Introduction: Mexican Mayan Cipher Wheel

For years I have been interested in codes and spy gear. I built this Mayan Cipher Wheel adaption from a Mexican cipher wheel that had been used up until WWII. Thanks to my local community college they helped me laser cut this so I could use this for a live action RPG game I did for a friend and their family.

I got the inspiration from this video ->

This explains how to use the wheel also, but it is pretty easy.

Imagine you have a secret code you found that is 24-50-69-85-G (1:51min in). You line all those up with each other and now you turn the wheel to decode the message.

Decode this message from the above video clip. Comma denotes a different word.

25-63-13-83, 49-12-31!!

Step 1: Make or Edit Your Wheels in CAD

There are many ways of making this file, but I made this in AutoCAD due to my familiarity with it. This is a little different than I would of done originally due to the game clues (I'll explain later), but it is a good base to start with.

Most people will only use some of these circles, I had many some of which are 26 divisions and some with 27, I would just do 26 divisions for everything so all the items line up. I chose two different ones so that when I gave the clue it spelled out the birthday girls birthday, but that meant I needed a few extra numbers per wheel, you will not need to do this, but could if you wish. I also added a mini wheel going up to 100s to make it harder. Less wheels makes it not as tall and not as wide, but that is kind of the cool part, I wanted to show lots of complexity.

Making the Wheel

Step 0: Extract and load the Mayan fonts (need to do this to make it work)

Step 1: Make the polar array of 26 parts for the alphabet with which ever diameters you want really. Just make sure your font is readable. My dimensions as shown are all over the place due to a scaling issue I had when "printing" my laser cut. I had a small piece of scrap that I printed it to so everything got downscaled. Originally I used an inner diameter of 6.5" and an outer diameter of 7.25".

In AutoCAD set your units to inches and architectural to 1/32 precision

1. type units, choose Architectural, Precision 1/32" from the drop down.

2. Then Draw your circles. Type Circle, then click anywhere. Type the diameter you want ie, 6.5 and then hit enter

3. Type Circle and click the center of the circle so you can make it coincident. Type diameter, ie 7.25 and hit enter

You should have to circles perfectly centered on each now.

4. Draw out all your circles you want and make them all coincident. Draw your last one to fit a predetermined peg, I would use 1/2" if you are adding more than 3 wheels.

5. Now draw a line from the center mark to 90 degrees from the center to the outside of your rings lets say about 2" off, doesn't really matter as we will cut this later.

6. Ok make a text box and make a Capital A and line the A up so it is centered between the circles and the line passes through the line in its vertex as shown.

7. type arraypolar and choose the line you made and the A text boxes, hit enter and click the center point of all the circles (basepoint), a few lines should pop up. You want to select items. Then type the number of divisions, ie 26. It will preview your selection now hit enter.

OK, you have all your circles into 26 pieces that are split. Now what? We need to explode it and make another polar array.

Step 2: Explode and Array More

Micheal Bay would be so proud - Explosions.

1. Click one of your items in your array and type explode. Hit enter. These are all individual parts now. Delete all the lines protruding from your objects.

2. Draw a lines centered in between your divisions as shown.

3. Now type arraypolar and select your line and choose items, 26 and hit enter. You should have lines equally parting the items.

4. Click a line in the array and type explode. Hit enter. They are now individual again.

5. Trim it baby! Type trim and select the outter most circle and the inner most circle, hit enter. Now click all the lines on the outside and inside circles as shown to make divisions for just your circle segments.

Your almost there!

Step 3: Adjust Text

OK, this is the easy part.

1. Your text should be individual text at this point (not part of an array, if not, explode it now).

2. Double Click Text and change the letter from A to B and so on and to numbers as needed.

3. Change the font of the outter rings and letters/numbers to get the desired Mayan Symbols.

Now you engrave/Cut it (print) it!

Step 4: Prep Your Laser File

All lasers are different and they all have different software, but in general this is how it goes.

I set all these up as 2 layers.

1. Highlight any items that need to be cut and choose RED for their line color

2. Set all the fonts to a line weight of .001" and make them either black for raster images (these are vector except the mayan fonts) or vector images for engraving.

black = raster etching, red = cutting and blue = vector etching

Set the mayan fonts that are TTF to raster and any other to vector, I actually printed both all font types in blue and it worked perfect.

Each laser will be different, but this is a pretty good standard convention.

Print it and enjoy!


JairoG11 made it! (author)2016-01-31

Solo quiero aclarar que la cultura Maya no tuvo, ni tendra nada que ver con los barbaros aztecas. Por lo demas muy interesante el articulo.

I just want to clarify that the Maya did not have , nor will have nothing to do with the Aztecs barbarians . Otherwise very interesting article .

H2Powerman made it! (author)H2Powerman2016-01-31

Good clarification, there are Mayan and Aztec characters on this wheel, because I used it for a game. It is not historically accurate in any way, you can put any characters in the cipher, even images. Thanks for the comment!

Buena aclaración, hay simbolos mayas y aztecas en esta rueda , porque lo usé para un juego. No es históricamente exacta de cualquier manera , usted puede poner cualquier carácter en el sistema de cifrado , incluso imágenes . ¡Gracias por el comentario!

tomatoskins made it! (author)2015-12-18

This is so cool! I've always loved coders/decoders/ciphers and such!

H2Powerman made it! (author)H2Powerman2015-12-18

Thanks Tomato! I love codes too, when my wife was pregnant we made a code for our family to solve and they thought we were held ransom haha!

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