The Bathysphere was released a bit ago now, but I wanted to share some of the work that went into its design and development. Being a collaboration design, between myself and TRT, the process gets drawn out a bit, and this project actually started in 2022. Let’s look back!
I’ve known Bruce & Jess of Turner Return Tops for quite a little while now, at least as far as my yoyo work is concerned. They were a great help with the Mk1 Contact 2nd run, and they had since started their own little yoyo company. It made sense to collaborate on something. One day, an idea popped into my head.
It turned out that most of the time we spent working on this yoyo was to refine the small details. These matter a lot, of course – but our job was made easier by having a straightforward goal to reach.
The play and feel of a round yoyo like this depend a lot on the specifics of weight, size, and rim – there are a lot of models to compare against, so it’s important to have something distinct, either via reducing the yoyo to its bare essentials, or by embellishing rare features to make them stick out. The Bathysphere already had some constraints on the design based on the core idea, and much of the work was spent refining the amount of mass and spin power.
After a week of back-and-forth CAD files, we had this:
The initial draft lacked some of the classic shape of the production Bathysphere, starting out with more of an open, straight to round configuration, though this was compressed and shmooved into its current shape. The weight was gradually reduced, settling on a target weight of just under 64g with One Drop’s flat cap side effects installed.
Naming this yoyo was a bit of a struggle, but here’s some free ideas that we discarded. Perhaps you could recycle them. Please, name your yoyo the Dust Buster. We need that in this community.
- The Tectonic Collision
- Flotsam & Jetsam
- Dust Buster
Bathysphere came up and it seemed appropriate since they are round. It matched TRT’s watery theme
From here we mocked out some color ideas, then ordered prototypes. Bruce mailed some Side Effects to the machine shop, and they got to work!
It turned out great, but needed some small tweaks for production. It ended up getting a little bit more rim weight (prototypes felt light!) but not much else changed.
How do you package a submersible? Clearly a nautical theme was the way to go. I was happy with the recent Mk1 Unicorn packaging, so I sketched up a tube in FreeCAD:
At Jess’s suggestion, I added a window on top so we could see the colorway without opening the package.
I brought the files into blender so I could texture map it and imagine how the final yoyo would look.
Many, many revisions later we had something more colorful, then scrapped it, then started again with what ended up being the final design. We grabbed bits and pieces of nautical lore (hull markings, rivets, an octopus) and stuck it together into the fantabulous tube print.
Meanwhile, the side effects arrived!
The side effects were needed by the machine shop to assemble the Bathysphere, so these were mailed along.
To recap, making the Bathysphere required a lot of separate little projects that all come together in the end. Not all of these are documented here, of course:
- Technical drawing
- Naming things (very difficult)
- Ordering and forwarding parts
- Getting quotes from suppliers
- Package design
- Sticker design
- POG design
- Engraving design
- Paying invoices
- Testing / Packaging
- Contacting Retailers
The art features Bruce and Mark, inside of the famous round deep-sea diving vessel.
Don’t forget to keep yours so you can battle your POG opponents at your next yoyo meetup!
A lovely project! Thank you TRT!
Release and Reception
Tsukasa Takatsu posted a very nice review of the Bathysphere.
The Mk1 x TRT Bathysphere sold out in about a day. How about that? We’re working on a 2nd run, with more fun colors to enjoy. Thank you all for the support! See you soon!
Jack Hudspath was the first yoyoer I ever sponsored at Mk1Yoyos. Working on a signature yoyo design for him was always in the plans, but the prototyping process ended up being a long one. This is the story of the Mk1 Path.
We started working on a first draft late in 2020. At this stage of prototyping the goal is to try lots of ideas, draw them quickly, get a sense of shape & size, and figure out the feel of the yo-yo. The general idea ended up being a bell shape (similar to Diffraction) but wider, with a little ledge in the cup to break up the shape. If you think of combining all of the Mk1 monometals at the time (Contact, Umbra, Diffraction) together into one object, you’ll get something like this image:
We made the rims gradually broader and comfier, to grab some of the feel from the Mk1 Contact & Umbra, smoothed it out, and ended up with something that might have been a neat yoyo. One of the key features here was a 2nd “rim” in the cup. The cross-section shape of this was inspired by a maple copter- rotating, falling seeds that fall from maple trees. This ended up being the only element of the design to last all the way to production.
Later, we added a bunch of lines in the profile. I added a bunch of stuff to the hub and then removed it again. I drew the profile lines again until I was happy with them. They’re kind of a pain in the ass.
I ordered prototypes and they arrived in May (2021), around the same time the 2nd Umbra production run arrived. This version was called the “Fungus”, was 49.5mm wide, 55.6mm diameter, and just about 64g.
This prototype was one of the interesting ones to come out of my yo-yo design sessions. The profile lines were fun & interesting but were a bit on the extreme side. It felt really comfy to hold, was pretty durable, and felt powerful enough. It was great for 5a and seemed larger and broader than its specs would indicate. However, something felt a bit off compared to how Jack wanted it. Most of all, he wanted to change the cup. You may be wondering what happened here, since the production Path has an almost identical cup to this. Sometimes you try something and then the old thing was better all along.
The next version had a primary goal to update the hub, second, to unify the design language in the cup and profile. As we got into it, though, the diameter also came down a bit, and the width was pulled in slightly, making it slightly more compact instead of bulbous. I eventually dropped the profile grooves, since they were getting in the way of all the other changes, and I think we had both had enough fun with the first prototype’s grooves to really need them again.
This intermediate version had a familiar shape (if you have a production Path), though less swoopy and more angular. After some tweaking, I ended up adding a diffraction/spyglass style cup, it looked good enough, and I ordered prototypes again. It was already 2022 at this point, and Jack had collected a bunch of feedback. One of the amazing parts about being deep into a design is how much a small diameter change can excite someone. The 2nd prototype arrived in March, so we put it to the test!
The play-feel was a hit right off the first throw, and it stayed that way. Wide, comfortable, slightly compact in diameter, and stable enough for jamming. However, we already knew the cup would have to change – this idea was mine, not Jack’s, and we picked it simply for the lack of other good ideas and the need to get prototypes moving. The turnaround on updating this design was relatively quick. The third prototype ditched the fingerspin cup, increased the axle size to 10mm, and maintained the same weight distribution as version two while changing the cup appearance drastically.
This ended up being identical to the production version. The final testing & analysis of this was quick.
Now that we had the design locked in, we had to finish converting it from a yo-yo to a product for release. Engravings, colorways, stickers. Jack drew some art, and it ended up being one of the key “features” of the yoyo for me, being both fun and distinctive. The ledge in the cup & the large dome in the hub were used as canvases for the engravings.
Cedric Khong is a technical yoyoer from Singapore who you may have seen around the various yo-yo Discord communities. He met up with UK-based Mk1 player Elliot Ding to record this video at the Alexandra Technopark Tunnel in Singapore. We’re excited to have him on the team!
Yoyo used: An ultra high-definition prototype
The Path is now available! Buy one right here. This durable yoyo is constructed out of 7075 aluminum alloy, has a wide shape to make landing tricks easier, and features art from Jack Hudspath on some colorways.
First, learn this trick by Jack Hudspath:
Then, post your take on the YoyoExpert forums. You can also get bonus entries for the random draw by posting & tagging us on Instagram or YouTube.
I’ve wanted to make a yoyo like this for years, now. A much earlier version had a shape more curved inward, with full outer weight rings. My design sensibilities (and skill) have improved in the meantime, and with the additional experience from working on the Gemstones, I felt compelled to finish this up and order prototypes.
It’s not often that I’m left grinning when testing a new yoyo. Being able to palm-spin something this cleanly was a magical thing for me.
The Mk1 Yoyos Unicorn has removable caps. I am having a couple styles made, and they’re cross-compatible with most Duncan-sized (48mm) yoyo caps. The best way to remove most of them is with air pressure – even a small hand pump with a needle tip (taped to form a seal) should work.
The Unicorn’s base yoyo body is a light-weight 56 grams, with profile-set steel rings and a 12mm axle. It’s efficient – almost stark, in the cup – and helps lay the groundwork for what sort of things you can add to it without making the yoyo unwieldly. The heaviest caps bring it to around 68 grams, and increase the width from the narrow-ish 42mm all the way to 80mm. The more modest spin caps (unicorn horns?) bring it to 66mm from tip to tip.
Colorways and other caps to come.
We’re expecting the Mk1 yoyos Unicorn to release in May or June of 2023.
Making a signature yoyo design is a lot of work. Instead of grabbing ideas from my brain and putting them directly into FreeCAD, I have to carefully extract them from someone else’s thoughts via regular communication channels, translate them into detailed specifications, draw them in FreeCAD, and then show the result to the other person to see how close I got.
Designing to Spec
For the Dynames, signature yoyo design of Max Choo, the design process began 2 years ago. We were in the middle of the success of the Mk1 Exia, a design that Max had a heavy hand in. For his signature yoyo, he wanted a monometal, wide, light, with a specific aesthetic that took some time to iron out. We had a core idea ready before too long, and the first prototype was based on our best effort at the time.
It was close, but needed two things to move forward. The rims were just a bit too sharp, and Max wanted to add a shiny bit in the profile, similar to the One Drop Format:C. I ordered a 2nd round of prototypes with these changes, in a gloss green that later showed up in the production run.
Production and Logos
I was very, very happy with the 2nd prototype, so I rushed that to Max for his final opinion, and started working on a set of colorways for a production order. The shiny aluminum strip allowed for some additional fun aesthetics, like contrasting anodized colors, and a mix of matte and glossy in the same profile. Most of the colorways are associated to a specific Gundam model, and the engraving is reminiscent of a Gundam design, though it’s a custom work that showcases the yoyo’s profile in the horns. This cool touch & the log itself were designed by Mk1 team member EOS.
As always, Max has a lot of yoyo tricks in his pocket. Please enjoy this 3 minute video with the Dynames!
Thank you for the many years of support for Mk1!
I first released the Diffraction to a small group of online folks on October 30th in 2018. I had spent the previous 6 months learning and practicing yoyo design, getting feedback from friends, planning out colors, and getting an engraving sorted.
This was a fun and exciting project, and expensive, I thought, though after selling the extras I wasn’t too much in the red. I was happy with the results, but didn’t work on a larger release until the following year.
In 2019 I fixed a couple small issues with the first version, and released the Diffraction v2, in more colorways, still all fades, to fill out the range of hues that I liked to see. One of my Orlando friends took these to Worlds that year and sold a couple at the BYYC booth. Later, they caught the attention of YoyoExpert Garrett, and I got my first retail store deal! Super exciting!
During this time I had been writing down all of my yoyo design thoughts on a forum thread at YoyoExpert, leaving helpful notes for future hopeful yoyo designers. As a past educator I believe strongly that it’s important to elevate the practice and art of yoyo design in a way that people in the future can access and learn from.
After the first two diffractions Diffractions, I’ve been running hot, designing, prototyping, and releasing yoyos, doing accounting, filing taxes, paying license fees, and recording videos.
Here’s some of the stuff that Mk1 has done:
- Sponsored 7 different yoyoers around the world
- Sponsored 13+ yoyo contests, both online and in-person
- Released 8 entirely different yoyo models, including 3 collaborations
- Taught many people about the yoyo design process in a series of design videos
The people that I met in this time have been a big inspiration, source of help, and at times even become close friends. One thing we’ve been missing, though, is the ability to hang out together at yoyo contests. I started really getting into yoyo design not too long before Covid19 appeared, and even discounting that, it’s difficult for me to find time free to travel away from my family. Because of this, Mk1 the team is mostly an online-only affair, barring the couple chance encounters, like the time I met Jack at Disney Springs while his family was on vacation. He showed me a great wrist mount trick and I failed to do even the setup for it.
This evening, the third version of the Diffraction will release here on Mk1, and on some of our favorite retailers – YoyoExpert, Yotricks, YoyoSam, and MotMot. Please give it a look! It’s the coolest version yet, with four great new fades. We can’t wait to see how you like it!
National Yoyo Master and very nice person Nathan Crissey was already a fan of Mk1 yoyos when I asked him if he wanted to join. I knew that, of course, having asked him if he was a fan of Mk1 yoyos beforehand. This was a natural result of our online friendship, such as things are.
He’s most well-known in the yoyo community for his work in contest organizing and contest judging, though at times he was also sponsored by YoyoJam and Werrd. It’s said that he was the first person to create a magic knot on a yoyo string, though the only thing for certain is that he was the first person to do it on film.
Nathan lives just outside of Houston with his wife, 2 kids, a dog, and enjoys trivia, barbecuing, weightlifting, sports, and keyboard building.
One of Nathan’s other hobbies is trying to trick me into designing a titanium yoyo. I haven’t relented, yet. He does know his way around CAD software, and may end up taking the design into his own hands.
On the Mk1 team, Nathan plans on winning the Over 40 World Championship one day. You’ll find him online bearing an avatar of “The Count” from Sesame Street.