What comp system(s) are you using?

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Well-Known Member
Feb 21, 2009
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Levy County Florida
HI all!

For you who are interested in learning to design your own rockets, and who are not sure where to start, I am planning a step by step guide using all free and available programs.
Before I begin, I would like to ask you participate in an informal survey, of what type operating system you have:
Windows vs Mac, or other.
Also, do you have any photo manipulating software, and do you have knowledge of how to use it.
Based on your responses, I can take a basic easy to do design from the past, ( as in a plan posted on Jim Z's site), and write a cloning process, making it into a card model.

If anyone wants to take it further, I'd be willing to help with, and or participate in a group class and design project, where we create a model.
We can trade off each others designs, build, and 'positively' critique each other's work...
FYI, you don't have to use the same programs. Neils Jahn Knudsen and I use entirely different programs, and yet have added and modified each others work on collaborations, especially with our 'THOR' projects.
That's one of the great things about paper modeling, you can participate no matter where yo are and work with each other through the internet!

Just some ideas to bounce around, and run up the flagpole...

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Most of the systems I work on are Windows XP based.

I have Photoshop but only the most elementary idea of how to use it. It was bought for a specific purpose and a staff member did the actual work with it. I just use it to "save photos for web".

Autocad is my favorite program but I stopped updating it at R14, shortly after I left practice. I still have a license but can't do the newer stuff.
HP Z400 Workstation (Dual Core Xeon) - yes at home running Win7 Enterprise 64. I have a few VMs loaded in Vmware Workstation 7.5. I run Autocad14 in the VM as you need Autocad2010 for Windows 7.

For Photo Editiing I use either Photoshop CS3 or Corel Photodraw.
I have a Dual Quad core Power Mac with photoshop, illustrator, rocksim, tubocad.

I have two emachines PC's running Windows Vista Home Premium, and two older emachines PC's running Ubuntu Linux 9.10, all on the same network and all connected to the Internet through a switch and a DSL modem/router. Obviously all of these PC's are pretty low-end systems, especially the two older ones.

I do very little image manipulation, but at this point what I do is with Windows Paint.

I have the GIMP and Inkscape on both the Windows and Ubuntu machines, but I haven't used either one at this time.

Also, I really am not very good at using the Ubuntu systems other than for basic Internet browsing and playing media that I have stored on an external USB drive attached to one of the Windows machines. In fact, I can't even figure out how to put an icon on the desktop of the second Ubuntu machine that links to the media files on the Windows machine, even though I did exactly that on the first Ubuntu machine just a few weeks ago.

Oh, and I have OpenOffice v3 on all four of the PC's.
I have a relatively new (well, maybe not, 2-yrs-old) Compaq PC with Windows at home, and a desktop also with Windows. We have been "Vistafied" (that is, HOSED). I have Corel Photo-Paint but haven't ever used it to draw (don't know how), just look, and Microsoft Office Picture Manager, which is also useful for looking at tiffs, jpgs etc. I have deliberately not invested much in other software because I am looking forward to when I can get rid of these POS systems with Vista and I don't know what the next systems will be (I have always liked PCs but I am ready to switch to Macs).

No rocsim, I do my own analysis. I have two kids and a wife in college so spending $100 for something I can do myself free just isn't on the table.

Don't know much about Powerpoint (other than it doesn't work for much of the work I do) but I understand it has some level of "scale" drafting capability? (I guess I need to get a book and learn)

I use a desktop PC at work (provided by the company) with XP, but very little for any rocketry-related stuff.
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Thanks for the replies so far....
Let me include myself in this as well..

Gateway laptop/w/Vista:bang::bangbang:...
Metasequioa LE version 2.4 (a free program) as my cad tool
Pepakura Designer as my 'unfolder' (for those unfamiliar with that, I'll cover it later in great detail) That's also a free program, but I believe you still need the license to 'export' (save you work in another format for later use).
Paint Shop Pro V7 (made under JASC)

Those are the only programs I currently use. In a pinch, I can still use MS PAINT though. ;)
(I think I mentioned all that before in the previous thread) :D
I also have SpaceCad v3.1 (OLD!), and RocSim v8...something. Vista doesn't like it, and most of my designs send it into fits, so I seldom use it except for reference.
BTW- Here's the link to Niels website, Niels Paper Models:

Niels also co-moderates the Yahoo Space Paper models Group, along with Joy Cohn, another good space paper artist.
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No rocsim, I do my own analysis. I have two kids and a wife in college so spending $100 for something I can do myself free just isn't on the table.
I haven't been able to justify to myself the cost of buying Rocksim either, even though of course I've spent more than that on rocket kits and supplies over the past 5.5 years.

There's that free Java based Openrocket or whatever it's called, that people seem to like. Plus WRASP and VCP, which I use sometimes. And I still have a copy of the Rocksim version 5.2 demo software that I downloaded back in 2004; it does the job, even though it doesn't let me save anything.
As far as CAD software is concerned, there's a free program called DoubleCAD XT, found here:

It's an AutoCAD LT workalike and has gotten some really good reviews.

I've installed it but haven't used it much, since I haven't had a lot of time and have virtually no CAD experience.
I use an 8 year old P4-powered WinXP box that is slowly succumbing to the death of a thousand blue screens. For image editing I use the GIMP and occasionally the Microsoft Office Picture Manager. I don't do anything even remotely sophisticated with either one. I use the former mostly for cutting, pasting rotating and rescaling line art (fin templates, for example) and I occasionally play around with the items in the Filters menu to alter graphics while trying to avoid making them look hideous. I use the MSOPM mainly for simple cropping and resizing of images (editing photos for attachment to posts, for example). I also use the Microsoft Office Document Imaging utility to assemble individual TIFF images into a single multi-paged document.

2-year-old Inspiron Laptop running Vista. I have Openrocket 0.9.5 (and RASP on my graphing calculator) for simulations and nothing but Picasa and paint for editing.

I do a lot of my designing on pencil and paper, though. Easier for the odd stuff, nothing to print, and you dn't need a backup saved somewhere...
I'm running a dell XP machine that's about 3 years old now,
CorelDraw-x3, wRasp and Rasp-32, RocketCAD4, Spacecad, VCP, Photoshop, Photodelux.
TurboCad-10, and Rocsim that are not used all that much.
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I'm running a 6 year old Dell using Windows XP. I use MS Paint for almost any graphics work that I do.

I use Microsoft Picture It for certain things that Paint doesn't do well.

I have Paint Shop Pro V7 that I have had installed for a few years but I never have taken the time to really learn how to use it. When I need to do something, I usually just do it in MS Paint rather that trying to figure out how to use Paint Shop Pro.
I've designed a few cardstock rockets. Currently I'm using Windows XP on a Dell PC.

I use an out of date version of MS Photo Editor for graphic file manipulations.
I use PowerPoint to draw the rocket parts and make some of the illustrations used with the instructions.
I use MS Word to edit instructions.
I convert everything to PDF files for printing.
I use a HP 1016 LaserJet to print instructions
I use a HP 1600 LaserJet to print on cardstock

I'd like to convert everything to Ubuntu and Open Office but there's always some essential function at each step in the process that keeps me slaved to MS.:mad:

I'd like to discuss cardstock types and robust color printers with anyone with some experience.

Art Applewhite
I'd like to convert everything to Ubuntu and Open Office but there's always some essential function at each step in the process that keeps me slaved to MS.:mad:
Art, what have you found that's missing from Ubuntu or OpenOffice? I have 2 Windows PCs and 2 Ubuntu PCs at the moment, and I don't use the Ubuntu PCs for anything but Internet browsing and playing media files.
I'd like to convert everything to Ubuntu and Open Office but there's always some essential function at each step in the process that keeps me slaved to MS.:mad:


I'm also curious what enslaves you to MS. I have switched many users to Ubuntu and other Linuxes and find its rare to find something you can't do in Ubuntu for free. I've been in IT for 20 years and support all OS's and have much experience in finding low cost/ no cost alternatives for clients.
Just curious. I would love to help.
My PC was formerly my back-up computer, and it will revert back to that role (if it lives long enough) when I have saved up enough to buy my next Mac.

I actually run two different machines - I have a Macbook Pro running OS X and the Adobe Creative Suite package (Illustrator & Photoshop) and I have a PC running an older version of Illustrator (v9). Either way, I use Illustrator almost exclusively to create my paper rockets. Photoshop is used mostly to clean up and create decal elements that can't be drawn with Illustrator (things like the Estes Goblin & bats, logos, etc.).

Oh, and I use MS Excel for doing the calculations on transitions (paper nose cones are just a series of transitions for those who haven't looked at it that close yet). I just use the formulas from G. Harry Stine's Handbook in the spreadsheet (automatically using the large diameter of each segment for the small diameter of the next in the series).
I'm also curious what enslaves you to MS.

I can't speak for Art but about the only product I can't find for Mac OSX is VCP, which I am very dependent on for fin wraps and shrouds and such.

As for the survey:
Primary computer is a 3 year old Mac Book running Snow Leopard.
Rocksim 8 (Have become a little too dependent on RS)
Photoshop CS3 (Very proficent with Photoshop but still a noob to Illustrator)
We run an old copy of Word for Mac, but there is also the Apple equivalent called IWork. It will open and manipulate Doc, PPT and XLS files without a problem then save them as Windows files or as the Apple equivalent.

We have a five year old Dell XP boat anchor in the shop for printing duties only.
VCP (The main reason not to burn this box)
Photoshop CS3 (Very proficient with Photoshop but still a noob to Illustrator)
Corel draw 7 (used once)

The class design project sounds great, I would be MOST interested in learning how to create card models.
I'm also curious what enslaves you to MS. I have switched many users to Ubuntu and other Linuxes and find its rare to find something you can't do in Ubuntu for free. I've been in IT for 20 years and support all OS's and have much experience in finding low cost/ no cost alternatives for clients.
Just curious. I would love to help.
It might be better if I discussed this off line with you because it will be getting off topic here but the basic problems are this.

I installed Ubuntu 8.10 on my Dell/MS XP system and it worked ok but when I upgraded to 9.04 the screen would either lock up or scramble as soon as I started run any applications. The problem seemed to be with the drivers for my ATI Radeon video card and I found out from a Linux forum that this was an issue for people who upgraded from 8.10 to 9.04. Changing to a Geforce video card didn't fix the problem and neither did installing 9.10. Now I have at least 3 different Ubuntu versions and one MS XP partition on my hard drive and I'm starting to run out of room.

Since the problem is in the video driver I can't troubleshoot the Ubuntu problem without a lot more experience in "command line" type problem solving and a better understand of the Linux file system which I don't have. 10 minutes with a Linux guru would likely solve most of the problems.

The application problems vary. I use RockSim for some of my design work and there is no Linux equivalent that I am aware of.

I use PowerPoint for many of my designs. It's not the best programs for this but it does everything I need to do. I have a lot of designs already in this format so it easier to modify an existing design when working on a new project than start from scratch. Open Office Impress is close but not exactly the same as PowerPoint. It treats some functions differently and the terminology is different enough to make every new task very tedious to learn. Impress might be good enough if you doing a simple presentation but not when your pushing the edge like I do. The difference is likely some simple like the rendering engine but it's enough to make transitioning very difficult. I need to be able to load PPT files into Impress and not have to make hundreds of minor changes to get them to work. Some of the things I need to transfer I haven't edited in 8 years.

I would really like to find the Impress equivalent of PowerPoint's "nudge" buttons. I use them a lot to line up objects precisely and dragging with a mouse is not accurate enough.

I use MS Word for creating instructions and the way embedded pictures are handled is different enough to cause problems.

I'm not saying MS Office is better than Open Office in any way, just that it's different enough to make change over very time consuming.

Besides the issues with video driver, I have also had problems with printer drivers. Generic drivers don't cut it when you're trying to keep tolerances to within plus or minus 0.05 inch and printing on cardstock and posterboard in color.

Some of the difficulty is just me being too lazy and too set in my ways to learn a new system but it's not easy to doing it alone and rural Texas isn't exactly on the IT cutting edge. I was an electronic technician in the Air Force for 20 years and an network installer and administrator for another 10. I quit all that when the job became nothing more that having to load endless security patches and anti virus update. I'm a creative person and the minutia (SP) of what computers and operating systems has become destroys my creative buzz. :mad:

Having said all this, I would still like to get far enough around the Linux learning curve to be able to have it run nearly as well as MS.

Art Applewhite
I'm not a pro at printing, but as for my personal, amateur, at home experience:

I do highly recommend a printer with at least 4 replaceable ink cartridges.
My current printer is a 6 year old Epson all in one CX-6400. I was told by the company not to use 110ld cardstock or heavier, but I have and it worked, accurately. I also highly recommend the DuraBrite inks. Your models won't smear when you assemble them. The Epson has always printed highly accurately, (although it does use A-LOT of ink), and with clear resolution, till about 9 months ago, but it's still going. The printer head is now slap wore out, and smears ink if not kept constantly clean and a coupe of sheets printed out before I want to print something nice. Vista does not allow the printer to talk back the computer for diagnostic purposes, so I need something, Vista-fied.
I bought a Cannon Pixma, but returned after 1 day because it couldn't print the same way on regular paper, or in the same colors/shades, as on cardstock. Yes, I read all the manuals, and tips/suggestions, even on their website. My old Epson has better performance (Rather ironic, since Cannon has , arguably, one of the best site in the world for free card models!)

https://cp.c-ij.com/ja/contents/1006/ (Japanese)
https://cp.c-ij.com/en/contents/1006/ (English)

Of course, Cannon does make much better pro models, they also come with a higher price tag to match; more than I'm willing to pay, right now.

2 weeks ago I bought a HP PhotoSmart Premium, because it's supposed to be a good all-in-one, that can handle the heavier paper mediums. (Cardstock) I've also, as of yet, been too lazy to hook it up, but as Val is on my case because we only have a little over 2 weeks to take it back. I'll be hooking it up a bit later.

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For printing, I have an HP DeskJet 970cxi that I purchased along with my (now long dead) iMac back in 2000. It's still going strong, and it has never given me a bit of trouble.

My iMac died at the end of 2005 after being run almost continuously for nearly 44,000 hours. It would go for months without being shut off. We would leave the house to go on vacation for 2 weeks, and when we came back home I would just sit right back down in front of it and immediately check my email. I bought an iSub and when my stereo receiver stopped sending anything out of one of its channels, our iMac became our home audio system, too. It's been four years, and I still miss it. :( I have lots of photos and video files, including videos of my mother and my brother (both gone now, too) on its hard drive that I hope to be able to retrieve someday. It only had a 500 MHz PowerPC G3 processor and 1Gb of RAM and a 15" built-in monitor, and it ran Jaguar (OS X 10.2, which was almost two releases out of date even back then), for God's sake, but I never came across a website or an online video that didn't run smoothly on it. (I can't say the same about the 2.4 GHz P4 WinXP machine that I have been using ever since.)

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Im using a MacBook Pro with Snow Leopard and Boot Camp and Parallels with Windows 7. The programs I use; most Microsoft Office programs, Photoshop, RockSim, OpenRock, RASAero, ProE, AutoCad, Altimeter programs, and iWeb. I am also getting better at FinalCut for making movies.
The HP PhotoSmart Premium is going back! After 16-17 pages, It pulled the top part of the feed tray/secondary smaller photo paper feeded into itself. The next to useless software guide sid to "pull it out", I did- in pieces! :y:
Darn thing self destructed. That was kind of cool! btw- The pages and photos it did print were 'average'

I think I'll be sticking with Epsons...
I have 2 different PC's set up

1st--- an older Dell with xp-sp3(1gb ram)
this is my modeling workhorse
It's not hooked to the internet as I initially set it up to run strictly an Alps printer.

Once I got the Alps working on it (loads of fun..:() , I added my small Roland Stika vinyl cutter.(paid for it's self by doing several local small business signs,I got lucky as I knew the owners well enough to give me the work)

programs installed on it besides those are;

Illustrator cs2

Photoshop Elements

Rhino 4.0 (it has a an unfolder app called "unroll surfaces")

Adobe pdf viewer( mainly for inputing color layers into the alps and outputing drawings/templates to a usable format for virtualy anything)

Irfanview (my favorite image viewer and resizer) Everyone should have this program IMHO

coreldraw 9.0(seldom use it, because I prefer Illustrator)sometimes people send me corel drawings to print or cut so it does help to have installed.

Rocsim 7.2

my printer is a Canon Pixma 6000d-it uses 6 different ink cartridges and I can get quality refills for less than $3.00 a piece, a great printer and relativly quiet !
*Eric , I have not had the color issues you described from your experiences, Not sure what might be different from our setups,,, but there are obviously many possible factors involved.

My other(Daily) computer is running Vista 64 with the typical stuff on it.
It's an AMD quad core (8 GB ram, high end video card,twin 750gb hard drives, ample power supply,DVD burner,High Def Moniter output..and so on)Hopefully that one will last me several years before it's considered out of date.I built it from parts for about $600

I have not done any full cardstock models yet, but I do make ALOT of parts from cardstock on my scratchbuilds, almost every one of them lately.
AXE's tutorals have been very helpfull in that regard so thanks to AXE !
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We are a mixed-OS household with three Macs (a G3 iMac on 10.3.9, a 12 inch Powerbook on 10.5.1 and a MacBook Pro on 10.5.something and Windows 7 via Boot Camp), and four PCs (all on XP Home SP3). Two of these are Acer netbooks, one is older cheapo Toshiba laptop and a one a 3+year old low-end desktop from Frys. For image manipulation we have a really old copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements V2, Picasa, something on the Fry's PC called MGI Photosuite, Open Office 3 (both Acers) and an odd smattering of other stuff.

We have legit copies of MS Office on the PB, the iMac and the Fry's computer (but they are older versions).

One of the Acer AspireOnes is the hobby room computer - it has Open Rocket 0.9.5 on it as well as Picasa and Open Office 3.1.

No CAD to speak of - at least not yet.

There are actually at least three other computers in the house in running condition - an Amiga 2000 with a 68030 accelerator board, running AmigaDOS 3.1, a Mac Plus running system 6.something, and my eldest son's Acer laptop with Vista. The Ami is not networked and we have no printer for it anymore but if one wanted to fire it up, it just needs to be turned on. The Mac Plus (with 10 Mb external serial hard drive(!!!) is generally just used to amuse the grandson (age 3), and the Acer with Vista is - well - it's dying by pieces and not as easy to fix as the Fry's machine.
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