Print Flite Test Plans

by SP0NZ | August 19, 2016 | (18 Ratings) Posted in How To

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How To: Print Flite Test Plans


Introduction

I began creating the free plans for Flite Test in October 2015.  The new format for these plans started well before that with a forum discussion started by Balu way back in August 2014.  There was a lot of discussion in the forums over how best to reformat the existing plans to make it easier for the scratch builder.  The template that I created to make my own plans evolved over time from feedback from the Flite Test community.  Most of the feedback that I have received regarding the new plans has been very positive.  My main goal is to continue to improve and add value to the free Flite Test plans.  One of the most frequently asked questions I get from people regarding the Flite Test plans, is how to correctly print them.  In this article I will share what I find works best, including what software and settings to use to achieve the best results.  This will by no means be the best possible solution for everyone.  The platforms, operating system, hardware and software that abound make it impossible to provide a single solution that will work for all.  I hope that you find this a helpful and vauluable resource for printing your model airplane plans.

We will get into the details of how to print shortly.  But first, let me give you some important technical information.

Full-Size Plans

If you are going to be printing the full-size plans, you either have access to your own plotter (lucky you) or you are taking them to a print shop and paying to have them printed.  People often ask what size they need to plot when they take the PDF to a print service like Staples or Kinkos.

Print Area: 22 x 34 inched (559 x 864 mm)

ANSI D: 22 x 34 inches (559 X 864 mm)
ISO A1: 594 x 841 mm (23.4 x 33.1 inches)

The plans are formatted so that they can be printed in black-and-white and still provide the builder with the important information they need to cut and fold all the parts for the design.  Printing in black-and-white will typically cost significantly less than full-size color prints.  Each sheet includes a scale in the upper-right corner of the page in inches and millimeters.  Measure your printed plans to make sure that the scale is correct before you pay for your prints and leave the store.  The full-size plans also include a title sheet and a drawing key.  Most builder will choose to print these two pages out on thier home printers.  But, if you are having a print service make them, they can be printed on ANSI A (US Letter) or ISO A4 size paper.  

 Tiled Plans

The actual print area of the tiled plans is 7.5 x 10 inches to accommodate printing on both ANSI A (US Letter) and ISO A4 size paper without any scaling or sizing issues.  This allows me to make one set of tiled plans that should work with most home and office printers almost anywhere in the world.

Print Area: 7.5 x 10 inches (190.5 x 254 mm)

ANSI A:  8-1/2 x 11 inches (216 x 279 mm)
ISO A4: 210 x 297 mm (8.27 x 11.7 inches)

Now, on to the how-to...

Printing

The biggest mistake people make when printing the tled plans is to try printing them directly from a web browser (i.e. chrome, safari, explorer, etc.).  For most PDF documents, printing from the web browser is perfectly acceptable.  However, for printing technical drawings at a precise scale they simply do not give you enough control to achieve the desired results. NEVER print your plans from your web browser.  ALWAYS download the files to your device and print them.

Software

There are several software applications available that will open, view and print PDF documents.  I always recommend people to use Adobe Reader for printing plans.  There are a couple of reason why.  First, Adobe owns the PDF format, and their software just works.  It's also free for anyone to download and use the viewer.  Finally, I've been using it for years and I'm comfortable with it and the setting required to get the best results.  You can feel free to experiment with other software if you choose, but I will be giving you directions on how best to print plans with Adobe Reader.  If you find other methods and software that work as well or better, please share it.  If you don't already have Adobe Acrobat Reader DC installed, you can get the latest version here: https://get.adobe.com/reader/

I'm going to assume that you have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC installed, you have downloaded the plans that you want to print, and have opened the plans in Adobe Reader.

With the file open select print from the toolbar or the File menu.  Adobe will display the following Print dialog box.

 

Properties - use to change setting specific to your printer such as paper type and print quality.  I often print my plans to card stock to make templates.  Look for a future article on making card stock templates.

Save ink/toner - this setting can cause unexpected results such as missing lines or text.  make sure this is unchecked.

Custom Scale - I have found this setting to give the best, most accurate results for scale.   After printing, measure the included scale on one or more of the printed pages to check for accuracy.  If you need to make a fine adjustment to get your prints to the correct scale, this is where you will do it.

Choose paper source by PDF page size - Make sure this is unchecked and you have manually selected the correct paper size for your printer.  Leaving this checked can cause some minor scaling issues.

Orientation - make sure this is set to Auto portrait/landscape.  This setting also centers the print area on the paper.  Not using the Auto setting can cause one or more edges of your print to get cropped.

Print the file and measure the scale to be sure that the print scale is accurate.  If it's off a little, first double check all the above settings.  If they are all set correctly, you can try tweaking the custom scale factor to dial in your printer.  A slight variation in scale won't have much of an impact on your builds.  However, if the scale is off by 1/8 to 1/4 inch or more, you will not have a very enjoyable build process.

Conclusion

That's it folks.  That is the magic formula for printing Flite Test tiled plans.  I've had a lot of people ask me to help them with printing issues and 99% of the time these settings resovled them.  As I said earlier, with all the different printers, drivers, and operating systems, there is no combination that will work for everyone.  That said, these should work for most of you.  If not, post in the comments below or ask over on the Flite Test forums.  It's a great resource to get answers to your questions.

As always, if you found this article to be helpful/informative, please take a minute to rate it and/or leave me a comment.

Enjoy the free plans and make some memories!

Comments

andre on November 11, 2016
Dan those tips are what I needed. Thanks!
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SP0NZ on November 11, 2016
Glad I could help Andre.
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Battershell on November 11, 2016
Is it ok if I use my plotter at work??? :-)
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SP0NZ on November 11, 2016
One of the lucky ones. :D
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RCman50 on November 11, 2016
Thanks Mr Sponz, Just curious, I always prefer to download the full version of plans and I use adobe also. When I print I use the "poster" option with ''cut marks" and my tiles come out larger and I use less sheets of paper and I use grayscale to save colored ink. Theres less to cut because you don't have to cut the outer most border which saves alot of cuts. And I also print the full version on a single sheet of 81/2"×11" paper for reference because sometimes with tiles things can get tricky figuring out where each tile belongs, the color of the line since i print in just black ink, and to know if you need to cut all sides or if its a bordering tile just 2 to 3 sides. Things have always worked out but I'm wondering if any downsides to this?
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SP0NZ on November 12, 2016
Thanks for the reply. Great question about your method for tiling the full-size plans.

It is true that your method can save you a little bit of paper. Because I am only using a 7-1/2" X 10" print area for the tiles there is more wasted white space. This was a compromise to be able to create one set of tiled plans for both US Letter and A4 paper sizes. Using the poster print options will use more of the available print area for your sheet size. The only draw back that I can see to your method vs. using my tiled plans, is that I try to minimize the number of pieces that you actually have to tape together. The parts are arranged on the sheets to use the minimum number of seams for any given part whenever possible. If a part can fit cleanly on a single tile, I will put it on it's own tile even if there would be room to fit it somewhere else on the plans with a seam in it. With your method, you are at the mercy of Adobe creating the seams, sometimes through parts that would not even require one.

That said, if you like that method and it works for you, go for it! The goal is to build and fly a model airplane and make memories with friends and family. How you get there is up to you. :)
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RCman50 on November 12, 2016
Thank you, Alot of good points. I will definitely have to give it a go on the next one.
Dustin.
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Chipped Rotor on November 12, 2016
Thanks Dan, I'm sure this article will be a big help to me. I like what you did with the Air Hogs Intruder and I'd like to build one when the plans become available.
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SP0NZ on November 12, 2016
Thanks Chipped Rotor. I had someone else say the same recently on Facebook. I'll just copy and pate that here for everyone else to see too...
Keegan and I will be working on the Air Hogs Intruder over the winter. We are going to start with a smaller 28" version that will use the A & F packs as well as the RS2205 (red bottom) motors. Should be an 80 MPH speed demon. Once that one is done, we'll make the larger version. Hope to have both done by spring.
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pintokitkat on November 13, 2016
Thanks for confirming via the 'print' screen-print that I have my 42" wide printer set up correctly. Sadly, for some reason your plans will not print out efficiently for me - they just won't turn to print landscape in the portrait orientation, so I end up wasting a long strip of paper at the top of every plan. When Josh produced the plans, they turned perfectly. I am sort of resigned to that now, but could I make a request? Rather than saying 'print 2' of certain parts, you actually put two copies on the plans. There's always room. I print out the plans, then using repositionable glue, stick them to the foamboard and cut them out. Score cuts etc destroy the original plans making them difficult to stick back on the board to cut the second one.
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SP0NZ on November 16, 2016
Not sure why your plotter won't let you rotate the full-size plans to save you some paper. I don't think there is anything in the PDF's specifically that would prevent you from doing that. I'll look into it though.

You are not the first person to ask to have all the parts (including the duplicates) on the plans. I've been including all of the parts on the Flite Test plans since the release of the FT Sportster and Mini Sportster last November (2015). So, even some of the back catalog plans I've done since then, like the Versa, Flyer and Baby Blender, now include all of the parts in the plans. As I get time, I will go back and update the ones that don't and continue to work on the back catalog. Winter is usually when I have more time to work on that, but it depends on how busy FT keeps me with new releases. Lately, they have been keeping me pretty busy.

You can also check out my artilce on creating templates. I'm not a big fan of using paper plans to cut out parts myself.

http://flitetest.com/articles/make-reusable-templates-from-plans
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drobbins on November 15, 2016
Not sure where else I can put it. I struggled a little with adhering the printed plans to the foam board in a manner that was easily removed. I tried 3m spray, glue sticks, and double sided tape. My last attempt was on the simple soarer. Thats a lot of plan to glue down. I tried thumb tacks also. Not luck, they pull up too easy. My 7yo son helping me said I should just staple them together, and being the logical dad, I explained my stapler wasnt long enough. I thought about it, flipped the stapler open, and voila! If you strategically place the staples where the pages meet, and once or twice in the centers, it works great! Some tiny pin holes that will never be seen are all thats left. I was squeezing it by hand, instead of pressing the stapler into the foam board.
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pintokitkat on November 15, 2016
The stuff to use is 3M Spray Mount. Spray it on the back of the plans, stick them on the foamboard, cut them out and then peel off the plan parts. Because the glue is repositionable , the plans are only stuck about as well as PostIt notes.
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SP0NZ on November 16, 2016
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FoamTest on November 16, 2016
Hey sponz is there any way that you could convert these plans into a format that a cricket could use? A cricket is a paper and card stock cutting machine usually used for arts and crafts. If this is possible you could essentially cut out plans just like a printer would print them, so you don't have to cut them yourself. The cricket would also make more precise cuts in the card stock.
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SP0NZ on November 16, 2016
Do you mean a Circut craft cutter? That's a pretty good idea, but not sure how well that would work. I think it could easily cut out the cut lines, but how would you get the score, crease and reference lines on there?
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FoamTest on November 16, 2016
You could use different dashes or they have a marker attachment to make the score, crease, and reference lines.
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SP0NZ on November 16, 2016
It sounds like it could work pretty well if it can cut and ink at the same time. Send me a Cricut Explore Air 2 and I'll try it. ;)
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FoamTest on November 17, 2016
I actually have the original that isn't used much I am going to be volunteering at Flite Fest next year if you want to try and mess with it then. I don't think it can cut and ink at the same time but its pretty easy to change out between the cutting head and the marker.
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FoamTest on November 17, 2016
After doing some research the cricut may be able to just cut the foam board by its self! Here is a list of things it will cut.

https://help.cricut.com/help/cricut-explore-materials-settings

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wanabeRCexpert on November 16, 2016
i printed my plans off crome and built the plane i haven't tried to fly yet. Just because you print it off crome does that mean it will not work?
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SP0NZ on November 16, 2016
I would say your mileage will vary. Printing from Chrome, or any browser for that matter, is the most inconsistent method. That doesn't mean it won't work for some, but I do not recommend it. Just too many opportunities for issues and not enough control for scaling. Did you check the scale to make sure it was accurate? If the scale was accurate and everything printed, you should be fine.

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djw319 on November 17, 2016
Is there a way we could get the original CAD files to print on our own laser?
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SP0NZ on November 17, 2016
That is Flite Test's decision to make, not mine. You are not the first person to ask, and will likely not be the last. At this time, the answer is no.
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Frolic on November 26, 2016
Sponz,
I can't thank you enough for your efforts. The mini Triplane was catching my fancy and I couldn't wait to get back to work for large format printer access. So i found this article.
Guys follow his notes and it works GREAT!. Once I used Adobe Reader to print the scale came out exactly! Sponz I also found the tick marks and center circles were immensely helpful for aligning everything. Great thing to do while recovering from Turkey overdose and watching football.
One thing I would like to know. The FT guys want to have a plane to build in "a few hours" I know that it would be very feasible with a speed build kit. What I would like to know is how long the different planes build from the start of printing planes to maiden take from some of you more experienced builders.
Just another quick note. I have built planes my whole life, I'm 50 now. Because of flight test I was able to get back into the hobby because of the cost and time reduction your work has helped with. AND I am now flying with my nephew, and brother in law, and I am working on one of my daughters to break out the razor blade and start cutting some foam with me.
THANKS FliteTest and SPONZ for your work. It is paying off for me..... well my wallet may not agree! ;)
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danield on December 3, 2016
How do you line up the tile pages. I printed FT-22 per your instructions, scale is perfect, but no cut or tick marks.
I tried using poster and that gave cut marks, but turn pages sideways to make 11x17 inch pages.
Where are the tick marks and center circles for aligning. I must be missing something.
Thanks for your work.
DanD
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magic_marty on December 5, 2016
Good article Sponz...I found for some reason my printer cuts off the bottom of the print and i loose the line up marks so what i did to solve it was go to using legal document size paper and it no longer cuts off the bottoms, i do have more to trim off but all is good..
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The Flying Wasp on December 31, 2016
Hey SP0NZ

Great article. Reading the poster board template article next. Then I will be building my 1st FT speed build kit (Explorer). The FT videos got me interested and now I'm hooked! I've even looked into a STEM program for my girlfriend's cub scouts. This whole this is too cool. Thanks for all the future help I'm gonna need ;-)

TIA
Steve
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SlingShotRC on January 9, 2017
Hey Sponz,

Thanks to you I was able to order my print jobs at Office Max with the confidence that I would get a good result. The heads up about the cost viz B/W vs. color was very helpful as well.
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fennz@me.com on January 10, 2017
Thanks for this Sponz. I have only built 2 of the FT builds, both being quite successful. I was able to print both tiled plans directly from Safari because the scale printing at 100% on Letter seemed to have accurately held up throughout the plans. Perhaps just lucky. Always appreciate hearing other's experience & suggestions. Thanks for putting this together and sharing your experiences. Love the whole learning thing!
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sidneyki on January 10, 2017
Its been awhile since I printed out the plans.
One of the biggest problem I had is aligning them up and cutting the foam out of the plans.

Could you tell me if the alignment of the tiles plans improved?
To make it easier to align correctly?

Thank You
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RedRabbitRomp on January 30, 2017
Sp0nz
I was wondering if you could teach us how you create these plans. I would really like to be able to generate my own printable designs.
Thanks
Craig
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PeterGregory on March 4, 2017
I just started using GIMP 2 which works great. Load the plan in GIMP 2 (open source image editing software) - PDF files are just one file format option of many that it handles. You can select a specific area of the full plan on the screen, save that selection as its own file and print just that. This way you may get aroung having to tape tiled pages together when you have a part that would otherwise fit on one page. I have used Adobe Elements to do the same thing, that works great.
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ARenaissanceishMan on March 19, 2017
Awesome, Thank you!
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