So, the biggest and most irritating barrier to making your own ships or proxying in the Flightpath system is the maneuver dials. I have a whole shitload of ships that will likely never get a release, not to mention a bunch of Clix-Trek ships I bought for parts or other wargames. So, as I was sculpting my 1:1200 K’Vort Bird of prey this evening, my eye fell on a sad, abandoned Clix-trek base, and something clicked into place (if you’ll pardon the pun)..
Note: this tutorial does not include making “ship chips”/bases, nor making custom cards. Check the Boardgamegeek or afewmaneuvers sites for that. And for the love of pants, don’t try to drag these into an OP event or some such stupid shit.
Warning: This involves sharp things. You could get hurt. Be careful. Now you can’t sue. Have a nice day.
One two-inch “Clix” dial (needs to be the big ones with the secondary dial boxes, which I know they made for Mechwarrior and Crimson Skies Clix). Sadly, Clix-Trek bases only have 12 “slots” for maneuvers, whereas the large-format ones have the necessary 18. You can pick up minis from the Mechwarrior game for about a buck.
Colored paper (I used some 30-bond 3×5 cards I had lying around, since they came in faction colors).
Red, white or silver, black, and green pens. It helps if the black is a small fiber-tipped micro pen. If you’re using black paper, you >must< use paint pens for this.
Compass cutter (I got mine from Daiso for $1.50)
Sandpaper or a sanding sponge.
Roll of cheapy cellophane tape.
Steps below the cut.
Step 1: Prepping the Plastic
You can remove the mini easily with a razor saw or your craft knife. In fact, if you want to preserve the stand (I’ve already long since re-mounted my Crimson Skies minis on hexes), you can just pop the stand off in the first place. Slide your knife carefully under the edge of the stand, and cut or pry the stand off. If you lift up roughly on the post sticking out of the secondary box, it should come off quickly and cleanly.
Next, those stickers need to go. To open the dial, it’s easiest to slide a knife or screwdriver in-between the upper dial and one of the “short” clips on the side, then lever the top off.
Then, sand the screen-printed crap off of the upper dial. You >can< scrape it off with the back of your knife, but it makes an unpleasant noise and leaves scratches. It should only take about 30-40 passes with light pressure.
Finally, trim the insert out of the dial window, changing it from an “L” to a trapezoid. It’s easy to align the cut, just score it gently a few times and it’ll snap or cut right out.
Step 2: Paper and Lettering
Okay. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of the proxy dial. Get your reference card ready, so you can make sure you’ve got the right maneuvers on the dial. I’m proxying my Aerie-class from Trek-Clix for the Raven, here. No, I’m not posting the card, not that it’ll be hard to figure out.
Select your paper (I’m using cheapy 3×5 cards, and picked the blue since this is a Feddie ship).
Find the center of the dial, and set your compass cutter using the inset that WizKids put their sticker into (if you don’t do this, the dial will jam and you will be sad). It’ll be about 2.25cm.
Something else to note here is the click-tab. I normally sand or file this slightly, which makes the dial turn more freely: if you cut it flat, the dial will simply spin rather than locking. If you want that, fine, but wait until the finishing step to do it, for reasons that will shortly become obvious..
Use the compass cutter to cut out a dial insert. I find it easiest to hold the cutter in place, and rotate the paper. If you’re off by a couple millimeters, don’t sweat it. Keep the cutter set to this width, you’ll need it again in a minute.
Lay the insert, centered, on the dial and press down slightly: this will imprint the outline of the axle on the paper. Cut it out with the craft knife. You don’t need to be too careful here, either.
It’s easiest to use superglue to hold this down: caesin/white glue won’t hold, and it swells the paper, jamming the dial. Lay a thin bead around the middle of the dial, Make absolutely sure that the glue is dry before you do the next steps. You can also polish the insert with the handle of your knife.
Pop the top half of the dial back into place. You can use your black pen to draw the “windows” for each maneuver. There will be a “soft” spot where it’s hard to make out where the dial detents (the places it “clicks”) are. That’s fine, you’ve got at least three free spaces you don’t have to care about.
Pop the top of the dial back off, and get your reference card ready. You’ve got three free spaces: draw an “X” through the sloppy ones or black them out. Draw in the arrows with the colored pens, then outline them with your black pen.
Step 3: Protecting and Finishing
Okay, you’re almost there. Now you need to keep your work of “art” from tearing itself apart. I used scotch tape. Tear off several short strips and put them in a ring around the dial – covering the numbers and arrows. Again, polish with the handle of your knife to remove air bubbles and creases.
Now, you use the compass cutter again, to trim off the excess tape around the edges
Put the dial back together and check the fit. If it jams, find the spot that’s hanging it up and trim it down, or just run your sandpaper over it for a pass or two. Once you’ve got a spinning, clicking dial, make sure to write the name on the front and back of the dial and (again) protect it with some tape.
If you want it to be prettier, you can print off a picture for the front and back of the dial and paste them down, covering them with contact paper cut to size. It’ll have the advantage of covering the slot where the secondary dial used to be.
For reference, the top of the dial (the bit with the window) is 1 & 7/8″, or 5cm, across. The back inset, as well as the sticker insert, are 1.75″/4.5cm. For reference, at 300 dpi, that’s 562 and 525 pixels, respectively.
I’m also going to try putting on a sliding “gate” over the main hole in the dial and see how that goes.