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Subject: Magnetic Dial Tutorial rss

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"What do you mean, I can't pay in Meeples?"
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DIY Magnetic Dials


Tired of fiddling with tokens, cards or counters for keeping track of numbers? Maybe a magnetic DIY dial is just what your game needs. These simple little accessories take about an hour to put together and the basic version will track 0-30 of whatever your heart desires. The double dial has 0-30 on the bottom and 0-20 on the top. The same basic principles can be used to make dials of any value. (Graphic Design professional not included. Some assembly required.)

Downloads
Blank PSD Dial template (you will need image editing software to manipulate this file): Dropbox (6.3mb)
Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game PDF Dials: Dropbox (6.4mb)

Tools & Supplies
E Colour printer
E Box cutter / hefty hobby knife (not a rotary cutter!)
E Quality pair of scissors
E Single hole punch
E 6mm diameter R50 Neodymium rare earth magnets, 2-3 per dial.
E Cardstock or heavy paper compatible with your printer
E Chipboard / mattboard / heavy cardstock
E Black permanent marker
E Glue stick
E Spray varnish or laminate adhesive sheet
E Double sided tape
E ~P600 grit sandpaper (super fine/finishing)
E Smooth thin cylindrical metal surface - pen ferrule / dental pick / metal rod, etc.

Basic Construction
Each dial is made of two (three, in the case of the double-dial) disks, each of which is a ‘sandwich' of paper top - board core - paper bottom. The board core has a hole punched in the center that is filled by a magnet, which keeps the dial together once complete and allows it to turn without needing a physical axle. Some form of surface protection for the printed areas is highly encouraged as they’ll otherwise wear from handling and rotating. Note that these instructions assume you are making a dials with a black background. If you are not, substitute an appropriately coloured marker or acrylic paint and change the circle edge colours before printing. Black was chosen because it covers any color of core. If making white dials, you’ll need white illustration or mattboard for the core, or to paint the final components.

Paper
I used 199gsm cardstock for the printed components and 1.2mm mattboard for the core. If using paper, you may want to glue an additional sheet to the tops and bottoms after printing to make sure the magnet doesn’t tear out over time. The core board needs to be the same thickness or very slightly thicker than the magnet. The magnet must not stick out or there won’t be enough friction to keep the dial set. If you can’t find board thick enough for your magnets, cut & punch additional layer(s) for the core to make up the height difference out of whatever you have. With enough patience, it’s certainly possible to do without thicker board completely and substitute posterboard, cereal box or even paper - it just means a lot more cutting. If going this route, I’d suggest gluing 2-3 sheets together before cutting to save on time and alignment fiddling.

Magnets
R50 are not as common as R35 (the weaker end of the rare-earth magnet range) and cost slightly more, but make for a more secure dial that is harder to pull apart or accidentally change. R35’s make a perfectly servicable dial but they may come apart (or lose their position) if dropped off the edge of a table / roughly handled. 6mm magnets can be bought on eBay for 1-4$ per 100. They come in a range of thicknesses, I used 1mm magnets for these dials but 1.5 or 2mm thick would be just as well, maybe even better. One thing to bear in mind with thicker dials is that the angled bevels for the number viewing window will need to be cut wider to accommodate.


How To

Print the dial faces. The blank circles with crosshairs in the middle are guides/bottoms - cut the page in two, separating the printed art/number pieces and blanks. Some of the guides will be used to cut out the dial cores from the cardboard and line up the hole punch and the rest as the bottom layer of the dial ’sandwich’, printed side in.

If using spray varnish (highly recommended), take the printed half with the dial faces (art/numbers) outside, stick it temporarily to some scrap cardboard with tape to catch the overspray, and spray. Allow to dry well before cutting. Otherwise you can apply self-adhesive laminate or leave the paper as-is. Do not spray or laminate the bottoms / guides.


Rough cut each dial face leaving a margin, then carefully cut out each peice as accurately as possible. Use good lighting and a contrasting background color to make this easier. For the regular dial you’ll need one large top face and one bottom 0-30 number. The double dial takes one small face, one large 0-20 face and one large 0-30 face.

Cut out an equal number of guides to make the bottom layers of each dial ‘sandwich’.

Rough cut more guides (2 large for a regular dial, 2 large and one small for a double dial) and stick them to the board with double sided tape. Keep the tape away from the middle of the dial where the hole will be punched. Cut out with scissors. Cutting board is a lot tougher than paper; if you’re having too hard a time, consider using thinner board and cutting out 2-3 pieces instead of a single core.


Use the single hole punch to punch out the marked middles. Take your time and line up carefully! Punching off-center will result in a poorly performing wobbly dial. With the common metal single hole punches, it’s easiest to use them upside-down and with the confetti catcher open so you can see exactly where the hole will be placed. Remove the punched guides / tape and discard.

Sand the edges of the core lightly with the super fine sandpaper to make them nice and smooth.


Color the edges of the core, printed faces and bottoms with the black permanent marker. Color the whole surface of the bottom too. It’s important to do this BEFORE gluing because any excess glue (and there will be excess glue) prevents the ink from distributing evenly on the paper. Don’t linger on any one spot while doing edges, especially with the faces - the ink will blot into the printed design. Let the ink dry before moving to assembly. Test fit the pieces to make sure they’re all the same size at this point.


Time to glue! Protect your table / work surface with some scrap and have something nearby to wipe sticky fingers with. You want a generous amount of glue on the back of the paper, so don’t be stingy when applying. The whole surface should look shiny, if there are any dry spots go over them again, paying particular attention to the edges. Apply the paper to the core and press it firmly in place. I find it easiest to get the alignment right by rolling the dial between my fingers. Clean off any stray bits of glue. Pop the magnet into position before attaching the second paper piece to the core. Do this for all 2-3 parts of the dial.

!!! IMPORTANT !!!
After completing your first piece, you’ll have to match the polarity of the magnets for the next one! Be 100% positive you know which end of the magnet should face up, otherwise your dial won’t work. If you’re making multiple dials I’d recommend doing them all with the same polarity so the parts will be interchangable.

Lightly sand the edge of the dials again. Go back with the black marker to touch up any white spots.


The three assembled disks for a double dial.



This step is optional but I think it gives the dials a nicer finish. If you’ve gone with self-adhesive laminate, do NOT bevel any edges with it because they’ll wrinkle and pull up. Not nice.

With your metal cylindrical object (I use a dental spatula but just about anything with a small circumference and smooth would do) press firmly into the upper edge of the dial top, drawing along at ~45 degree angle. This compresses the paper edge making it smoother and more rounded, less likely to catch or peel away. Do NOT bevel the bottom edge of the dial’s top or the top edge of the dial’s bottom - the two surfaces that are in the middle - because it’ll let the white of the number face show along the seam.

A firm and steady draw will yield the nicest result. Start off light and increase the pressure until you get a feel for how hard to apply the tool. If the paper is buckling you're being too rough or your cylinder isn't smooth.





The cuts needed to make the dial's window.


The only thing left is to make the window that shows the number. There are cut lines printed directly into the dial faces that mark the general window size appropriate for the font size used. Put down a cutting mat or other protective surface and ensure your blade is sharp. You’ll have to use a fair bit of pressure to get through the layers of the dial so take your time and please be careful! Use common sense and appropriate safety measures when working with sharp tools.

I start with the horizontal cut (marked 1 in magenta on the diagram) as it’s the most difficult. Because the sides of the window will be bevelled, you actually need to cut a longer slit than what’s printed but only all the way through in the marked area, forming an inverted isosceles trapezoid. To do this, press the tip of your blade in at one corner of the window and down through the dial. Then pull across so it cuts the bottom of the window in the same shape as the printed guide but extends a bit further to form the back edge of the bevel. Flip the piece around and do the same thing for the other side of the horizontal cut. There are no exact guides for this because the length of the overcut will depend on the thickness of the dial and how big an angle is desired. I made mine roughtly around 45 degrees.

The second pair of cuts are easy - just follow the printed guide cutting from each corner out, keeping the blade straight vertically. These cuts are marked 2 in light blue on the diagram.

Lastly, bevel the window by cutting down each side, beyond the guide box - the dark blue dotted lines marked 3 in the diagram. The goal is to leave the bottom of the window the same size as the printed guide was while having a greater viewing angle. If at any point a cut piece doesn’t come away easily, don’t be tempted to pull it out. Go back with the knife and deepen the cuts in the corners or edges a little. Give the cut edges a light sanding.

Last but not least, color in the newly exposed edges so they’re black like the rest and your new dial is complete. Give it a spin!
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Luke Phillips
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Nice.

rather than using cardboard (which is a bugger to cut into a circle) have you considered pre-cut mdf wargame bases like these. They even have pre-cut holes for the magnets

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"What do you mean, I can't pay in Meeples?"
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I'd be a little concerned about the difficulty of cutting out the dial windows in MDF - might require power tools. Arc punches or scrapbooking paper punches are another option but big ones tend to be expensive, which is why I went with templates.

If you have access to those types of tools though, by all means use 'em!
 
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Luke Phillips
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Fire_Forever wrote:
I'd be a little concerned about the difficulty of cutting out the dial windows in MDF - might require power tools. Arc punches or scrapbooking paper punches are another option but big ones tend to be expensive, which is why I went with templates.

If you have access to those types of tools though, by all means use 'em!


Nah it's only 2mm and mdf can be cut with a strong craft knife. I'd probably use a small square file for the cleanup
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Gianluca Casu
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There is very thin Foamcore that can be used or you could simply use a nail to poke through the circle. Once you have completed the circle you just push the excess out.

It is not as clean as a punched hole, true, but since it will be covered by paper anyway. Who cares?
 
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"What do you mean, I can't pay in Meeples?"
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If foamcore is what you happen to have, by all means go for it - I'd be really interested to know how it turned out!

My initial plans were to use laser cut plywood circles (yet another eBay purchase) for the dials but getting the holes centred turned out to be troublesome, thus I went with paper.

Been kicking around an idea for a double dial that'd handle Star Realms; it's the top of my hit list for 'poor counting mechanism' offenders right now.
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Rachel Bruner
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Hi, I like your tutorial and want to make some of these types of trackers but I'm having trouble following several steps. Would you be able to make a video of how to make these?

I don't see the magnets in any of the photos (unless I'm totally missing them) and how this all works.

Thanks!
-Rachel
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