View Full Version : Hello

10-20-2009, 12:05 AM
Hello to everyone.

I am a mature student currently studying ICT at Doncaster University Centre and have been given an assignment relating to a fictional map making company.

(I must firstly apologise as I have no experience of map making whatsoever - and hope this post does not offend anyone - it certainly is not my intention).

The basic idea of the assignment is to design a new computer room for the company and choose a selection of relevant computer hardware (for the room) that would best assist the map makers in their work.

One of the tasks is to provide 3 separate specifications of a single stand alone computer system:

A budget system which costs as little as possible but still just manages to do the job.

A 'money is no object' system - basically a map makers 'dream' computer system.

Finally a system that stands nicely between the two - a professional system that could be manage the job nicely but would not cost the earth.

Specific components would include monitors (size/resolution/make/model), graphics cards (make/model), RAM (suitable size) required, Hard disk storage (size) required and printers or plan printers (make/model) if necessary + any additional hardware you may feel is relevant.

I was going to try to contact a few businesses directly but noticed this forum and thought I'd give it a go.

If it's ok I will probably post a few questions over the coming months.

Also if anyone knows any sites or links etc... that would also be fantastic.

My email address should also be available if anyone wishes to contact me directly (if it's not available please let me know).

Many thanks.



10-20-2009, 12:09 AM
Hey TeamTebb,
I'm sure there are plenty of Industry Pros (points at the Industry Pro Group) who would tell you the stuff they have, the stuff they'd like and the stuff they'd have wet dreams over...

In the meantime, if you want to learn about making a map or two... hang about and lurk in the tutorials section like almost everyone else does! Don't forget to post WIPs if you decide to pop your mapper's-cherry...

10-20-2009, 12:19 AM
My first reply - and positive - thanks for that - I wasn't sure what to expect.

I had to chuckle - I was wondering where this little journey might take me - who knows I mught be designing my first map in a month or two???

Many thanks

10-20-2009, 01:53 AM
Ok, here's the system that I started with, and worked just fine until I got tired of waiting for the system to catch up (and incidentally, made some very nice maps with regardless)

Acer laptop (i think we spent 600 on it new, 3 years ago) 1280x800 screen, 32megs builtin vid memory, 1gig ram, AMD Turion (something midrange) 64 gig hard drive, and an external wired mouse to complement the touchpad.
That had access to a wireless router (linksys, 4 hard ports) (maybe 100 bucks). I was bedridden at the time so i had a laptop desk and cooling fan unit (by Belkin), call it $50 combined (i know you can get simple laptop desks and a chair from walmart for around 100).
Total price.. $750 ish.

I would call that pretty close to bare minimum. It wasn't long before I could sit up again, so I'm now using my desktop machine about half the time.

Desktop: Dell Dimension DIM 3000 p4 3ghz, originally supplied with 512Mb RAM $800
Memory: 2gb ram kingston ram installed aftermarket $150
monitor: Dell E173FP (no short name found) 32 bit capable, 1280x1024 max resolution (included with desktop price)
Keyboard/Mouse: Dell, provided with system, standard/basic as it gets.
graphics card Radeon 9250 (64megs memory, agp4x) $150
Cd/DVD: Sanyo CRD-BPDV2 DVD+RW (aftermarket, i think cost $120 - included drive died)
Internal drives: maxtor 80gb IDE(7200rpm)(aftermarket), western digital 80gb IDE(7200rpm)
External drive: Iomega Prestige 1Tb USB2.0 $150
Nostromo N50 (Belkin) speedpad $50 (originally for games, but it works great for graphics applications too, amusingly enough)
Wacom intuos4 graphics tablet 4x6 - $299
Lexmark x5150 scanner/printer/copier $90
Armoire/Wardrobe desk, Sauder DIY kit $400
Office chair, generic, no brand name found $150
Total budget to put together from scratch including furniture, around $2400

To me it's a pretty decent midrange system, there's only one project I've attempted to work on that slowed me down appreciably. I'd like to expand to 4gig ram, but honestly, 2 gigs is doing fine.

As to high end systems, I'll let the industry pros wow you with what they want. the only thing I could put on that list for sure would be the one Wacom Cintiq monitor tablet.. 22" i think? It weighs in over $5k on it's own ;)

10-20-2009, 02:01 AM
Dear Coyotemax

That's excellent - just the sort of stuff I need - I really appreciate your time on that - many thanks.

10-20-2009, 02:03 AM
No worries, if you want more detail on make/models in there I can go look everything up in more detail, this was just off the top of my head.

(pretty good memory though if I say so myself, hah!)

10-20-2009, 02:15 AM
That's great and much appreciated - the assignments ongoing for a few months (due in end of January 2010) so there will probably some more info needed. It makes a real difference knowing the information is coming from real people. I'll try to keep posting updates regarding progress.

Thanks again.

10-20-2009, 02:48 AM
I've updated my desktop system (looked up the model numbers and such on the net where applicable). I'll get the laptop specs later and do the same thing, just repost them in the original.

10-20-2009, 04:42 AM
I'm not a professional mapper, in fact I'm a recent convert/dabbler, however, my observations in just starting out lead me to the following observations:

1. An average desktop system seems to be able to create pretty effective maps.
2. Much will depend on the type of maps produced, their purpose, and any restrictions imposed by the employer or the market (eg what software to use, what resolution is necessary, whether your software needs to be compatible with your customers', etc.)
3. A tablet is a must for serious mapping.
4. Printing might be as important as drawing. Maybe you'll need some large plotters (or maybe you'll outsource printing).

Are you going to draw a map of the computer room? ;)

10-20-2009, 05:30 AM
Good advice. Ill make a note.

I don't need to map the room in any details - literally a plan view of labelled 'squares' depicting positions of equipment.

Many thanks for the help - I'll make sure everyone gets a mention in the acknowledgements.

10-20-2009, 07:31 PM
A bare minimum system would comprise a pc that you can buy at any store for as cheap as possible, cheap-o monitor and printer as well and no tablet. Here in the states I could get that for about $500. The software is all freebie: Gimp for the art and image manipulation (similar to Photoshop); Blender, Bryce 5.5, or SketchUp for any 3d work; Inkscape for vector drawing; and Open Office because these people will be communicating with each other. To learn how to use this stuff there are books, online tutorials, and us here at The Guild.

Top of the line system would be a custom built rig by some company like Alienware (my dream system is about $15,000 with a big screen monitor and good printer) but newer rigs use multiple monitors. The Cintiq would be a must for this as well so that adds $5,000. A large format printer runs anywhere from $2,000 to $30,000. You should also get a large bed scanner, not one of those all in one printer/fax/copier/scanner things as those are crap (no idea on price). You might want high-speed internet access for some reason. You can get an Adobe bundle of programs for around $1,000 (Photoshop and Illustrator); other Adobe products (Dreamweaver) are good too for stuff like web and flash; and some professional GIS software (no idea on price); Maya is what they used to use before the Pixar computers were built so that adds another $2,000. You might want some CAD software for architectural work and Microsoft Office (wouldn't recommend that but it's pretty common). You will also need someone to teach people how to use all of this and these people will need months of practice.

That's a hefty price tag and the results aren't really that much better from the cheapo system...unless you want to make your own "Finding Nemo" movies. I use a "middle-of-the-line gaming system":
Gateway FX6800, Intel i7 quad core 920@2.67 gigs with 3 gig memory bought at Best Buy for $900
Soyo 24 inch lcd monitor for $250 from Office Max
Wacom Intuous 2 tablet for $500 (back in 2003)
Photoshop CS and Illustrator 10 bundle for $900 (back in 2003)
I have Dreamweaver ($700) but it was too complicated for me so I use it as a doorstop
Canon scanner for $300 from Best Buy
Canon printer for $250 from Best Buy
This comes to around $4,000 but there is also
HP DesignJet 430 24 inch black and white large format printer for $7,000 (back in 2001); and Dragonfly GlassEye 2000 ($600) This is mainly for my stained glass work but I use it for other stuff as well.

So for most applications any standard or middling setup is going to be good enough to do some really nice work. The cheapo way will get you some pretty decent results and with enough practice you can do some really nice work. The high end system is a waste of money unless you want to go into making videos for tv shows and movies. Heck, some of us here at The Guild could probably do up some good animated maps for a Travel Channel or History Channel show.

10-21-2009, 02:33 PM
We had a thread a long time ago which had photos of peoples workplaces and their kit used. I dont know where the link is tho. Anyone have any idea ? I remember Arcanas cubible and Ravs room with the masks etc... Maybe someone will find and post that link.

10-21-2009, 02:38 PM
That would be:


10-21-2009, 03:26 PM
Ascension - that is fantastic - a really thorough account - thank you so much for your time. It is really appreciated.

Redrobes and Gandwarf - again thanks for your help - I'll check the link out.

10-21-2009, 03:43 PM
Heck, some of us here at The Guild could probably do up some good animated maps for a Travel Channel or History Channel show.

Or Discovery/Science channel shows. Ever since I started playing around with Celestia, I notice that a LOT of their space animations look incredibly familiar ;)

On the actual topic at hand, the only thing I really have to add is that I've found that even for a hobbyist like myself, a tablet is pretty essential. I use a $70 wacom bamboo, nothing fancy, but it's MUCH easier/faster than a mouse. Particularly when it comes to things like tapering rivers.