Appendix D

Downloading and Printing from the Internet

In Chapter 10 we identified sources for free downloadable plans. Here we will look at how the original paper plan got on the Internet as a bunch of ones and zeros and how we use our computer equipment to turn it back into a plan we can use.

The plan donor will most likely scan the original into a computer creating a file in any one of a half dozen formats (computer languages). The file is loaded onto a Web site such as those listed in Chapter 10. We download the file we have chosen and save it into our computer. Using an appropriate computer program we open the file, size the image to meet our requirements, and print it.

You, like millions of people around the world, have a computer loaded with complex programs that may not understand the file format that describes the plan. It is necessary to identify the file format used originally and find a plug-in program to load into your computer that can read, and if necessary, uncompress (unzip) the file and allow your computer to process it.

Without the above plug-in programs you may see the drawing image on your computer screen, but not be able to print it properly. If the original plan was a big one and you, like most people, have a printer that uses only letter-size paper, you must either reduce the image to fit your printer paper or print out segments of the image on separate printer sheets that can be taped together.

D.1 File Formats
We have many combinations of computer operating systems, word processing programs, Internet service providers, and computer and printer hardware types. The number of possible combinations poses a challenge to computer program designers. In an ideal world one computer program would read and process all types of text and graphics. However, there are so many variables in file content that specific programs have evolved to provide the best quality for a given file type. In general, the best results are obtained if your computer is equipped to read and process the same format as that used to create the file originally.

Internet information is stored in the form of files. Files are identified by a descriptive name, followed by a "dot" and a brief series of letters (usually three) called a file extension. The file extension identifies the format that was used during the creation of the file. The extension tells your computer the program(s) it must use to open and process the file you wish to download. It is your clue to what programs will be needed. To see the file extension right-click the files image or icon and click properties. Your computer can be set up to display the file extension or not. A box next to "hide file extensions for known file types" should not be checked if you wish to see the extension. The above box is located in Windows 98 by clicking start/ settings/ folder options/ and view tab. In Windows XP - start/ control panel/ appearance and themes/ folder options/ view tab/ advanced settings.

D.1.1 File Format Types and Associated Programs
Under the following headings we will look at some file format types you are likely to encounter and list their required programs. Every file type is associated with a program or group of programs, so when you open a file by clicking or double-clicking the file, the associated program(s) runs automatically to process the file.

The following discussion will be limited to the use of PC Windows operating systems.

.TXT - Plain text file.
These text files are created in programs such as Microsoft Word or Notepad, included in Microsoft Windows.

.PDF - Portable Document Format.
This is a format that can be viewed by anyone, on any computer. A program called Adobe Acrobat Reader is used to read PDF files. You can download this free program at:, or from links found on many Web sites. Whenever a PDF file posted at a Web site is selected, Acrobat Reader launches in your Web browser. When the full-featured Adobe Acrobat program is used one can convert a BMP, GIF, HTML, JPEG, PCX, PNG, TIFF, or a text file into a PDF document.

For more details regarding the use of Adobe Acrobat Reader see: and: To save file space and facilitate downloading, PDF files may be found stored in a compressed form called a Zip file. A plug-in program called WinZip is used to "unzip" the file. You can download WinZip at: For more details see: and:

The PDF format causes few printing problems. Occasionally you may want to rotate the image ninety degrees to fit the page when the image is wider than it is high. This is done by clicking properties on the print widow, click features, and change from portrait orientation to landscape orientation.

.GIF - Graphics Interchange Format.
A popular format for graphics files that is widely used in Web pages. GIF is intended for saving pictures or art having less complex images. A problem with downloading GIF files involves the viewing and printing of the file at a size larger than intended. This has to do with the number of dots per inch (dpi), the resolution perceived by the computer's browser.

A compressed GIF makes a nice small file. But the printer size information is stripped off and all GIF files print out at 72 dpi. Since 72 dpi doesn't have enough resolution to provide a quality print, most people send them with higher resolutions. And the printer tries to print them at 72 dpi, which would require a huge sheet of paper. This can be overcome by opening the GIF file in a graphics program and selecting the desired dpi value. (Thanks to David Dodge from Connecticut, USA)

.BMP - Bit map Protocol.
This is a Windows standard for graphics files. These files are written and read using most popular photo-editing programs such as Microsoft Paint, which comes pre-installed in most Windows setups. When an image, such as a plan, needs to be enlarged or reduced in size, other program options include an image-editing program called ACDsee, which also comes, installed in some Windows setups. If not installed it can be downloaded from: and click: free trial. Another image editing program called Ai Picture Utility is recommended by Gary Hunter. It can be downloaded by clicking the link on One of the most popular photo editing programs is Paint Shop Pro. A trial version of this program can be downloaded from:

.JPEG or .JPG Joint Photographics Experts Group graphics format.
Used for storing scanned photographs and widely used for Web graphics. JPG files are compressed for quick download and to save file space. See Winzip above. JPG is intended to be used for saving pictures or art in the form of complex images.

Printing problems are experienced with JPG that are similar to GIF files, generally due to resolution issues. More about this later.

.TIF or .TIFF Tagged Image File Format.
A graphics file format in which files are not compressed. It is favored for high image resolution and clarity. It is recognized by most image-editing programs. A free program called AlternaTIFF is a Web browser plug-in that displays most of the common types of TIFF files. See Web site to download this program. The above TIF plug-in program is found on a unique Website: This site is used to view US patents containing line drawings and associated text.

If one goes to: and clicks U.S. Patent Database you will find the patent documentation of aviation patents dating from 1799 to 1909.

D.1.2 Computer Graphics Characteristics
⋅ Raster vs Vector Images
Raster images are composed of miniature squares, called pixels, set in a grid pattern. When a line is created, the pixels are lined up like filled-in squares on graph paper. When a raster is enlarged the pixels become larger and lines can appear jagged. File formats we will review display as raster images. Vector images are of the point, line and plane variety. They have geometric characteristics.

⋅ Resolution vs Image Size
These two characteristics have an effect on one another. Resolution is specified as the number of pixels per inch (ppi), or centimeter, in images. Too few cause jagged lines, too many use up computer memory unnecessarily. If you specify a ppi higher than your printer's resolution, your printer will not be able to use the excess and memory space will be wasted. Image size refers to either the size of the image as printed, or to the size as displayed on your computer screen. The image size can be specified in units of measurement (inches or centimeters), or as pixels per inch. Some graphics programs refer to pixels as pels (picture elements).

⋅ Changing Image Size One of the most complex elements of graphics image manipulation involves changing image size. Depending upon the graphics program used, this may be referred to as resizing, or resampling. You can change the image size by specifying the new image dimensions or by specifying the new pixels per inch. More ppi will create smaller printed pixels and a smaller printed image. Since different graphics programs and file formats have an impact on the above process, various combinations will be outlined in a step-by-step manner in D.3.

D.2 Graphics Program Selection

D.2.1 Graphics Programs vs Computer Operating Systems
A number of programs were identified in D.1.1 together with their sources. It must be noted that free programs or trial programs will usually be earlier versions of the latest version on sale at your local computer store. In some cases these early versions will not work with the latest operating system installed in your new computer.

D.2.2 Program Documentation
In the past, new programs were packaged with a manual, and sometimes also a companion CD, that described operations in detail. Current trends are that you are expected to download and print the operating manual from the software manufacturer's Web site. Past revisions of a given program may, or may not, still be on that Web site. In view of the above you may find that discounted manuals or older programs recommended by friends may no longer be useful.

D.3 Downloading Procedures
The following procedure examples were selected to provide an overall view of the subject. It is beyond the scope of this Web site to cover every combination of the factors involved.

The examples are taken from actual Web sites, so that you can repeat the whole process yourself. Most of the Web sites were chosen from the extensive list of downloadable plans found on the Web site of Derek Buckmaster. (Thanks to Derek from Australia and China)

In time, the sites selected may be discontinued or changed; in this case select a site containing a similar set of variables and follow the steps outlined here.

I have access to Windows 98 and Windows XP operating systems. In some examples one system works better for the example, in others the omitted operating system did not work for me.

Examples are grouped by degree of complexity and file type. You will find a list containing operating system(s), file format type, and plug-in programs required after the Web source of the examples. This will be followed by a discussion of the download and print process. In most cases the plan file download and opening of the file will be assumed.

D.3.1 Single sheet print, PDF format
Win98 or Win XP/PDF/Adobe Acrobat Reader/Winzip (note, XP requires Acrobat Reader 6.0)
Click Go to download page/download now/open.
In WinZip window click I agree/next/next/unzip now
Click Baby Jazz.pdf icon and image appears
Click file/print/ok

D.3.2 Single sheet print, JPG format
Win 98 or Win XP/JPG
Click file/print/ok
Win 98/JPG/MS Word
Right click image
Click copy/open MS Word doc
In MS Word doc/Click Edit/paste
Click file/print
Win 98/JPG/Kodak Imaging
Click Imaging program icon/file/open
Click my pictures/pushe.jpg/file/print
Click properties/features/landscape/ok
Click options/fit to page/ok/ok
Win XP/JPG/Windows Picture and FAX Viewer
Clicked start/mypictures
Left clicked Sportster_scale.jpg icon/ Windows Picture and Fax viewer comes up
Press control P/ photo printing wizard window comes up
Click next/next/generates full image in window
Next/sends picture to printer and printer prints full image
Win 98/JPG/WinZip/ACDsee
Clicked Curtis Robin, 95kb/thumbnail image comes up
WinZip comes up/I agree/next/next/unzip now
Icon curtisrobin.jpg comes up
Right click icon/open with ACDsee/
File/print image/properties/features/landscape/print

Win XP/JPGWinZip
Right clicked thumbnail/save to computer/ in save as window
Clicked my pictures/open/save
Start/my pictures
Clicked icon/WinZip wizard comes up/next/unzip now/ image appears
Click pictures/next
Printing preferences/landscape/ok/next/next

D.3.3 Single sheet print, GIF format
Win 98 or Win XP/GIF
Click plan of Gammon/page 1
Click file/print/ok
Win 98 or Win XP/GIF
Click file/print/ok

D.3.4 Multiple single sheets, BMP format
Win XP/BMP/WinZip/Windows picture and fax viewer
Clicked Waco SRE zip/Clicked waco_1.bmp/
Windows Picture and Fax Viewer comes up
Clicked the print icon/next (four times)
And the full image printed

D.3.5 Multiple single sheets, PDF format, printed at 100% original image
Win 98 or Win XP/PDF/Adobe Acrobat Reader
Clicked bellanca YO-50/click each thumbnail in turn
File/print/ok (for XP click pdf for A4 paper)

D.3.6 Multiple single sheets, JPG format, each containing a selected portion of the image
Win 98 or Win XP/JPG/ACDsee
Clicked ACDsee icon/my pictures comes up
Clicked Sportster_scale.jpg/full image comes up (in XP partial enlarged window comes up)
Clicked on upper left of image and dragged toward lower right to select the
upper left quadrant of the image
Clicked file/print to print the upper left quadrant (see below for XP at this point)
Repeated the click and drag process on the other three quadrants
This produces a total image when the four prints are taped together
(For XP on the print set up window/select fit to page/ok
(Thanks to Yannick Grange from France)

D.3.7 Multiple single sheets, GIF format
Win 98 or Win XP/GIF
File/print/ok for each sheet
(for XP all three sheets appear at one time/click print/ok All three print out)

D.3.8 Multiple sheets, each covering a portion of the image, BMP format
Win 98/BMP/MS Paint
Clicked MS Paint/file/open
Clicked my pictures/wright_time.bmp/image appears in paint
Clicked file/print
Nine sheets print out to define the image

D.3.9 Multiple sheets each covering a portion of the image, JPG format
Win 98 or Win XP/JPG/Paint Shop Pro
Suppose we want to download a very large plan in jpg format and reduce it to a print size that will fit on four sheets of letter sized paper measuring 8 1/2 x 11 inches.
Click the plans icon at the source and download it. Click file/save to put it in my pictures file.
Click the Paint Shop Pro icon to open the program
Click file/open
In the open window enter sportster_scale.jpg
Click open (the whole image fits it the Paint Shop Pro window)
Click image/resize
In the resize window, under pixel dimensions, select 100%
Under print size width: enter 20.00 inches/resolution: enter 150 pixels per inch
Click ok/file/print
In the print window, select landscape/ scale: enter 100%
Adjust left and top offsets to position each of the four prints
For example: Left offset 0.00, Top offset 0.00 (to get the upper left quadrant)
Click print in the print window

Grid lines can be useful when planning the number and placement of printed sheets you will need when many are required. To add grid lines proceed as follows:
In the Print Shop Pro window: click view/grid
Right click the image/click chg grid guide and snap properties under current image settings
Under units select inches/horizontal grids: enter 10.00/vertical grids: 7.50
Click ok and grid lines appear as a guide.
(Thanks to Uttam Chandrashekhar from India)

D.3.10 Single sheet print TIF format
Win 98 or Win XP/TIF/AlternaTIFF
Click Earl Stahl plans/Waco SRE/plan page 1 (file download window appears)

Win 98
Right click image
Left click print/properties/features/landscape/ok/ok

Win XP
Right click image
Left click print/preferences/landscape/ok/print
Win 98 or Win XP/TIF/AlternaTIFF
On this Web site the use of AlternaTIFF allows photographs appear that otherwise may be represented by a small square with an x in it.

D.3.11 Printing a file from monitor images
Win 98 or Win XP/MS Word
When a plan has been downloaded and appears on the computer screen:
To print the screen, press the print screen key (upper right keyboard). Don't make the mistake I made, don't press the shift key at the same time because it looks like the letters Print Scrn are at the top of the key.
At this point the image is contained within the clip board.
Open a MS Word document and click paste and you will see the screen image, captured for printing or other use.
To capture only the Window in which the plan image appears press Alt and Print Scrn at the same time.

D.4 Using a Copy Machine or Scanner to Resize Plans
We have seen that most of the downloading process has resulted in either small images confined to one US Letter sized sheet of paper or images resized to a larger scale printed on multiple sheets. You may wish to enlarge the image all the way to your desired scale and elect to print out a series of images containing all the elements of one structure at a time, such as a wing. There are other options to accomplish the above process that involve copy machines and scanners- both large and small.

D.4.1 Copy Machines
In the past we have taken our plans to the nearest copy machine, preferably one that could produce 11 x 17 inch prints, to enlarge plans from magazines to a size required for a given contest event. Sometimes it takes more than one exposure (copy of a copy) to get to the desired size. This process involves a lot of pasting sheets and percentage calculations. It often introduces some distortion of the image; such as slightly unequal enlargement across the sheet. It will work but, if you have access to the equipment scanners can produce a more accurate image.

One can use a scanner to resize a plan taking advantage of a scanner's ability to resize accurately.

D.4.2.1 Scan/Resize/Send to Printer
Place the original paper copy of the plan to be resized on the scanner glass face down and scan to the scanner's software, and resize. The scanner software will allow one to change the size of the image by adjusting the pixel count (dpi). Say click tools/change resolution. In the following example suppose your original had a wingspan of 6.50 inches, and you want to resize to 13.00 inches. Divide the desired span (13.00 inches) by the span on the print to be scanned (6.50 inches) which equals two. Multiply 2 times the resolution used to make the scan (say 200 dpi) and you get 400 dpi. Change the scanners resolution from 200 to 400 and scan the original again. The resulting printed image should have a 13 inch wingspan. (Thanks to Marcel Lavoie from Canada)

D.4.2.2 Scan/Resize/Send to Another Program
Following the scanner software resize above one can send the resized image to a program having limited resize ability (such as MS Paint) where it may be otherwise manipulated.
You can bring an image directly into an open file in one of your programs if the program is TWAIN-compliant. If it isn't you can try to copy and paste or drag and drop the image into the program. Or, save the image as a file and then place the file in the program. See your scanner manual for details.

D.4.3 Using Large Copy Shop Equipment
Equipment that is intended to be used to copy and/or enlarge very large original architectural drawings can be used to make our large prints in one piece. I found an Oce TDS 400 system at my local copy shop. It's an industrial scanner and printer on steroids. It will print anywhere from 11x 17 inches to 3 x 50 feet!! I scanned a US Letter sized sheet and set the enlargement to 200 % to test the image quality, and it was acceptable. Even at 400% the linework was undistorted and the lettering was readable. The 400% image measured 22 x 30 Inches. The two test prints cost only four and one half US Dollars.

D.5 Computer User Groups
When you are confronted with a computer-related problem and the local experts (read - the high school kid down the street) can't help, you can log on to a vast network of computer techies. One source is the Association of Personal Computer User Groups Their group locator is at There you will find links to groups in States of the United States and countries worldwide.

Good luck with downloading plans. May the Coven of Computer Wizards sprinkle Pixel Dust on your efforts.

Return to Appendix C

Copyright 2003-2004, Robert S. Munson. All Rights Reserved