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
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
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
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
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
.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:
www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html, 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:
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: www.winzip.com
For more details see: www.winzip.com/hints_and_tips.htm?wzda 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: www.acdsee.com 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 aipict.zip on
One of the most popular photo editing programs is Paint Shop Pro. A trial
version of this program can be downloaded from: www.jasc.com.
.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
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 www.alternatiff.com to download this program.
The above TIF plug-in program is found on a unique Website:
www.uspto.gov/patft/help/images.htm. This site is used to view US patents
containing line drawings and associated text.
If one goes to: http://invention.psychology.msstate.edu/air_main.shtml 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
⋅ 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.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
D.3.2 Single sheet print, JPG format
Win 98 or Win XP/JPG
Win 98/JPG/MS Word
Right click image
Click copy/open MS Word doc
In MS Word doc/Click Edit/paste
Win 98/JPG/Kodak Imaging
Click Imaging program icon/file/open
Click my pictures/pushe.jpg/file/print
Click options/fit to page/ok/ok
Win XP/JPG/Windows Picture and FAX Viewer
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
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/
Right clicked thumbnail/save to computer/ in save as window
Clicked my pictures/open/save
Clicked Robin.zip icon/WinZip wizard comes up/next/unzip now/ image appears
D.3.3 Single sheet print, GIF format
Win 98 or Win XP/GIF
Click plan of Gammon/page 1
Win 98 or Win XP/GIF
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
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
In the open window enter sportster_scale.jpg
Click open (the whole image fits it the Paint Shop Pro window)
In the resize window, under pixel dimensions, select 100%
Under print size width: enter 20.00 inches/resolution: enter 150 pixels per inch
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)
Right click image
Left click print/properties/features/landscape/ok/ok
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
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
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 www.apcug.org. Their group locator is at
http://cdb.apcug.org/loclist.asp. 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.