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

Scouts Using the Internet Cartoon - Courtesy of Richard Diesslin - Click to See More Cartoons
© 1994-2021 - U.S. Scouting Service Project | Site Map | Disclaimer | Project Team | Contact Us | Privacy Policy

Materials found at U. S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. Websites may be reproduced and used locally by Scouting volunteers for training purposes consistent with the programs of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) or other Scouting and Guiding Organizations. No material found here may be used or reproduced for electronic redistribution or for commercial or other non-Scouting purposes without the express permission of the U. S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. (USSSP) or other copyright holders. USSSP is not affiliated with BSA or WOSM and does not speak on behalf of BSA or WOSM. Opinions expressed on these web pages are those of the web authors. You can support this website with in two ways: Visit Our Trading Post at or make a donation by clicking the button below.
(U.S. Scouting Service Project Donation)

(Ruth Lyons Memorial Donations)