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Magnetic Playmat Project


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#1 overdesigned

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 12:01 PM

A while back I got this great idea.  Why not magnetize a playmat so that ships wouldn't slide around, or get shifted when some klutz (me) accidentally kicks the table?

I am proud to announce that I have succeeded in my attempt.  Here's how I did it:

1) I bought 3x3' and 6x3' vinyl banners from bannersonthecheap.com using freely available high-resolution Hubble images for a cost of $51 shipped.

 

2) I bought one 4x10' piece of magnetically receptive "FlexIRON" material, 0.12" thickness, adhesive on one side, uncoated on the other, from magnetsource.com for a cost of $68 shipped.  This was sort of a hassle because they don't have online ordering: I had to submit an email request and talk to a salesman on the phone.

3) I bought two 24-packs of 1" adhesive magnet squares from Amazon for a cost of like $5 shipped (yay Amazon prime)

 

I was able to lay the vinyl graphics on the adhesive magnetic material without much trouble (the 6x3 required some assistance from my roommate) and then trim them to size with a yardstick and a box cutter.

 

Then I put the magnet squares on the undersides of some of my ship bases.  The only flaw is that they were too thin and couldn't really magnetically attach to the magnetic-receptive material.  Doubling them up made them just a bit too thick (visible in the photo below), but with the magnetic attraction it's not a big deal.  I am glad I kept some bases unmodified for play on other hard/smooth surfaces that don't have the magnets though, as they can tip just a bit on other play surfaces.

 

I tried modifying a large ship base with four magnets, one in each corner, but it's just too much magnetic attraction and I tend to pull the large ship off the base when I move it.  The large ships are less susceptible to bumping/shifting anyway so I don't think they really need the magnets as much.

 

It's great for play--the magnetic force makes it so you can slide movement templates up against the ships without worrying about bumping them or moving them.  Plus, magnets are cool.  I have enough extra small bases to share with anybody I play against in casual play, so it's pretty nice.  In full-scale tournament play the modified bases are probably technically illegal because the magnets extend past the bottom of the base--if I did some more research and could get some of the proper thickness they'd be officially tournament-legal, but that's more effort than I want to go into right now.

 

The results, in pictures:

 

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Edited by overdesigned, 10 July 2014 - 12:22 PM.

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#2 Bathickey

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 12:07 PM

Cool idea, invested effort, well done!

 

Can you play by hanging the whole mat on the wall?


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#3 Gundog8324

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 12:11 PM

If My math is correct total cost ended up in the ballpark of $125?  for (essentially) 3 mats (+ some modified bases)?  

 

They look nice, price is a little higher I think than what people would prefer, the question is how easy are they to transport and how durable they are in the long run.  The price thing I am willing to bet could come down using Either A) local supliers to save the shipping I imagine that material is fairly heavy to ship that much of it, and/or B) getting together with the FLGSs and other interested gamers and buying in bulk to either get a discount and/or free shipping



#4 Swedge

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 12:12 PM

or better yet play on the ceiling!!   that way the game is never in the way of everything...  of course some short folks might have a few issues!!  


anybody in the Sumter S.C. area???


#5 Swedge

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 12:15 PM

do the mats roll up for easy transport?? I can see they bend but the magnetic stuff i have messed with in the past would not roll up very tightly!  not really a huge problem, but just wondering..


anybody in the Sumter S.C. area???


#6 overdesigned

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 12:18 PM

The cost could definitely be brought down if I ordered the magnetic stuff in bulk--it normally comes in 50' rolls at a cost of like $150 per roll (plus shipping, which is probably not much more than shipping a 10' roll), which is much better on a per-foot basis.  As a one-off project with no economy of scale I'm okay with the costs--$40 per 3x3 mat isn't TERRIBLE but it could be better.

I roll 'em up in Alvin poster tubes (you can find 'em on Amazon) and can transport them pretty easily--if I roll them graphics-side-out the curl isn't a big deal (and they relax on their own after 30 minutes or so).  The minimum rolling diameter of the stuff is about 2.5" or so--I can't fit them both in a single poster tube, but one per tube is no problem.

Durability-wise they're holding up, though it'll obviously take time to see how they work long-term.

 

If I could mount them on a wall I bet I could actually play the game that way--the ships have enough grip to hold on even at 90 degrees from horizontal!



#7 mrfroggies

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 12:19 PM

Wow that looks awesome, well done.



#8 Skargoth

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 12:25 PM

Siiiick. I guess rare earth would be overkill.



#9 haslo

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 12:55 PM

What a great idea!



#10 Tiltowait

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 01:02 PM

Nice job!
I was considering using magnetic dry-erase board material, rare-earth button magnets, ferrous paints, 25 ga sheel metal, space prints on fabric, etc. but I like your method as well. My method costs about the same but you end up with 9 stackable magnetic 1 foot squares.
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#11 WonderWAAAGH

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 01:55 PM

I wonder if some of these couldn't work:

 

http://www.rare-eart...ng-magnets.aspx

 

No real need for pre-adhesived magnets when you can just use superglue. 


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#12 bubblepopmei

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 02:14 PM

Truly spectacular!

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#13 JFunk

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 03:35 PM

My friend and I had discussed doing something similar, but my assumption was that it would be much more expensive to accomplish. Your selection of materials is brilliant!

 

I think the cost is a great deal for what you have done. I'm seriously considering magnetizing my mat and bases now. Thanks! 



#14 JCDisaray

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 03:44 PM

Thank you for the info.  I intend to do this!



#15 tsondaboy

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 07:19 PM

Great to see it work's!

 

I considered it also in the past, but I was worried that the poles on the magnet sleet wont always match the orientation of the poles on the ship base which would cause them to re-orientate thus shifting the base.

Did you notice any natural resistance from the ship base when you tried to stick it with different orientation on the sheet?



#16 overdesigned

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 08:25 PM

I know what you're talking about, like mismatched magnetic poles, and nope, no problems like that whatsoever.  It's like putting a magnet on a refrigerator, no weird shiftyness.  The sheeting isn't actually a magnet itself, it's just iron particles embedded in a rubber binder, so the magnet goes down anywhere you put it.


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#17 tsondaboy

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 08:53 PM

 The sheeting isn't actually a magnet itself, it's just iron particles embedded in a rubber binder, so the magnet goes down anywhere you put it.

 

That explains it!

Yup, that would definitely cause no problems at all.

I have access to a B0 size plotter and have printed various maps before so I was thinking to get a magnet sheet roll and print straight on it. It would be better to look for the type of sheet you got then.



#18 overdesigned

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 05:46 AM

 

 The sheeting isn't actually a magnet itself, it's just iron particles embedded in a rubber binder, so the magnet goes down anywhere you put it.

 

That explains it!

Yup, that would definitely cause no problems at all.

I have access to a B0 size plotter and have printed various maps before so I was thinking to get a magnet sheet roll and print straight on it. It would be better to look for the type of sheet you got then.

 

 

They actually make a specific version of the product designed to be run through large-format plotter/printers (i.e. printable surface on one side), so you wouldn't have to even get the adhesive kind.



#19 tsondaboy

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 06:22 AM

Yeah I know, I ve checked their site in the past. The problem is that its not good for inkjet plotters that I have access to. The one with paper on top is not wide enough, only 23 inches I think. :(

 

At least I can print on paper at will, so as soon one map goes bad I print a new one. :D

 

Here is one I printed recently. A friend tweaked a Hubble image for it.

pic1823757.jpg


Edited by tsondaboy, 11 July 2014 - 06:24 AM.

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#20 EvilEd209

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 06:31 AM

This is an amazing idea!






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