Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The DIY Magnetic GTS (and a tutorial)

On Thursday, September the 22nd, thecubicle.us just announced the Cubicle Labs Weilong GTS M, Pretty damn cool looking cube, it had integrated magnets and promised snappier motion and better stability.

I do understand why they did this. They claim to have spent hundreds of dollars on research and labor is expensive, so obviously they wouldn't sell it for the same price as a typical Premium cube. Even so, the $50 asking price is just too far above the budgets of many, many cubers, mine included.

I remembered that night that out of sheer luck, I had a pack of 50 4x2mm magnets I bought for a 3D printer related project earlier that I never started. (Sorry if you've been waiting for that, by the way. I might still get around to it at some point.) They seemed to fit the GTS corner pieces fine, and since I had a few extra throwaway Weilong GTS's I made one the next day.

Thoughts on it? Well, it's certainly a good cube, and exactly what I expected out of it. When you get close to completing a turn it wants to snap the turn into place, and when you're starting a turn there's more resistance. That certainly makes it more stable than a typical GTS, which made it very good for OH - I mained it for OH during Slow N' Steady, when the day before I was dead set on the valk.

Besides that, though, it's still just kinda like a GTS. Same speed, same crunchiness, slightly reduced flexiness. The snap is really only apparent when you're turning slowly, and during high speed while you can notice a difference in stability you generally won't feel the snap. Same way the snap of the magnetic pyraminx is also kind of drowned out in high speed.

I do have to bring up: I used N35 rated magnets, which are the cheapest, because that's what I had lying around. Chris Tran said he looked for the magnets that were the strongest for the weight, meaning he probably used N50s which should be stronger. In fact, I felt Waffo's magnetic GTS during SNS, which he requested specifically to have weaker magnets put in it, and it felt almost identical to mine. Because of that, I'll say this is in absolutely no way representative of what a real GTS M might feel like. I'd also recommend that if you want to do this project yourself and want to match the GTS M, you should opt for N50 or N52 magnets instead.

Without further ado, the tutorial.


(I'll update this tutorial after I get another set of magnets in, and can make another magnetic GTS. Until then, you'll just have to live with pictures cobbled from pictures of a normal GTS and pictures of my finished magnetic GTS.)

DISCLAIMER: This is a DIY project involving superglue and high performance Rubik's cubes, which generally do not mix. If you're not careful there's a very real chance of you getting superglue on the friction surfaces, resulting in you altering your cube's feel or worst case even gluing two cubies together. As such, I cannot take responsibility for any damage you may do in an attempt to follow this tutorial.

Materials needed:
  • 1x Weilong GTS, or any other cube you'd like to modify
  • 48x neodymium disk magnets at 3-5mm diameter and 1-3mm thick
    • We suspect thecubicle used 4mm diameter and 2mm thick magnets rated at N50, but this is not confirmed. Obviously a larger magnet will be stronger, as will a higher N number. Pick your own if you don't want to use thecubicle's.
    • I used 4x2mm N35s since that's what I had lying around, but it's a tad too weak.
  • Liquid superglue (do not use gel)
  • Basic disassembly tools
  1. Disassemble the cube and remove all of the caps.
  2. Note that in the corner pieces, on each of the three sides, there's a flat surface divided by a ridge (highlighted in blue), and the surface drops off into the slope at the back (highlighted in green). You want the first magnet to rest against both the ridge and the slope. Put a dot of superglue just between the two features (highlighted in red).
  3. Place a magnet against both the slope and the ridge. An easy way to do this is to tilt the corner piece and drop the magnet in carefully, letting it slide down to rest between the two features. Wait until the superglue bonds.
    • Do not do the other two magnets of that corner just yet. It will be difficult to begin with since the magnet you just placed would be attracting it, and you may reverse the polarity on the other magnets. We'll ensure the polarity is correct later.
  4. Place an edge piece against the side of the corner piece with a magnet, align it properly, and drop a magnet into the edge. The magnet should snap to the inside surface of the edge in its correct position. Note this position.
  5. Remove the magnet and put a dot of superglue roughly where the magnet was, highlighted in red (this does not need to be exact). Drop the magnet back into the edge and if all goes well, the magnet will snap right onto the dot of superglue. Let it dry.
  6. Flip the edge over so the side without the magnet is touching the corner. Repeat (making sure the new magnet doesn't snap to the other magnet already in the edge instead of the corner). You now have a finished edge piece with which you can make corners with!
  7. Twist the unfinished corner so a side without a magnet is touching the edge. Do the same thing: place a spot of superglue where the magnet should go, and drop in the new magnet, and wait for it to dry. Using the magnetism of the edge to attach the second corner magnet ensures its polarity is correct. Twist it again, and repeat for the third and final time. You now have a finished corner with which you can make edges!
  8. Repeat for every remaining edge and corner, using finished edges and corners as guides. To speed up the process and keep the magnets in place as they dry, start reassembling the pieces without a core. The attraction between the magnets will keep them in place as they dry, and you end up with a cool looking centerless cube.
  9. Reassemble, lube, and tension to your liking.
  10. Use that $200 vinyl cutter I'm sure you have to make a cool logo for it. Or, ya know, don't.
You now have a magnetic GTS!

If you found this tutorial helpful or enjoyed reading it, please consider using my Speedcubeshop affiliate link to get a GTS to magnetize or any other cube - it helps me out a lot in writing more reviews or getting other content like this tutorial out.

I hope you enjoyed reading! Good luck on your journey to getting a magnetic GTS!

Pre-publishing "update": 

Phil Yu posted a writeup on Cyoubx's Friends defending the GTS M a few days ago. In it, he mentioned several people were reverse engineering the GTS M and that people had already replicated it, which was likely addressed at me. In it, he basically says he believes it is inappropriate for us to use a BOM to suggest his version is overpriced.

To make myself clear, at one point, during the excitement of having successfully completed a magnetic cube, I did in fact think Thecubicle's version was overpriced. However, since then I've thought it about it a bit more. Thecubicle's version is more than just magnets and a cube: the product itself has the same tensioning, lubing, and pretty flawless stickering any premium cube has, but it also has magnets that are likely placed and attached far more precisely than my hastily superglued version, and on top of that it has the the original experimentation and development that Chris Tran did to create and perfect their cubes. I did suggest that it shouldn't have taken hundreds of dollars of resources to create one, since cubes are cheap and magnets are cheaper, but company time is money. As such, I think $50 is perfectly justified and it's a matter of consumer choice whether or not you want to spend that money for a cube.

Sorry if this isn't up to my usual standard of work, I just wanted to be the first to get a writeup about an aftermarket magnetic GTS out so I threw this together very hastily. :P


  1. Hello, this seems very interesting and I would love to try it but I can't find Neodymium Disc Magnets. Can I ask where you bought it?