How to Make Your Own Distance Computer

Step 1: Download and print out the image file.(The distance computer image.)

  • The image file will look like the picture to the right.
  • Each sheet will produce two computers.
  • A laser printer is best; most inkjet ink will run if it gets wet.  If you have an inkjet printer, you can reproduce the image with a photocopier.
  • The computer is also sturdier if it is printed onto card stock, like that used for index cards.  An office supply store or photocopier center can help you find this.


  • Printing out the image
  • The image file is available in four different formats.  The original file was created in Adobe PostScript®, so it will have the highest quality, and Adobe Acrobat® is equally good.  If you do not have the software necessary to handle these, there are also GIF and Microsoft Word® files.
  • Image files:


Step 2: Cut out the circular patterns.Cutting out the computer pieces

  • Use scissors with care.


Punching the center hole

Step 3: CAREFULLY punch holes in the center of each circle (marked by the cross).

  • Each hole should be about 1/8 inch (3 mm) in diameter.
  • A pencil works well for punching the holes.
  • To be completely safe, it would be best to use a block of wood, with a 3/16 inch hole drilled into it, as a backing piece.  Place the card on the block, center it over the hole, and punch.


Assembling the distance computer.

Step 4: Fasten the two circles together with a paper brad.

  • These are still available at office supply stores.
  • The ones I found are labeled "Brass Plated Fasteners."
paper brads



The inner circle should turn freely and be centered within the outer circle. Your computer should look something like this:

Finished distance computer



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