fill the arrays, as these are symbols known to most of us, and fit nice into a 3x3 array. But one could use any other nine-member set of symbols, as letters, signs, emojis, ...

Colors, on the other side are represented in our brains in areas other as abstract symbols as numbers or letters, and we are pretty good in the interpretation of visual information.

So using nine different colors seems not only be a pretty looking solution, but might also allow even small children, chimps and most aliens to play SuDoku (the guys from Proxima Centauri wont read this anyway, and they may build it with sound blocks). Using color blocks will also allow you to turn the SuDoku playfield around and thereby e.g. simplify the identification of doubled color bricks.

Step 2: Build It! Materials and Layout of the LEGO Color SuDoku

I am focussing on the most improved versions in this step, and moved all about early or alternative versions into a step at the end of the instructable.

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General Layout ([32x32] uncapped version)

The numbers of a usual SuDoku are represented here by [2x2] bricks (single or stack of two) of nine different colors. They are placed on a playing field on a [32x32] knob LEGO base plate. The nine [3x3] arrays are separated by each others by double rows, whereas the bricks within the arrays are separated by single rows. The outer border is defined by double rows as well.

To make it esier to transfer numerical Su Doku examples into the color format, I added a flat brick as "cap" to [2x2] bricks of all nine colors and wrote the numbers on them. These "Rosetta bricks" now correlate each color to a specific number.

The stones defined by the SuDoku template are marked by a flat [1x2] brick as "fixed".

Sometimes you have to decide to follow either one ore another logical option to see with will be helpful or not or lead to contradictions after some steps. I here used (round) single knobs of a defined color to track setting of bricks resulting from such a decision. The decision points are labeled with an additional color. So if the decision turn out to be wrong, you can selectively remove the stones up to the decision point. (see Play it-step).

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Getting the bricks

Getting the bricks was a bit challenging. For the first version I found many of the required pieces and the plate in our Lego collection boxes. But it turned out to be really hard to find nine [2x2] blocks of nine different colors. So I started by using other bricks and colors, and combine some of the rare colors, for the first prototype (see the last image above). You have to use what you have got. I used an old [48x48] knob plate as a base.

Luckily we have a LEGO Store at Berlin, which has a Pick-a-Brick wall. There you can get larger numbers of the offered bricks for just 10€ for a small, 18€ for a larger bucket full of bricks. But you never know what will be available, in terms of colors and forms, at a given visit.

There I got the flat gray [2x2] and [1x2] blocks and the required amounts of [2x2] blocks of "rare" colors as brown, beige, blue or green, raspberry and pink to complement the colors I already had.

With a little luck and some optimization (stack the [2x2]s) all the required bricks will fit into one of the large pick-a-brick buckets.

The "classic" [32x32] base plates should be available at any good toy shop.

There are similar Lego shops in several other major cities. You find a list of Lego shops here.

There are a number of online portals where you can buy individual bricks. In case have a look there.

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Material list

For a [32x32] plate version:

A [32x32] knob blue "classic" building plate,
7.99 Euro, LEGO shop Berlin

From the Pick-a-Brick wall at the Lego Shop, and with a little help from the guys from the shop (thanks !):

  • ten or twenty [2x2] bricks each in nine different colors
  • at least 76 [2x2] light gray flat low profile bricks
  • about 160 [1x2] dark gray flat low profile bricks
  • several round single knob bricks in red, rose, white and dark yellow

At least for the single brick version, they should fit all into one large LEGO Pick-A-Brick bucket,
17.99 Euro, LEGO shop Berlin

For the large cap version:
as above, but at least 157 [2x2] light gray flat low profile bricks.

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Building it

Place the flat [2x2] and [1x2] bricks on the [32x32] base plate as indicated in the images above to build the playing field.

In case build stacks of two of the [2x2] bricks of each color.

Place a large flat brick on top of a brick of each color, sort them in some "logical" order (e.g. rainbow) and write numbers "1" to "9." on them. You may like to place these stones on a 2x18 strip.

Done.

Step 3: Play It!

So start playing by filling the playing field with blocks according to a usual "numerical" SuDoku template and in the colors defined by the "translation" bricks.

Most pictures shown in this step are of the "double-brick" version with a large flat brick on top. It looks pretty cool, is harder to play as the uncapped version (see image 3).

Based on SuDokus from a book, place the stones (here blue for "one", green for "two", …; see images 3-5). In the capped version predefined stones were tagged with a small adhesive white label (see 1st and 2nd image).

In the meantime I prefer to play with an "un-capped" version with double [2x2] bricks (image 3). Here I am using flat dark gray [1x2] caps to mark the predefined stones. This version also allows to tag the stones you are setting by placing small colored single-knob pieces on top. For example to track stones set after uncertain decisions, as described before. In image 3, I indicated the decision points that allowed to solve the SuDoku, as the other option resulted in contradictions after several steps.

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Please let me know your own ideas and your layouts.

I really appreciate any feedback, suggestions and corrections (being a no-native speaker, especially my LEGO terminology will be unprecise).

Play and have fun.

Step 4: Information of Previous Versions

By now, this is kind of a trash bin, containing information moved from earlier steps on early versions.
To be structured soon.
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Layout
In the [48x48] plate version, translation bricks can be placed above the playing field, if required and unset stones as well as indicator and temporary placement blocks can be placed on the sides of the playing field. The [2x2] bricks could be stored in stacks of nine of each color.

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Material
For the [48x48] knob plate version: at least nine, better eleven or more, [2x2] blocks in nine different colors a large Lego plate, I used a gray [48x48] platefor the frames of the fields: about 130 low profile flat gray [2x2] blocks (you may use other low profile [2xN] or [1xN] blocks) 18 low profile flat gray [1x8] blocks, in some cases replaced by other [1xN] blocks placeholders and indicators (incomplete so far): [1x1] and [1x2] blocks in all (!) nine colors, to be placed as placeholders for "optional" or "unsure" placements flat low profile white [1x2] or [1x1] blocks to mark the "fixed" starting blocks low profile [1x1] blocks as "status indicators" in some other colors

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    9 Discussions

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    winneremerald12

    5 months ago

    I can’t even play normal Sudoku! This must be...a lot more difficult!

    Awesome job, though.

    4 replies
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    AlistairW7winneremerald12

    Reply 5 months ago

    i think colours make it easier - numbers are distracting - like it's a maths problem when it isn't

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    winneremerald12AlistairW7

    Reply 5 months ago

    I know! When I've been doing the same maths test for a long time, all the numbers start looking alike and they blend into each other. I have to refocus or look away for a few seconds to concentrate again.

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    Dr Hwinneremerald12

    Reply 5 months ago

    Yes and no.
    No: with the colors, you see more directly what has been set.
    Yes: for the more difficult SuDokus, it is very handy to be able to work with pencil and eraser, which is not possible here.

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    winneremerald12Dr H

    Reply 5 months ago

    I mean, there’s a new Soduku app, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be any easier. Not a sponser.

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    dalymadind

    5 months ago

    Genial! Soy fan del sudoku, nunca se me hubiera ocurrido algo así. No puedo esperar para hacer mi propio tablero. Soy Mexicana y vivo en México no tengo tan buen Ingles. ¿Es aceptable escribir en español? I will do my best on english writing. ¿ Does lego sell individual pieces like you use only the 2x2 blocks i am no familiar with legos. Ocasionally i saw on toys section but i am no interesting on until today

    1 reply
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    Dr Hdalymadind

    Reply 5 months ago

    Hi as far as I know Lego does not sell individual bricks. You may buy the plates seperately in a good toy shop or online. Concerning the bricks, there are several online platform where you can order custom-selected stones, often used ones. Which is OK with LEGOs, as some of the ones we have are decades old and still working.

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    bferron

    5 months ago on Step 3

    I had thought about a game like this but I didn't think of Lego pieces, good idea.