So, what's my next move? One thing I'd vaguely considered was to sand the faceplate down (using very fine sandpaper), spray-paint it white, and then add the new annotations by hand using a very fine indelible marker. But the more I think about this, the more I think the result would look absolutely horrible.
Another possibility would be to create the new annotations using some form of arts package like Paint.net, and then have them screen-printed onto the existing (sanded and painted) faceplate. I've not really looked into this, but I'm guessing the screen-printing would be a tad expensive. On the other hand, I've not ruled this option out either. Once I've got my new faceplate annotations in machine-readable format, I might take a stroll down to the screen-printing company located just around the corner from my office and ask them how much they would charge.
A lower cost alternative is as follows. First I placed the faceplate face-down on the cheap-and-cheerful Kodak ESP 5250 printer/scanner sitting on my desk and scanned it into my computer at 300dpi. Next, I imported this image into Visio as shown below.
Just to make sure that everything was to scale, I printed the image directly out from Visio back to my Kodak printer, and then placed the original faceplate next to it as shown below (the scanned image is on the left; the real faceplate is on the right).
Finally, I moved the real faceplate on top of the scanned image as shown below. As we see, the result is a perfect match, which gives me the confidence to proceed to the next step.
And what is the next step? Well, I will start by tracing the outline of the meter and the original annotations in Visio (drawing them on top of the scanned image). Next, I could create the new annotations in Visio, overlaying them over the originals to make sure they were perfectly placed, after which I would delete the originals.
On the other hand, I have a friend called Denis Crowder. His company -- CroDesign -- creates responsive, adaptive, mobile-ready websites. In addition to being a web guru, Denis is an amazing graphical artist, so I'm rather hoping I can persuade him to create the new annotations for me (I will be emailing him as soon as I finish this column). If Denis is up for this, I will export the outlines and original annotations for my four Vetinari Clock meters in a vector format, send them to Denis, and then sit here chortling while I await the master to perform his magic.
Whichever way we do end up going -- my implementing so-so annotations in Visio or Denis creating graphical masterpieces using his professional art packages -- we then have to generate the new faceplates. The two options I can think of off-the top-of-my-head are as follows:
- To use the screen-printing company round the corner (depending on what they cost) and print the annotations directly onto the original faceplates.
- To simply print out the new artwork (including the faceplate outline) on my Kodak printer, cut them out with scissors, and attach them to the original faceplates using a spray adhesive.
What do you think about these alternatives? One thing that makes me a tad worried with regard to option (2) is the possibility that -- even if I use heavy-duty 32lb paper -- the paper might start to age and go brown after a couple of years, or it might start to detach from the metal faceplate. In either case, I would not be performing my happy dance.
Of course, you may have a completely different and much better idea, in which case please share it with the rest of us in the comments below.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting